But as James Fallows suggests, we haven't hit bottom yet. He recounts the case of a guy named Tom Wales, a federal prosecutor in Seattle, who, among other things, was working on gun violence cases. He was shot as he sat at his computer one evening just a month after 9-11. One of the suspects was a pilot who was known to be violently pro-gun. I understand that he is just a suspect and there is much about this case that remains unknown. But, from what Fallows suggests, local officials often complained that Washington was not devoting many resources to the case--a case of one of their own possibly killed "in the line of duty."
Until now, the heartbreak of the Tom Wales case, and the Washington-vs-Washington disagreement over how intensively the search for his killer was being pursued, had seemed entirely separate from Seattle’s involvement in the eight-fired-attorneys matter. John McKay, the U.S. attorney in Seattle who was among the eight dismissed, appeared to have earned the Bush Administration’s hostility in the old-fashioned way: by not filing charges of voter fraud after an extremely close election that went the Democrats’ way. But this weekend’s story in the Washington Post, based on testimony by Alberto Gonzales’s former deputy Kyle Sampson, suggests that McKay’s problems may have begun with his determination to keep on pushing to find Tom Wales’s killer.
If this is so, it is obscene. Tom Wales represented everything the American public can hope for from its public servants. He made less money than he might have, in order to enforce the rules that made Americans’ lives in general safer, more predictable, and more honorable. He showed that people with many options in life could choose a career in public service. He was a wonderful man. For his commitment, he was murdered, which was in a deep sense a crime against the entire public. The public in general has no way to punish or avenge that crime, but the law enforcement system does. If an administration has chosen to neglect that effort because – as has now been suggested – it didn’t want to ruffle feathers in the pro-gun camp, that is as low an act as any we have heard of in modern politics. It would take us back to, say, the murders in Philadelphia, Mississippi more than 40 years ago — but with the local officials trying their best to find the truth and the federal government covering up a crime.
I hope this is not the case. I don't want to believe that these people in George Bush's Justice Department would be so callous about power and loyalty. I don't want to believe that at all. But look again at the case of Brad Schlozman:
Schlozman previously spent three years as a political appointee in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, where he supervised the voting rights section.
There, he came into conflict with veteran staff over his decisions to approve a Texas redistricting plan and a Georgia photo-ID voting law, both of which benefited Republicans. He also hired many new career lawyers with strong conservative credentials, in what critics say was an attempt to reduce enforcement of laws designed to eliminate obstacles to voting by minorities.
"Schlozman was reshaping the Civil Rights Division," said Joe Rich , who was chief of the voting rights section until taking a buyout in 2005, in an interview. "Schlozman didn't know anything about voting law. . . . All he knew is he wanted to be sure that the Republicans were going to win."
This is not "business as usual." It will take us years to repair the damage Bush has done to our system.