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Tilting at Windmills

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March 31, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PURGEGATE FALLOUT....Hey, remember that local corruption case that Heather Wilson and Pete Domenici wanted the New Mexico U.S. Attorney to file before the November midterms? It would have been sweet. After all, there's nothing like a juicy corruption probe against the opposition party to help the good guys in a close election.

Well, indictments have finally been returned. Bud Cummins, one of the other fired U.S. Attorneys, writes about it in Salon today:

On Friday, a New Mexico federal grand jury returned an indictment against New Mexico Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon and others of conspiring to skim $4.2 million in public funds. This happens to be the culmination of an investigation supervised by my colleague David Iglesias, before he was forced to resign. It is also the same case that stimulated improper telephone calls to Mr. Iglesias from a U.S. senator and a congresswoman

It is almost a certainty that the talented and hardworking law enforcement agents and prosecutors working on this significant case will now have to battle accusations of improper political motivation behind the prosecution. There will be no real basis for it, but they will have to answer the allegations nonetheless. Before the U.S. attorneys scandal, the defense team never would have considered using those allegations. Now, it is almost a certainty that they will be raised because of the way the administration carried out the U.S. attorney dismissals.

Way to go, Republicans! Your sleazy partisanship has given the defense a great case. Proud days indeed.

(By the way, a note for you nonsubscribers: the daypass ad you have to sit through to read Salon content is shorter and less annoying than in the past. Only about ten seconds or so. If you haven't clicked through a Salon link lately because you didn't feel like sitting through the ad, you might want to give them another try.)

Kevin Drum 1:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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Comments

Well....that's what happens when you try to politicize everything....everything starts to look politicized!

Republicans are getting hoisted by their own petard now, since they can't do anything without there being accusations of partisanship.

Posted by: mfw13 on March 31, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to go all meta on you, Kevin, but shouldn't you be paying for a Salon subscription? This is your bread and butter, after all.

Posted by: Chukuriuk on March 31, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

7 to 1.

That's all you need to know.

Federal prosecutors are investigating Democrats more than Republicans at a ratio of 7:1.

Not getting convictions, mind you. Just making sure every office-holding Democrat that may run for higher office will have some shadow over their head in the future, for which they'll have to use some weaselly-sounding evasion like "Yes, I was investigated, but there was no conviction".

And the national pundits will sigh and make false-equivalence arguments about how "they're all corrupt"...

Posted by: anonymous on March 31, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

As I wrote in this forum a few days ago, I expect everyone prosecuted by any of GWB's remaining USAtty's to attempt to request a new trial based upon selective prosecution by political hacks.

Btw, I prefer the paraphrase:

Hoisted on their own retard.

Posted by: Disputo on March 31, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The thing is, there's not much love lost between most NM Dems and Manny Aragon. Richardson muscled him out of the presidency of the Senate when he became gov several years ago. A quiet sigh of relief was heaved by many.

Posted by: KathyF on March 31, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

You can always click the "having trouble viewing the ad" link (text not exact) to bypass the dumb flash videos and get a near-instantaneous still image version of the day pass ad. Shhhh!

Posted by: Greg on March 31, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Just making sure every office-holding Democrat that may run for higher office will have some shadow over their head in the future, for which they'll have to use some weaselly-sounding evasion like "Yes, I was investigated, but there was no conviction"."

Excellent point, anonymous. That is why we have to make sure that people understand how corrupted the system has become under Bush. Then the Dem can say "it was one of those Bush prosecutors" and everyone will understand it may well have been dreamed up for political purposes.

On Salon: I hardly ever go to Salon because I don't want to sit through ads. I wish they could come up with a different revenue model.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on March 31, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

I happily pay for my Salon subscription. Worth every penny.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 31, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"On Salon: I hardly ever go to Salon because I don't want to sit through ads. I wish they could come up with a different revenue model."

They have: subscription.

Posted by: me2i81 on March 31, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Kevin posted a story about corrupt Democrats skimming $4.2 million in public funds.

Posted by: am on March 31, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Or you can buy a subscription to Salon, which is very cheap, and support the outstanding work they're doing over there, especially considering their recent hiring of Glenn Greenwald.

Posted by: Joe on March 31, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Last few times I've tried Salon through the day-pass thing, it didn't work. Just sat on an ad page.

No thanks.

Posted by: jack on March 31, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Bid Cummins:

"I know most of those U.S. attorneys, and honestly don't think they have done anything but conduct their offices in the neutral and nonpartisan way that is to be expected of them."

It's hard to have a 7:1 investigation rate Dem:Rep and say that with your hand on your heart, isn't it?

Posted by: notthere on March 31, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

They forgot the rule about unintended consequences. The were too smart for their own good. What jury is gonna convict a politician now, after the defense brings up the attorney scandal? Somehow I wonder if this was by design. To basically lay waste to the justice system as a whole.

Posted by: This Machine Kills Fascists on March 31, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I’m surprised you missed this article, Kevin, since it was in your own L.A. Times, about how the Bush Administration has turned the Justice Dept. into a political attack unit. It's written by Joseph Rich, a former Justice Dept. attorney.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on March 31, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

It's not hard in New Mexico. In the last couple of years we've had the state treasurer, the previous state treasurer, the previous leader of the state Senate, and a former mayor of Albuquerque indicted. The ex-mayor was a Democrat who later turned Republican: I'm not sure of his party status at the exact moment that the money landed in his hot little hand. The rest were Democrats.

The current state Attorney General, Patricia Madrid, indicted some of the witnesses in that state treasurer bribery case on state charges, after they'd been given immunity by the Feds for their testimony and help in the case (one wore a wire). That's unusual. As far as I can tell, her position was that good Democrats have a _right_ to steal, a widely shared belief in New Mexico. This (along with the fact that she's an idiot) hurt her in her run for Congress against Heather Wilson, which she barely lost. I voted for her of course, because I prefer moronic thieves to
lying promoters of stupid wars.

Posted by: gcochran on March 31, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Even humiliated partisans will lie to help their cause.

Re: ads at Salon. People read magazines and newspapers with ads and they watch television programs with ads and they listen to radio programs, even public radio, with ads. I can see an ad right now at a website. I read stories at Salon.com all the time, after watching the ad.

Posted by: Brojo on March 31, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Way to go, Republicans! Your sleazy partisanship has given the defense a great case. Proud days indeed."

Forgive me Kevin, but wasn't it the Dems' "sleazy partisanship" that gave rise to this non-scandal, claiming that the firing of the US Attorneys were "politically motivated" in the first place?

Posted by: Chicounsel on March 31, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

"According to a new study, one-third of Washington, DC, is illiterate. To give you an idea of how bad it is, Alberto Gonzales can't even read the writing on the wall." --Jay Leno


Posted by: consider wisely always on March 31, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

...wasn't it the Dems' "sleazy partisanship" that gave rise to this non-scandal...

Posted by: Chicounsel on March 31, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

No. It was the way it was done, followed by the fact that the Republican Justice Department lied when it said that they were fired for poor performance, followed by the fired Attorneys justified outrage, followed by the fact that most of fired Republican US Attorneys featured at the top end of performance measurement, followed by the Republican Justice Department and Republican White House starting to give different reasons for firing, followed by the Republican Attorney General sayuingf he wasn't involved in the firings, followed by his Republican chief of staff saying he was, followed by...

You probably get the picture. I know you forgot that oversight is a necessary gear in the wheels of this government. This whole thing is showing why, and it stinks.

Posted by: notthere on March 31, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

The daypass ads vary in length, quality, and sound.

The best part is they often malfunction and just let you in.

Posted by: jerry on March 31, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Forgive me Kevin, but wasn't it the Dems' "sleazy partisanship" that gave rise to this non-scandal, claiming that the firing of the US Attorneys were "politically motivated" in the first place?

No.

What else ya got?

Posted by: craigie on March 31, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Lots more details here, including links to indictments:

http://www.abqjournal.com/news/breaking/apindictments03-29-07.htm

Posted by: aReader on March 31, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I voted for her of course, because I prefer moronic thieves to lying promoters of stupid wars.

They're just as bad as far as I'm concerned, if not worse. Politicians who use their positions to enrich themselves are the lowest form of scum. Instead of imprisonment, any pol convicted of corruption charges should be given an assault rifle, a backpack full of spare clips, a week's supply of food and water, and a pat on the back and "Good luck!" After that, they're dumped in the wilderness and left at the mercy of their constituents. Most wouldn't last a week.

I'm not sure what to do with most of the Bush White House, but I'd settle for making them spend a year patrolling Anbar province without body armor.

Posted by: Nat on March 31, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK


If every single member of the House and Senate stole a million dollars a year, that'd be about half a billion dollars - less than half a percent the yearly cost of carving our initials on the Iraqis. A pointless war is way worse than mere theft. Kills people too, I'm told.
In a better world, we would have people running for office who were honest as well as halfway sane, but we don't live in that world.
In fact, it's plenty hard to find candidates with even one of those qualities.

Posted by: gcochran on March 31, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans really don't care about the unintended consequences, or even whether they won or lost the case. Those are certainly no reasons to fire U.S. attorneys.

The whole idea was to get indictments of Democrats out in public before the Nov. elections. NOW we're talking 'reasons'.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on March 31, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

7 to 1.

That's all you need to know.

And the bold bar graph image showing us this on national TV was on what show first? Any guesses?

Posted by: ThresherK on March 31, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Forgive me Kevin, but wasn't it the Dems' 'sleazy partisanship' that gave rise to this non-scandal, claiming that the firing of the US Attorneys were 'politically motivated' in the first place?"

LOL.... Well, sure, if you're a partisan idiot who hasn't been following the news. But for everyone else, the situation is precisely as Kevin described it.

Posted by: PaulB on March 31, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

"And the bold bar graph image showing us this on national TV was on what show first? Any guesses?"

Two guesses:

1. The Daily Show

2. None

Posted by: PaulB on March 31, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Oops -wrong thread I think. Should be here:

Hmmm - think the defense attorneys for the accused will open by subpoena'ing Rove, Rove's e-mail, and in fact the entire gwb43.com e-mail archive?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 31, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Pandagon readers can click through for free, with no ad."

Or add this to your bookmarks:

http://www.salon.com/news/cookie756.html

Posted by: noone on March 31, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Saturday morning NPR had a brief mention of the US Attorney for the District of Columbia - a Loyal Bushie who is also a hack prosecutor - having botched the largest tax fraud prosecution ever and now may have lost the IRS $100M in back tax payments.

I can't find a link on NPR, nor anything in the WaPo. MSNBC however mentions the case but says nothing about the Bush partisan prosecutor here. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17821287

Posted by: AC on March 31, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

AC, I've found that when you can't find the item on your local or NPR schedule, it is often on the web page for the production company, the name of which inconveniently escapes me at the moment. Try that.

Posted by: notthere on March 31, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's important to keep in mind that the GOP doesn't object to political corruption, since it's integral to the way they do business. Successful prosecution of such cases against Dems, then, isn't actually their goal: blowing the case also helps in the long run by adding to public perception that all prosecutions of political misdeeds is at root just so much partisan politics. It's a win-win for the Rovians.

Posted by: W Action on March 31, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Way to go, Republicans (Democrats)! Your sleazy partisanship has given the defense a great case. Proud days indeed." - Drum

[The content of this message has been refuted repeatedly. Attempt to hijack the thread has been deleated]

Posted by: Jay on March 31, 2007 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

KD: Way to go, Republicans! Your sleazy partisanship has given the defense a great case.

Warmed my heart to see your blogging so clearly nailing the point. Bam!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 31, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Way to go, Republicans! Your sleazy partisanship has given the defense a great case. Proud days indeed." - Drum

This is such a great comment because it reveals Kevin's attempt to seem impartial and strong against corruption even if against a Democrat!

[When someone actually defends William Jefferson, comments like this will be left intact. Until then...]

Secondly, Manny he will be found guilty because he is, and IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN prosecuted before the elections. So your partisan attack is completely baseless and your outrage insincere.

Posted by: Jay on March 31, 2007 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

It is almost a certainty that the talented and hardworking law enforcement agents and prosecutors working on this significant case will now have to battle accusations of improper political motivation behind the prosecution. There will be no real basis for it, but they will have to answer the allegations nonetheless. Before the U.S. attorneys scandal, the defense team never would have considered using those allegations. Now, it is almost a certainty that they will be raised because of the way the administration carried out the U.S. attorney dismissals.

Give the jury some credit. Prosecutors always have motivations to win, and everyone knows it. the jury will judge the actual case on the actual facts.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 31, 2007 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

AC --

There was a story on Walter Anderson and the $100 million tax in the March 27 issue of the WaPo. The link is here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/27/AR2007032701765.html

Posted by: CatStaff on March 31, 2007 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

AC on March 31, 2007 at 6:59 PM
CatStaff on March 31, 2007 at 10:52 PM

Interesting. Neither the MSNBC or the WaPo story mention the name of the D.C. USA who is Jeffrey A. Taylor:

...served as Counselor to Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales from 2002 to 2006 where he oversaw law enforcement operations by U.S. attorneys.... He was appointed interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia by Alberto Gonzales on September 22, 2006 and was sworn in seven days later.... He took office so quickly because he bypassed Senate confirmation under a provision of the USA Patriot Act....
More interesting is that if someone spurns a congressional subpoena and is found in contempt, it will be Taylor...
..."whose duty it shall be to bring [a contempt sanction] before the grand jury for its action." ...It is unclear (as of March 20, 2007) whether Mr. Taylor would fulfill this duty to convene a grand jury, or resist Congress at the direction of Bush or Gonzales.
Loyal Bushie and all that.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 1, 2007 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

This is such a great comment because it reveals Kevin's attempt to seem impartial and strong against corruption even if against a Democrat!

No, it reveals no such thing. What Kevin's remark says essentially is that Repubs shot themselves in the foot by giving the defense another strategy to use. That's also Cummins' point.

Secondly, Manny he will be found guilty because he is...

And you know this how in advance of the trial without ever having seen the evidence or the defense's case? Are you confessing to having bribed the judge, attempting to rig the jury, or some other interference with a fair trial? Perhaps Aragon's defense should subpoena WaMo to obtain your IP address, hunt you down, have you investigated, and subpoena you about what you know.

...and IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN prosecuted before the elections.

No, that's the delusion of a partisan shill and such an assertion further reiterates a defense strategy that the Aragon prosecution was partisan-motivated and the evidence is tainted. Firing Iglesias and how it was handled helps make the defense's case for such a strategy. That's the point of Bud Cummins article that Kevin cited... "accusations of improper political motivation behind the prosecution."

So your partisan attack...

Look who's talking.

...is completely baseless...

No, it's not but your rant is.

...and your outrage insincere.

Coming from you, it's simply wingnuttery unsubstantiated by not one fact.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 1, 2007 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

In defense of Alberto Gonzales

When the attorney general testifies before a Senate committee, he'll have precedent and the Constitution on his side.

THE DISPUTE OVER the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys poses a fundamental question: To what degree may the president exercise authority over the direction of law enforcement?

In the aftermath of Watergate, President Carter directed Atty. Gen. Griffin Bell to prepare legislation that would make the attorney general an appointed post for a definite term, subject to removal only for cause. Carter's idea was to keep the attorney general independent of presidential direction to ensure that the Justice Department's authority would never again be abused for political purposes, as it had been during the ethically troubled Nixon presidency.

Despite Carter's noble intent, Bell refused. In a little-known memorandum to the president dated April 11, 1977, he explained why. Any law that restricted the president's power to remove the attorney general — and, by inference, to fire any U.S. attorney — would likely be found unconstitutional. The president, Bell reasoned, is held accountable for the actions of the executive branch in its entirety, including the Justice Department; he must be free to establish policy and define priorities, even in the legal arena. "Because laws are not self-executing, their enforcement obviously cannot be separated from policy considerations," Bell wrote.

Carter argued that the attorney general is different from other Cabinet officers. The job entails dual responsibilities: carrying forward White House policies like any other Cabinet official, and representing the law of the United States, whether it coincides with the president's policies or not. Bell agreed, but he found that insufficient to justify separating the attorney general and subordinate U.S. attorneys from presidential direction.

Bell anchored his reasoning on Supreme Court precedent, especially Chief Justice William Howard Taft's opinion in Myers vs. United States (1926).

Congress enacts different types of laws, the chief justice opined. Some laws require close supervision by the president, while others draw upon the expertise found within the specific agencies of government. Much law, however, generally empowers the executive, and when subordinates perform these functions, "they are exercising not their own but [the president's] discretion," the court said. "Each head of a department is and must be the president's alter ego in the matters of that department where the president is required by law to exercise authority."

The court's analysis did not deny the unique nature of the Justice Department. Indeed, Taft acknowledged that there may be duties that require evenhandedness from executive officers, "the discharge of which the president cannot in a particular case properly influence or control."

Improper influence is, of course, exactly the concern of Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) now, when they seek to ascertain if specific prosecutions were obstructed for partisan reasons. Yet, to illustrate the subtlety of the Senate Judiciary Committee's inquiry, the court also held that a president can remove any appointee from office for a particular prosecution "on the ground that the discretion regularly entrusted to that officer by statute has not been on the whole intelligently or wisely exercised."

Belatedly, D. Kyle Sampson, Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales' former chief of staff, made the same point in his Senate testimony Thursday. The U.S. attorneys who were dismissed had been evaluated not just on their professional skills, Sampson said, but also with respect to their relations with other law enforcement and government leaders and their support for the president's priorities. Rather obviously, Sampson was seeking to anchor the dismissals squarely in the court's precedent that gives the president and the attorney general wide latitude to remove staff.

Bell's analysis is instructive. His refusal to draft Carter's desired legislation does not mean the Senate shouldn't inquire into whether the Bush White House or the Gonzales Justice Department sought to improperly influence a particular case. But it does mean that the Senate has no legitimate basis to object if it turns out the U.S. attorneys were removed because they failed to bring the cases the president or his attorney general sought to give emphasis. The first is corruption and obstruction. The second is political direction.

Bell concluded 30 years ago that blunting that presidential direction would make the attorney general "overly responsive to Congress, and this would clearly affect the separation of powers among the three branches that is established by the Constitution." The same holds true today.

Ultimately, Bell shared Carter's concern that the Justice Department not abuse its authority for political purpose . . . When Gonzales appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17, history, precedent and the Constitution will be on his side.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-kmiec31mar31,0,3822929.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Posted by: Al on April 1, 2007 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for that LAT op/ed, Al.

You just showed that Douglas W. Kmiec, the author and former "assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1985 to 1989," is still shilling for the Bushies.

As Media Matters documented Jan. 7, 2005, Kmiec was part of the Repub posse that took to the media to pass the buck for Gonzales on the torture memo:

Douglas W. Kmiec, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations... emphasized that the Justice Department issued the August 1, 2002, memo, not Gonzales.... ...downplayed Gonzales's link to the memo by claiming he was merely seeking legal advice about the permissible scope of interrogation techniques. But news reports indicate that after requesting the memo, Gonzales then aggressively endorsed and implemented its conclusions and recommendations, as reflected in his advice to President George W. Bush....
...in a January 6 Wall Street Journal commentary, Kmiec credited ...Gonzales with the Justice Department's ultimate rejection of the memo...
...But the suggestion that Gonzales recognized the problem and took the initiative in "returning the whole torture memo to the Department of Justice for rethinking" is misleading. On December 27, 2004, Newsweek reported that Gonzales distanced himself from the memo only after "Jack Goldsmith, then head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, told Gonzales he was withdrawing the Aug. 1 [2002] memo" and subsequently resigned. According to a Washington Post article, Gonzales -- responding to "pressure from Congress and outrage around the world" -- described the memo as "controversial" and "subject to misinterpretation." But his comments did not come until June 22 -- several weeks after the Post first made the memo public. And it was not until December 30, 2004, more than two years after the memo was delivered, that the Justice Department issued a revised version.
While Gonzales did not write the memo... he sought the memo, endorsed it, and implemented its conclusions. Newsweek reported that Gonzales "convened" a July 2002 meeting in his White House office to discuss how far the CIA could go in interrogating detainees, noting that the Justice Department memo came "partly out of the discussions." Newsweek quoted an unidentified lawyer who had attended the meeting as saying Gonzales pushed for the most aggressive interrogation techniques possible, repeatedly asking, "Are we forward-leaning enough on this?" In a January 5, 2005, article, The Washington Post similarly noted that it was Gonzales's wish to be "forward-leaning" "throughout this period" that interrogation conduct was being discussed.
So Kmiec is once again carrying water for the Bushies and specifically defending Gonzales... or should I say, misleading on Alberto's behalf as Kmiec did regarding the torture memo.

Another thing: When Kmiec writes, "history, precedent and the Constitution will be on [Gonzales] side," he didn't take into account the use of non-WH, partisan email accounts to avoid scrutiny. As a WH aide said, "We knew E-mails could be subpoenaed." That's unprecedented and raises suspicions about some sort of cover-up. On that score, history has shown us that a U.S. attorney general loyal to his president isn't immune from prosecution and prison.

Also given that the USAs received no notice of failing to "bring the cases the president or his attorney general sought to give emphasis," seems that Kmiec's point is moot in attempting to interject performance-related issues as if there were some.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 1, 2007 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

You know what, Al?

By golly, since you've presented Kmiec's LAT op/ed for us to read, let's consult another Repub opinion with noteworthy bona fides who doesn't carry water for anyone over the U.S. Constitution. That would be, Bruce Fein.

From SFO Chronicle, Firings raise concern over Justice Dept. and politics, Mar. 14, 2007:

"The Justice Department is different from other agencies because it's devoted to the rule of law,'' Bruce Fein, a Justice Department official under Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, said Tuesday. He said the Bush administration is tampering with that principle in a way that is "worrisome, because the rule of law is the cement that holds the country together.''
Chicago Tribune, Rove, Gonzales implicated in plan to fire U.S. attorneys, Mar. 16, 2007:
Bruce Fein, a Washington lawyer who served in President Reagan's Justice Department, said the White House could attempt to hide behind executive privilege if Rove is subpoenaed, but that in his opinion it would not be justifiable.
"The hurdle is more traditional than constitutional," Fein said. "It's just been customary that the president's inner circle be shielded from the sort of oversight scrutiny that the Cabinet gets. . . . But the reasons that might have justified the original reluctance . . . have disappeared. There isn't any constitutional problem in subpoenaing a White House official."
... With Democratic Senate leaders calling for Gonzales' resignation - as is one Republican senator, John Sununu of New Hampshire - Fein suggested that the attorney general's departure is inevitable.
"I think he will be compelled to resign," Fein said. "Bush is not going to push him over the cliff."
The flap over the firing of the federal prosecutors, he said, is only the latest in a series of problems at Justice, which include the FBI's failure to fully report the national security letters it issued to obtain citizens' records without warrants, prevention of an investigation into the National Security Agency's secret surveillance of people in the U.S. suspected of communicating with terrorists outside the country and acceding to the White House on many legal matters involved in the war against terrorism.
"He has lost all credibility and stature, both with the Congress and the American people," Fein said. "He's just been an echo chamber of the White House, and that is not the role of the Justice Department."
From Law.com, Attorney Scandal Threatens Gonzales' Job, Mar. 19, 2007:
And among those who favor a Gonzales resignation, there is a consensus that Bush needs to nominate an independent figure, not another internal Bush loyalist like Gonzales, whose entire political career has shadowed that of Bush.
"There ought to be an unwritten rule that the attorney general should acquire credentials independent of the president," says Bruce Fein, a former associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration who has emerged as an outspoken critic of Gonzales.
Bloomberg, Bush Uses Conciliator Fielding to Confront Congress on Firings, Mar. 22, 2007:
Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former Reagan official, said Fielding's proposal may be a sign of his limited clout with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who adhere to the view that post-Watergate presidents gave up too much authority to Congress.
"This offer [of private interviews with no sworn testimony and no transcript] is so off the mark,'' Fein said, that he suspects Fielding "is being told this is what we want you to do...
And lastly from CNN, Mar. 30, 2007:
"By insinuating it's Karl Rove who has the clearance here, it's insinuating that it's a partisan process, not a nonpolitical or politically even-handed application of uniform standards of law enforcement," said Bruce Fein, a former associate deputy attorney general.
We now know from Sampson's testimony and the DOJ document dumps that contrary to what Gonzales has said publicly and to Congress, Alberto was involved in the plan to fire the USA 8 as was "Rove's shop." So all the op/eds from Bushies like Kmiec just show that the WH is falling back on propaganda... style not substance. That hasn't worked with the Iraq War and it didn't with Katrina. I doubt it will work with the USA 8 firings.

What's the American public's response to the USA 8 firings? Only 1 in 5 say the USAs were "fired for proper reasons" and more than half believe that Bush "is trying to cover up."

According to Time Magazine poll, Mar. 23-26, 2007 (+/- 3% MoE):

In the wake of investigations surrounding the firing of eight federal prosecutors, about half (48%) of Americans believe that they were fired because they refused to be pressured by politics. Only 22% say they were fired for "proper reasons." Almost one-in-three (28%) were not sure...
More than half (55%) of Americans say that President Bush's refusal to allow members of his administration to testify under oath about the firings is because Bush is trying to "cover up" the reasons for the firings. Only 33% agree with the President's explanation that he is preserving Constitution's separation of powers between Congress and the Presidency.
No doubt the Kmiec-types will keep spinning their yarns for Gonzales as will Bushie's media shills and D.C. cocktail weenies. But the American public, I daresay, is sick to death of all talk and no walk.

So carry on, Al. You're doing a heckuva job.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 1, 2007 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

Prosecutor Posts Go To Bush Insiders
Less Preference Shown for Locals, Senators' Choices

By Amy Goldstein and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 1, 2007; Page A01

"About one-third of the nearly four dozen U.S. attorney's jobs that have changed hands since President Bush began his second term have been filled by the White House and the Justice Department with trusted administration insiders.

The people chosen as chief federal prosecutors on a temporary or permanent basis since early 2005 include 10 senior aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, according to an analysis of government records. Several came from the White House or other government agencies. Some lacked experience as prosecutors or had no connection to the districts in which they were sent to work, the records and biographical information show..."


Posted by: consider wisely on April 1, 2007 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Hate to nit and pick, but, isn't "loyal Bushies" a tad redundant?

Disloyal ones are permently entombed in a Political Boot Hill, if not, always having to look over their shoulders.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 1, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

CWA,

I read that WaPo article, too. What also caught my eye -- especially in light of Sen. Orrin Hatch and his vigorous if not angry defense of Gonzales earlier on Meet The Press -- was this:

[Kyle] Sampson sought to be a U.S. attorney, too, and he was the administration's preferred choice last year to be chief prosecutor in his native Utah. But he was nudged aside for another GOP lawyer, Brett L. Tolman, who was favored by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). Tolman was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee in late 2005 when, at Justice's request, he had language inserted into USA Patriot Act legislation that allowed Gonzales to circumvent Senate confirmation by appointing interim U.S. attorneys indefinitely. Congress is in the process of repealing the provision.
The Salt Lake City Weekly added more details in "Dual Ambition," Mar. 29, 2007:
The aide in question is Provo native Brett Tolman, who, last year, was appointed Utah’s U.S. attorney. Tolman arrived in Washington D.C. in 2003, working as a Judiciary Committee lawyer when Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch chaired the committee. In early 2005, Tolman was tasked with overseeing the drafting of the Patriot Act’s reauthorization by Specter.
At some point in the late summer or early autumn, Tolman was contacted by Assistant Attorney General William Moschella, who asked for an amendment to the portion of the federal code governing U.S. attorney vacancies, according to a Judiciary Committee staffer. The provision, labeled Section 502, would strike out the portion limiting executive interim appointments to 120 days before a federal judge could name a new replacement. Tolman did not return numerous phone calls for comment.
What also remains unclear is the impetus for the new law inside the Justice Department and the role Kyle Sampson, who resigned as Gonzales’ chief of staff earlier this month, might have had in crafting it. Tolman and Sampson are both former Hatch aides and BYU alumni but never worked together, and the extent of their personal relationship is unknown. They have, however, been tied together over the current scandal through shared ambitions.
Sampson may not have created the controversial provision, but recently released e-mails from inside the Justice Department show he understood the potential power it granted Gonzales. In a Sept. 13, 2006, e-mail, Sampson recommended that it be the policy of the Justice Department to use the provision to get their “preferred person appointed” at “less political cost.”
Another interesting point from MTP... Russert confronted Hatch about whether he had been campaigning with the WH to replace Gonzales (WTF?!) if Alberto steps aside. Hatch sidestepped his question, saying that the WH wouldn't nominate him, blah, blah, blah... and then Little Tim asked Sen. Leahy, who was opposite Hatch on MTP, whether the Senate would confirm Hatch as the new AG if Gonzales resigns and Hatch was nominated. Leahy didn't answer the question directly but I thought to myself... no way in hell should the Senate Dems vote to confirm a "loyal Bushie" like Orrin Hatch.

For once, today's MTP was interesting to see... I thought Hatch's head was gonna explode at various times. What a hack.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 1, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Forgot to also mention regarding Hatch on MTP... In discussing the Patriot Act provision... Russert brought up how Orrin Hatch had objected to a Utah USA being appointed without his input and had called the folks at the WH/DOJ, "snuffies." When Tim confronted Orrin about it, that's when I thought I saw a second vein pop out and throb on Hatch's forehead.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 1, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Great reporting, Apollo 13.
Orrin Hatch is such an apologist.

Posted by: consider wisely on April 1, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, CWA, Hatch is indeed an apologist.... and thanks.

One more thing, I think this is the article Russert quoted to Hatch... The Salt Lake Tribune, Mar. 24, 2007, Hatch says he shielded Warner:

WASHINGTON - Sen. Orrin Hatch says officials at the Justice Department or White House - he calls them "snuffies" - tried to push former U.S. Attorney for Utah Paul Warner out of office several years ago, believing he was a "Clinton guy." ...
...Hatch confirmed there was a move to push Warner out, but he said Warner was one of the best prosecutors Utah had seen and made clear his objection to such a change.
"That was a case of someone wanting to move Paul Warner out. I wasn't going to let that happen," Hatch said. "I think it was the White House, because he was appointed by Clinton." ...
..."Snuffies at the Justice Department . . . took the position that now it's the time to change U.S. attorneys, and Paul was apparently thought of as a Clinton guy," Hatch said. The term "snuffies" is a label for department bureaucrats, he says.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 1, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Reading Glen Greenwald in Salon makes any wait thru a site-pass ad worthwhile.

Posted by: Kamajii on April 2, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Douglas W. Kmiec is a necon shill.
I ran across one of his recent articles on FISA where he concluded ominously, "One thing is for sure: If we don't act, our enemies will." He's gone from defending and obfuscating the use of torture, to defending the disgraceful Alberto Gonzoles and most recently he is trying to get us to believe if we don't let the government tap all of our communications, the boogeymen will get us.

Douglas W. Kmiec is just another neocon chickenhawk federalist fearmonger.

Posted by: bluto on January 29, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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