alberto gonzales is about to go bellly-up over the u.s. attorney scandal

I know a lot of you have been following the US Attorney scandal, so this might seem a bit rudimentary, but I thought that I’d try to lay out a few of the key points for those in the audience that maybe haven’t been following it as closely. As it now looks as though this scandal “has legs,” we might all be hearing a lot more about it in the weeks and months to come.

First of all, as several right-leaning websites have pointed out today, it is common practice for an incoming President to dismiss the US Attorneys working in the Justice Department. The President makes the request, the US Attorneys step down, and then the President submits the names of potential replacements to the Senate, where confirmation hearings are held. The difference here is that Bush was targeting US Attorneys that had active criminal investigations underway which implicated the administration and its cronies. Furthermore, Bush wasn’t planning to run his nominees by Congress. You see, he didn’t legally have to. Due to a provision inserted into the Patriot Act reauthorization bill at the last minute, Senate approval was no longer required. Senator Specter, who added the provision, has never been forthcoming as to why he made the change. It is now being speculated, however, that this must have been the plan from the start.

The TMP Muckraker has a comprehensive timeline of events that you might find of interest. Among other things, it contains the following piece of information: In March of 2005, a counselor to Alberto Gonzales named Kyle Sampson (who went on to become the chief-of-staff for Gonzales in September 2005) sent an e-mail to Harriet Miers ranking all 93 US Attorneys by how “loyal” they were to the administration. The 8 finishing at the bottom of that list were those forced out.

And, those that were retained, were apparently doing a damned fine job, at least by Republican standards. According to a study released in February, “data indicate that the offices of the US Attorneys across the nation investigate seven times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops.” (via MetaFilter)

Fortunately, Democratic leaders, now in possession of both houses of Congress, aren’t letting it go. Here’s a quote from Senator Dianne Feinstein: “We now know that it is very likely that the amendment to the Patriot Act, which was made in March of 2006, might well have been done to facilitate a wholesale replacement of all or part of U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation… Who authorized all of this? Who asked for that change?” [Video of Senators Schumer and Feinstein demanding answers can be found here.]

And, even Republicans are beginning to see what’s been going on. Today, Charles Turner, a US Attorney under Reagan, said that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had, “compromised the integrity of the Department of Justice.” According to Turner, in his three decades as a federal prosecutor, he had never been subjected to political pressure. “Never heard of it,” he said. “I wouldn’t have put up with it for a moment. It’s scandalous. The lies that have come out of Gonzales’ office — it’s just shocking. It’s very clear to me that the Bush administration let it be known that U.S. attorneys can be pressured, and politics plays a role in their retention in office. That is very clear.” And he’s not the only Republican coming forward. According to Think Progress, John Sununu just became the first Republican Senator to call for Gonzales to resign.

If you agree that federal law enforcement shouldn’t be politicized, consider joining me and signing the People for the American Way petition.

This, my friends, is what it looks like when regimes implode.

[I’m sure I missed things in this summary. If you have something to add, or corrections to make, please leave a comment. As this story, I’m sure, will be unraveling a hell of a lot more tomorrow, I’d also appreciate it if you could leave links to news stories when possible. Thanks.]

This entry was posted in Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

7 Comments

  1. robr
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, he’s one of those political appointees that believes he serves whosoever chose him. This might float for some third-rate ambassadorships, but for the AG post, that’s just wrong. As “America’s Top Cop” he should know he answers to the people, first– and last. Since he apparently can’t understand this, is mainly why he may be headed for his much deserved fall.

  2. dr. teddy glass
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    If only they could somehow twist it so that those in opposition to Gonzales looked like racists. “Karl Rove, where are you?”

  3. dr. teddy glass
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Sen. Leahy says that he’ll subpoena Rove in the matter.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/03/14/leahy-rove-subpoena/

  4. egpenet
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Generalizing much further …

    I see the greatest failure of the last two generations of our best American business people and politicians to either MENTOR or DUPLICATE themselves … thereby depriving our generation of capable, honest and innovative leadership.

    Instead, we get George and his circle of incompetents and liars … we get Turner, Murdock, and Redstone, who give us the crap on TV and have destroyed the credibility of our free press … and in industry, aside from Boeing, we get Billy, Dieter & Wagner, who have lost the momentum of the central American industry for which all others revolved. There are many other examples. And I’m all for free trade and world development. We can have all of that and keep the lead, be the innovators. But those roles and opportunities are gone.

    Little wonmder that scitar music and the odor of kim-chi gives these guys nightmares.

  5. mark
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    24 hours have passed and now 3 Republican Senators are calling for him to leave. A Republican strategist says he’s “finished.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/03/15/rohrbacher-becomes-3/

  6. Denis O'Hara
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Gonzalez was railroaded out of Wash. by the liberal cronies in congress who have it out for President Bush. That’s the ONLY reason he was made to step down, and it’s a damn shame! The commie liberal media had their doings in the bad deed as well!

  7. mark
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    For some reason, I think it didn’t sit well with a couple of people that our nation’s leading enforcer of laws was lying to Congress, turning a blind eye to torture, and facilitating the power grab of the Executive branch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Connect

BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Peter Sickman-Garner