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Posted by on Mar 25, 2007 in Politics | 9 comments

The Fired Attorneys, Patriot Act And Appointment Powers

So exactly WHY were Republicans working as U.S. attorneys fired? There’s a ton of speculation so far but nothing that has been universally accepted or completely confirmed — just lots of tantalizing tidbits that, if pieced together, suggest there was more there than meets the eye or emerges from official spinmasters’ lips.

For those both pondering this controversy and truly seeking answers (versus finding things to support any political position), there are two MUST-READ posts that would benefit readers, weblog writers and the mainstream media.

First, political scientist Steven Taylor does a bit of investigative work:

From the beginning, one of the things that has been a huge red flag in this whole affair is the fact that the 2006 reauthorization of the Patriot Act (signed by the President on 3/9/06) contained a change in the way that US Attorneys were to be replaced. Under the pre-2006 system, the AG appointed an interim and if the Senate had not confirmed a permanent replacement after 120, the courts named an new interim. Under the 2005 Patriot Act reauthorization, the AG can name an interim for an indefinite amount of time, essentially removing Senate confirmation from the process. It is that new process that was used to replace the recently fired USAs.

One of the many questions that abound is how did this item get into the reauthorization of the Patriot Act?

READ IT IN FULL because Taylor goes through emails (and reproduces them for readers) and it’s interesting what he comes up with.

Meanwhile, The Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog, Kevin Drum offers a tantalizing summary:

Is there, as Alberto Gonzales insists, a perfectly reasonable explanation for Purgegate? I guess there might be, but there are sure an awful lot of reasons to be skeptical….Put them all together, though, and you have to be a real dead-end loyalist to believe there’s nothing fishy going on. Throw in #9 and even the dead-enders ought to be scratching their chins.

Read Drum’s entire list. And all but people who feel they must defend the administration no matter what will read it and conclude: it truly smells.

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  • kritter

    Former US attorney McKay was on This Week this morning, and related his firing to the extremely close Washington State 2004 Governor’s race, which a Democrat won by a little over 160 votes. There were calls for McKay to investigate the election for voter fraud. When the preliminary investigation turned up nothing suspicious, McKay dropped it. He heard that prominent Republicans in the state were furious with him for not pursuing the matter further so that the election could be overturned. He heard nothing further until his firing for no apparent reason.

  • grognard

    Kritter, yes and some other bits of information I found interesting on that show was that 2 of the fired attorneys were in the top 10 for Federal prosecutions, not exactly poor performers. The other fact that was put out was that in the pervious 25 years only 10 attorneys had been fired for problems [of course excluding those removed normally as a part of a change in administration] again showing how unprecedented this is.

  • domajot

    That darned clause in the Patriot Act!
    If it’s really true (and these days, it’s well to have assertions verified) that this was inserted by the DOJ, then this should really be screamed from the rooftops.
    Dirty politics is one thing. This is sabotage of the Constitution.

  • kritter

    Something tells me this is just the tip of the iceberg, grognard. I had heard that other information as well. The facts individually don’t mean much, but when you really start to look at it all together, it shows a politicized Dept. Of Justice that pressured these attys to prosecute Dems more aggressively, and removed those who were too aggressive in pursuing Republicans. They never expected anything to come out given the lack of oversight that we saw prior to the midterms.

    In some of the e-mails, it even talks about how since several are from border states, they can use failure at immigration law enforcement as an excuse. In others it talks about how they can count on the fired attorneys not to make a fuss. If everything was on the up and up, why would they need to send e-mails like that???

  • kritter

    BTW- The US attorney in charge of the Big Tobacco case, also claims that there was interference from DOJ. She handled the case for 6 years, but then was ordered to ask for a much smaller verdict, and was told to ask witnesses to change their testimony. Someone at DOJ wrote her closing arguments for her. She said that if she had refused, she would have been taken off the case. Apparently, the tobacco companies involved in the lawsuit are big campaign contributors to the GOP.

  • Bush/Rove/Cheney/Gonzalez Commissariat

    Political appointees oversee science (FDA & global warming) in this administration.

    Political appointees botch, bungle and butcher Iraq reconstruction/destruction and Katrina relief.

    Political appointees set up propaganda office in DOD to deliberately and maliciously mislead the nation into war while refusing to plan for known obstacles ultimately leading to thousand of troop’ deaths and injuries.

    The hue and cry over Purgegate is that the Justice Department has traditionally been significantly and honorably immune to rank political interference.

    Despoiling democracy and honor while emulating a Soviet/Communist Commissariat model government is the legacy of our governing thugs.

    If politicizing the Justice Department finally brings out the backbones of our legislators, Republican and Democrat alike, shout hosannas. Citizens of the entire planet sincerely want the America that strives for honor, equality and equal treatment under the law to reappear.

  • Thunder_Snow

    This whole thing is a pseudo-scandal. Were any laws broken? I haven’t heard Sen. Schumer or anyone else cite a specific law that was broken by Gonzales, Rove, Bush, or anyone else. But hey, as long as this “scandal” goes on, it pushes the latest U.S. soldier body count off the front page of a 1,000 internet sites. That’s great news for a surge that’s beginning to make headway.

  • kritter

    It is a crime to lie to Congress- as it appears Gonzo did. There are also some indications of political interference in ongoing investigations as in the New Mexico firing. But some of it is a bit murky—coming down to a loss of confidence in a DOJ populated by partisan hacks, instead of independent prosecutors of our law. That can be just as dangerous as outright lawbreaking. Also, as we saw in Watergate, Zippergate and Plamegate, obstruction of justice and perjury are often what gets overly secretive administrations in trouble.

    I personally find it disturbing that McKay was fired for not pleasing powerful Republicans in his state, who were angry because a close gubernatorial election was not overturned by findings of voter fraud. Is this really the kind of justice system we want in this country? If so, we’d better take the blindfold off the statue of Lady Justice! Whats next, taking Lady Liberty out of New York Harbor, because the sight of her might embolden illegal immigrants entering the country to take our jobs and overload our healthcare system???

  • CaseyL

    Thunder_Snow: Try this one:

    Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Code make “false statements to Congress” a felony punishable by a fine or imprisonment up to five years, or both. Section 1001 defines the offense as so:

    Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully… makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation…

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