Carol Platt Liebau: It's About Time

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It's About Time

President Bush has finally demonstrated that he understands that Democrats are seeking nothing but to slake their political bloodlust with their threats to send subpoenas to presidential advisors.

The White House is rightly telling them to take a hike. In good faith, the Administration has offered to have presidential advisers answer questions -- but that's not enough for the Democrats. That, of course, is because they're not interested in getting to the bottom of the US attorneys story; they're interested in setting a perjury trap and hoping for Libby II.

The US attorneys story is one of the non-events of the year. As even the LA TImes has been forced to concede, contemperaneous emails demonstrate that the US attorney firings appeared to be for entirely legitimate reasons:

The department did not remove the U.S. attorneys for improper reasons such as to prevent or retaliate for a particular prosecution in a public corruption matter," [a Justice Department spokeswoman] said.

Indeed, some of the documents show Justice Department officials discussing individual problems with the various fired prosecutors.

They were critical of Paul Charlton in Phoenix because he wanted to change Gonzales' mind about a death penalty case in Arizona.

They were upset with Daniel G. Bogden in Las Vegas for not bringing enough obscenity prosecutions. McNulty said in an e-mail two days before the firings that he had second thoughts about Bogden.

"I'm still a little skittish about Bogden … I'll admit (I) have not looked at his district's performance."

The documents also show that Washington officials were frustrated with Carol C. Lam of San Diego and David C. Iglesias of Albuquerque for not doing more on border crime cases.


Those are entirely proper reasons for removing US attorneys -- not that, as political appointees, the White House has to demonstrate any reasons at all.

6 Comments:

Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

As I commented on an earlier post - the "DOJ Document dump" discloses far more than Republicans would want. Again I will point out that none of the 8 attorneys were given reasons for their firing and some, in fact, pleaded with DOJ higher ups about making sure that "poor performance" was not used as a reason.

10:04 PM  
Blogger stackja1945 said...

The president can hire and fire. Did not Bill and Hil do the same?

12:59 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Seems like we've been saying "It's About Time" quite a bit with this administration, doesn't it?

11:39 AM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

Stackja,

There is actually little in the way of resemblance between what Clinton did and what Bush did.

1) All USAs are appointed by politicians. Therefore both Bush and Clinton have the right to hire and fire. That is what we agree on.
2) At the beginning of a term of office, it is quite within the law to set up your own bunch of USAs. That's essentially what Clinton did, although in reality he simply accepted the resignation of all 93 USAs who automatically handed in their resignation after Clinton won the election (apparently this is normal procedure whenever a new president comes in)
3) Although it is legal for the President to "hire and fire", any firing of USAs based on purely political grounds is against the law - especially when they are only a few years into their term of office.
4) There was no reason given to the USAs as to why they were fired. Halfway through their term they were simply told to go. Many of these USAs had either prosecuted Republican politicans (like Lam did with Cunningham) or had refused to investigate alleged "voter fraud" by Democrats because of lack of evidence (like Iglesias). This appears to show very clearly that the USAs were fired for not acting in sympathy with the Republican party.
5) Whatever the situation was, it is very clear that the entire political and judicial structure that acts as the basis of US Attorneys is deeply flawed. I certainly believe the current problem is a result of Republican corruption, but I also believe that the Democrats may well take advantage of these flaws in the future. It is better to change the structure now to incorporate better checks and balances to the system and ensure that USAs are never again put under political pressure to make biased decisions.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

Where does it say that firings for political purposes is illegal, and how is it specifically stated? These attorneys are extensions of the president's views on what constitutes priorities in prosecution. Each president has his own set of beliefs about what needs to be dealt with. If an attorney disagrees with the priorities of the president, or doesn't execute his office in a manner that achieves the goals set forth for him by the president, then a firing is in order and is, at the same time, political by virtue of the fact that the attorney was not doing his job as the president preferred. This is how I understand the situation to be, thus, I would appreciate some support for the contention that firing for political reasons is illegal. Doesn't seem it could be for much else. The 93 who resigned as a result of Clinto coming into office seems to be political in that they assume the goals of the new prez would be counter to what they believe is important goals. How am I wrong here?

9:21 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Salient,

Can you cite the law that allows a President to hire/fire U.S. Attorneys for any reason at the beginning of a term, but then restricts that freedom after a certain amount of time in office?

Does that law also specify that firing U.S. Attorneys for "purely political" reasons is illegal?

Does that statute then go on to define "purely political"?

I think you've lost your mooring of late, Salient. Get a grip, would you? You're beginning to sound similar to Earth. I absolutely know you can do better than that.

7:04 AM  

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