Carol Platt Liebau: The Truth About Justice

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Truth About Justice

Predictably, the Democrats are grandstanding again. Charles Schumer is calling for Attorney General Gonzales' resignation, on the grounds that he is allegedly putting politics above the law.

That's pretty rich, coming from a senator who complacently sat in office (both in the House and Senate) throughout the tenure of the hapless, hopelessly incompetent Janet Reno. Her Justice Department was a political tool of the Clinton Administration from start to finish, as David Limbaugh pointed out; what's more, its respect for civil liberties (allegedly so beloved by Democrats when a terrorist threat looms) was limited, at best.

What's more, this matter about the firing of eight US attorneys is a big "nothing" of the first order. The President is entitled to fire US attorneys for cause -- or without it. As many will recall, one of Janet Reno's first acts was to fire all 93 sitting US attorneys. As Judge Robert Bork wrote in 1998:

Upon taking office, in an unexplained departure from the practice of recent Administrations, Miss Reno suddenly fired all 93 U.S. attorneys. She said the decision had been made in conjunction with the White House. Translation: The President ordered it.

There was a brief outcry, but there was the end of the matter. For one thing, the Senate was in Democratic hands. For another, firing all 93 U.S. attorneys -- despite the massive threat to numerous ongoing prosecutions all across the US -- was the President's prerogative. They serve at the pleasure of the President.

Here, with regard to the US Attorney for New Mexico, the big charge is not that Senator Pete Domenici tried to stifle on ongoing prosecution. At worst, the allegation is that he tried to hasten its conclusion. Even that is unproven, but Domenici is being dragged through the mud anyway. And in fact, it's hardly unheard of for elected officials to check in with U.S. attorneys -- many times, the US attorneys are well-known to (or even proteges of) senators and congressmen. Perhaps its time for all the US senators to reveal the extent of their contacts with US attorneys in this administration and the preceding one.

The vaporings in the MSM over this non-story have been ridiculous. If they really cared about the facts, they would read Andrew McCarthy's straightforward accounting of relevant facts. Why is it all right to fire 93 US Attorneys, but terribly wrong to fire only 8?


Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

There is a big difference between what has happened now and what went on back in 1993.

And I need to preface this by stating that I am not necessarily supporting what Clinton and Reno did throughout their terms of office.

The first thing is that US Attorneys are appointed by the president and they have a term limited to four years. Maybe Clinton did "fire" all 93 attorneys for purely political reasons, but he did have the power to do so, especially since he would have had to replace all of them eventually during his first term anyway. It would be interesting to see the term ending dates of these 93 people to see whether some had years left, or days left, before they were fired.

The second thing is that the Patriot act changed the way US attorneys are appointed. Via a legal loophole, US Attorneys can be appointed by a district court without Senate approval during a period where no one has been formally placed. In this case, Bush/Gonzales can simply rely upon local law makers to replace the troublesome priests they have executed.

The third thing is that there appears to be solid evidence that the 8 US Attorneys were fired because they did not obey the whims of Republican politicians who wanted investigations against Democrats "sped up" to provide marketing fodder before the 2006 election. These Attorneys refused and were fired.

The fourth thing is that, so far, everything that Gonzales has said has been proven wrong. He said that these people were fired for bad performance but the DOJ had given all of them glowing reports. He said that their going to the press and congress was political grandstanding on their part, despite the fact that Congress subpoenaed all eight because they all refused to testify.

And lastly, feel something for David Iglesias, one of the attorneys who was fired. An evangelical Christian and solid Republican... made to suffer because he didn't toe the party line and tried to do his job in the most unbiased way possible.

12:48 AM  

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