Friday, March 16, 2007

Lying Attorney Generals

The Bush administration's firing of eight federal prosecutors is quickly becoming a larger scandal. It's large in that the carefully timed release of a 9-11 confession from an Al Qaeda member hasn't knocked in from the headlines. Sadly, that's the barometer for scandals now. From the story:

WASHINGTON - The White House is being pulled further into the intensifying probe over federal prosecutor firings amid new questions about top political adviser Karl Rove's role and as GOP support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales erodes.
The latest e-mails between White House and Justice Department officials show that Rove inquired in early January 2005 about firing U.S. attorneys.

The one-page document, which incorporates an e-mail exchange in January 2005, also indicates Gonzales was considering dismissing up to 20 percent of U.S. attorneys in the weeks before he took over the Justice Department.

In the e-mails, Gonzales' top aide, Kyle Sampson, says that an across-the-board housecleaning "would certainly send ripples through the U.S. attorney community if we told folks they got one term only." But it concludes that "if Karl thinks there would be political will to do it, then so do I." Sampson resigned this week over the prosecutors' firings and the Justice Department's misleading of Congress about the process.

The e-mails "show conclusively that Karl Rove was in the middle of this mess from the beginning," said Sen. Charles Schumer
, D-N.Y. "Every time new information comes out, it proves that the White House was not telling the truth."

Earlier Thursday, Rove said the controversy was being fueled by "superheated political rhetoric," adding that there was no similar uproar when President Clinton dismissed all 93 U.S. attorneys at the beginning of his first term.
First, as Joe notes Gonzales is lying. Gonzales in 1-07:
"I would never, ever make a change in the United States attorney position for political reasons."
Next, the yahoo article above removes emphasis from a very important fact that goes with the last sentence fragment in bold above. Clinton and Bush bush replaced all their predecessors' prosecutors. This is common practice. It's akin to a governor replacing appointed employees upon taking office. The article later offers this odd paragraph:
It's customary for new presidents to bring in their own team of prosecutors when they take office. Democrats say the Bush administration singled out some of its own nominees because they chafed at the president's priorities and Republican efforts to influence political corruption investigations.
That makes it sound as if Bush just took office and was practicing the norm. Not true. Josh has more:
Today, a number of far-right blogs have picked up on the same talking point, and even the traditional media is picking up on it, with NBC’s Kevin Corke repeating the meme this morning.

I had hoped this nonsense, debunked last week, would have disappeared by now, but it seems to be the only talking point White House allies can come up with. The argument is premised on a mistaken understanding of how the process works. When a president takes office, he or she nominates federal prosecutors at the beginning of the first term. Under normal circumstances, these U.S. Attorneys serve until the next president is sworn in.

In 1993, Clinton replaced H.W. Bush’s prosecutors. In 2001, Bush replaced Clinton’s prosecutors. None of this is remotely unusual. Indeed, it’s how the process is designed.

The difference with the current scandal is overwhelming. Bush replaced eight specific prosecutors, apparently for purely political reasons. This is entirely unprecedented. For conservatives to argue, as many are now, that Clinton’s routine replacements for H.W. Bush’s USAs is any way similar is the height of intellectual dishonesty. They know better, but hope their audience is too uninformed to know the difference.

Clinton’s former chief of staff John Podesta told ThinkProgress last week that the entire argument is “pure fiction.”
That's one thing the the Bush crime family is good at: telling "pure fiction."

The firings are an outrage. The Bush administration was willing to sacrifice crime-fighting capabilities for politics. This is huge in the media now, but I wonder if people realize how unprecedented an act this is. The "Clinton did it" is being tossed around and not rebutted in the larger press. If this becomes something that people shake their heads over, saying, "what's the big deal?" or worse, "where's the real crime?" it will be sad indeed and the corporate media will once again have done its job.

Sacrificing security for politics, the raison d'etre of the Bush administration.