Thursday, March 08, 2007
Attorney General Gonzales Says Federal Prosecutor Purge Is Just "An Overblown Personnel Matter"
Like me, U.S. attorneys are political appointees, and we all serve at the pleasure of the president. If U.S. attorneys are not executing their responsibilities in a manner that furthers the management and policy goals of departmental leadership, it is appropriate that they be replaced. After all, the responsibility of the Department of Justice, and of the Congress, is to serve the people of the United States. While I am grateful for the public service of these seven U.S. attorneys, they simply lost my confidence. I hope that this episode ultimately will be recognized for what it is: an overblown personnel matter.
Abu Gonzales is absolutely right - federal prosecutors do serve at the "pleasure of the president."
And the pleasure of this particular preznut is this: federal prosecutors may NEVER bring indictments for criminal wrongdoing against Republicans anywhere in the country; they MUST always bring indictments against Democrats at politically expedient times for Republicans. If for any reason they cannot follow these rules, they will be terminated from their jobs.
In other words, if federal prosecutors want to keep their jobs, they must help the Bush administration manipulate the federal judicial system for political advantage and personal gain.
Today Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) let Abu and the rest of the Bushies know that he didn't think that was such a good idea and he specifically criticized the article Abu wrote for USA Today defending the purge as "an overblown personnel matter":
Senior Senate Republicans today delivered scathing criticism of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales for his handling of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, joining Democrats in charging that the prosecutors were dismissed without adequate explanation.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested that Gonzales's status as the nation's leading law enforcement officer might not last through the remainder of President Bush's term, pointedly disputing the attorney general's public rationale for the mass firings.
"One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner rather than later," Specter said at a committee hearing where a new round of subpoenas to the Justice Department was considered.
After the meeting, Specter declined to elaborate on that remark, but told reporters that most of the blame for the ongoing controversy rests with the attorney general. "It's snowballing, mostly with the help of the Department of Justice," he said.
Specter said that an op-ed article by Gonzales that appeared in USA Today yesterday, in which he said the firings were an "overblown personnel matter," only served to exacerbate the problem. "I hardly think it's a personnel matter, and I hardly think it's been overblown," he said.
He read portions of the Gonzales article, pausing to critique each one. He added that the suggestion that the attorney general had lost "confidence" in the prosecutors needlessly suggested they performed poorly at their jobs.
"There will always be a black mark against them," Specter said.
Unfortunately Specter as usual lacks the balls to follow through with his threats. He didn't like the idea of hitting Gonzales and his inner circle of DOJ purgers with subpoenas to force them to testify. If we know anything about this Bush government, it's that they don't do ANYTHING without being absolutely forced to.
Still, at least Dems run things now instead of no-balls Specter. House Judiciary Chair John Conyers sent a letter to the DOJ requesting that the six officials reputed to be involved in the prosecutor purge testify before Congress next week about the matter. He wants the following officials at the hearings (list courtesy of TPMmuckraker):
-- Mike Elston, we know, made the now infamous not-at-all-threatening phone call to former USA Bud Cummins.
-- Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson and the Justice Department's White House liaison Monica Goodling were involved in generating the list of prosecutors to fire.
-- Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer told two of the fired prosecutors that they were being replaced in order to free up the spot for someone else.
-- Michael Battle, who will be stepping down at the end of next week, actually made the calls firing the prosecutors.
-- and Paul McNulty, the Deputy Attorney General who has already testified before the Senate about the firings.
And I'm sure Conyers would be happy to furnish Abu and Company with subpoeans if they don't want to testify voluntarily.
This prosecutor purge story has legs. Repubs know it, which is not even the nuttiest and most dishonest of wingers (like Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions) bothered to defend Gonzales or the DOJ officials all that much in the Senate hearings today.
Let's see where this story goes. Specter may just happen to be right that there will have to be a new Attorney General sooner rather than later because of this scandal. Luckily, though, with Repubs out of power, Specter's no longer calling the shots on the Senate Judiciary Committee. That way, if Gonzales really does need to be relieved of his duties, somebody with the guts to do it can make the call.
We can hope, can't we?
Hey, what is up with moderation? N_S?