Sunday, June 17, 2007

Politicizing The Department of Justice Even More

Via Think Progress, here's a Chicago Tribune article that says Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wants to ratchet up the politicization of U.S. attorneys by forcing them to listen to complaints politicians have against them:

Atty Gen. Alberto Gonzales so far has survived a political crisis over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, a rare potential vote of no-confidence in the Senate and numerous calls for his resignation.

His response? Gonzales recently proposed tightening the leash on the men and women who prosecute federal crimes across the nation.

Gonzales described what he delicately calls "a more vigorous and a little bit more formal process" for annually evaluating prosecutors. What that means, as he explained it, is hauling in every U.S. attorney for a meeting to hear, among other things, politicians' beefs against the prosecutor.

If that should happen, expect the fair-mindedness and independence Americans still count on from their Justice Department to slip.

In testimony to Congress and comments at the National Press Club, Gonzales framed the meetings as a way of improving communications. But it also looks a lot like a way to remind recalcitrant U.S. attorneys what the home team expects.


Of course, there's already an evaluation process run by the Justice Department's executive office for U.S. attorneys. But that only measures how well a prosecutor runs the office, not how loyal he or she is to the administration's agenda.

Let's face it - in Bush's eyes, U.S. attorneys are only doing their jobs well when they're helping Republicans get re-elected and hurting the re-election chances of Democrats.

That's why Gonzales plans on having one-on-one meetings with EVERY U.S. attorney (and perhaps the disgruntled politicians with beefs against them) as part of the review process.

Can you imagine the screaming we'd hear from wingnuts if Bill Clinton and Janet Reno had run DOJ like that?

Can you imagine the screaming we'd hear...

I think of that often, and no doubt the reaction would be shrill and fearsome. But why is it so? Are their demagogues so much better than our demagogues? Wish I knew why.
I think so, yes. Many on the right have "The end justifies the means" mentalities. That's not to say all do. But many do. And quite a few are conscienceless. When your core political beliefs are low taxes, torture, deport the immigrants, and military action no matter the cost or consequence, by and large you're starting pretty low down on the conscience scale.
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