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  1. #1
    Senior Member CCUSA's Avatar
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    Alberto Gonzalez's coup d'etat

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/20 ... attorneys/ -


    Alberto Gonzalez's coup d'etat
    The Constitution be damned, the attorney general has seized control of U.S. attorney appointments for partisan purposes.

    By Joe Conason


    Feb. 9, 2007 | Under any circumstances, the Bush administration's sudden, explicitly political dismissal and replacement of United States attorneys in judicial districts across the country would be very troubling -- both as a violation of American law enforcement traditions and as a triumph of patronage over competence.

    But as the story behind these strange decisions unfolds, a familiar theme is emerging. Again, the White House and the Justice Department have been exposed in a secretive attempt to expand executive power for partisan purposes. And again, their scheming is tainted with a nasty whiff of authoritarianism.

    There is much more at stake here than a handful of federal jobs.

    Leading senators of both parties are disturbed by these incidents because U.S. attorneys -- the powerful officials appointed by the president to prosecute federal crimes and defend federal interests in each of the nation's judicial districts -- are supposed to be as nonpartisan as possible. Democrats mostly appoint Democrats and Republicans mostly appoint Republicans, but the U.S. attorneys are usually chosen with the advice and consent of the senators from their home states, and then confirmed by the full Senate, with a decent respect for skill and experience as well as political connections.

    The reason for this appointment process was simple: These prosecutors must police the politicians. They are expected to guard the nation's judicial system against the varieties of political abuse that are typical of authoritarian systems. They are granted a substantial degree of independence from the government in Washington, including the attorney general who functions as their boss.

    To ensure that no U.S. attorney could be fired on a whim and replaced with a malleable hack, the relevant statute required that whenever a vacancy occurred in midterm, the replacement would be appointed by federal circuit judges rather than by the president. Getting rid of irksomely honest and nonpartisan prosecutors was difficult if not impossible.

    But that wholesome safeguard was breached in December 2005, when the Senate renewed the Patriot Act. At the behest of the Justice Department, an aide to Sen. Arlen Specter slipped a provision into the bill that permitted the White House to place its own appointees in vacant U.S. attorney positions permanently and without Senate confirmation. So silently was this sleight of hand performed that Specter himself now claims, many months later, to have been completely unaware of the amendment's passage. (Of course, it would be nice if the senators actually read the legislation before they voted, particularly when they claim to be the authors.)

    The staffer who reportedly performed this bit of dirty work is Michael O'Neill, a law professor at George Mason University and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. As the Washington Times explained when O'Neill was appointed as the Senate Judiciary Committee's chief counsel, many observers believed that Specter had hired him to reassure conservatives of his loyalty to the Bush White House. Right-wing distrust had almost ousted the Pennsylvania moderate from the Judiciary chairmanship, and appointing O'Neill was apparently the price for keeping that post.

    Evidently O'Neill rewarded Specter by sneaking through legislation to deprive him and his fellow senators of one of their most important powers, at the behest of an attorney general intent on aggrandizing executive power. The results of this backstage betrayal -- now playing out in a wave of politicized dismissals and hirings -- were perfectly predictable and utterly poisonous.

    Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney in San Diego who successfully prosecuted the sensationally crooked Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, was fired for no known reason while she is still pursuing important leads in that historic case. Cunningham is supposed to be cooperating, but if Bush replaces her with a partisan stooge, he may be able to keep his secrets. Bud Cummings, the respected U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., was canned to make room for a Republican opposition research operative and Karl Rove acolyte named Timothy Griffin. Could that conceivably have anything to do with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential candidacy? Paul Charlton, the U.S. attorney in Arizona, was thrown out while investigating allegations of corruption against Republican Rep. Rick Renzi.

    And John McKay, the U.S. attorney in Seattle whose diligence has been praised by judges and lawyers of both parties, was simply ordered to quit last December, for no obvious reason. Although McKay's last evaluation by the Justice Department was excellent, the attorney general insists that all of these curious firings were due to "performance" issues.

    Any such self-serving statements emanating from Alberto Gonzales should always be greeted with appropriate skepticism. So should the claim that he sought to seize control of interim U.S. attorney appointments because of his concern over the "separation of powers" issues supposedly inherent in judges' appointing prosecutors. As the McClatchy Newspapers reported on Jan. 26, Gonzales has named at least nine "conservative loyalists from the Bush administration's inner circle" to positions vacated by professional prosecutors.

    On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to restore the old nonpartisan system for replacing U.S. attorneys and to require Senate confirmation of all new appointees. The full Senate and the House of Representatives should do likewise, despite Republican opposition, but that is not enough. The Senate Democrats should continue to probe the attorney general's little coup d'état and all of the resulting appointments. That is the best way to discourage future usurpations -- and to frustrate whatever skulduggery was afoot this time.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Dixie's Avatar
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    Englishmen, who have no right in this kingdom of France, the King of Heaven sends you word and warning...depart into your own country... Joan of Arc.

  3. #3
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    I went to that thread Dixie and it gives me a headache so I'm posting this article here.

    http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/02 ... 2_8_07.txt

    Sinister scheme behind Lam's firing

    By: RICK HALL - Commentary

    We've read some of the apparent reasons for the firing of Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney for San Diego for the last 4 1/2 years. She was going after the big-fish criminals instead of the little ones. She struck too close to the nerve of political and corporate power, including that of Rep. Darrell Issa.

    When a prosecutor goes after powerful, white-collar criminals, power brokers and politicians, such as Duke Cunningham, defense contractor Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes ---- a Poway defense contractor believed to be another Cunningham co-conspirator ---- sensitive and powerful nerves are struck in unexpected places higher up. Obviously one nerve leads to Rep. Darrell Issa, for, as the NC Times editorial ( "The one that got away," Feb. 1) stated, "Investigators could easily pick up the fingerprints of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, on Lam's back." Something about Lam's investigations was making Issa very uncomfortable. This in itself is reason for further investigation.

    The Lam firing, however, is but part of a deeper and more sinister scheme in the White House to appropriate ever more of the powers of the judicial branch of government, thereby aggrandizing the power of the president and undermining one of the three great pillars of our system of government.

    Lam's firing is but one part of the scheme. Eight other U.S. attorneys also were fired around the country. Most of their replacements were handpicked by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales himself, under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law last March. Critics fear Gonzales is trying to circumvent the former requirement for Senate confirmation by using the new provision that allows Bush to make interim appointments for indefinite terms. Many legal scholars contend the administration pushed for the changes in the Patriot Act in order to expand the power of the executive branch.

    The selection of U.S. attorneys has always been a political process, but it has been primarily a local one, with the direct advice and recommendation of state senators. Now the process has become one dictated by the White House. Previous Republican administrations worked very hard to respect local power. Not this one.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, have filed bills that would restore to federal judges the right to name interim appointees when vacancies develop. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., gave his support to Feinstein's bill.

    We citizens of North County are deeply grateful for Lam's dogged and focused investigations of blatant corruption in San Diego County. As the NC Times stated, "If she hadn't done anything other than catch Duke, North County would still owe her a tremendous thank you."

    Carol's last day in office is the day after Valentine's Day. Supporters have organized a show of appreciation by sending her hundreds of roses on Valentine's Day, Wednesday, Feb. 14. You can join this swell of support by contacting Flowers by Sean at (619) 296-1500 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., before Feb. 12; tell him you want to donate via credit card to flowers for Carol Lam.
    We have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.

  4. #4
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    But that wholesome safeguard was breached in December 2005, when the Senate renewed the Patriot Act. At the behest of the Justice Department, an aide to Sen. Arlen Specter slipped a provision into the bill that permitted the White House to place its own appointees in vacant U.S. attorney positions permanently and without Senate confirmation. So silently was this sleight of hand performed that Specter himself now claims, many months later, to have been completely unaware of the amendment's passage. (Of course, it would be nice if the senators actually read the legislation before they voted, particularly when they claim to be the authors.)
    So what we are now being told in no uncertain terms..........
    is that our elected officials in Congress NEVER or RARELY READ THE AMENDMENTS!

    How's that for doing the work of the people?

    However, it's more important for Pelosi to get a HUGE PLANE for her enjoyment. More important for these dufuses to get a PAY RAISE.

    By all means..............DON'T READ the AMENDMENTS OR LEGISLATION!
    That would be WORK

  5. #5
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    So what we are now being told in no uncertain terms..........
    is that our elected officials in Congress NEVER or RARELY READ THE AMENDMENTS!
    Didn't this happen in a similar fashion with the Senate amnesty bill S.2611? The thing was hundreds of pages long, and 2 hours before the final vote, Specter slipped in the provision about the US having to consult with Mexico before building a fence. Note.....it was Specter again.

  6. #6
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kate
    So what we are now being told in no uncertain terms..........
    is that our elected officials in Congress NEVER or RARELY READ THE AMENDMENTS!
    Didn't this happen in a similar fashion with the Senate amnesty bill S.2611? The thing was hundreds of pages long, and 2 hours before the final vote, Specter slipped in the provision about the US having to consult with Mexico before building a fence. Note.....it was Specter again.
    Yep, sure did happen. Isn't that when the social security for illegals was input too?
    Are bills ever what they seem?
    They need to get a rule for themselves 'only clean bills allowed.'
    We have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.

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