Thursday, February 08, 2007

SENATE PANEL ON US ATTORNEY FIRINGS: WE PROPOSE REFORMS IN NEW LEGISLATION

WASHINGTON D.C.--As they promised, Democratic leadership in the Senate are going after this hidden provision of the Patriot Act re-authorization from March of 2006 that allows the President to replace US Federal Prosecutors (like Patrick Fitzgerald) without Senate confirmation hearings. Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein proposed a bill eliminating this provision today, with another coming in the House soon:

Three Republicans, Sens. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Charles Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah, joined all the panel's Democrats in backing the bill. U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and may be dismissed for any reason, or no reason at all. It's the process of replacement that, the bill's proponents argue, should prevent political cronyism. (AP, 02.08.2007)

Specter, the author of the re-authorization act is claiming ignorance that the provision was in the bill. This is a peculiar contention that begs for some elaboration: if you wrote the bill, surely you would read some of it. Or did someone insert it into the process without him knowing? This is a pretty disturbing fact and a breach of the process...or, he's lying.

The provision allows the Attorney General to replace US Attorneys "indefinitely. The Feinstein bill "would allow the attorney general to appoint an interim U.S. attorney for 120 days. If after that time someone had not been nominated and confirmed by the Senate, authority to appoint an interim U.S. attorney would fall to the district court." (ibid) One thing's certain. If you're successful in the apprehension and conviction of Bush allies and members of the GOP in-general, your job as a federal prosecutor is in-jeopardy. But, if you're a crony of the Bush inner circle, merit is out-the-window. All you need is a pulse and the willingness to take-orders and fall on your sword when the time comes:

Since last March, the administration has named at least nine U.S. attorneys with administration ties. None would agree to an interview. They include: ...Tim Griffin, 37, the U.S. attorney for Arkansas, who was an aide to White House political adviser Karl Rove and a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. ...Edward McNally, the U.S. attorney in southern Illinois, who was a senior associate counsel to President Bush. (KRT Wire, 01.26.2006)

That's the question. Will they fall on their swords when this administration falls? Will they help continue the obstruction of justice that the former GOP majority facilitated? What will the public have on this? The November midterms seem to be saying more than just "we want a resolution to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan", it was over corruption and accountability from a flippant White House and majority.

We know what happened to that majority, and it looks clear that that is coming shortly for the Bush administration as nearly every piece of legislation they managed to ram-though Congress gets gutted. Meanwhile, all they can do in the GOP and the Right is to block debate on non-binding bills stopping Bush's troop-escalation, and whining that two women-bloggers used the "f-word." Pretty pathetic, pretty weak. But remember, this is all happening within the context of an onslaught on the Right and the GOP, they're running scared now from their own shadows.

On Cronyism:
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/politics/16556027.htm

APpointments: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/politics/4537711.html