Monday, April 16, 2007

THE END IS NEAR: ARLEN SPECTER CALLS FOR RE-HIRING OF FIRED US ATTORNEYS

Washington D.C.--Arlen's not playing any more bait-and-switch for the Bush administration--the love-affair is over. The thrill is gone, he's dead, Jim. This is appropriate: if there were improper reasons and procedures for firing these eight federal prosecutors, then they should be reinstated immediately if they choose to be. Of course this is political brinkmanship, and of the highest-order, but it's necessary in a healthy democracy. Keep-in-mind, this is coming from Arlen Specter, a senior Republican Senator from Pennsylvania who isn't known for these kinds of actions. What do you do when you're cornered like the Bush administration is? You obstruct, and you make demands that you know are never going to be met--you buy-for-time just as all criminals do in this situation.

Specter said some of the attorneys released are under a professional cloud because the Justice Department initially said they were fired because of their performance. "If they were released improperly, there ought to be a statement to that effect,'' the Pennsylvania Republican, 77, said. "If he was wrong, replacement -- reinstatement wouldn't be a bad idea if it could be done administratively.'' (Bloomberg, 04.15.2007)

It's still hard to believe this is coming-from a Republican Senator, but there it is, for all to see. Both Lindsey Graham (R-Sc.) and Specter are senior senators, meaning that when they leave the Bush orbit, so too will the majority of GOP incumbents in the Senate. This could also have repercussions in the House. Nevertheless, President Bush surrounded himself with a number of human-parachutes today (vets who are stupid enough to still support him and his war), demanding that Congress pass the supplemental funding-bill ($96-to-$124 billion--take-your-pick) NOW.

Then, you have Cheney stating on tv Sunday that "the Democrats will cave in on the legislation," which he's gravely mistaken about. The Democrats have no choice but to follow-through with a bill that sunsets the occupation of Iraq. It's not going-away. Ever. This is a worst-case scenario for any presidential administration, yet the Bush White House has continued to make demands in a context where over 2/3rd's of the public is against the Executive on almost everything. Granted, they've never cared about the will of the public before, but their behavior in this new political-context now simply appears isolated and strange. Do they know something we all don't? Perhaps they'd like to share it with all of us, but that would be giving more of the game away then they already have.

But Specter is saying only "some" of the US Attorneys should be reinstated. Why? Unequivocally, an evaluation on a case-by-case basis should occur, but it appears that all eight were fired improperly from what we already know. The Office of Special Counsel would be "the decider" on all of this, not simply the president, and not Congress. It appears that in the case of former-prosecutor David Iglesias (New Mexico), President Bush has let-down another soldier. It won't be the last-time. To writ:

Justice Department officials have not directly claimed that Iglesias was fired because of the more than 40 days a year he was away on Reserve duty, but they have accused him of being an "absentee landlord" who delegated too many responsibilities to his first assistant, Larry Gomez, now the acting U.S. attorney. The Office of Special Counsel, which also investigates whistleblower complaints and suspected illegal political activity by government workers, has the power in a normal case to order reinstatement and back pay for an employee who has suffered discrimination. But the Constitution gives Bush the authority to hire and fire U.S. attorneys, and the Office of Special Counsel would have to resolve the conflict. (Scripp News, 04.05.2007)

This is an interesting aspect of the Iglesias-firing, and complicates the recent rhetoric of the president and vice president. This is why you probably haven't seen this aspect of the story until now, though it's extremely pertinent. The Bush administration may be losing her allies in the GOP, but they'll have most of the right-wing owned press and media until the very end. The question is, will the press have any credibility left after all of this? Who cares? Everyone in the Soviet Union knew Pravda and all their media was rubbish--a certainty we don't have here, today, in the United States of America.

Nonetheless, power has its limits, and we're seeing them currently in this country. The old games aren't working anymore (the law of diminishing-returns). On March 18th, Specter had this to say on a Fox News roundtable with Iglesias, Cummins, and Sen. John Kerry.

WALLACE: Let's talk about the firing of Mr. Iglesias that we just discussed with him. When you hear that Senator Domenici and Congresswoman Wilson called him before the election, he alleges to ask him about a politically charged investigation; when they confirmed the fact, if not the substance, of those conversations; when you see this e-mail traffic which shows the chief of staff to the attorney general saying that Domenici's chief of staff was happy as a clam, does this trouble you?

SPECTER: Well, I think the issue really is whether Mr. Iglesias was performing properly [Ed.-except it's more-complicated than that.]. The New York Times has a very extensive story today outlining both sides of the matter -- lots of complaints about what he was doing and lots of complaints about what he was not doing. Now, if a United States attorney is not doing his job, he ought to be replaced. And it wouldn't be unusual for the chief of staff of the senator who makes the recommendations to be happy as a clam if they're going to get somebody in who's well qualified.

Look, Chris, it all turns on the facts. Was he doing the job or wasn't he doing the job? We know that the president has the authority to fire without any reason. President Clinton fired 93 U.S. attorneys when he took office, and nobody said a word. But there's a real question here if he fires for a bad reason, if he fires because a U.S. attorney would not respond to pressure to prosecute or if there was pressure on him to not prosecute. ... (realclearpolitics.com, 03.18.2007)

It isn't clear-cut as Senator Specter makes it appear. If Mr. Iglesias was serving his country in the Reserves, there wasn't any basis for "performance" in his firing, and he has an excellent case to sue the Bush administration for reinstatement and/or back pay. Currently, he's opting for the back pay and having his name cleared professionally. Senator Specter knows better, but he seems to be coming-around from the haze of the 109th and 110th Congress's disastrous tenure. At 77, he doesn't want his last-years to look as bad as all the others.

Bloomberg Yesterday: http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20070415/pl_bloomberg/a8zc7nyappek;_ylt=AjThJd0ahAvotLThx6T5qsgGw_IE

Scripp News 04.05.2007: http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/20874

Fox News' Chris Wallace transcipt of the 03.18.2007 roundtable:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/03/david_iglesias_bud_cummins_arl.html