Monday, March 19, 2007

Competence Is An Offense

David Iglesias - who you'll recall was dismissed after accusations that he didn't investigate (non-existent Democratic) voter fraud vigorously enough (to affect the election) - was lauded by the Justice department for doing precisely that. In fact, he was twice selected to train other federal prosecutors to pursue election crimes.

David C. Iglesias, who was dismissed as U.S. attorney for New Mexico in December, was one of two chief federal prosecutors invited to teach at a "voting integrity symposium" in October 2005...

... According to Iglesias, the agency invited him back as a trainer last summer, just months before a Justice official telephoned to fire him. He said he could not attend the second time because of his obligations as an officer in the Navy Reserve.

The fact that Justice officials held out Iglesias to his colleagues as an exemplar of good work on voter fraud conflicts with an explanation offered last week by a senior aide to President Bush that eight U.S. attorneys had been removed in part because of complaints that some had been lax in pursuing election fraud.

Not Just A Bad Idea

... According at least to the Times's Adam Cohen, who identifies four ways in which the firing of eight US attorneys may be worthy of a Special Prosecutor's attentions.

In law schools, it is common to give an exam called the “issue spotter,” in which students are given a set of facts and asked to identify all the legal issues and possible crimes. The facts about the purge are still emerging. But based on what is known — and with some help from Congressional staff members and Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University — it was not hard to spot that White House and Justice Department officials, and members of Congress, may have violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 1501-1520, the federal obstruction of justice statute.

And to think we had 'scandal fatigue' before..

Friday, March 16, 2007

Guess Who Just Reared His Ugly Head

And who would've guessed that Bush's Brain would have his fingers in this particular pie? It seems Attorneygate was planned - by Rove, Gonzales, and then White House Counsel David Leitch - sometime before December 2004, by which time the only question remaining was how many of the 'loyal Bushies' should be retained.

Needless to say, they're already readying the infallible "Reagan Defense":

"The Attorney General has no recollection of any plan or discussion to replace U.S. Attorneys while he was still White House Counsel. The period of time referred to in the email was during the weeks he was preparing for his confirmation hearing, January 6th, 2005, and his focus was on that. Of course, discussions of changes in Presidential appointees would have been appropriate and normal White House exchanges in the days and months after the election as the White House was considering different personnel changes Administration wide."

His Presidential Medal of Freedom's doubtless being polished even now.

Mistakes Were Made

Or that's the mantra we're hearing, out of the soon-to-be dismissed Attorney General's office. What those mistakes were is another matter, but Andrew Cohen at the Post has outlined most of the significant ones. In an ongoing series of essays, we see all sides of the man: crony, accomplice, and sock-puppet.

The man's 'mistakes' and deficiencies are so extensive that even the porn 'stache barely rates a mention.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Yes, 'Unprecedented'

Miers Email

People who've been following Attorneygate have by now heard the talk radio types predictably mewling 'But Cliiiiiinton!'. And, yes, Clinton did fire all 93 US Attorneys upon taking office. So did Reagan, and Bush the Smarter. Shrub actually kept a few appointees from the previous administration. That's SOP. The crop is renewed every time a new President takes office. And, yes, these attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, and can be fired mid-term if there is cause. It's happened twice since 1981.

While they aren't members of the judicial branch, these men and women are like Supreme Court justices - who are effectively also appointed by the President - in that they can only do their jobs effectively if they have job security - at least enough that they can reach the end of their terms without worrying about stepping on executive toes. The stated tasks set before them are enough to occupy them already; they're not there to help the President influence elections. Or to let powerful and corrupt friends off the hook. Attempts to turn them into such tools are, without resort to hyperbole, an affront to democracy and an assault on justice, even without then lying to Congress and everyone else about it, or simply and premeditatively rewriting inconvenient rules that might make your malfeasance more difficult. Subverting the mechanism of justice - faltering and rusty as it may sometimes appear to be - so brazenly, and to such venal ends, betrays a corruption without precedent in any administration.