Wednesday, 28 February 2007

The Stench at Justice Expands

We can now add Western Michigan's Margaret Chiara to the list of U.S. Attorneys who have been forced out by the White House and Alberto Gonzales. Watchblog's American Pundit put two and two together last month when San Diego's Carol Lam, who helped put Republican crook Duke Cunningham behind bars, was forced out. Gonzales may insist that no ongoing investigations are being jeopardized, but why then are we seeing the wholesale replacement of their own appointments by Bush loyalists? I smell something rotten.

And then there's the lies, and of couse the innuendo. Sure these positions are by nature political appointments, whose holders serve "at the pleasure of the President". They were appointed originally by this administration and have stepped down gracefully. But Bud Cummins of Eastern Arkansas, the first to go last year to make room for a Karl Rove aide, broke his silence after testimony in January by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the six U.S. attorneys in the West and Southwest had been dismissed for "performance-related" reasons:
They're entitled to make these changes for any reason or no reason or even for an idiotic reason. But if they are trying to suggest that people have inferior performance to hide whatever their true agenda is, that is wrong. They should retract those statements.
Six of the seven earlier fired attorneys had positive performance reviews. Cummins is scarcely alone in his reaction to McNulty's insulting testimony.

You can visit ePluribusMedia for more fine articles detailing the recent firings and their implications: The Gonzales Seven; Gaming the System; and links to separate articles about each one.

Speculation about Chiara's departure include that it had something to do with previous clashes with the administration on the death penalty which she opposes. From the Grand Rapids Press article:
Federal prosecutors serve at the discretion of the president and may be dismissed for any reason, or no reason at all. Most serve for the duration of the president's term and expect to be replaced when a new party sweeps into office.

"The timing is suspicious for anyone to leave on their own will and in the middle of a term when they were appointed by the sitting president. That alone makes it unusual," [Grand Rapids lawyer, Jon] Muth said. "I can't imagine it being performance-related."

James Brady, a former U.S. attorney for the Western District, is concerned by the possibility Chiara could be connected to the recent dismissals.

"There's no question we're concerned that politics may be involved in these types of decisions," he said. "In the (other forced resignations) there was nothing but praise until some political trouble started."

Chiara opposes capital punishment, although she has vowed to uphold such laws.
The PATRIOT Act has a provision which gives the current Attorney General authority to appoint any provisional replacement U.S. Attorney for the remainder of the Presidential term without Congressional approval. Alberto Gonzales was confirmed in a controversial Senate vote back in January of 2005. He came in with the odor of being a primary architect of the policies that weakened our government's previous strong stance against torture, calling the Geneva Conventions quaint prior to the exposure of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Even Republican Lindsey Graham of the Senate Judiciary Committe hearings during that confirmation expressed his dismay at a published Gonzales memo, stating:
when you start looking at torture statutes, and you look at ways around the spirit of the law, you're losing the moral high ground
Graham lacked the cojones to stand behind his principles and deny Gonzales' nomination, as he or Arlen Specter or any single Republican had the power to do, in what ended up being a 10-8 committee vote along party lines to forward the nomination to the full Senate.

And now that same morally crippled chief law enforcement officer of the land defends his capricious firings of 8 U.S. Attorneys in recent months, on shaky grounds. Gonzales is the one who should be fired. The stench smells from coast to coast.


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