White House Purges Courts Of Independent Prosecutors

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In his January 19 New York Times column (here, if you have access), Paul Krugman does a good job of crystalizing the recent goings-on at the White House in its purge of independent prosecutors. One by one, federal prosecutors are being relieved of their jobs in what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales describes as “a personnel matter.” More like a personal matter: The kinds of prosecutors that are being heaved out (like San Diego’s Carol Lam, who successfuly prosecuted Duke Cunningham) are the kind of attorneys who seek to bring justice for the people, and that appears to be making the Bush administration very uncomfortable.

According to Krugman, the White House has gotten rid of as few as four and as many as seven prosecutors (Gonzales is having trouble with the math) since the middle of December. As a rule, once a federal prosecutor is appointed, she serves for the remainder of the president’s term. Now that Democrats are in control in Congress, one might feel relief that none of Bush’s new appointees will be confirmed. Enter Sen. Arlen Specter.

When Specter was still chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he slipped a little gift for Bush into the revised Patriot Act bills–a proviso that eliminates the requirement that federal judicial appointees have only 120 days to be confirmed, and then replacements are named by federal district courts. One need only remember the chilling scene of Michael Moore’s driving an ice cream truck around the Capitol grounds and reading the Patriot Act through a loudspeaker to understand how easy it is to slip just about anything into a lengthy bill.

So now it does not matter whether the Senate confirms Bush’s new nominations–we are all stuck with them. I’m sure that Tom Maciulis and his media colleages do not care, but I do. If there is no one left to prosecute the corrupt and treasonous people at the top of our government, they have an absolute license to do whatever they wish.


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