Saturday, January 20, 2007

Assault on Justice

Knowing full well that they face defeat in court cases covering issues ranging from public corruption to the NSA wiretapping program and the denial of habeas corpus in hundreds of cases, the Bush administration has turned to a new and disturbing tactic. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is dismissing federal judges and replacing them with judges who he expects will make decisions based on political affiliation rather than legal merit.

From the Washington Post,
"[Gonzales] denied any political motives and vowed to quickly submit new nominees for the jobs to the Senate for confirmation.

'What we're trying to do is ensure that for the people in each of these respective districts, we have the very best possible representative for the Department of Justice,' Gonzales testified, adding later: 'I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons or if it would in any way jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it.'

Gonzales's remarks in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee came in response to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers about the forced removals of at least six U.S. attorneys, including several who have overseen some of the government's highest-profile corruption prosecutions."
Consider one of the judges who is on the way out; "Carol C. Lam in San Diego, who led the corruption prosecution of former congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham (R-Calif.)" On the way in is Tim Griffin, who was recently working for the RNC trying to dig up dirt on Democratic candidates. Despite Gonzo's protests otherwise, that looks political to me.
Senator Feinstein seems to agree.
Diane Feinstein Adresses the Senate

Here's Olbermann with Jonathan Turley's reaction:
Assault on Justice
Turley gets right to the point when he remarks that Gonzo is 'more General than Attorney...he seems just inherently hostile towards the rule of law.' Which when you think of it is just what you want if you're trying to set up a police state. This seems to be something they've been planning for some time, too. Under a little known provision added into the USA PATRIOT Act when it was renewed*, the judges no longer require congressional confirmation.

Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy, titles his post on this subject simply, with an infamous Bush quote, "This would be a whole lot easier if this was a dictatorship…just as long as I’m the dictator!" - This move seems designed to put Bush one step closer to that goal.

UPDATE: (3 am, Jan. 21) While researching for this post, I bookmarked this article concerning Arlen Specter's role in the last-minute change to the legislation that negated the Senate's participation in confirming judges. Sorry I neglected to include the link in the original post.

UPDATE: (Apr. 15) While researching for another post, I reread this one to find my egregious error of identifying the dismissed US Attorneys as Federal Judges. My sincere apologies. It looks like I put this one together when it was late, and I was tired.

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