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Firing of US Attorneys

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Postby J35J » Fri Apr 20, 2007 4:43 pm

Amazinz wrote:Hehe. You can't turn on the news without hearing about him... :-D


Thats just it, I don't listen to the news! O:-) Unless sportscenter is news! ;-D
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Postby Coppermine » Fri Apr 20, 2007 5:51 pm

J35J wrote:
Amazinz wrote:Hehe. You can't turn on the news without hearing about him... :-D


Thats just it, I don't listen to the news! O:-) Unless sportscenter is news! ;-D


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Postby RugbyD » Sat Apr 21, 2007 1:07 am

I never liked Gonzalez, but i also find myself half-caring about this. Yes it looks like there may have been a political purpose behind the firings as opposed to a strictly objective one, but at the same time the rules say there doesn;t have to be any purpose behind the hirings and firings of the people in these positions.

Bottom line for me is that there are many more important issues that need addressing and that my beef w/ Gonzo was far larger than this anyways, so its no more than a few drops in the bucket for me.
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Postby Coppermine » Sat Apr 21, 2007 1:52 am

If I may...

The reason this story is an issue is based on a number of things.

First, a little background. US Attorneys are appointed by the president to represent "We the People" in the court of law. So when Joe Schmo screws up, and it's "The People" vs. Joe Schmo, a US Attorney represents "The People." It's an important gig.

There are 93 of them spread throughout the states based on population; so California would obviously have a few of them and, say, Wyoming would probably have one.

Since these positions are appointed, it is standard practice for an incoming president to appoint a new group of 93 attorneys. I've heard in other places people using the argument that Clinton fired all 93 when he took office. Well, yeah, but they weren't exactly fired... they resigned knowing a new president was in office or were asked to resign to be replaced by the incoming president. Standard procedure; Bush appointed a new group of 93 attorneys, effectively "firing," or more appropriately asking to resign, the residing attorneys from the Clinton Admin. Standard procedure.

There are two things that make this situation unique, and a wild card I'll throw in at the end.

1. Never, in US history, has a president fired a single US Attorney mid-term. It's without precedent and highly unusual. Why would, for the first time ever, the Bush administration fire US Attorneys that he appointed in the first place? The argument is loyalty and politics; not performance. There aren't any sufficient studies out, but at least a few of the fired attorneys were at the top of their game, never even losing a case. It wasn't a matter of performance. The concern is this: is it appropriate for the president to fire attorneys bases solely on politics, and more specifically, on loyalty? Whether or not that's the case, the attorneys were fired without explanation or reason which is what left congress scratching its head. Of course, this is now a democratic congress, so the issue is out... if it were still republican controlled, it would have likely slipped through the cracks.

2. When the Patriot Act was renewed by the previous congress, there was an interesting provision added. It stated that, for the first time ever, that the president may appoint a vacant US Attorney spot without congressional approval. This is interesting because previously if a vacancy opened for a US attorney, the president would require approval for appointing a new one mid-term. This is largely why US Attorneys have never been fired mid-term before. So part of the controversy stems from a balance of power and also an abuse of that power. It isn't illegal, but it is seen as a sneaky abuse of power.

A side note to that is that Senator Arlen Specter (R- PA) who was head of the judiciary committee at the time of the Patriot Act passing actually added the provision that the president may appoint a US attorney if a vacancy arose in the name of "national security." Specter is one of my favorite senators, and he has since, amid criticism for adding the provision, been a proponent of investigating the matter to the fullest and finding out why these attorneys were fired without explanation.

My wild card is Alberto Gonzalez (for those who don't know, he is the Attorney General who replaced John Ashcroft in 2005). He is an inept moron. That is certainly a judgment call on my part, but he is highly unqualified for the position of Attorney General. Think of it this way; if Gonzalez is the General of our rights, then the US Attorneys are his soldiers. He had an interesting exchange with Arlen Specter in 2005 regarding the right of Habeas Corpus.

In short, Habeas Corpus is the right of an individual to have a trial before he is jailed. It is the protection against arbitrary imprisonment. Without Habeas Corpus you have no right to tell anyone you have been arrested, you have no right to legal counsel, you have no right to protest your innocence or even mistaken identity. Most Constitutional Scholars believe the right of habeas is the very foundation of our legal system, where none are supposed to be above the law and none beneath it.


Here is the exchange between Gonzalez and Sen. Specter:

GONZALES: The fact that the Constitution — again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme —

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?


In other words, Gonzalez has little working knowledge of the constitution. Not a great quality in an attorney general.

Now, I understand that this can be construed as, perhaps, a partisan issue. But Gonzalez has a long list of senators who have called for his resignation; not just in the light of the above exchange with specter and the unauthorized firing of the US Attorneys, but also for his general mismanagement of the judiciary system. There is no need to list the democratic senators who have called for the resignation of the secretary of justice, but I'd be happy to list some of the republicans who have called for his resignation as well:

* Sen. John E. Sununu (R-NH), first Republican senator to call for firing
* Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)
* Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
* Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
* Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
* Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-OH)
* Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI)
* Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE)
* Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO)

And number of other Senators who are "highly critical" of Gonzalez:

* Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
* Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
* Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
* Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
* Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Senate Minority Whip
* Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
* Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
* Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), former Chair of the House Judiciary Committee
* Rep. Peter King (R-NY)
* former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich

So what's the big deal? Probably not a whole lot to you and me; but this is the sort of thing our congress should be fighting for... the rights of "We the People." It's a matter of checks and balances, abuse of power and constitutional freedoms.

Ineptitude in the justice system is what lets criminals walk free. Sometimes the wrong people are doing the most important jobs, and I think it is an important issue to Americans to expect them to be criticized if not performing their duty to us.
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Postby Tukka » Sat Apr 21, 2007 2:43 am

Nice summary, Cu.

Considering this is an administration that treats our rights and the judicial process with the utmost contempt whenever those things don't suit its purposes, I find it unfathomable that people think that an unprecedented firing of these attorneys for political reasons or disloyalty is no big deal.

This administration has proven time and time again that it has absolutely no respect for civil liberties or our system of checks and balances if it gets in the way of their agenda -- concepts that are central to the whole idea of American government. They aren't interested in outside ideas or criticism, or any kind of limits on their own power and influence -- they just want a rubber stamp. Loyalty to our God-Sent Commander in Chief in the War against the terrorist Axis of Evil must be absolute.

One problem is that this sort of attitude may not leave the White House with Bush, it could be his legacy to the office. If future administrations follow in the Bush legacy (whether they are Democrat or Republican) then our democratic process will be even more of a sad joke than it already is, especially if one party manages to take over both the White House and Congress.

Personally I'd prefer partisan gridlock to an American pseudo-monarchy.
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Postby Amazinz » Sat Apr 21, 2007 9:48 am

That would all make a lot more sense if congress was trying to change the right of the presidential discretion to remove these attorneys at any time.
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Postby JTWood » Sat Apr 21, 2007 10:31 am

Tukka wrote:Loyalty to our God-Sent Commander in Chief in the War against the terrorist Axis of Evil must be absolute.

Are you trying to get someone to flame you, because comments like this serve no purpose other than that.

:-t
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Postby Tukka » Sun Apr 22, 2007 1:48 am

Are you trying to get someone to flame you, because comments like this serve no purpose other than that.

I understand that I phrased my point in controversial language, but I don't think there is anything inaccurate about it, going by Bush's own statements about his convictions, things people close to him have said, and the pattern of activity that his administration has followed from day one.

I'm not trying to bait any flames, I'm just trying to break up the collective shoulder-shrugging we've got going on here. I'm not going to laugh and say "Oh, it's just Bush being Bush, that little rascal! No biggie!" I have a huge issue with the way Bush has handled his office and the actions of his underlings and I'm not going to pull any punches in my analysis of what they've been doing (or of their ostensible motivations).
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