Wednesday, January 24, 2007

White House Handpicking US Attorneys

Some folks are starting to notice how the Bush Administration is using an obscure part of the Patriot Act signed into law March 2006 by President Bush.

Section 546 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking subsections (c) and (d) and inserting the following new subsection:
`(c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this section may serve until the qualification of a United States Attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title. '

The gist is that this allows the White House to basically replace US Attorneys across the country with anyone they please without the requirement of Senate approval. Prior to this act, Senate approval was necessary.

The law went into affect in March. By June, the White House was in gear. In Arkansas, Bud Cummins was ousted without reason and replaced by Karl Rove disciple Timothy Griffin. The White House is replacing US Attorneys throughout the country with handpicked successors more loyal to their cause. So far, the list of those replaced includes:

San Francisco: Kevin V. Ryan
Nevada: Daniel Bogden
San Diego: Carole Lam
New Mexico: David Igleslias
Arizona: Paul K. Charlton
Seattle: John McKay
Little Rock (Ark.): Bud Cummins
Los Angeles: Debra Wong Yang

What’s going on? Well, in the case of Carole Lam, we know she was focusing her attention on the Duke Cunningham, who sought and accepted bribes from defense contractors.

Democrats noticed last week. Diane Feinstein delivered a speech to the Senate the morning of January 16, 2007. Two days later, at an oversight committee hearing, Feinstein grilled Attorney General Gonzales:

"How many U.S. Attorneys have been asked to resign in the past year?" Feinstein asked Gonzales.
"You're asking me to get into a public discussion of personnel issues," Gonzales replied.
"I'm asking you to give me a number."
"I don't know the answer to that question," said Gonzales.
"You didn't know the answer when we spoke on Tuesday, but you said you would find out," Feinstein pressed.
Gonzales referred to a letter his office had sent Feinstein earlier in the week on the issue.
"I read the letter," Feinstein shot back. Gonzales denied the administration had any tricks up its sleeve and was only trying to do what was best.
"Do you deny that your office has asked U.S. Attorneys to resign in the past year?" Feinstein asked.
"I don't deny that," Gonzales said. "But that happens in every administration, during different periods for different reasons. . . Some people should view that as a sign of good management."

Another suggestion is that the WH is placing key republican attorneys into these positions to fatten republican resumes for future possibilities.

It couldn't possibly have anything to do with investigations or the oversight of investigations into hanky panky profiteering of the friends and favorites of a certain Vice President?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one more nail in the coffin of democracy. We live in a totalitarian state.

1/24/2007 3:58 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Nice catch, x4mr. This story seems to be flying under the radar. The only reason I knew about it is because I've been following the San Diego pension crisis story for several years. Carole Lam was the US Attorney prosecuting the case against the former SD pension fund trustees. That's not the one that took her down, of course. It was Randy "Duke" that did that.

1/25/2007 8:01 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm not sure that Charlton can be grouped with the others. Charlton was asked to resign so far as anyone has been able to determine, he got a really good offer. And Charlton's apparent replacement is not a political hack, but a career prosecutor and a female member of the Hopi tribe here in AZ named Matewan, I believe. At least she has been publicly recommended by Kyl and McCain's offices. Matewan could certainly be a Republican whom they are trying to position for higher office in Arizona or the bench, but she's qualified for the office.

This is actually why I haven't covered this story; because of the above, the Arizona angle wasn't strong enough to be interesting.

1/25/2007 12:52 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

erp... Charlton was NOT asked to resign, so far as anyone knows...

Of course, his investigation of Dick Renzi COULD be behind the resignation. The real test will be if the next USA AZ continues the investigation.

1/25/2007 12:54 PM  

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