Thursday, April 12, 2007

Attorney Purge Scandal vs. Watergate

Here's a good summary of the U.S. Attorney purge scandal so far, at Scott Rosenberg's blog: The U.S. attorney purge and Watergate.
In the U.S. attorney purge scandal as with Watergate, the "it's just not a big deal" defense is collapsing — only faster this time.

...Notice the priorities: Under Rove and Gonzales, your job as prosecutor was to go after the indigent and the illiterate who goofed somewhere on their election registrations. But if you went after actual extortionists and bribe-takers like disgraced former congressman Duke Cunningham, you faced the ax.

...The damage is already done: the selective U.S. attorney purge means that for years to come a cloud will hang over every federal prosecution that involves either party. Thanks to what Gonzales and Rove have achieved — the abject politicization of the American justice system in pursuit of partisan goals — we'll always be wondering: Were those charged brought because a prosecutor found evidence — or because a political campaign needed help?

So the next time you hear someone carping that the attorney scandal is overblown? Remember that, like Watergate before it, its small details add up to something significant: a White House-led assault on the integrity of elections.

Update: Be sure to also check out Josh Marshall's excellent Talking Points Memo piece (also linked to by Rosenberg's essay):
most of the relatively non-partisan and professional US Attorneys simply didn't find any actual fraud. Choosing not to indict people on bogus charges got at least two of the US Attorneys (Iglesias and McKay) fired. And we are seeing evidence that others may have been nudged out less directly for the same reasons. In turn they've been replaced by a new crop of highly-political party operative prosecutors who, in the gentle wording of the Times, "may not be so reticent" about issuing indictments against people who have committed technical voting infractions with no intent to cast a fraudulent ballot.


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