Saturday, 17 March 2007

THE EIGHT FIRED PROSECUTORS (SUBTITLE: SO WHAT?)

Ken Berwitz

The "scandal" over Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez' firing of 8 federal prosecutors continues to bubble.  Led by Chuck "where's the camera, be sure to get my good side" Schumer, media are still hot and heavy over this supposed abuse of power, bloviating that the firings were done for political reasons. 

The New York Times, always happy to attack President Bush, had a lead editorial yesterday in which they villified the firing of John McKay in particular.  Their reason?  The Bush administration wanted McKay to investigate fraud in the last Washington State governor's election and he refused to do so, saying "There was no evidence...".  (To refresh your memory, that was the election in which the Republican, Dino Rossi, won on election day and won the recount.  But then King County (i.e. Democratic King County) magically found several hundred votes that didn't exist before from out of nowhere, said "whoops, how about these", virtually all the newly materialized votes were Democratic, suddenly Christine Gregoire was governor-elect  -- and the majority-Democratic state government said "that's enough, time to stop recounting".  Nope, nothing to investigate there.)

Ok,  with this in mind, let's talk about firing federal prosecutors:

----First of all, SO WHAT if the Bush administration fired 8 or 28 or 57 or all 93 federal prosecutors.  EVERY ADMINISTRATION does this and they ALWAYS do it for political reasons.  Remember BIll Clinton, the president before Bush took office?  He fired all 93 of them.  Every one, no exceptions.  Why?  So he could replace them with the people he wanted there.  Is that political enough for you? 

When you fire every federal prosecutor in the country, you are replacing them all, from the worst (good riddance!) to the best (why would you do it?).  This means that the ten best federal prosecutors in the United States were all fired by Clinton.  The five best?  The three best?  The single best federal prosecutor in the United States?  Fired by Clinton so that he could put his own people in - i.e. for political reasons.  

And when this was done, when every federal prosecutor was fired regardless of his/her quality or of what he/she was in the process of investigating, do you recall an outcry by the media?  By Democrats in general?  By Chuck Schumer in particular?  Me neither.

----But wait, you say....what about the possibility that Gonzalez had these particular prosecutors fired because they were going to be conducting investigations that might embarrass the Bush administration (there is no apparent evidence of this but, not surprisingly, it has been floated by Democrats)?

Well, let's talk about President Clinton again.  One of the federal prosecutors he fired was Charles Banks.  Banks was going to investigate Clinton's whitewater fiasco (you remember, the dealings that Hillary couldn't find any legal records of, but then the legal records turned up in her living quarters?  Yeah, that's the one).  Banks, in a show of both courage and integrity, refused to start the investigation during the 1992 presidentical campaign, because he did not feel it was proper for said investigation to potentially have an impact on the election. 

The payoff for Banks' courage and integrity was that Clinton not only fired his backside before he could start the investigation he held off, but replaced him with Paula Casey, Clinton's former law student, who was arguably the last person who would ever pursue whitewater. 

Not to repeat myself, but when this was done do you recall an outcry by the media?  By Democrats in general?  By Chuck "say cheese" Schumer in particular?  Me neither.

Democrats (and one or two Republicans) are screaming for Gonzalez to resign over this.  And the truth is, maybe he should.  But not for the firings.  If Gonalez should resign, it is because he is so weak and so pusillanimous and so incapable of acting like a president's Attorney General that he did not get in front of the cameras and say "SO WHAT".  Instead he apologized and floated a couple of utterly ridiculous rationales for doing what he had every right to do.  Ugh.

Bush needs better, and I wouldn't be troubled in the least if he asked Gonzalez to step down so he could get it.


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