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|ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER FIRE FOR POLITICAL DISMISSALS
GOP SENATORS CALL FOR GONZALES' RESIGNATION AS DOJ DOCS SHOW FIRED ATTORNEYS SEEN AS 'EFFECTIVE', 'RESPECTED LEADER', 'HIGHLY REGARDED'
17 March 2007
Investigations by the judiciary committees in both the House and the Senate are probing the suspicious nature of the untimely dismissal of at least 8 US attorneys, for what appear to be political reasons. The White House had claimed there was not strategy to fire en masse, until it was revealed that there was in fact consultation on firing all US attorneys and replacing them with political loyalists.
The White House then issued a statement suggesting that neither AG Gonzales nor Pres. Bush's top political adviser Karl Rove were involved, but that they heard the idea from then White House counsel Harriet Miers. Now, they are backing away from that statement as published emails show in fact Rove consulted on this issue with Gonzales while he was White House counsel.
One of the fired US attorneys, speaking out in an interview with Katie Couric, David Iglesias, said "I got great office reviews... I was not on any kind of resignation list until Nov. 15, 2006, and that was two weeks after I received two very inappropriate calls from two Republican members of Congress."
The clear appearance is one of well-respected, competent prosecutors being dismissed for reasons not tied to their performance. The evidence points to the dismissals being driven by either political or legal considerations, with some observers speculating that they were dismissed in order to stall ongoing investigations that could embarrass top officials in the government.
As more indications have come forth showing that debate about a scheme to dismiss US attorneys on the grounds of political "loyalty", increasing numbers of Republican Congressmen have called for the attorney general to step down. One observer told the press they have never seen the Bush administration "in such deep denial" as about the gravity of the actions apparently taken by the attorney general in the firings.
Divisions between Republicans running for re-election to Congress in 2008 and the White House, are widening, perhaps making AG Gonzales' own dismissal more likely. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher went as far as to suggest "Maybe the president should have an attorney general who is less a personal friend and more professional in his approach". [s]
The Justice Department's new performance rating system has come under fire, after the firing of 8 US attorneys was called into question. The cases were not clearly cases of underperformance, but seemed to indicate there had been political motivations for the dismissals. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has now admitted that the program was not applied properly in some of those cases and promises to improve the evaluations policy. [Full Story]
HIGH COURT ALLOWS DEMOTION FOR DISSENT
The freedom of speech is one of the foundational rights under US constitutional law, as manifest in the First Amendment, because it affords the common citizen a protection against a basic authoritarian abuse of power. Now, the US Supreme Court has ruled 5 to 4 that public employees do not enjoy First Amendment protections while on duty. [Full Story]
GOV'T POLICY UNLAWFULLY CRIMINALIZES COMMENT ON SCIENTIFIC FACT
The global environment is, of course, a global issue, one that touches every life on the planet, and the science about it should be open and available to all. Past government policy and existing federal law mean that such scientific evidence should be readily available to the public. But now, it appears that several agencies are laboring to silence scientists who are researching climate trends and alterations. [Full Story]
COURT FILING CITES 'CONCERTED EFFORT' TO ATTACK CRITICS
Regardless of whether the president or the vice president have done anything illegal, it is now clear that they were both involved in deliberately using classified national security information to smear a critic of their Iraq policy. This contradicts statements made as recently as last week which suggest that the president opposed any such use of sensitive information for personal or political gain. [Full Story]