The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Media -- Dont Quote Me  |  News Features  |  Talking Politics  |  This Just In

Getting Justice back on track

Freedom Watch
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  March 21, 2007


There’s been more than a little political posturing over the latest Bush-administration scandal, stemming from the dismissal of eight US attorneys for reasons that no one in the Department of Justice (DOJ) can explain with a straight story or a straight face. The DOJ tried to float a claim that the personnel decisions were merit-based, but the record showed that to be a lie — particularly in the case of (now former) New Mexico US attorney David Iglesias, who may have been pressured by Republican Senator Pete Domenici to indict Democratic pols before the 2006 midterm elections. And so the waffling has begun, with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claiming he didn’t know of the plan. “We never had a discussion about where things stood,” said the incompetent who got his job because he proved to be a loyal lap dog in shadowing George W. Bush’s political career from Texas to Washington.

That said, Congress knows that US attorneys, unlike the courtroom prosecutors who serve under them, have no job security and can be dismissed at the whim of an administration. (Though it is highly unusual for dismissals to come in the middle of a presidential term). Still, politics is politics, so if the DOJ decides to respond to severe political criticism, it would be wise to tell the truth or else suffer the consequences that generations of federal prosecutors’ hapless targets have encountered: if they can’t get you for the initial offense, they’ll get you for the cover-up. Scooter Libby is just the latest to learn what one might call “the Martha Stewart” lesson — those who have almost certainly committed no crime end up being prosecuted for lying about it.

There are plenty of sinecures in any presidential administration for sycophants, but the attorney general should not hold one of them. Gonzales proved his legal incompetence long ago when he tried to justify the legality of the administration’s secret torture and surveillance programs. Now, he has reinforced the suspicions of critics who saw his excessive loyalty to Bush, and his willingness to twist his advice to suit what the chief wants to hear, as serious flaws in the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

Gonzales should resign — in fact, he may have by the time this week’s Phoenix hits the stands. Senator Pete Domenici’s conduct, however, could constitute anything from an ethical breach subject to Senate discipline to obstruction of justice worthy of a grand-jury investigation.

As for the congressional Democrats, they have bigger fish to fry than what is essentially a personnel dispute. As soon as Gonzales has quit, they should move on to bigger problems. The writ of habeas corpus, for one, must be restored. And the administration’s most egregious policies — including those that make everything a citizen says or does fodder for government snoops, but allow the government to invoke “national security” whenever the news media seek to probe the executive branch — must be reversed. If, as Louis Brandeis wrote, “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” then Congress has a lot of cloud cover to disperse.

Related: He had his reasons, The Gray Lady in shadow, Pressing the case, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Politics, U.S. Politics, George W. Bush,  More more >
| More
Add Comment
HTML Prohibited

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 05/03 ]   Lisa Hilton  @ Regattabar
[ 05/03 ]   The Pains of Being Pure At Heart + Twin Shadow  @ Paradise Rock Club
[ 05/03 ]   Rob Sheffield  @ Brookline Booksmith
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   DOJ TURNS ON TURNER, FIRST AMENDMENT  |  January 26, 2011
    The sentencing memorandum filed by Boston federal prosecutors last week, seeking between 33 and 41 months of incarceration for convicted former Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, is no ordinary document.
  •   TERROR AND THE MBTA: YOU DON’T LOOK HARMLESS  |  December 29, 2010
    Racial profiling meets war on terror: The highest federal court in New England has said it’s okay for government officials single out dark-skinned people for searches,  as long as they can concoct some cover rationale, ginned up with vague allusions to terrorism.
    The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts made a pronouncement last week that, to rational citizens, should be obvious: it's a bad idea for the state to be complicit in a scheme to pay criminal trial witnesses for their testimony — and for those witnesses to receive a bonus if the defendant is convicted.
  •   THE FBI'S SPY PROBLEM  |  July 07, 2010
    I've been following the latest Russian spy saga with great interest, partly because of the local color and partly because of my prior experience with the FBI.
  •   2010 MUZZLE AWARDS ON CAMPUS  |  June 30, 2010
    Harvard and Yale universities felt the sting of the global economic collapse firsthand in 2009, as the endowments of these stalwart New England Ivy League members dropped by nearly a third. The schools didn’t fare much better in the free marketplace of ideas, either.

 See all articles by: HARVEY SILVERGLATE

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group