U.S. Attorney Updates

Stuff’s happenin’ almost faster’n I can keep up with it. This first is from the Greg Palast for the BBC, via Dan Froomkin:

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan – possibly in violation of US law – to disrupt voting in the state’s African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign’s national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called “caging list”.

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: “The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day.”

They had a list. Maybe a plan. It doesn’t appear to have been carried out. But then, Dan Froomkin says,

Republican National Committee e-mails about “caging” — a tactic that targets people for voter challenges — turned up on this Web site. Several of them had been sent by Tim Griffin, then the RNC’s research director, later Karl Rove’s deputy director of political affairs at the White House — and the man Rove got appointed as the interim replacement to one of the purged U.S. Attorneys.

It’s a spoof web site, but the emails appear to be real, sent to the domain georgewbush.org by mistake. Take a look and see what you think.

This afternoon Attorney General Alberto Gonzales accepted responsibility (sort of) for “mishandling” the U.S. attorney situation, but says he will not resign. I say “sort of” accepted responsibility because Gonzales seemed to claim ignorance — he doesn’t know why Congress wasn’t told earlier the White House was involved in the purge; Sampson failed to brief other Justice Department officials about his email correspondence with Miers.

Lordy, no one in this Administration every knows anything. Between their failure to communicate and their bad memories, they are reminding me of the Know Nothing Party.

Oh, and Sampson is still on the government payroll, in spite of the fact that he resigned.

Some of the documents discussed in this morning’s “This Is Huge” post are available for viewing on the House Judiciary Committee web site.

As usual, Dan Froomkin makes an essential point:

… this White House appears to have lost sight of a distinction that is critical to the maintenance of good government: That just because someone is a political appointee doesn’t mean they’re supposed to do their jobs primarily as partisans — or that they should be fired if they fail to do so to the satisfaction of political operatives in the White House.

That is particularly the case with law enforcement. Filling non-law enforcement jobs with political appointees who are incompetent or blindly partisan may well take a toll on the government’s ability to do function properly. (See, for instance, David E. Lewis in NiemanWatchdog.org.)

But in law-enforcement jobs — such as the attorney general, the director of the FBI, and the country’s 93 U.S. attorneys — overtly partisan behavior is a more troubling problem. While the men and women in those positions serve at the pleasure of the president, it is also a critically important part of their job to remain independent.

That’s because it’s flatly un-American for the law to be used as a political weapon. It erodes public confidence in the justice system, and offends the American commitment to fairness. It’s the sort of thing that, quite properly, can lead to impeachment.

Be sure to read all of Dan’s post today.

Finally for a Hell Just Froze Over alert — someone in the MSM complimented bloggers. No, really. Jay Carney posted at Time magazine’s Swampland:

Twelve days ago, after David Iglesias went public, I said that if there turned out to be a broad conspiracy behind the firing of the U.S. Attorneys, “I will take my hat off to Marshall and others in the blogosphere and congratulate them for having been right in their suspicions about this story from the beginning.”

My hat is off. Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo and everyone else out there whose instincts told them there was something deeply wrong and even sinister about the firings, and who dug around and kept writing about them while Iglesias decided whether to talk to the press or go quietly on to his next job, deserve tremendous credit.

When this story first surfaced, I thought the Bush White House and Justice Department were guilty of poorly executed acts of crass political patronage. I called some Democrats on the Hill; they were “concerned”, but this was not a priority. The blogosphere was the engine on this story, pulling the Hill and the MSM along. As the document dump proves, what happened was much worse than I’d first thought. I was wrong. Very nice work, and thanks for holding my feet to the fire.

‘Course, I’m not holding my breath for this admission to make it into the print edition …

3 thoughts on “U.S. Attorney Updates

  1. Finally for a Hell Just Froze Over alert — someone in the MSM complimented bloggers.

    Don’t you mean “Finally for a Hell Just Froze Over alert — someone in the MSM complimented left-wing bloggers”?

  2. The repationshio between bloggers, voters and the media is still in flux. Most people I talk to think that blogging makes no difference, since the righties visit rightie blogs and wingnuts visit their blogs. Net gain = zero.

    I am inclined to disagree. I am better informed about the meaning of events reported by the MSM almost word for word with an AP notation to explain the groupthink. MSM reporting at its best rarely gives more than substance. Bloggers give flavor!

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