Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Because We Trust Kyle and Monica More than We Trust the Deputy Attorney General
Last week, Murray Waas of the National Journal revealed that in March 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed what Waas described as "a highly confidential order . . . delegating to two of his top aides -- who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys -- extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department." Now, the good folks over at Talking Points Memo have posted that Attorney General Order, along with the routing memo for that Order from the Justice Management Division.
I see you are still rooting around for something approximating a crime in this matter and finding nothing. I am having a hard time getting worked up over the fact that the Executive may be delegating the authority to fire or hire a political appointee at Justice (or anywhere else) to someone other than the person who a past President has used.
The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level.
Elections have results. I would hope that the President which I helped elect would hire political nominees of the same ideology for which I voted. These positions are called "political appointments" for good reason.
I trust the folks posting on this tempest in a teacup will also be in full dudgeon if Mrs. Clinton gets elected and follows in her hubby's footsteps by firing every political appointee at Justice "to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department."
Somehow, I doubt there will be a single post on the subject if that happens.
Absolutely, Bart. President Bush and AG Gonzalez are showing Strong Leadership.
It's no crime to delegate the authority, in fact, every branch of government would be improved if the decisions were made solely on political ideological purity and coordinated with the White House. To the victor go the spoils, and Libs can just suck it up.
Besides, having accountable political appointees who knowthe value of loyalty to President Bush would sure help stop leaks!
"elections have results. i would hope that the president which i helped elect would hire political nominees of the same ideology for which i voted...".
i believe, once again, mr. depalma is missing the point. we all agree that the president can appoint u.s. attorneys, or any other federally appointed position for that matter, at will. what we are concerned with here is that the appointees have a certain level of competence and independence, which is not at all evident here.
hiring and firing is entirely discretionary, unless done so to stop ongoing criminal investigations of political friends and allies. that is known as obstruction of justice and plain old corruption. before anyone goes on about there is no evidence of this here, i would note that there is a certain appearance of impropriety that could stand the light of day; however, the administration has refused to allow those in the know to testify. i would note that there is a line i frequently use in closing arguments, which pertains to moments like this, "truth screams. weasels whisper". i would greatly appreciate the administration allowing truth to tell out.
finally, for those of my conservative friends out there, i am glad to know that you have come around to the position that the president may hire and fire subordinates, and you are finally admitting that the clinton position vis a vis the white house travel office, a position most of us would agree is a tad less important in the grand scheme of things than the department of justice, has been borne out.
Sometime, I think that Bart is an agente provacateur. He can't really misunderstand the point so completely, and repeatedly. He can't really continue to support without reservation a cabal that has consistently proven itself to both corrupt and incompetent repeatedly. He can't really mean to repeat the same nonsense mantras like "elections have consequences" totally out of context repeatedly.
It's like seeing a liberal continue to support the notion that Clinton would never lie to this day. I would have to assume that the individual in question was intentionally trying to sow doubt in the sanity of liberals.
It's one of the nicer tricks we pulled in WWII pacific: rebroadcasting Japanese radio propaganda, after adjusting all their claims up by an order of magnitude. If the Japanese said they had killed 100 Americans, we would claim to be a Japanese newscast claiming a 1000 Americans killed. Bart must be the liberal equivalent - I never realized we were so clever!
The GOP has assigned a designated troll to most mainstream blogs that allow open comments. You see it at each and every one of them. I don't think it's just a coincidence. It's always just one, and they always chime in.
I agree with the others that from the start you have been evading the issue here. We all agree that the President has the authority to require DOJ employees to follow his general law enforcement priorities. We make not like those priorities, but, as you say, elections have consequences.
The question is, what if the President wants US Attorneys to make their priority ensuring that his party wins elections. Do you consider that proper?
Suppose the DOJ treats any narrow win by the opposing party as presumptively fraudulent and routinely requires indictments for voter fraud? (Or, if a Democrat is in power, for illegal vote suppression). Suppose the DOJ make a regular practice of timing indictments to influence elections, speeding up indictments of the opposition to before the election and delaying indictments of its own party until after? Is that proper?
You may say that is not what is going on. Well, feel free to argue that, but stop dodging the hypothetical. If the President (any President) uses prosecutions as a tool for influencing elections, is that proper?
Heckuva job, Monica!
Prof. Lederman's analysis is excellent, in particular because it emphasizes the difference between appointing Schedule C and other political appointees who are dedicated to the mission of the agency and appointing hacks who will twist and undermine the mission of the agency to whatever extent their political masters dictate.
The DAG must be confirmed by the Senate and the DAG's office is fairly visible. Delegating the power "to take final action" in hiring political appointees to the DAG (as in the Ashcroft DofJ) provided a potential check on the abuse of that power and thereby contributed to the selection of experienced, competent professionals for the important business of running the DofJ.
If the Senate had approved Tim Flanigan as DAG, Gonzales would have left the formal structure alone. Goodling and Sampson would simply have informally vetted all hiring and firing, and passed the info along to Flanigan.
Since the Senate balked at approving another political flunky at DofJ (Gonzales was bad enough), Gonzales surreptitiously delegated the power "to take final action" on hiring and firing all political appointees to his Chief of Staff and to "the White House liaison." For these two subordinate positions to have power "to take final action" on hiring and firing anyone would certainly not be approved by any corporate HR managers among Bush's supporters and contributors. To place in these two positions lawyers who were as wet behind the ears as Goodling & Sampson just amplified the stupidity ten-fold.
Does this delegation memo help to explain why no one knows who decided "to take final action" on the firing of the eight [now nine, soon to increase further] United States Attorneys?
Enlightened Layperson said...
Bart, I agree with the others that from the start you have been evading the issue here...The question is, what if the President wants US Attorneys to make their priority ensuring that his party wins elections. Do you consider that proper?
That was not one of the points made by Professor Lederman in his post. However, I would be pleased to respond to your question.
How can the DOJ influence the outcome of elections? At most, the DOJ can prosecute election fraud. The results of such prosecutions would be decided by judges and juries.
Your question assumes that there is in fact substantial election fraud which is criminally changing the results of elections, the DOJ prosecutes it and a judge/jury punishes and reverses the fraud.
Suppose the DOJ treats any narrow win by the opposing party as presumptively fraudulent and routinely requires indictments for voter fraud?
Without evidence, such prosecutions are unlikely to get an indictment from a grand jury (see the trouble Ronnie Earle had getting a GJ to indict Delay on those bogus charges). If a ham sandwich indictment gets through, a court is unlikely to let it get beyond a motion to dismiss.
Suppose the DOJ make a regular practice of timing indictments to influence elections, speeding up indictments of the opposition to before the election and delaying indictments of its own party until after? Is that proper?
How will a baselesss indictment of say ACORN influence an election?
You may say that is not what is going on. Well, feel free to argue that, but stop dodging the hypothetical.
I tried to give your hypos some credence rather than dismissing them out of hand. However, the fact that you brought up the subject means that you realize your hypos are not very likely.
A excellent analysis Professor Balkin.
I find it interesting that the best possible argument in defense of the A.G.'s actions is that "Clinton might do it".
I remember when Conservatives used to operate from first principles.
The first principle at work here seems to be:
Is bypassing a Senate confirmed DAG in employment decisions a move that will produce an outcome that promotes the administration of Justice?
If a person was to define "a desirable outcome" as "whatever is politically expedient without any regard to professional standards," then they would be consistent in their reasons, but for lack of a more judicious term, it would be fair to say that their reasoning is at best incredibly short-sighted, and from a long-term view completely idiotic.
The fact that a Senate confirmed appointee is overseeing the process suggests that the Senate DOES exercise an indirect authority over how the Justice system is administered; and that, by extension, the outcome is one that will have a more Constitutionally legitimate stamp.
I would find it rather bizarre that any Conservative would argue that it is better to lower the professional standards of the DOJ and to use methods that are at best Constitutionally dubious--effectively that it what the Gonzales defenses amount to.
The fact that this order was not publicly released suggests that the A.G. and the principals involved with conceiving this decision were not entirely comfortable with the legal and political merits of the decision--even in the face of a friendly Republican controlled Senate. That's a statement and a half about the order’s possible merits.
There is no good defense for this incredibly ill-conceived and unprecedented maneuver.
Hopefully, some red lines will be put down in this case, because, at the end of the day, these aren't powers that any American should want exercised in the manner that this White House has exercised its authority. If these type of actions were to be legitimized as a reasonable precedent, the American justice system, and the American people would be the real losers.
Fundamentally these are not partisan issues that we are dealing with. The fact that a Republican president and Attorney General have exercised these authorities should be irrelevant from the view of first principles. These actions are simply wrong--morally and from a professional standard. The recent outcomes from these decisions support this view. The sad fact is that we have only seen a low-grade version of how these new procedures are likely to play out with an even less principled and less accountable president than the one who currently occupies the White House. In an open debate these unprecedented procedures never would have made it out of the conception phase, because they are so incredibly bone-headed. These actions demonstrate a complete disregard for the Constitution as it was written and as it has been practiced over our 220+ year history.
you set the table every night and do your homework and sent your aunt a birthday card, what the heck! You're a good kid. Your sins are forgiven automatically. No need for you to do any penance." 糖尿病 文秘 心脑血管 糖尿病 高血压 高血脂 冠心病 心律失常 心肌病 中风 偏瘫 癫痫 脑瘫 神经衰弱 脑出血 心力衰竭 心肌梗死 心脏瓣膜病 先天性心脏病 动脉硬化 风湿性心脏病 老年性痴呆 低血压 心内膜炎 雷诺综合征 脑血栓 血栓性脉管炎 周围血管异常 肺心病 心绞痛 脑梗塞 低血糖 And maybe it's happened a few times and I haven't heard about it but I can't recall a judge ever letting somebody walk on the grounds the crook was a good guy and his friends really like him.
Remember Hunt for Red October?
Remember how Captain Ramius (Sean Connery) had spent years quietly selecting his officers?
Remember how he couldn't quite get a crew that was 100% loyal to him, but still wound up with one officer who was a loyal servant of the (Soviet) state?
That's what happened here, except with the evil reversed. McNulty -- the guy Gonzales was forced to take as DAG after his favored minion got the stiff-arm from the Senate -- seems to have been the innocent officer who assumes he's surrounded by people like him, whose priority is the rule of law.
Gonzales' subversion of the DOJ ran silent and ran deep. One or two "accidental" slip-and-falls and they might have gotten away with it.
Lam, Iglesias et al.'s charges forced the whole thing to the surface. Now it's Gulag for Gonzo.
"No crime here..."? Former USA John McKay (WA) doesn't seem to think so:
McKay: White House had us fired
By David Bowermaster
Seattle Times staff reporter
* 9th U.S. attorney says he was pushed out
Two former U.S. attorneys said Wednesday they believe the White House had them fired along with six other federal prosecutors, and that ongoing investigations into the dismissals could result in criminal charges against senior Justice Department officials.
John McKay, the former U.S. attorney for Western Washington, and David Iglesias, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico, also said they believe Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty lied under oath when they testified to Congress about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. Gonzales is scheduled to testify today before the House Judiciary Committee.
McKay and Iglesias said they still don't know who at the White House ultimately put them on the firing list. But McKay said he believes obstruction-of-justice charges will be filed if investigators conclude any of the dismissals were motivated by an attempt to influence public-corruption or voter-fraud investigations.
"I think there will be a criminal case that will come out of this," McKay said during a meeting Wednesday with Seattle Times editors and reporters. "This is going to get worse, not better."
Additionally, McKay and Iglesias said they believe White House strategist Karl Rove and his aides instigated the dismissals and that someone in the White House ultimately decided who among the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys should be fired.
Not only possible criminal intent here, but the use of Fed prosecutors' offices to further a strictly political endpoint, i.e., Democratic "voter fraud" surely should raise some ethical issues, for God's sake.
Bart is truly a postmodern artist of the highest order. He, in the same comment, attempts to say that baseless prosecutions would not affect an election, then goes on to claim that the prosecution of Delay was baseless - an example of a prosecution that can be shown to have directly affected the political process. Whether or not his second point is true, it directly undermines his first.
If Bart's truly a defense lawyer for DUI, I have to assume he's been drinking with his clients. Maybe my hypothetical Bart-as-liberal-propagandist isn't so far off?
Bart is no genius.
He is either paid to post here.
Or engaged in some pathetic exercise to assuage what must be an inferiority complex.
Either way, he is a sad and pathetic man.
If we can't ban him, ignore him.
Let's see now. A partisan prosticutor has no ability to influence the outcome of elections?
If that's so, then why did so many Rethuglicans squeal like stuck pigs when Lawrence Walsh caused Caspar Weinberger to be indicted a week or so before the 1992 presidential election.
If Bart is ever given an enema, his remains will fit in a cigar box for burial.
"How can the DOJ influence the outcome of elections? At most, the DOJ can prosecute election fraud. The results of such prosecutions would be decided by judges and juries."Post a Comment
Your fake naivete is blatant intellectual dishonesty.
As was shown in I believe Wisconsin, the Bush-appointed AG's prosecution and jailing of a Democratic operative before the election was quickly tossed on appeal. And the judge essentially accused the AG of having fabricated the case.
Let's stop the transparent thumb-sucker's BS that it isn't possible for Republicans to be corrpt to the bone.
"I tried to give your hypos some credence rather than dismissing them out of hand. However, the fact that you brought up the subject means that you realize your hypos are not very likely."
See the foregoing, Mr. Deliberate Intellectually Dishonest Ostrich.
"# posted by Bart DePalma : 8:05 PM"
Is there a reason the discussants on this blog must suffer the blatantly dishonest tripe from De Palma?