Tuesday, March 20, 2007

DOJ Mess: Now Fitzgerald's No Good?

The Department of Justice mess continues. There's been a lot of outrage over how 9 US attorneys were sacked after the 2004 election. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales first claimed they were fired for poor performance, something that was decried by their recent performance evaluations. The incident has raised Congress' ire and there have been calls for investigations. That led to a document review, which produced this gem:

US Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald - co-prosecutor for the trial of Mafia boss John Gotti, prosecutor in the case against 12 accused of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, who has served on a team of prosecutors investigating Osama bin Laden in 1996, chief counsel in 1998 US embassy bombings, who successfully exposed a bribery scandal involving then-Gov George Ryan of Illinios, a Republican, and indicted Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, a Democrat, who won the AG's award for Distinguished Service in 2002, and successfully prosecuted former VP chief-of-staff "Scooter" Libby, has achieved a ranking of "not distinguished themselves".

Wonder what it takes to distinguish yourself if Fitzgerald hasn't done it. The scary part is not that someone made up a memo like this ("not an official position") but that people with similar status were fired! This administration has seemed to specialize in this kind of whimsical behavior.

But as the mud-hurling (justified, I might add) at the administration and the AG (who it seems has made it a regular habit to mislead Congress) continues, it would do us well to question our system. Why should it be ok to fire US attorneys to make way for partisan appointees, something Republicans and Democrats have consistently done? Why should it be ok to appoint judges on partisan lines? Heck, why do we appoint AGs on partisan lines? The consequences are a skewed justice system, where belonging to the wrong party gets you hounded while the right party can smooth away those ethics questions.

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