On the clause in the Patriot Act that gave Attorney General Gonzales authority to replace U.S. Attorneys with interim successors who would not have to face confirmation by the Senate:
DI: Now regarding the Patriot Act, it’s great anti-terrorism legislation. DOJ has made lots of legitimate anti-terrorism investigations and prosecutions as a result of the Patriot Act; but it was never intended to be a vehicle to get around Senate confirmation. It was never intended to be a crony full-employment act, which it was in the case of Bud Cummings district in Arkansas, when Karl Rove put Tim Griffin in, his aide, using his provision in the Patriot Act, which was snuck in last year.
The Patriot Act should never be used to subvert or skirt Senate confirmation, and I believe that the provision was put in to allow all of us that were forced to resign to have people come in quickly and not ever face a confirmation for the next two years. That simply is wrong, its illegal and I’m glad that Congress repealed it, and the President has not vetoed that.
On the reason AttorneyGate has drawn so much heat on Gonzales compared to the torture memos, dismissal of the Geneva Convention and the NSA domestic surveillance affair:
DI: Why did this get Gonzales in the firestorm, and why didn’t the other ones? I think probably because the Patriot Act provision that allowed him to make these indefinite interim appointments was perceived as a slap in the face at the Senate; whereas the other sections really did not, those are more issues to, you know, debate over, but it did not intentionally subvert the Senate’s constitutional role in oversight; whereas this provision in the Patriot Act that was put in, and then all the subsequent misstatements and half-truths that were coming out of the [administration], and in all the statements, half-truths and untruths by McNulty and Gonzales, I think there was a real affront. The Senate said, “Wait a minute, we have a legitimate role here in providing oversight and this current leadership is trying to get around there, or they are not being straight with us.”
On the "political" role of U.S. Attorneys
DI: Two Harvard Law Professors posted something on the Internet about a week ago; I think it was Professor Fried stated “Look, U.S. Attorneys are like Federal Judges, they get their jobs through the political process, but once they’re in office they have to stay out of politics. They are required to stay out of politics.”
And that’s consistent. John Ashcroft former A.G. told me in his office when I was being interviewed somewhere in 2001, he said, “David if you become U.S. Attorney you have to leave politics outside. It cannot be part of your decision as U.S. Attorney.” I said, “Yes sir.”
I mean, I understood that, it is consistent with what I was advised by former U.S. Attorneys here in New Mexico, from both parties, and that’s just a given. So you know, I didn’t think that, I mean I knew you could be fired for getting involved in political matters as a U.S. attorney, but I never thought I would be fired for not getting involved in Partisan political activities…
… U.S. Attorneys have significant powers, we’re the only Federal Officials that can take away your liberty, take away your property and take away your life, completely legally. We never want a political, partisan ideology being factored in.
On Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling, the Justice Department aides Gonzales put in charge of hiring and firing of U.S. Attorneys:
DI: I think Sampson had prosecuted one case. I’m not aware about Monica even prosecuting any cases. But they were fundamentally unqualified to sit in judgment over the U.S. Attorneys. Plain and simple, they didn’t understand what we did. They should have never been in those positions.
They were good for staff members maybe…doing political things, but when it comes to sitting in the position of responsibility over U.S. Attorneys, they should have never been there.
On the state of the Republican Party:
DI: I ran for State Attorney General in 1998 as a Republican. You know, I believe in most of the ideas and the platform, but I’ll tell you this as a result of this scandal, I’m deeply disillusioned with my party and the party’s lost its moral compass. It doesn’t practice what it preaches…
…One of the major reasons the voters gave last fall was, for returning the House and Senate back to the Democrats was corruption, corruption matters perpetrated by Republicans for the most part. You know, you had Duke Cunningham there in San Diego, you had Bob Ney in Ohio, you had Foley in Florida and now it appears there are more Republican members of Congress under investigation. When a party has that number of its own members that are either convicted or under investigation, it tells me that the party’s morally bankrupt.
Read the entire interview at My Left Wing.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.