Thursday, March 15, 2007

Remember this next time someone tells you to take Bush's word "in good faith"

In March 2006, at the request of the Bush administration, Arlen Specter included a "little known rider" to the Patriot Act renewal legislation. It allowed the President to name U.S. attorneys without Senate approval. Alberto Gonzales assured the Senate that, despite requesting this power, the Bush administration would never actually use it for political purposes.
In testimony on Jan. 18, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Justice Department had no intention of avoiding Senate input on the hiring of U.S. attorneys.

Just a month earlier, D. Kyle Sampson, who was then Gonzales's chief of staff, laid out a plan to do just that. In an e-mail, he detailed a strategy for evading Arkansas Democrats in installing Tim Griffin, a former GOP operative and protege of presidential adviser Karl Rove, as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock.

"We should gum this to death," Sampson wrote to a White House aide on Dec. 19. "[A]sk the senators to give Tim a chance . . . then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in 'good faith,' of course."
The fundamental point is this:
The president fired US attorneys who were Senate approved,

so that he could replace them with ones who weren’t.
That “little known line” in the Patriot Act didn’t get there by accident.

(The emails are online at the judiciary committee site and cross-posted at the NYT.)

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