Thursday, March 22, 2007

miscarriage of justice

The US Attorney purge scandal is turning out to be a lot bigger than anyone thought, partly because, like the Jack Abramoff scandal, every turn opens up a new, heretofore unknown scandal within the scandal. The scandal of firing Carol Lam right after her indictment of the former 3rd in command of the CIA shifted to news that 7 other attorneys had been fired at the same time to news that they were all high-performers (just how high, we're beginning to find out) to David Iglesias' wild ride. A couple of days ago, however, a whole new and chilling aspect of this scandal dawned on people: if these 8 were fired because they wouldn't manipulate their offices to help the GOP, what does that say about the other 85?

We're starting to find out. From ePluribus Media:
We compare political profiling to racial profiling by presenting the results (January 2001 through December 2006) of the U.S. Attorneys' federal investigation and/or indictment of 375 elected officials. The distribution of party affiliation of the sample is compared to the available normative data (50% Dem, 41% GOP, and 9% Ind.).

Data* indicate that the offices of the U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven (7) times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops.

What you're beginning to see form is a miscarriage of justice on a level normally only seen in 3rd world banana republics. It shouldn't even have to be said, but when a political party is allowed to manipulate the very justice system itself, the rule of law, the underpinning of our entire system of government and the sum total of its legitimacy, is undermined.

A simple statistic isn't necessarily proof, as we all know the numbers can be manipulated, but new revelations prove even more damning. One of the big corruption cases of the Bush Administration was the New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, where the NH GOP paid a company to inundate the Democratic party's GOTV lines on election day. From TPM Muckraker:
In a detailed, 10-page letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) signed by Kathleen Sullivan, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and Paul Twomey, a lawyer for the Democrats, they argue that the investigation, which targeted prominent operatives in the Republican Party, was stalled and mishandled.
One of the reasons the investigation was stalled, Democrats argue, is that "all decisions had to be reviewed by the Attorney General himself" -- first John Ashcroft and then Alberto Gonzales. To back up that claim, the Democrats say that lawyers working on the case were told by prosecutors that delays in the case were due to the extreme difficulty in obtaining authorization from higher levels at DOJ for any and all actions in the case.
The Democrats' other grievances, which they lay out in the letter, are 1) that the Justice Department bogged the investigation down by assigning only one FBI agent to the case -- and that agent was part-time 2) that the DoJ's refusal to prosecute the organziations responsible for the jamming, the New Hampshire Republican Party and the Republican National Committee, violated Justice Department guidelines, and 3) the DoJ failed to follow leads that led to higher-level Republican involvement.

Then there's the issue of a certain landmark case against one of the GOP's most infamous supporters. From The Washington Post (c/o Josh Marshall):
The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.

"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."

If that didn't give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, you need to have your outrage-o-meter recalibrated. Here we have the Bush Administration tampering with the justice system to throw cases for powerful donors. How many other cases are there where something like this happened? How many other times have Bush's appointees subverted justice to protect powerful friends, or the Administration itself?

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