Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bush League Leftovers

The Bush White House went to great lengths to destroy the functioning of government in myriad ways and one of its crown jewels was the politicization of the Department of Justice. See RTAs 'R Us at Justice. Lawlessness was only law that the Bushies followed faithfully.

In typical Bush-speak, two of the most infamous partisan hacks in the DOJ have used their political vendettas as the very justification for them to continue.

Scott Horton has penned an excellent must read piece in The Daily Beast on these troublesome terrors, Why Two Bush Appointees Are Refusing to Leave, noting:

An internal report issued this week by the Justice Department brought attention to the Bush Administration’s efforts to “burrow” partisan ideologues deep in career civil service positions at the department. But even a few of Bush’s political appointees at Justice are giving the new Obama administration trouble. Though their lease may technically run out on January 20, U.S. Attorneys Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh and Alice Martin of Birmingham are resolved to stay in their posts. The Daily Beast has learned that both are arguing to the Obama transition team that their efforts to convict Democrats should guarantee them an extended stay into the Obama presidency.

In their scathing report, Justice Department investigators concluded that former Civil Rights Division acting head Bradley Schlozman attempted to purge the division of those suspected of liberal sentiments and to replace them with fellow neoconservative ideologues, whom he called “comrades.” During the Bush terms, nearly two-thirds of the professional staff of the Civil Rights Division left and new hires were—in violation of criminal statutes—carefully vetted for partisan political fidelity. Notwithstanding the Inspector General’s recommendation that criminal action be brought, Schlozman will not be prosecuted. Bush Justice Department officials continue their perfect record of impunity, refusing to initiate criminal actions against partisan Republicans found to have broken the law by politicizing the Department.

I've written about Mary Beth Buchanan before and her adherance to the GOP party line, The Devotee. In fact, the partisan prosecution of Cyril Wecht of Pittsburgh earned the ire of former Governor Dick Thornburgh, a Republican, who testified in Congress against conduct of Buchanan. The Party's Out of Step. And the fact that she's a crony of former Senator Santorum -- need I say more? She was, of course, in good company in a department stacked with the likes of Martin and other disreputible US Attorneys. See The Face of a "Loyal Bushie".

As blogger SusieQ explains, Loyal Bushies At DOJ Are In Denial…Refusing To Leave!:
George W. Bush will leave the White House for good on Tuesday, but two controversial U.S. attorneys appointed by him have no intention of leaving the Justice Department.

U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh, a member of the conservative Federalist Society who is close to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, pledged last month to remain in her post.

And U.S. Attorney Alice Martin of Birmingham, whose conduct has been the subject of repeated investigations by Congress and the Justice Department’s ethics office, several of which are still pending, will stay on in her post, The Daily Beast reported Friday.

“With the new administration approaching, [Martin] made clear her desire to hold on to her post as U.S. attorney for another year of prosecutions,” the Daily Beast wrote. “Her Kafkaesque argument: she is targeting corrupt Democratic politicians and investigating others. Therefore, her removal under these circumstances and replacement by an Obama appointee would be ‘unseemly.’”
Unseemly describes what the Bushies did to Justice. As UM Law Professor Michael Froomkin of says, People Unclear on the Concept:
Scott Horton, Why Two Bush Appointees Are Refusing to Leave, describes the incredible story of U.S. Attorneys Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh and Alice Martin of Birmingham — both highly partisan and dubiously ethical — who although they serve at the pleasure of the President refuse to hew to custom by tendering resignations, and either think they can bluff Team Obama into not firing them or see some partisan value in being fired rather than going quietly.

It had better not work. There is a place for holdover US Attorneys — when they’re really good and genuinely non-partisan. Patrick Fitzgerald, for example. But ladies, you’re no Patrick Fitzgerald.
Dan Abrams concurs. He notes in Obama Should Clean House at Justice:
[I]t's time to redirect and thoroughly disinfect the tattered department. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder had this to say about the DoJ a year ago: 'There is a crisis of confidence that the nation has with regard to the department.' Okay, so why not start anew when he takes charge?

It's hardly radical to suggest that Obama replace these political appointees. Bill Clinton did it. So did Bush. But it's also not even remotely hypocritical to recognize the basic difference between the Bush team firing eight U.S. Attorneys because they had the audacity to retain their independence and refused to allow the administration to manipulate them, and a new President making a broad decision to name all new political appointees to new terms. One is corrupt, the other is, well, politics. (Assuming there is such a distinction at all.)
So far, they aren't budging and the new Administration has given them a stay. Local U.S. attorney staying on for now. I hope it's only until Eric Holder is confirmed as Attorney General. After all, of all people, they should be the first to go. As a Commenter to a piece by Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly said:
Aside from all the illegally hired Federalist Society wingnuts now borrowing into career DoJ positions, look at the jaw droppingly brazen attempts by Mary Beth Buchanan and Alice Martin, two of the most egregious of the politicized U.S. Attorneys, to remain in their posts past January 20. Although these are political appointments that almost invariably change as a matter of course with a new Administration, these two are refusing to submit the traditional letter of resignation. Their rationale? They are needed to conduct retrials of Democrats that juries refused to convict (in prosecutions that were so obviously politically motivated as to be almost comical). Buchanan and Martin are about as far from Patrick Fitgerald (who, in a break from tradition, almost certainly will be retained) as Kenneth Starr was from Archibald Cox. Should Obama actually summon the cojones to fire these two (and while a failure to do so should strike anyone familiar with these USAs' record as shocking, I would not put it past Mr. Post-partisan Kumbaya), expect the Rethugs to highlight this as not only a betrayal of Obama's campaign pledge of bipartisanship, but evidence of Democratic corruption. Utterly ridiculous, of course, but still prime fodder for our know nothing media.

No comments: