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Death to the Constitution

By       Message Thomas L. Walsh     Permalink
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Two things happened this month that while unrelated, illuminate this administration's attitude towards law, and in particular, how they choose to interpret it.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales mounted a pogrom to weed out specific United States Attorneys. As many as seven U.S. Attorneys have been given their walking papers recently. What reason would Gonzales have to replace these people?

Well, in the case of Carol Lam, top federal prosecutor in San Diego, it appears that her successful prosecution and subsequent imprisonment of former House member Randall Cunningham may have done her in. The fact that she is currently investigating California Republican House member and former Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis also contributed to her demise. Well-respected in her field, Lam did her job perhaps too well for this administration. The F.B.I. chief in San Diego asked, "What do you expect her to do? Let corruption exist?

San Francisco-based U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan has also been dumped "without cause," according to Senator Diane Feinstein. Ryan's sin? ...he has been investigating corporate executives for back-dated stock options.

Eastern Arkansas U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins was summarily sacked, then told he was being replaced by an opposition researcher who has worked for Karl Rove for the past few years.

While U.S. Attorneys are normally nominated by federal judges and later confirmed by the Senate, an obscure provision in the 2006 re-write of the Patriot Act allows Gonzales to skirt this confirmation process, thereby bypassing it for the duration of the president's second term.

This administration is understandably nervous as to where these corruption investigations, long ignored by the formerly Republican-led congress, might lead. One hardly needs to ask why.

Their concern is well warranted. It ratcheted up yet another notch with the recent notification of long-time Bush hatchet man and former Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior J. Stephen Griles that he too is facing possible indictment in the ongoing Jack Abramoff scandal.

On a separate front, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Culley Simpson led an unprecedented attack against many of the nation's top law firms. Their offense....? Having the nerve to provide, on a pro bono basis, legal protection warranted by our constitution to people who have been under government detention for up to five years, without formal charges. Countless attorneys consider this administration's conduct on this matter to be a direct violation of our constitution.

What is breathtaking is the fact that Simpson held a broadcast on an AM radio station, attempting to rally American corporations to stop doing business with law firms who represent Guantanamo internees. In collaboration with right-wing talk show host Monica Crowley and Wall Street Journal editorial writer Robert Pollock, Simpson listed the firms by name, insinuating that, instead of this work being done pro bono, which it has been to a fault; these attorneys were "receiving monies from who knows where." He threatened both the firms and their corporate clients, inferring that a black list might be appropriate.

While administration officials attempted to distance themselves from Simpson's inflammatory tirade, to their everlasting shame, neither Mr. Bush nor Defense Secretary Gates fired Simpson on the spot.

American Bar Association President Karen Mathis had this to say:

"Lawyers represent people in criminal cases to fulfill a core American value: the treatment of all people equally before the law. To impugn those who are doing this critical work---and doing it on a volunteer basis---is deeply offensive to members of the legal profession, and we hope to all Americans."

And what did Alberto Gonzales, the nation's top lawyer, have to say about this? He told Arlen Specter that "The Constitution doesn't say that every individual...or citizen is...assured the right of habeas corpus."

Specter was incredulous, and asked Gonzales to explain how the Constitution could bar the suspension of a right that didn't exist? Once more we witness incredible incompetence from people in high positions within this near mortally crippled administration.

One thing you must say for this gang...just when you think they've reached the lowest level possible, they continue to be able to surprise one with their capacity to sink ever deeper into the slime of arrogance and disinterest in the true welfare of America, Americans, and the constitution we live by.

While Mr. Bush attempts to compare himself to the late Harry Truman, his actions more closely parallel those of Richard Nixon.


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Thomas L. Walsh graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Communications/Journalism degree in 1962. Following a successful business career, he retired to Idaho's Teton Valley in 1999, where he works as a free-lance writer. Walsh and his (more...)
 

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