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Howard Dean: This could be George Bush's Watergate

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Eight U.S. Attorneys, fired because they wouldn't follow orders by the Bush Administration.

Fired because they refused to go on witch-hunts against Democrats, or ignored the Republicans' blatant disregard for the law. Fired so that they could be replaced by talking heads and loyalists of the Bush Administration.

When Scooter Libby was convicted, I said that this administration reminded me of Richard Nixon's administration -- more obsessed with their critics than with the jobs the American people entrust them with. But this latest White House scandal takes that comparison to another level.

Just what did George Bush, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales and the rest of the Bush White House and Republican senior staff know about the Justice Department firings -- and when did they know it?

Join us in our effort to use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to try to cut through the White House's nonsense -- the finger-pointing, the lies, the cover-up. Americans have a right to access any and all records between the Republican National Committee, other Republican party committees, and the Department of Justice in order to get to the bottom of this investigation.

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Sign our FOIA request:

http://www.democrats.org/AttorneysFOIA

"I can accept that mistakes were made."

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When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales uttered those words yesterday, he admitted what many had suspected: that eight U.S. prosecutors were improperly fired -- and, because of a Patriot Act provision slipped in by Congressional Republicans, replaced with Bush Administration cronies. The fired attorneys included:

  • Carol Lam, who prosecuted former Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham for bribery, and who was actively investigating Republican House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis at the time of her dismissal;
  • Paul Charlton, who was investigating Republican Congressman Rick Renzi for bribery and illegal land dealings, and who had publicly clashed with the Bush Administration over the merits of the death penalty; and
  • David Iglesias, a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and the basis for Tom Cruise's character in A Few Good Men, who was pressured by Republicans to indict Democratic politicians prior to the 2006 elections.

In January, Gonzales claimed that he would "never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons or if it would in any way jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation." Justice Department officials claimed the firings were part of standard personnel turnover.

But when questioned by Congress, Gonzales's deputy, Paul McNulty, claimed they were fired for poor performance -- even though most of the fired attorneys had received excellent performance reviews.

Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and President Bush himself were in contact with Gonzales's office about the attorneys. Just weeks after Bush spoke to Gonzales, they were fired.

Former Washington state GOP Chairman Chris Vance admitted to pressuring fired U.S. Attorney John McKay to investigate Democrats at the urging of the "White House's political office." And emails released yesterday show that White House deputy political director and former RNC opposition researcher J. Scott Jennings used an RNC email account to talk with Justice Department about the appointment of U.S. Attorney and former Karl Rove aide Tim Griffin.

These revelations raise even more questions -- and it's time for answers. Add your name to the FOIA Request, and demand accountability from the White House:

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http://www.democrats.org/AttorneysFOIA

In an all-too-familiar scene, Gonzales's chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, resigned over the scandal. But we won't let Sampson be the fall guy for another Bush Administration cover-up.

Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, already took the fall for the Bush Administration's orchestrated leak of a CIA agent's identity. And incompetent FEMA Director and Bush buddy Michael Brown took the fall for our president's disgraceful reaction to Hurricane Katrina -- while the Gulf Coast remains in shambles.

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Howard Dean is head of the DNC, former governor of Vermont, former Democratic presidential primary candidate for the 2004 election

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