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The Next Attorney General

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Message Michael Leon
Via MAL Contends -

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' resignation is effective Monday, Sept. 17.

One person that the next Attorney General should not be is somebody like the soon-to-be acting Attorney General, Paul Clement.

Clement's problem, not one of intellect, is his partisan zeal. And that is precisely why the right-wingers want to see him as a federal judge, even a Supreme Court nominee. [Too late for that now.]

But the corrupt Justice Department needs someone of unsurpassed integrity and independence. Such people exist only in the imaginations of newspaper editorial writers, so we will have settle for someone like Patrick Fitzgerald, Robert Mueller and James Comey.

But the need for an attorney general approximating political independence cannot be underestimated. As the Times writes:

The Justice Department is a disaster zone. It should be the embodiment of America's commitment to the rule of law, but it has been contaminated by partisan politics. The nation's top lawyers may have broken the law, and even may have sent innocent people to jail, to advance the interests of the Republican Party.

The next attorney general will have an enormous amount of damage to undo. There is considerable evidence that United States attorneys have been coerced into using their offices to help Republicans win elections. The orders may have come directly from the White House. Top officials of the Justice Department have admitted that they evaluated lawyers for nonpolitical jobs based on their politics. And Congress is investigating whether Georgia Thompson, a Wisconsin civil servant, and Don Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, were sent to jail to help Republicans win governorships in those states.

Making it a federal crime to oppose the Republican Party as the DoJ has selectively done ought to be a crime (it is) screaming from every newspaper and talk radio show in America (it is not).

The fact is that we may be stuck with a right-winger as the next attorney general anyway.

Clement can in theory serve out the remainder of Bush’s term, though I doubt he would wish to do so.

If Bush nominates a partisan like Theodore B. Olson, he will not be confirmed.

Bush could then make a recess appointment of a right-winger who will serve out the bulk of Bush’s term without Senate confirmation.

The Senate will make noise about bringing all appointments to a halt.

But Bush will not care about that, and does not exactly care about good relations with Congress :) .

The one person Bush will not nominate is an intellectually honest, rule-of-law individual who would actually investigate the administration’s many misdeeds, and that is precisely who the country needs.


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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at
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