Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Gonzales Eight

Raise of hands: Who thought no one could be worse than John "anointed in Crisco" Ashcroft as the head of the U.S. Department of Justice?

By jove, I think we found a worse attorney general in Alberto Gonzales. If you haven't been watching the past week, as the news unfolds about his purge of U.S. attorneys who are doing their jobs prosecuting crooks, of whom some are -- oops, Republicans -- TPMmuckraker seems to be doing the best and most timely blogging on this.

What makes the overreach even more remarkable is that all eight fired federal attorneys are Republicans, just not the brownshirt type, to their credit but to George Bush's chagrin, apparently.

And that's not all. Joe Conason over at details "Alberto Gonzales' coup d'etat." Seems Gonzales had the true brownshirts in Congress sneak into the Patriot Act, on its recent renewal, a little clause that gives George Bush new power to replace them without oversight. I say George Bush and not "the president" because no doubt its unconstitutionality will be resolved by the next un-George term. Like the SCOTUS decision in Gore v. Bush, it is for the benefit only of George Bush.

Now, the kicker.

Next raise of hands: Is anyone besides me wondering if there's anything to the pattern of prosecution from our New Jersey U.S. attorney, Christopher Christie, over the past year or two? He started out sweeping lots of very crooked Republicans and one lone, run-of-the-mill Asbury Park scammer, and then seems no longer to be interested in Republicans. He's issuing subpoena after subpoena going after Democrat in the statehouse and governor's office.

Not that there aren't plenty of crooks in both parties to keep any federal attorney plenty busy in New Jersey. Certainly, there are. But do you notice a pattern here? Who can help but wonder if Christie was prodded similarly to the tactics Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson are reported to have used in New Mexico.

Do you think it's complete coincidence federal prosecutors in New York indicted Christie's brother in a stock fraud sweep just before everyone was expecting Christie to announce candidacy in the GOP primary for New Jersey's governor's seat? What games are going on behind the Justice Department doors?

* is asking New Jersey's Republican congressmen to go on record as to whether they made phone calls to Christie about whom he should prosecute.

* Paul Krugman at the New York Times raised the same point about Christie's suspicious pattern of prosecution: (snip)"(T)he growing scandal over the firing of federal prosecutors immediately brought to mind the subpoenas that Chris Christie, the former Bush “Pioneer” who is now the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, issued two months before the 2006 election — and the way news of the subpoenas was quickly leaked to local news media. The subpoenas were issued in connection with allegations of corruption on the part of Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat who seemed to be facing a close race at the time. Those allegations appeared, on their face, to be convoluted and unconvincing ..." And, now post-election, seem to have all been about nothing. Did these people never hear the tale of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"? They're playing a dangerous game, but it's all of our democracy and not just the GOP that stand to get eaten by the fox when no one believes legal watchdogs anymore.

Expect to see more about Christie in relation to the Gonzales Eight scandal.

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