Andrew McCullough's Blog

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Attorney General

September 13, 2007 -- The day the U.S. Attorney General announced his pending resignation, I thought that was big news; and I intended to write some thoughts on it here. Then the even bigger news hit about the Senator from Idaho, and I lost my focus. Since then, I have been tremendously busy with my law practise; but I am going to take a few minutes here to discuss the outgoing Attorney General.

Mr. Gonzales, of course, is a long time friend of the President, and a personal legal advisor. Even as he was nominated Attorney General, there was much concern expressed over reports that he had written a legal opinion condoning torture of prisoners in our "war on terror". He was, of course, supporting the President's expressed desire to do "whatever necessary" to defeat those we are fighting. As Attorney General, he faced several criticisms. The biggest news is that he fired several U.S. Attorneys on political grounds. The job of U.S. Attorney of a Federal District (a portion of a state corresponding to a U.S. District Court) IS a political appointment. Here in Utah, the appointment of a new U.S. Attorney a year or so ago was clearly orchestrated by Senator Hatch, who had a friend who wanted the job. But the allegations against Gonzales were that he fired at least one U.S. Attorney simply because an influental Senator was angry because the guy wasn't going to prosecute an important Democrat for corruption charges in time to influence the 2006 election. If he did that, shame on him; but he most certainly took his orders from the White House; and shame on them too! Tthe most disquieting part of this was that, when questioned about the firings by members of Congress, he could not remember ANYTHING! His repeated refrain of "I don't recall" makes one wonder if he has the intellectual ability to be an attorney, let alone the Attorney General.

Under President Bush, everything is supremely political; and that erodes the rule of law. This Attorney General has done what he is told; and he has led the Justice Department downhill. I would like to think the next Attorney General will be an improvement; but that would take an effort by President Bush to find someone who can do the job right. I don't think that is one of the criteria our President uses in making his appointments. And many thanks to Harry Reid for announcing that an overtly political choice will not be confirmed by the Senate.


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