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Dems Send Out Subpoenas For Show Trials

From The Hill:

Democrats send out first round of subpoenas

By Susan Crabtree

A House Judiciary subcommittee approved today the first in what is expected to be an avalanche of subpoenas to Bush administration officials. They will likely explore corruption and mismanagement allegations on everything from pre-war Iraq intelligence to the mishandling of the response to Hurricane Katrina.

The first round of subpoenas concern the recent controversial firings by the Bush administration of seven U.S. attorneys, some of whom were pursuing public corruption cases against Republican members of Congress.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law, chaired by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), approved subpoenas requiring four former U.S. attorneys to appear at a subcommittee hearing next Tuesday. The former U.S. attorneys include Carol Lam of California, David Iglesias of New Mexico, H.E. Cummins III of Arkansas, and John McKay of Washington state. The subcommittee approved the subpoenas by voice vote; no Republican lawmakers were present.

Tuesday’s hearing will consider a bill by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) that would reverse a new Patriot Act provision allowing the attorney general to appoint federal prosecutors without Senate confirmation through the duration of the Bush administration.

Democrats have come to the defense of several dismissed prosecutors, in particular Lam and Cummins of Arkansas. They have noted that Lam was leading the probe of ex-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.), while Cummins was removed to make room for a former aide to White House senior adviser Karl Rove. Other U.S. attorneys, including those in Nevada and Arizona, were acting on corruption charges against GOP lawmakers before their resignations were requested.

Iglesias, a New Mexico U.S. attorney, asserted at a press conference yesterday that he was fired for purely political reasons. He also charged that prior to the November elections, two federal elected officials asked him to speed up the probes of local politicians.

Democrats, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), have expressed outrage over the firings. She and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have demanded to see the attorneys’ performance evaluations.

The White House has denied that the attorneys were fired for anything other than performance-related issues. And Republican lawmakers, such as Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), have argued that Democrats are making up a controversy where none exists.

After the vote on the subpoenas, Sanchez took exception to the White House’s assertions that they can fire the attorneys because they are “at will” employees.

There are several exceptions when an “at-will” employee cannot be fired, Sanchez asserted, such as sex or race discrimination.

“There are several public policy reasons why we don’t fire people,” she said. “Are these people being [fired] because they’re doing their jobs and they’re doing them to well? Is this an ideological purge?”

She went on to stress the importance of a judiciary branch that is separate and independent from the executive branch.

“When the executive branch is interfering in the justice system—in other countries we call that corruption,” she said. “It’s very troubling to me that there seems to be this undercurrent.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) also weighed today, with a speech on the House floor.

“So this Administration either originally hired incompetent attorneys in the first place, or hired competent U.S. Attorneys, but incompetently fired them. Which is it?” he asked. “Many Americans believe these U.S. Attorneys are not being fired because they failed to go after public corruption, but because they did and were successful.”

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment by press time. It has opposed a Senate bill similar to Berman’s. A senior administration official also previously told The Hill that Democrats were trying to create a scandal where there isn’t one.

“This sounds to me a little more like Democrats trying to play politics and use the S-word than it does trying to obtain substantive information,” the official said.

Yes, this new Congress is getting so much done.

The country is in great hands.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, March 2nd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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