Saturday, January 27, 2007

More on the US Attorney purge

McClatchy provides more on the story of the US Attorney firings by Attorney General Gonzales. McClatchy has identified at least nine such appointments.
The newly appointed U.S. attorneys all have impressive legal credentials, but most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they've been appointed to serve, and some have had little experience as prosecutors.

The nine recent appointees identified by McClatchy Newspapers held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law in March.

With Congress now controlled by the Democrats, critics fear that in some cases Gonzales is trying to skirt the need for Senate confirmation by giving new U.S. attorneys interim appointments for indefinite terms. Some legal scholars contend that the administration pushed for the change in the Patriot Act as part of its ongoing attempt to expand the power of the executive branch, a charge that administration officials deny.

Being named a U.S. attorney "has become a prize for doing the bidding of the White House or administration," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who's now a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "In the past, there had been a great deal of delegation to the local offices. Now, you have a consolidation of power in Washington."
According to TPM the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas has just been sued by an alleged crack cocaine dealer who contends that his appointment without Senate confirmation is unConstitutional, so we'll soon see about the legality of the Patriot Act provision that Attorney General Gonzales is using. It shoud be interesting.

[H/T to TPM Muckraker and to TPM.]

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