>points< from today’s NYT Editorial:

> Harriet Miers, the White House counsel whom Mr. Bush tried to elevate to the Supreme Court, originally wanted to replace all 93 attorneys with Republican appointees.<

[altho it is said that Clinton and others did this? Not so fast…But in an e-mail to Harriet Miers on Jan. 9, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s chief of staff Kyle Sampson (who resigned yesterday) admitted that the Clinton administration never purged its U.S. attorneys in the middle of their terms, explicitly stating, “In recent memory, during the Reagan and Clinton Administrations, Presidents Reagan and Clinton did not seek to remove and replace U.S. Attorneys to serve indefinitely under the holdover provision” ]

>Congress should broaden the investigation to determine whether any other prosecutors were forced out for not caving in to political pressure — or kept on because they did. <

>If that sounds cynical, it is. It is also an accurate summary of the governing philosophy of this administration: What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it to get more power?<

Politics, Pure and Cynical  (snips)

 Time and again, President Bush and his team have assured Americans that they needed new powers to prevent another attack by an implacable enemy. Time and again, Americans have discovered that these powers were not being used to make them safer, but in the service of Vice President Dick Cheney’s vision of a presidency so powerful that Congress and the courts are irrelevant, or Karl Rove’s fantasy of a permanent Republican majority.

 In firing the prosecutors and replacing them without Senate approval, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took advantage of a little-noticed provision that the administration and its Republican enablers in Congress had slipped into the 2006 expansion of the Patriot Act. The ostensible purpose was to allow the swift interim replacement of a United States attorney who was, for instance, killed by terrorism.

 Among the documents is e-mail sent to Ms. Miers by Kyle Sampson, Mr. Gonzales’s chief of staff, ranking United States attorneys on factors like “exhibited loyalty.” Small wonder, then that United States Attorney *Carol Lam of San Diego was fired. She had put one Republican congressman, Duke Cunningham, in jail and had opened an inquiry that put others at risk, along with party donors.

…about this Dept. of Justice? Those in favor of Lam writing a tell-all, say aye.



2004 Democratic Primary Debate at St. Anselm College,  January 22, 2004

Q: How would your administration revisit the Patriot Act and strike a balance between national security and personal liberties?

CLARK: I’m very concerned about the Patriot Act. It was passed in haste. It’s very long. What we would do is suspend all the portions of the Patriot Act that have to do with search and seizure: sneak-and-peek searches; library records; and so on. If they want a wiretap, they can do it the old-fashioned way, go to a judge with probable cause.

And then, bring the whole act back into the Congress. Lay it out. Ask former Attorney General John Ashcroft to come and testify on his use and abuse of the Patriot Act. What provisions were used, for what, for what good? Why couldn’t it have been done another way? And then we’re going to put together the right kind of authorities for law enforcement to keep us safe. We cannot win the war on terror by giving up the very freedoms we’re fighting to protect.

USA Patriot Act

November 1, 2003


I believe that law enforcement should have access to all necessary tools to deal with the problems of terrorism, which is why I’m calling for an immediate $40 billion investment in homeland security. But I don’t believe that we can win a war on terror if we give up the essence of who we are as Americans. That’s why I think that Congress should fully review the so-called USA PATRIOT Act – and repeal the provisions that go too far.

The USA PATRIOT Act was jammed through Congress in a matter of weeks, when the country was still in shock from the horrific attacks of September 11th. It wasn’t carefully drafted and it wasn’t fully debated. More troubling is that, in just two years, the Act has grown the tentacles that many feared. Last month, a Justice Department report admitted that the John Ashcroft has actually expanded the substantial reach of the Act, using it to snoop in secrecy for evidence of crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism.

Now Ashcroft is proposing the PROTECT Act. Among other curtailments, the proposed bill all but forbids prosecutors from agreeing to downward departures from the rigid federal sentencing guidelines, increasing the chance that individual punishments won’t actually fit individual crimes. It also instructs prosecutors to report judges that order departures from sentencing guidelines – creating the very real possibility that judges will be put on a DOJ blacklist.

I am concerned that the USA PATRIOT Act goes too far in expanding the authority of government investigators, and that it does so without sufficient oversight. We need to make sure that we are taking responsible measures to meet the needs of the time. That’s why I’ll call on Congress to fully review each provision of the Act, study the ways in which each has been used in practice, and eliminate those provisions that unduly threaten our civil liberties.

Wesley Clark on the PATRIOT Act (from The Rolling Stone Interview)

Q: The president is urging Congress to grant him wider powers to wage war on terrorism at home.

A: Come on, give us a break. The Patriot Act, all 1,200 pages of it, was passed without any serious congressional discussion. There was no public accountability, and now he wants more? What does he think this country is? We shouldn’t do anything with the Patriot Act until it’s unwrapped. I’d like to see what violations of privacy it entails, and whether those violations are in any way justified by their preventing terrorism in this country. And we need to do it now before we take another step forward and pay for that.

Courtesy of Patriot Watch and TalkLeft