Bush Well Within His Rights to Fire U.S. Attorneys
- 18 March 2007 by Author 0 Comments
Bush Well Within His Rights to Fire U.S. Attorneys
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 03/18/07
Nothing like a Washington non-event to draw the partisan vultures from their holier-than-thou perches. That’s precisely what we witnessed this past week after the Bush Administration fired eight U.S. Attorneys.
Why is this a non-event? Because United States Attorneys are appointed, as specified in U.S. Code, to serve four-year terms at the pleasure of the President and can be dismissed at anytime for cause or otherwise. As a matter of fact, in 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno demanded the prompt resignation of all 93 U.S. Attorneys just two months after Bill Clinton was sworn into office. Were the partisan vultures circling after that provocative announcement? Hardly a foul was to be found, except in the White House where the Clintons had ordered the purge.
In 1993, the move was clearly motivated by politics. The Federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia was within a few days of filing charges against the corrupt former Illinois Democrat Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, and the U.S. Attorney in Arkansas was pursuing charges against Hillary and Bill Clinton for their involvement in the Whitewater scandal. By removing all the Federal prosecutors, the Clintons successfully defrayed criticism that otherwise would have been leveled against them for removing prosecutors selectively. You can’t get much more political than that, especially since the removal of all 93 Federal prosecutors effectively curtailed investigations against the Clintons on the Whitewater illegalities since the Arkansas prosecutor was replaced with Paula Casey, a close friend of the Clintons. The evidence trail was considerably cleaned by the time Kenneth Starr tried to resurrect the investigation years later.
If the firing of eight prosecutors last week was performance related because of ineffectual follow through on voter fraud investigations as indicated, fantastic. Get rid of the bureaucratic non-performing “dead wood.” If they were politically motivated, just follow the Clinton model and remove them all. But for heaven’s sake, don’t apologize for it, don’t claim mistakes were made, and don’t make staffers resign over it.
According to the actual Justice Department memos recommending the purge, the removal was in fact performance based and political in nature. The Washington Post disclosed the contents of those memos, and the underlying determinant on who was retained and who was not, was “ Recommend retaining; strong U.S. Attorneys who have produced, managed well, and exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General. Recommend removing: weak U.S. Attorneys who have been ineffectual managers and prosecutors, chafed against Administration initiatives, etc.”
Democrat and media reactions to the firings are laughable and border on the absurd. I’m convinced that if they witnessed President Bush walking on water, the headlines the next day would read “President Can’t Swim,” and the Democrats would charge “trickery,” and call for Congressional hearings.
Why is it that those who are most partisan are the quickest to point the finger and charge “partisan crimes?” If that’s not the pot calling the kettle black I don’t know what is.
Perhaps even more disconcerting, if that’s possible, is the reaction of the administration. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said “mistakes were made,” and his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson has fallen on his sword as a sacrificial offering to the media and Democrats. The firings, whether performance based or not, are fully within the purview of the constitutional powers of the Presidency. No apologies are necessary, no sacrificial resignations are warranted, and no excuses need be proffered.
If anything, the President should have done a clean sweep of political appointment positions when he came to office in 2001. The U.S. Attorneys, the State Department, CIA, FBI, NSA … all of them. His spirit of bi-partisanship he attempted to infuse into the D.C. environment backfired. Leak after leak has characterized this shadow government of Clinton holdovers which has undermined our ability to wage successfully the war on terror or for the Executive branch to function with the cohesion observed during the Clinton years. After all, half of D.C. works for the government, and the other half are advisors in the private sector waiting until their party comes to power again.
So should Alberto Gonzales resign? Absolutely not. There is no reason for it. Should there be Congressional hearings? No, since there is no constitutional authority for Congress to oversee Executive Branch personnel issues, except as stipulated in the Constitution for confirmation and impeachment. Will there be Congressional hearings? Probably, as this Congress seems to have nothing better to do than micromanage the President and attempt to minimalize and discredit him as much as possible.
So here we are with Congressional Democrats (and a few idiot Republicans) crying “foul” in the firing of eight ostensibly ineffectual Federal prosecutors. Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi appoints the bribed William Jefferson, Democrat from Louisiana to the Homeland Security Committee (if that’s not a security threat I don’t know what is). And the former Clinton administration National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, is caught steeling documents from the National Archive, and getting away with little more than a slap on the wrist. Hmm. Seems to me all the attention should be directed to where the real illegalities are occurring.
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.