Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rundown of the scandals

It's tough to keep track of exactly how many scandals the Bush administration is embroiled in at this very moment but it appears that basketball and politics are the only things occupying my mind lately and I've had a lot of time to read and write this week so that's what you get. The interesting thing, to me, is how all of these tie together in a neat little package and how predictable all of this was. Although I could talk about the Libby conviction stuff what I'm really fascinated by is the stuff revolving around the Patriot Act.

Now, you'd think that we'd have learned that passing these types of laws that strip away our Constitutional liberties is like hooking up with a skank at a bar. Hey, it made sense at the time but you're really going to feel guilty about it in the morning. Someday I hope, and believe, that the Patriot Act will take its place in our children's history books with the Alien and Sedition Acts and Gitmo will be remembered like the Japanese internment camps during World War II. It won't be easy to explain how we allowed it to happen but I truly believe our country will come to our senses and get rid of them.

From the very beginning this thing has been as absolutely shady as it can get. Most legislative members were not even allowed time to read the act before they were forced to vote in the panic that defined the "resolute leadership" of that time. Civil liberties activists were denounced as anti-American and fools for worrying that these provisions would ever be used for anything other than catching terrorists. Obviously, that was bullshit. When has a government or law enforcement agency ever had a tool they said they were going to use for one type of crimes and not began using the same tool for everything? Never.

Well, shockingly, the FBI was seriously warned by a congressional committee about their extensive abuse of Patriot Act provisions allowing them to look into telephone, financial, or e-mail records with just a "National Security letter." This was abused time and time again in cases where there was no emergency and where no national security interest was found. But, hey, come on, if you didn't do anything wrong you have nothing to worry about, right? Of course not.

The other scandal also involves the Patriot Act. This time a little known clause that allows the administration to appoint their own U.S. Attorneys without Senate approval. Apparently the Senate didn't bother to find this part because they voted 94-2 to repeal that section today.

News has been trickling out painting a picture of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former White House consel and Supreme Court nominee (quite the incestuous group...I guess when so many people know so much it's good to keep them close to you), and the always evil and always involved Karl Rove conspired to fire U.S. attorneys they disagreed with and replace them with their own plants for the rest of the term. These attorneys would be free to prosecute or not prosecute whomever they (or rather the administration) felt like they should. This seemed to be the problem with the eight that were fired. One wasn't pushing a case against Democrats ahead to beat the election and received a somewhat threatening call from his Republican congressman. Another was prosecuting some Republicans. Things went so far that it was even suggested that they fire and replace every single one of them with Bush plants that would not need Senate approval.

In the face of overwhelming evidence that the White House is up to their eyeballs in this mess Bush offered to let Rove and Miers talk to Congress in private and not under oath. Congress says, umm, no. Bush, of course, is apparently sticking with Gonzales despite the fact that Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to throw this guy under the bus and save their own skin. When Gonzales confuses his duties as being the lawyer of the United States government with being the personal lawyer of Bush it's not surprising that Bush would stick by him.

Gonzales needs to go. The fact that he's been such an enabler for all of the illegal searching and torturing this goverment has sanctioned should be reason enough but he's already been on really sketchy ground with a lot of his testimony before Congress on the wiretapping stuff and now basically misled them about his role on this that what else can you do? He's got to be gone and whether he is or isn't Congress needs to start slapping some subpeonas on some of these crooks.

Ah, interesting point. Imagine this (not so far-fetched) scenario: Congress subpeonas them. Bush says, fuck you. Congress says, you're in contempt of Congress. And who prosecutes that? The U.S. Attorneys. Hmm, interesting that he's so interested in getting rid of all but the ones loyal to the Rethugs, no? It's amazing that he's accusing Democrats of trying to score political points when they fired they US Attorneys for purely political reasons. Scumbags.

As long as Bush had a Republican Rubber Stamp Congress that was willing to go along with his executive branch power grabs things stayed pretty quiet. It will be interesting to see how a Democratic majority handles things.

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