Generally these words are accompanied by an explanation for such a removal, but this was not the case for the eight United States attorneys recently ejected from the Justice Department. In fact, not only were the prosecutors denied an explanation, but it remains unclear if a justifiable explanation even existed. Outrage surged through Congress and the American people as these attorneys were fired in what appears to be a purely political, unprecedented act.
With the Congress under Democratic control, those in the White House are quickly realizing that their secret scandals and major mishaps are not going to be left unpunished, even if the last Congress turned a blind eye to such incidents.
Coincidentally, at the time the attorneys were asked to leave, most of them were working on public corruption cases that by and large targeted Republican politicians and their supporters. Officials also recognize that these attorneys were outspoken against President Bush and the White House on a variety of issues, including the death penalty.
When the news of the removal first became public, the Justice Department stated that the attorneys were dismissed due to performance-related problems. The claim was discredited when news of the attorneys’ positive evaluations prior to their dismissals surfaced.
Initially the White House wanted to keep out of the situation, but recently has admitted its involvement in the discharges. Last October, President Bush met with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss several concerns of the Republicans in Congress, including federal attorneys’ failure to adequately address voter fraud. Both President Bush and Alberto Gonzales have stated that although they did not suggest their removal, they did approve a list of suggested prosecutors compiled by other officials in the Department of Justice.
If that is truly the case, then it is interesting that Gonzales now assumes responsibility for “mistakes” that were made, yet does not apologize for them.
Gonzales claimed to have minimal input regarding the removal of the prosecutors. However, former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson testified against Gonzales’ claim. The former aide, who recently resigned, stated that Gonzales was well informed prior to the dismissals.
Sampson said that the removals were discussed over a two-year period and that he had discussed the removals with Gonzales at least five times before December 2006, when the majority of the attorneys were ousted.
The bottom line is that the whole circumstance is messy. This situation reeks of cover-ups, scandals and political maneuvering to protect Republicans involved in corruption cases. Gonzales has tried to place the blame on others, but we now know that he was definitely involved with the dismissal of these attorneys and that he has yet to provide a rationale for this action. These eight U.S. attorneys were asked to resign and, despite the many possible reasons for this occurrence, none seem likely. Now the American people are left wondering what the other U.S. attorneys have to do in order to secure their positions. It may be the case that they must agree with President Bush and keep away from any cases prosecuting his supporters.
City on a Hill Press feels that as Americans, we have the right to know what is occurring in Justice Department and the White House. This situation is a perfect example of the executive branch manipulating power for its own political agenda.
Eventually, the truth will surface and, like it or not, Alberto Gonzales will have to come clean. In the end he may even hear the same devastating words, “you’re fired.”