There seems to be a sudden shuffling of the United States Attorney deck, with some “wild cards” emerging from their hiding places up George Bush’s sleeve to replace legal aces.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a statement criticizing the Bush administration for “pushing out U.S. Attorneys from across the country under the cloak of secrecy.”
The Bush administration is pressuring San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, best known for her high-profile prosecutions of politicians [such as the Randy “Duke” Cunningham] and corporate executives, to resign her post. New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias announced, “I was asked to resign. I asked (why) and wasn’t given any answers.” H.E. “Bud” Cummins, who left the post of U.S. Attorney in Little Rock, Ark., wouldn’t say whether he was asked.
Some were definitely pushed:
Richard G. Convertino, a former assistant US attorney in Detroit, said the Justice Department violated his privacy rights by disclosing to the media that he was the subject of an internal ethics inquiry after he criticized the Bush administration’s counterterrorism strategy. Two people who have seen the full report confirmed that it rules out Convertino as a suspect in the leak case.
So what is really behind all of these replacements? Scooter Libby begins his trial Tuesday.
For three years, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald investigated the claim that Libby commited perjury and obstructed an investigation into the leak to reporters of the identity of a deep-cover CIA officer, Valerie Plame Wilson. Former ambassador Joseph Wilson contends that the information about his wife was leaked on purpose as retaliation for exposing as a fraud the administration claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.
There is a reason why the pressure will be on. Libby’s lawyers say they plan to call Vice-president Dick Cheney as a witness, the first time in American history that a sitting vice president will testify at a criminal trial. As a result, Cheney would be subject to cross-examination, and it’s my personal contention that Fitzgerald is being warned through the “voluntary” terminations of colleagues across the nation that he’s vulnerable to retaliation for doing his sworn duty as a top law enforcement officer of the United States of America.
I’m also sure that there is no desire on the part of the administration for Fitzgerald to ask embarassing questions that might put the Vice-president in a bad light at a time he is trying to convince the American people that escalating the war in Iraq is a good and necessary thing!
But the travesty of the law enforcement priorities of the Bush administration don’t stop there. The New York Sun reports that the FBI is dropping investigations of intelligence leaks, using the excuses that “national security issues are involved” and “the evidence files are missing.”
Recent assertions that the Bush administration can read your mail any time it wants, and that they can access our Internet search records while the Pentagon peeks through your checking statements should give one pause. If not, maybe the fact that he wants to promote the storage of your medical records online – where Homeland Security spies can access them anytime they want – will. As Stanley Tromp of Tyee Books reminds us in his review of Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age by Alasdair Roberts:
“It’s too easy to forget that freedom of information is not about files in cabinets and digital data but real issues affecting real people.”
Real people, however, don’t merit the concern of Bush administration officials. As The Deciderer himself announced at the Alfred E. Smith memorial dinner on October 19, 2000, “Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.” Those who can’t afford $800-a-plate fundraisers need not apply to the Bush administration for an official human status membership card.
But to get back to the lapsed FBI investigations, the intelligence-gathering methods I present were never used to track down the sources of the leaks. Considering Libby’s involvement in an identity leak scandal with hugely negative ramifications, one has to wonder just whom the FBI, and the intelligence agencies who refuse to cooperate with them in their investigations, are protecting – and what criminal activity will go unpunished as a result.
Tell me again that we are a nation of laws – please. I need a good laugh!Powered by Sidelines