Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Purgegate in a nutshell

There's a lot of right-wing spin out there on how the Purgegate scandal is completely overblown because US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and because they are replaced all the time and because Clinton did it, etc. If you encounter that baloney, here's how you counter it: Yes, those attorneys can be replaced, but you can't mess with their current investigations or try to coerce them into investigating something by threatening to replace them. That interferes with their independence, and is illegal and wrong.

Kevin Drum sums it up:
If seven U.S. Attorneys were fired that day for poor performance, that would be fine. If they were fired for insufficient commitment to Bush administration policies, that would be fine too. But there's considerable reason to believe that at least some of them were fired because either (a) they were too aggressive about investigating Republican corruption or (b) they weren't aggressive enough about investigating Democrats.
Also, you can't lie to Congress about the reasons you dismissed them. That's a crime and it is also wrong.

As an aside, I don't particularly care for the fact that the suffix "-gate" has come to mean "scandal related to the preceding word". After all, Watergate wasn't about water. But "-gate" is a useful shorthand, and it reminds people of the corruption of the Republican Nixon administration, so I guess I won't declare war on it the way I've declared war on all the national variations on "space worker" (astronaut, cosmonaut, et al.) I just remembered that when I reported on the crazy space worker love triangle story, I forgot my crusade against those words and used the term "astronaut". Oh well.


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