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« Democratic Iraq wins! | Main | O’Hanlon and Pollack: ‘Finally getting somewhere in Iraq’ »

July 30, 2007

Comments

Nicholas

Gonzales seems totally incompetent (he can't keep his story straight) but this is really just a case of the pot calling the kettle black...

Frank Warner

Gonzales goofed in coming up with a variety of explanations for the firings in the first place.

But every employer does that. Someone asks, why did you let him go? The employer says, well, he wasn't working out. Then someone hears the employer said something unkind, and the employer backtracks to avoid hard feelings (or lawsuits). Now the employer goes murky. No reason. I just wanted a change. I thought it was best for everyone. Blah, blah, blah.

Gonzales has even apologized for the confusion. But the Senate just won't let it go. The senators taste blood and they're going to pound Gonzales in hopes they have political meat in their dog bowls.

I have no special fondness for Gonzales. But he doesn't seem to be either a moron or a criminal, as the senators claim. And the way the senators are ganging up just for the sake of ganging up does seem moronic and criminal.

Each of those senators has said contradictory things that they wouldn't want to have to defend for 10 minutes. Imagine any one of them grilled for hours and hours about the same trivial mistake in explaining the firing of eight employees.

Then they spring a perjury trap. What Leahy and his committee are doing is a monstrous abuse of power.

Here's a test: Ask Leahy to explain his last firing of a staff member. Ask him to explain it for hours.

Nicholas

You're right, but I still don't understand why it's been so hard for him to explain. Surely when you pick 8 out of, what, 100 or so people to fire, you have a good reason for picking those 8. Sure, there may be multiple reasons. But are they so disorganized that they never summarized them?

You'd think important matters like this would be better organized. This still seems like a fishing expedition, though. I don't think they want to know the truth. They just want to make him look bad.

Frank Warner

They might have had eight capable political hacks ready to fill eight positions. That's up to the president and his attorney general.

In March 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno had 93 capable political hacks ready to fill all 93 U.S. attorney positions in 1993. All 93 were sacked. President Clinton called the mass firings "routine," but it hardly was "routine" at all.

Who held hearings to ask Reno, over and over again, if firing all 93 U.S. attorneys at once was "routine"? No one held hearings on that.

lrbinfrisco

Perhaps Mr. Gonzales could explain why his office refuses to open an investigation into the civil rights violations committed by Mike NiFong, other memebers of the Durham county District Attorney's office, and the Durham police department. I'm not talking about prosecution, just investigation. Ironic that the author uses a verb "NiFonging" to plead Gonzales case, yet Gonzales has the duty to investigate civil rights violations such as Mike NiFong committed and yet has abdicated that responsibility for who knows what grounds. Mr. Gonzales deserves to be replaced with an Attorney General who won't balk at investigating the most egracious example of prosecutorial civil rights violation in decades.

Frank Warner

If Sen. Leahy weren't so intent on murdering Gonzales over trivialities, perhaps he could take a minute to ask Gonzales about Nifong. But then Gonzales might say, "You, senator, remind me of Nifong."

lrbinfrisco

Gonzales is Attorney General, not Patrick Leahy or anyone else. If Gonzales can't do the job, which includes dealing with the likes of Leahy, they he should resign and give someone else a chance. It's not Senator Leahy's job to launch civil rights violations into civil rights violations, it's Mr. Gonazales' job. Apparently he's incapable of doing that job.

Carl

Based on all of the investigations Congress is into right now (and passing very few needed bills), I would say the Congress is in the business of doing investigations, whether we want them or not.

I know I don't want it-- it isn't what I voted for in last November's elections.

And I couldn't tell you for a fact that the AG's office isn't looking into the Nifong case since I and the vast majority of this country's citizens just aren't privy to what investigations that office is into.

jj mollo

The firing of the attorneys was very suspicious in its timing and political intent. I think that anything that discourages unbiased prosecution is a bad thing. It's one thing when you first come into office, but this was basically a case of hovering over the shoulders of prosecuters who are necessarily involved in controversial work.

According to Wikipedia:
A Department of Justice list noted that "in 1981, Reagan's first year in office, 71 of 93 districts had new U.S. attorneys. In 1993, Clinton's first year, 80 of 93 districts had new U.S. attorneys." Similarly, a Senate study noted that "Reagan replaced 89 of the 93 U.S. attorneys in his first two years in office. President Clinton had 89 new U.S. attorneys in his first two years, and President Bush had 88 new U.S. attorneys in his first two years."[64]

In contrast to the 2006 dismissals, Presidents rarely dismiss U.S. attorneys they appoint.

...

The few examples of forced dismissals available are based on misconduct. The Congressional Research Service investigated the precedent of dismissing U.S. Attorneys over the 25 years 1981-2006 and identified 54 attorneys who did not serve their full 4-year term. Of these, only two were documented involuntary dismissals: William Kennedy in 1982 and J. William Petro in 1984. Both were Reagan appointees. ... Before 1981, President Carter replaced U.S. Attorney David Marston at the request of Democratic Representative Joshua Eilberg. Marston had been investigating corruption charges against Eilberg and Daniel Flood, another Democratic Representative. ...

The Carter dismissal is the only one that is comparable.

All presidents have dismissed most of the U.S. attorneys and rehired their own. What they don't do is fire them in the middle of investigations. I am not pinning this on Bush. It's definitely on Gonzales who brings a very partisan approach to his job. He has no sense of history or tradition. He's another DeLay in my opinion -- someone who doesn't care about the fragility of the long-term compromises that make government possible.

jj mollo

The story behind the story here has nothing to do with US attorneys or misleading Congress. It has to do with politics. The Democrats are loving the incompetence of Gonzoles. They want to draw this affair out as long as possible. The Republicans would just like him to go away because he makes the party look so bad. Only Arlen Specter can actually say so, however, because he was elected by a generally Democratic constituency who are happy to hear what he is saying.

So why doesn't Bush just fire him? The answer is that Gonzoles is taking all the punishment while Bush concentrates on the only thing he really cares about. Gonzoles is sacrificing himself to get some breathing room for Bush. This is true political loyalty. Anyway, the Democrats will not allow him to be replaced, so why bother firing him?

And that's all I have to say about that.

lrbinfrisco

"And I couldn't tell you for a fact that the AG's office isn't looking into the Nifong case since I and the vast majority of this country's citizens just aren't privy to what investigations that office is into."

Like the Michael Vick investigation for illegal Dog Fighting. Or how about the civil rights violations allegations at Guileford college. Several senators and congressmen have publicly called for investigations of NiFong and Gonazales' office has publicly refused to get involved. Several private citizens have inquired about opening an investigations and have seen their requests ignored. No responses at all.

Bottom line is Mr. Gonzales is more concerned with playing politics with the democrats than protecting the in Constitution and enforcing the laws. He's more worried about illegal dog fights than about civil rights violations. I'm not crazy about Leahy and his cohorts, but they don't run the Justice Department. They may conduct investigations, but don't have authority to prosecut. Gonzales is a political coward afraid to do his job. We need him replaced with someone with the backbone to tell the political hacks to go to hell, and then just do the damn job.

jj mollo

Nifong's career is runined and he will probably be disbarred. It is a problem when prosecuters make up their minds early and are apparently impervious to exculpatory evidence. I think, however, that the civil rights case is a stretch. There's a question as to whether the feds have jurisdiction and they certainly have bigger fish to fry. In the Vick case the indictment was the result of a five-year investigation by the USDA, presumably APHIS, which the federal government could hardly turn its back on.

lrbinfrisco

"Nifong's career is runined and he will probably be disbarred. It is a problem when prosecuters make up their minds early and are apparently impervious to exculpatory evidence. I think, however, that the civil rights case is a stretch. There's a question as to whether the feds have jurisdiction and they certainly have bigger fish to fry. In the Vick case the indictment was the result of a five-year investigation by the USDA, presumably APHIS, which the federal government could hardly turn its back on."

So let me get this straight, a 5 year investigation can't turn up anything worse than illegal dog fighting which is covered by Virginia legal statutes, but he local authorities don't seem to think that it's either not a big enough deal to prosecute or there isn't suffificient evidence to prosecute. But Gonzales has "no choice" but to prosecute. BS, he chooses to prosecute and coudl choose not to. Nothing is forcing him to prosecute.

However, with NiFong and the Durham police it is alleged that NiFong prosecuted 3 demonstrably innocent young men knowing full well that they were innoncent and that he didn't have one single piece of credible incriminating evidence to show that they were guilty. He did this in order to win an election. He purposely committed fraud in order to illegally prejudice the jury pool attempting to deny the defendants the right to an impartial jury. He imtidated exculpatory witnesses for the defense and falsely prosecuted them. He conspired with police to present false evidence to a NC jury to obtain indictments. He conspired with police and a private DNA testing company excutive to with hold DNA results that by law he was supposed to turn over [b] immediately[/b] upon receipt of said results. He knowingly lied in court on numerous occasions to keep exculpatory evidence. He enlisted his chief investigtor to coach the accusing witness into false testimony to fill in the holes in his case. He mandated an illegal and unconstitutional photo lineup and used it to obtain indictments. He committed election fraud with financial reports on his campaign contributions. He heard death threats issued to the defendants inside a courtroom and refused to take legal action. He falsified legal documents to hide exculpatory evidence. He knowingly incited violence against the defendants. He attempted to deny the defendants their 5th amendment rights to remain silent. He attempted to deny defendants the right to legal council. But this isn't near as bad as Michael Vick abusing a few dogs.

Don't get me wrong, I'm dog lover. I have one and think the world of him. But I wouldn't put my dogs rights before a human beings rights like Gonzales has.

Mike NiFong and the Durham police under the cover of law violated numerous civil rights of the Duke Lacrosse players and our spineless Attorney General won't even investigate because he'd rather committ resources to protecting the rights of animals. The guys a loser and deserves to be fired for impcompetent job performance.

Carl

Unlike the Democrats in office, the AG office doesn't have to go public with its accomplishments everytime it farts a good one.

jj mollo

My point was the jurisdiction issue. And how do you know that Nifong "knew" that the kids were innocent? People can believe things strongly no matter what the evidence is.

lrbinfrisco

"My point was the jurisdiction issue."

Surely you aren't suggesting that the US Justice department doesn't have jurisdiciton in cases involving civil rights violations are you?

"And how do you know that Nifong "knew" that the kids were innocent?"

Well the NC State Bar's Diciplinary Hearing Committee's trial of Mike NiFong released as one of their findings of facts to be that NiFong knew that the kids were innocent. Furthermore, our civil rights include the legal premise of innocent until proven guilty. Since there was never any credible evidence that the kids were guilty any officer of the court should have known that they were innocent in absence of proof of guilt. The NC Attorney general concluded that there never was any credible evidence to suggest guilt as did the NC State Bar's DHC trial of NiFong.

"People can believe things strongly no matter what the evidence is."

The purpose of criminal investigations are to verify the evidence. You can't know the evidence without some sort of investigation. However, in this case there have been numerous investigations done. One by the NC Attorney General's office. One by the NC State Bar. One by the defense Attorney's who are currently pressing criminal contemept of court charges against NiFong. One by Ed Bradley and CBS News. Numerous other individuals have done investigations and made their results and evidence public. All Gonzales has to do is start an investigation to look at the abundant public record of evidence against NiFong to determine if pressing charges in justified. However Gonzales refuses to even do this little.

jj mollo

Believe me, I'm not supporting Nifong and I'm certainly not supporting Gonzales. I'm just saying that these choices are not that unreasonable. Nifong is going to get his. A federal involvement would just look like piling on. As near as I can tell, the dogfighting case was initiated by the feds. They did most of the work and dropping it at this stage would look like dereliction of duty.

Carl

Where is Janet Reno when you need her? tic

lrbinfrisco

"Nifong is going to get his. A federal involvement would just look like piling on."

How will federal involvement look like piling on to any reasonable person? NiFong has lost his job. In a few days the disbarment ordered will take effect and he will lose his law license for at least 5 years, at which time he must reapply for permission to take the NC bar exam again. If convicted of criminal contempt of court, he will be subject to a maximum jail sentence of 30 days and $500 fine. All this for depriving 40 someodd individuals of their constitutional rights, malicious prosecution of 3 individuals, millions of dollars of damage in order to pad his state pension which by NC he gets to keep. He nearly railroaded 3 completely innocnet young men into sentences of 30 years, defrauded the voters, violated election laws, cost 3 families their life savings, and used the power and authority of his government position to illegally do untold damage to the reputations of 3 young men. He also refused to provide the protection of the law to the accused for political reasons. How in any sense of the world "reasonable" would doing a civil rights and election law investigation be piling on? How is failure to do an investigation not a derelition of duty?

jj mollo

You feel strongly about this, don't you? LOL

lrbinfrisco

Yes, I do feel strongly about the issue of blatant civil rights violations going unpunished. I would hope everyone would. My company has offices in NC. I would hope that if I had to travel there for business that I could reasonably expect that my constitutional rights would be respected and if they weren't that the US Justice department would take actions to insure that they were. I don't have confidence that with Mr. Gonzales' leadership that the Justice department would do this.

Few cases in recent history has as much pubilicly available evidence as does the Duke Lacrosse Hoax. Nor are there many cases as clear cut as this case is in civil rights violations. Yet Gonzales refuses to even investigate. If we can't trust him where it's just a matter of investing your time on the internet to verify that he hasn't done his job, how can we trust him with the majority of case which can't be so easily verified?

Carl

Short of Perjury
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/30/AR2007073001335.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

jj mollo

The federal government has to pick its fights, just as we do from a military perspective. We do not have the military capacity to end every dictatorship. The Justice Dept. does not have the capacity to pursue every case. Maybe this might be a better use of their resources.

Carl

Gonzales has until Friday to explain testimony
http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/gonzales-has-until-friday-to-explain-testimony-2007-08-02.html

lrbinfrisco

"The federal government has to pick its fights, just as we do from a military perspective. We do not have the military capacity to end every dictatorship. The Justice Dept. does not have the capacity to pursue every case. Maybe this might be a better use of their resources."

The argument that the government has limited resources points how how stupid it is to waste those precious resources on relatively frivilious case's like Vick's which consume tremendous amounts of resources but aren't near as important as cases involving civil rigths or terrorism for example. Also, there are local ordinances which are perfectly capable of dealing with Vick's crimes.

This is not a valid argument though for not investigating NiFong and the others in Durham. Such an investigation would set important precedents and send important messages to local authorities who abuse power. The available evidence points to an essentially slam dunk case, which Vick's is far from being from what is avialable publicly.

As for the case in Jena, La, the Justice department has reported conducting an investigation and finding no violations of civil rights. They have had public seminars to explain the results of their investigation. Still I'd much rather see additional resources placed there doing more in depth investigation that something silly like Vicks prosecution.

Essentially the federal government shouldn't be squandering precious resources on securing the rights of animals when it is far lacking of securing basic constitutional rights of human beings.

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