Are Indictments Coming in Bush DOJ Scandal?
David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, says the answer to our headline question might be yes.
The appointment of special prosecutor Nora Dannehy is ominous for Karl Rove and others who apparently engineered the firings of nine U.S. attorneys, Iglesias says.
Dannehy's appointment signals the investigation no longer is a civil matter to "blithely ignore," Iglesisas writes. And while "follow the money" was the phrase that helped break Watergate, Iglesias expects "follow the e-mails" to be the key to breaking the DOJ scandal.
Birmingham Lawyer Turns to Growing Pot
If your legal career isn't going so hot, maybe growing pot is a good alternative. That evidently was the thinking of Birmingham lawyer Daniel Pinson Rosser, who was arrested the other day on charges that he helped mastermind the largest indoor marijuana-growing operation in Alabama history.
The pot was growing in a northeast Birmingham warehouse, using a sophisticated hydroponic system in which plants are grown in water, without dirt. This produces pot that sells for four times the price that traditionally grown marijuana will bring.
Authorities said the system uses intense heat lamps to simulate sunlight and can produce $1 million worth of pot a year.
Rosser, who was suspended from law practice, apparently decided that growing uber-pot sure beats filing motions and dealing with clients.
Financial Woes Overshadow Justice Scandal
Are scoundrels who corrupted the U.S. Justice Department lucky, in a sense, that our financial system has gone into near collapse?
Probably so, says Toledo Blade columnist Marilou Johanek. She says the recent report on the firings of nine U.S. attorney got buried in a hyperactive news cycle:
AT ANY other time, what happened in the U.S. Justice Department last week would have been big news. At any other time, when internal reports by Justice Department call for more investigation into a case of unethical, if not criminal, conduct on the part of lawmakers and the White House, the administration would have a lot of explaining to do.
But the Bush Administration got lucky. As its Treasury and Federal Reserve chiefs warned that the sky was falling and the economic crash and continuing tumult on Wall Street made them seem prophetic, the Justice Department released a nearly 400-page scalding indictment of the administration over the controversial firings of several U.S. attorneys in 2006.
It was an overlooked bombshell in breaking news cycles preoccupied with financial crisis, rescue plans, presidential politics, and a vice presidential debate.
The Justice Department report is more troubling than many of the other big stories of the moment, Johanek writes:
Turns out the real reason some of the top federal lawyers were removed from the job, according to the Justice Department report, was that either the U.S. attorneys had the audacity to prosecute Republicans or because they failed to aggressively prosecute Democrats.
Either way, their behavior ticked off well-connected GOP politicians who had come to expect a politically loyal Justice Department. A couple of calls from powerful New Mexico Republican officeholders helped push former U.S. attorney David Iglesias out of a job. Evidently, the top New Mexico prosecutor was remiss in his duty to produce criminal charges against Democrats in the run-up to the 2006 election.
Another U.S. attorney in Missouri lost his post over a petty complaint from Republican Sen. Christopher Bond, and still another was bumped to make room for a protégé of White House political adviser Karl Rove. There was a pervading culture of partisanship/loyalty-above-all-else in the department, recalled one of the fired attorneys.
“Not only were my colleagues and I not insulated from politics — as we should have been in our jobs as prosecutors — but we were fired for the most partisan reasons,” Mr. Iglesias said.
What does this mean for the future of our republic?
Scandal-weary Americans may be inclined to dismiss yet another administration disgrace, but what happened at the Justice Department is too big a deal to ignore.
We’re supposed to be a country that requires “equal justice under the law,” not tainted justice under political consideration. But that’s what we had under shameless administration zealots like Mr. Rove and Mr. Gonzalez.
The former administration officials allowed the most invaluable assets of the Justice Department — its integrity and independence — to be jeopardized for political ends. They permitted wholesale politicization of the department, as one commentary put it, “by subjecting new hires and sitting U.S. attorneys to rigid ideological litmus tests. . . . ”
Before the next administration takes over, Americans need firm assurance that the rule of law will be applied fairly by the Justice Department. Never again can there be partisan allegiance required of incoming professionals, or political criteria that outweigh the legal and ethical.
The impartial administration of justice in this nation, its very credibility, was nearly destroyed by the tyrannical ambitions of a few. How’s that for big news almost buried?
The GOP and Wachovia Give Birmingham the Shaft
It seems like yesterday that Birmingham was a proud banking center, mainly because of our "Big Four" banks--AmSouth, SouthTrust, Regions, and Compass.
As of 2004, Birmingham had four banks in the nation's top 50, and only New York city had more banks make that list.
Just four years later, Birmingham's banking industry is in disarray, its image battered, largely because of deregulation pushed by John McCain, Phil Gramm and their Republican brethren.
The biggest jolt to Birmingham banking came in 2004 when Charlotte-based Wachovia gobbled up SouthTrust. Another jolt came in 2006 when AmSouth merged with Regions.
What has been the fallout? In recent days, we've learned that Wachovia is teetering and probably will be gobbled up by Wells Fargo. Who knows what that means for Birmingham? But it probably isn't good.
How tight has Wachovia been with the Republican Party. Facing South, the blog of the Institute for Southern Studies, reports that Wachovia made an $8 million bailout loan to the National Republican Bailout Committee. This came as Wachovia was denying credit or freezing assets of consumers, small businesses, and institutions. It also came as Wachovia was in the middle of a buyout deal backed by U.S. taxpayers.
Chris Kromm, of Facing South, has been leading the reporting on the Wachovia/GOP lovefest, and it is a story worth following.
Here is the bottom line in our neck of the woods: A bank that strongly subsidized GOP political activity has given Birmingham a world-class screwjob. And yet the GOP's presidential candiate, John McCain, leads Democrat Barack Obama by some 20 points in the latest polls.
Can anyone explain that one? Are Alabamians completely out to lunch?