Monday, March 05, 2007

Travesty at Justice

A view from an anonymous TPM Reader in the trenches ...

I'm an Assistant United States Attorney in [*******], and am, of course, outraged by the U.S. Attorney purge, as most AUSAs are. I appreciate all the work you've been doing on this story.

My own sense is that this purge has to be viewed as part a much larger story on the devastating impact of this administration's policies on the institution of the U.S. Attorney's Office.

From a fiscal perspective, the administration has essentially abandoned the U.S. Attorney's Offices. That has led to a precipitous drop in the numbers of federal prosecutions, particularly in larger districts like Los Angeles. The effects of the budget crisis at U.S. Attorney's Offices across the nation are well documented.

True to form, Alberto Gonzales has virtually ignored these problems, despite congressional inquiries.

Likewise, from a policy perspective, the administration's War on Terror (TM) policies and practices have undermined the sacred foundations of the work we do as federal prosecutors. I strive every day to make sure that the Fourth Amendment rights of evn the worst criminals are scrupulously observed, only to learn that the folks I work for view those rights as disposable, inconvenient anachronisms. I operate in a criminal justice system properly designed to maximize due process for even the worst criminals, only to watch the administration kick and scream when forced to provide even the most basic due process rights to suspected terrorists.

And now the purges. So they've slashed U.S. Attorney's budgets, trashed rights we have sworn to uphold, and now, tried to toady-up the ranks of our leadership by firing some of our best and brightest, apparently to make room for wingnut-annointed political hacks. Folks who do stuff like this deserve to get caught.

One final note: U.S. Attorneys are referred to as the top law enforcement officers in their districts -- even the FBI answers to the U.S. Attorney because the FBI can't bring cases without the U.S. Attorney. Can you imagine if the administration had treated the FBI the way they've treated the U.S. Attorney's Offices? Of course not -- they wouldn't dare. Because the public understands all too well what happens when the FBI's integrity is undermined or its leadership politicized (see J. Edgar Hoover's tenure).

The very same dangers lurk here. Thanks for helping to bring them to light.

-- Josh Marshall

No comments: