Thursday, March 15, 2007

All roads lead to Rove

Sidney Blumenthal has written a great piece at Salon exposing BushCo at its most base and the despicable Karl Rove's has his grubby paw prints all over it. Read the whole thing here.
To the extent that the facts are known, Rove keeps surfacing in the middle of the scandal. And it is implausible that Sampson, the latest designated fall guy, was responsible for an elaborate bureaucratic coup d'├ętat. Nor is it credible that Gonzales -- or Harriet Miers, who has yet to be heard -- saw or heard no evil. Neither is it reasonable that Gonzales or Miers, both once Bush's personal attorneys in Texas, getting him out of scrapes such as his drunken driving arrest, could be the political geniuses behind the firings. Gonzales' and Miers' service is notable for their obedience, lack of originality and eagerness to act as tools. The scheme bears the marks of Rove's obsessions, methods and sources. His history contains a wealth of precedents in which he manipulated law enforcement for political purposes. And his long-term strategy for permanent Republican control of government depended on remaking the federal government to create his ultimate goal -- a one-party state.

[...]

Those fired were not completely "loyal," as Sampson's e-mails emphasized. But to what policies should a prosecutor be "loyal"? Two academics, Donald C. Shields of the University of Missouri and John F. Cragan of Illinois State University, studied the pattern of U.S. attorneys' prosecutions under the Bush administration. Their conclusions in their study, "The Political Profiling of Elected Democratic Officials," are that "across the nation from 2001 through 2006 the Bush Justice Department investigated Democratic office holders and candidates at a rate more than four times greater (nearly 80 percent to 18 percent) than they investigated Republican office holders and seekers." They also report, "Data indicate that the offices of the U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops." Thus what the 85 U.S. attorneys who were not dismissed are doing is starkly detailed.

If the Democrats hadn't won the midterm elections last year there is no reason to believe that the plan to use the U.S. attorneys for political prosecutions -- as they have been used systematically under Bush -- wouldn't have gone forward completely unimpeded. Without the new Congress issuing subpoenas, there would be no exposure, no hearings, no press conferences -- no questions at all.

The replacement of the eight fired U.S. attorneys through a loophole in the Patriot Act that enables the administration to evade consultation with and confirmation by Congress is a convenient element in the well-laid scheme. But it was not ad hoc, erratic or aberrant. Rather, it was the logical outcome of a long effort to distort the constitutional framework for partisan consolidation of power into a de facto one-party state.

This effort began two generations ago with Richard Nixon's drive to forge an imperial presidency, using extralegal powers of government to aggrandize unaccountable power in the executive and destroy political opposition. Nixon was thwarted in the Watergate scandal. We will never know his full malevolent intentions, but we do know that in the aftermath of the 1972 election he wanted to remake the executive branch to create what the Bush administration now calls a "unitary executive." Nixon later explained his core doctrine: "When the president does it, that means it's not illegal." Karl Rove is the rightful heir to Nixonian politics. His first notice in politics occurred as a witness before the Senate Watergate Committee. From Nixon to Bush, Rove is the single continuous character involved in the tactics and strategy of political subterfuge.

Remember Josh Marshall's prescience here:
There's a sub-issue emerging in the canned US Attorneys scandal: the apparently central role of Republican claims of voter fraud and prosecutors unwillingness to bring indictments emerging from such alleged wrongdoing. Very longtime readers of this site will remember that this used to be something of a hobby horse of mine. And it's not surprising that it is now emerging as a key part of this story. The very short version of this story is that Republicans habitually make claims about voter fraud. But the charges are almost invariably bogus. And in most if not every case the claims are little more than stalking horses for voter suppression efforts. That may sound like a blanket charge. But I've reported on and written about this issue at great length. And there's simply no denying the truth of it. So this becomes a critical backdrop to understanding what happened in some of these cases. Why didn't the prosecutors pursue indictments when GOP operatives started yakking about voter fraud? Almost certainly because there just wasn't any evidence for it.

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