At the end of 2006 and the beginning of this year the Bush Administration's Justice Department dismissed several U.S. Attorneys from their positions. For those readers who may not be aware of how this works an U.S. Attorney is the prosecutor for the Federal government in each of the Federal District Court divisions across the nation. In Ohio there are two of them, one for the Northern District of Ohio and one for the Southern District of Ohio.
They are presidential appointments and serve at the pleasure of the President. Since they are presidential appointments they are usually of the same political party as the president. These are very coveted political appointments. When the Justice Department dismissed or fired these U.S. Attorneys they were dismissing fellow Republicans, not career civil servants.
Because several of these officials were engaged in political corruption probes, including the one that took down Duke Cunningham, the former Congressman now convicted felon from California, there was concern among several Democratic Senators, particularly Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, that these dismissals were "pay-back" for these U.S. Attorneys doing their jobs. The concern increased when they found out that under a little-known provision of the Patriot Act renewal last fall, these U.S. Attorneys could be replaced without going through Senate confirmation.
Yesterday, February 28, the concern rose to a whole new level when one of the fired U.S. Attorneys revealed that right before the election two members of Congress tried to pressure him to bring indictments in a public corruption probe of New Mexico Democrats before the November election. Although he refused to name them, from his comments they are believed to be Republicans. He speculated that his refusal to rush the indictments is why he was dismissed.
This U.S. Attorney is very interesting since he is of Hispanic descent, the son of a Baptist minister, and was reportedly the model for the Tom Cruise character in the film A Few Good Men. He would seem to be exactly the person the Bush Administration would want in public office except, of course, that he is ethical. Click on this entry's title to read the Washington Post story.