Thursday, March 22, 2007

White House aided Big Tobacco with US Attorney interference

Let's face it. You don't get appointed as a US Attorney because you oppose the administration that appoints you, and you generally don't work for the prosecution side of the justice system because you disagree with the laws or the politics involved, so on some level it's rather astonishing that so many attorneys who didn't get fired are coming forward to chronicle just how widely the Bush administration has politicized the system.
Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.

"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."

Unsurprisingly, a GOP led investigation found no wrongdoing at the time but that clearly doesn't mean there wasn't any and worse yet it's still going on unabated.
Eubanks said Congress should not limit its investigation to the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys.

"Political interference is happening at Justice across the department," she said. "When decisions are made now in the Bush attorney general's office, politics is the primary consideration. . . . The rule of law goes out the window."

The White House made a crucial error in this purge. They underestimated the loyalty members of the bar have for each other, and apparently didn't figure on the federal prosecutors being willing to speak out now that they finally have a Democratic majority to back up their allegations with meaningful investigations.

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