Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Bush-Nixon Axis

Overshadowed by the Libby verdict, Senate hearings about the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys are a flashback to the darkest Nixon days when the nation’s chief law enforcement officer was John Mitchell, the only Attorney General in history to go to prison.

Six prosecutors, all appointed by the Bush Administration, are telling stories of pressure by Republican lawmakers, followed by threats from the Justice Department to keep them from talking about why they were fired. One of them was replaced by a Karl Rove aide.

The Attorneys were eased out by a little-noticed provision inserted into the Patriot Act, which came as a surprise to Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, who had voted for it.

Nixon’s man Mitchell advocated wiretaps without court orders and preventive detention of suspects (sound familiar?) for “national security” against critics of the war in Vietnam. He left office to run Nixon’s reelection campaign in 1972 and eventually went to prison for overseeing the Watergate break-in and cover-up.

If the current A.G., Alberto Gonzales, is a student of history, he may want to think twice about endorsing his underlings’ claim that the prosecutors were fired for good cause. These Senate hearings could eventually bring the Administration and Congressional Republicans more grief than a dozen Scooter Libby trials.

No comments: