Krugman: Bigger scandal involves US attorneys still in office
In a column on "the growing scandal over the firing of federal prosecutors," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argues that "it is becoming clear that the politicization of the Justice Department was a key component of the Bush administration's attempt to create a permanent Republican lock on power."
"For now, the nation's focus is on the eight federal prosecutors fired by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales," Krugman writes. "In January, Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath, that he 'would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons.' But it is already clear that he did indeed dismiss all eight prosecutors for political reasons -- some because they would not use their offices to provide electoral help to the GOP, and the others probably because they refused to soft-pedal investigations of corrupt Republicans."
Krugman adds that "in the last few days we have also learned that Republican members of Congress called prosecutors to pressure them on politically charged cases, even though doing so seems unethical and possibly illegal."
"The bigger scandal, however, almost surely involves prosecutors still in office," Krugman writes. "The Gonzales Eight were fired because they would not go along with the Bush administration's politicization of justice. But statistical evidence suggests that many other prosecutors decided to protect their jobs or further their careers by doing what the administration wanted them to do: harass Democrats while turning a blind eye to Republican malfeasance."
Excerpts from Krugman's column:
Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny.
How can this have been happening without a national uproar? The authors explain: "We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-statewide and non-congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press. Each instance is treated by a local beat reporter as an isolated case that is only of local interest."
And let us not forget that Karl Rove's candidates have a history of benefiting from conveniently timed federal investigations. Last year Molly Ivins reminded her readers of a curious pattern during Rove's time in Texas: "In election years, there always seemed to be an FBI investigation of some sitting Democrat either announced or leaked to the press. After the election was over, the allegations often vanished."
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