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Tuesday, March 20, 2007
(12:04 AM) | Stephen:
The Great Document Dump Of Aught-Seven

Looking through the PDF's on the House Judiciary Committee website is interesting. I've been reading some correspondence between the DOJ and various senators regarding the amendment to last year's Patriot Act extension that allows "interim" US Attorneys to be appointed until the end of the president's term rather than the previously allowed 120 days.

Since USA's are political appointees that are usually replaced in substantial numbers upon the inauguration of a new president, this amendment makes Senate confirmation completely unnecessary. A president can merely name interim USA's and then just ignore the issue entirely for his entire term. Of course, doing this en masse poses certain problems, but this was obviously designed to allow the president to bypass the Senate whenever it seems necessary. If the recent firing of USA's hadn't been bungled so badly, this could have been a pretty effective tool for Bushco to make sure that loyalists are in key USA positions.

What's interesting is the rational that Gonzales repeatedly gives for this amendment (it's a scan, so I'm retyping it):
Last year's amendment to the Attorney General's appointment authority was necessary and appropriate. Prior to the amendment, the Attorney General could appoint an interim United States Attorney for only 120 days; thereafter, the district court was authorized to appoint an interim United States Attorney. . . . [S]ome district courts - recognizing the oddity of members of one branch of government appointing officers of another. . . . refused to exercise the court appointment authority, thereby requiring the Attorney General to make successive, 120-day appointments.
This is rather weak. It would be a nuisance, of course, to have to state every 4 months that Ms. X is the interim USA, again, but not much of an issue.

The next bit would, I admit, be more of a problem:
In contrast, other district courts - ignoring the oddity and the inherent conflicts - sought to appoint as interim United States Attorney wholly unacceptable candidates who did not have the appropriate experience or the necessary clearances.
I am extremely interested in concrete examples of a US district court appointing Goober McDumbass, Esq. - lately of the US Communist Party and the Aryan Nation - to the position of United States Attorney. I don't want to just blindly assume good faith on the part of everyone - which is good, because I rarely do - but clearly there would be a bit of consideration of the nature of the position when appointing an interim. After all, Goober would be arguing cases before that district court, and the novelty would wear off rather quickly. Plus any interim USA appointed in this way that was a "wholly unacceptable candidate who did not have the appropriate experience or the necessary clearances" could then just be fired. And a new interim USA could be appointed for another four months.

These aren't good excuses. They just didn't expect to be caught.

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