Gonzo Goes: Not “If” But “When” (and How)

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As the Senate debates whether to conduct a purely symbolic no-confidence vote in Alberto Gonzales, Frank Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri, is on a journalistic campaign to have the Attorney General impeached. In Slate today, Bowman argues that Gonzales has essentially admitted David Iglesias was fired for not pursuing bogus voter fraud cases. Basically, Gonzales admitted that Iglesias was fired because the DOJ had received complaints about him, and those complaints all had to do with Iglesias’ unwillingness to abuse his prosecutorial powers to serve narrow, immediate political interests.

The Attorney General can, in fact, be impeached—and impeachment seems like a valid option.

It’s becoming more and more clear that the Department of Justice’s political agenda was out of control. If a full third of all U.S. Attorneys weren’t prosecuting “voter fraud” vigorously enough, it’s because the DOJ wanted them to go beyond the bounds of good legal judgment. And let’s remember what the endgame was: keeping minorities from voting so Republicans could establish their “permanent majority.” Rove’s list of states in which voter fraud was a problem consisted exclusively of battleground states. Marie Cocco at Truthdig puts it this way: “It’s Watergate without the break-in or the bagmen,” and she has a legitimate point.

In addition, there’s been ample evidence of incompetence in Gonzo‘s DOJ, with Time charging today that Gonzo’s poor-taste visit to an out-of-it Ashcroft probably involved serious mismanagement of classified information. (Ashcroft’s wife was present, and classified information cannot be discussed in public places.)

Here’s a question: If the Bush administration is so incompetent in so many ways, how are they still getting away with crap like this, without Congress even threatening to impeach? Look to another Time article for a somewhat sinister explanation: a “Washington truism that was proven once again this week by World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz: the longer a scandal-besmirched political appointee holds out against his critics, his party, his patrons and the press…the greater his odds of walking away with a measure of vindication…[T]here comes a time when simply leaving becomes the greatest chit he has to play in a final deal. And you can get a lot when you trade in that last chit.”

Update: Furthering the point that the DOJ’s agenda is corrupt, one USA’s prosecution on corruption charges of a Democratic aide was reversed in circuit court. Judges called the evidence “beyond thin.” The prosecutor continued to lean on the aide to give her boss up even after she was sentenced. Setting? The battleground state of Wisconsin. Timing? Just before the 2006 election.

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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