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Gonzales Plans to Plow Ahead With Politicization of U.S. Attorneys

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Fifty-three senators have expressed no confidence in his ability to direct the Department of Justice. But the man has a mission. And that is to insure that the Department of Justice serves the will of the Republican Party, particularly through a process of voter disenfranchisement and by targeting and persecuting the nation’s number one law enforcement targets: known Democrats. Exposure of some elements of this mission has produced a public outcry. But the administration’s response is simple: you need 67 votes to impeach me, and without them, I’m on the job until Bush leaves office.

The Chicago Tribune’s Andrew Zajac takes a close look at Gonzales and how he plans to spend his next eighteen months at the helm of the nation’s law enforcement regime.

Gonzales recently proposed tightening the leash on the men and women who prosecute federal crimes across the nation. Gonzales described what he delicately calls “a more vigorous and a little bit more formal process” for annually evaluating prosecutors. What that means, as he explained it, is hauling in every U.S. attorney for a meeting to hear, among other things, politicians’ beefs against the prosecutor.

If that should happen, expect the fair-mindedness and independence Americans still count on from their Justice Department to slip. In testimony to Congress and comments at the National Press Club, Gonzales framed the meetings as a way of improving communications. But it also looks a lot like a way to remind recalcitrant U.S. attorneys what the home team expects.

On Friday, a spokesman for Gonzales insisted in a written statement that the attorney general has no intention of holding one-on-ones with every U.S. attorney. “The view of the overwhelming majority of U.S. attorneys is that they do not want a new, formalized review process — including one that might involve annual one-on-one meetings between each U.S. attorney and the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General. We have listened and agree with these views,” the spokesman said. But later Friday a senior Justice Department official said one-on-one meetings are still on the table. “We haven’t ruled that out,” the official said.

The question of the day belongs to the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart: “Mommy, why is that liar still in charge of the law?”

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