The way this story's lead two paragraphs are written it sounds to me as if the writer is figuring this out for the first time. This has been painfully obvious for many years now.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says his long friendship with President Bush makes it easier to say "no" to him on sticky legal issues. His critics, however, say Gonzales is far more likely to say "yes" - leaving the Justice Department vulnerable to a politically determined White House.
Probably not since Watergate has an attorney general been so closely bound to the White House's bidding. In pushing counterterror programs that courts found unconstitutional and in stacking the ranks of federal prosecutors with Republican loyalists, Gonzales has put Bush's stamp on an institution that is supposed to operate largely free of the White House and beyond the reach of politics.
In the Republican world there is no difference between government and politics. When you lack integrity and ethics, it's all the same. Gonzales let the White House determine which U.S. Attorneys stayed and which went, and when asked about it -- under oath -- he just couldn't remember.
Under oath... And he's the Attorney General of the United States.
Examples the article cites of White House meddling at the Justice Department:
- A dramatic 2004 confrontation between Gonzales, then serving as White House counsel, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft over whether to reauthorize a secret program to let the government spy on suspected terrorists without court approval.
- Allegations that Monica Goodling, the Justice Department's liaison to the White House and Gonzales' former counsel, aimed to only hire career prosecutors who were Republicans. Making hiring decisions based on political affiliation is illegal.
- Justice Department documents show that shortly after the 2004 elections, Bush political adviser Karl Rove questioned whether all 93 of the nation's top federal prosecutors should be ordered to resign. He also helped coach Justice aide William Moschella's planned testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Rove also was included in e-mail traffic about the firings between the White House and the Justice Department.
- The administration changed policy to allow more Justice Department officials to be in touch with the White House about some of the government's most sensitive criminal and civil cases. During the tenure of Democrat Bill Clinton, such discussions were restricted to six people -- two at Justice and four at the White House.
More details here.
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