Monday, March 19, 2007

Make them testify

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Why is the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys so important? Because it concerns the overt politicization of the justice system. The U.S. attorneys were fired not because they weren't performing well on the job but because they weren't adequately pro-Bush. This is more than politicization; it is partisanization. And it is simply not acceptable.

Whereas a Republican Congress would kowtow to the White House on this matter, as it did on almost everything else during Bush's first six years in office, the Democratic Congress is at least making an effort to uncover the truth. From the Times:

The Democratic senator leading the inquiry into the dismissal of federal prosecutors insisted today that Karl Rove and other top aides to President Bush must testify publicly and under oath, setting up a confrontation between Congress and the White House, which has said it is unlikely to agree to such a demand.

Some Republicans have suggested that Mr. Rove, as well as Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel,
and William Kelley, the deputy White House counsel, testify privately, if only to tamp down the political uproar.

But Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, seemed to rule out such a move today, saying that his committee would vote Thursday to issue subpoenas in the inquiry, which centers on whether the White House allowed politics to interfere with law enforcement.

"I do not believe in this, 'we'll have a private briefing for you where we'll tell you everything,' and they don't," Mr. Leahy said on the ABC News program "This Week," adding: "I want testimony under oath. I am sick and tired of getting half-truths on this."

Testimony under oath is hardly too much to ask given the gravity of what has happened. Needless to say, though, Bush will never let it get that far. There is the not-so-small matter of executive privilege, not to mention the White House's obsession with secrecy. Gonzales would be pushed out and made to the take the fall long before Bush ever let Rove et al. testify under oath.

Leahy should issue subpoenas and by any and all means try to compel Bush's top aides to testify. Just don't expect anything significant to come of his efforts.

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