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Saturday, April 14, 2007

You Call This Freedom?

The Nation writer and Capital Times associate editor John Nichols brings up a damned good question -- if the Bush administration fired federal prosecutors for not abusing their offices for political purposes, shouldn't we be more concerned about the attorneys they didn't fire than the ones they did?

What did these people do to keep their jobs?

The Capital Times:

The question of whether any of the 85 U.S. attorneys who were not fired by the Bush administration may have engaged in political prosecutions blew open Tuesday, when Wisconsin Russ Feingold and Russ Kohl joined other key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in demanding files pertaining to the botched prosecution of Georgia Thompson.

Committee Chair Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Feingold, Kohl and three other senators have asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for documents dealing with the case of the state employee who was tried in a case that played out during the course of the 2006 gubernatorial race in that state. Republicans used the prosecution as part of a television attack campaign aimed at defeating Democratic Gov. James Doyle.

U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic obtained an election-season conviction of Thompson on charges that she steered a state contract to a Doyle donor. But a federal appeals court last week overturned that conviction with a stinging decision that complained about a lack of evidence. One of the appeals court judges said Biskupic's case was "beyond thin."

In this case, the system worked despite the best efforts of Biskupic to pervert justice. But not before Thompson spent time in prison. Thompson's original conviction put a cloud over Jim Doyle's 2006 re-election effort. Doyle was marked as one of the most vulnerable democratic governors in that cycle and the only reason he won was because his opponent, former congressman Mark Green, refused to see that being a Bush clone wasn't exactly the best way to go. While Green tried to make hay with Doyle's supposed 'corruption,' Doyle only had to point to Green's voting record.

Biskupic was a prosecutor who'd apparently passed the Justice Department's political purity test. Is he typical?

That's what a few in congress would like to find out...

Oshkosh Northwestern:

U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl today joined other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in requesting U. S. Justice Department documents related to the prosecution of former state worker Georgia Thompson, whose bid-rigging conviction was overturned last week by a federal appeals court that ordered her immediately freed from prison.

Thompson was accused of favoring a company with ties to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, and her conviction became an issue last year in his campaign for re-election when his opponents used it to slam him in television ads.

The farther this thing moves along, the more damning things look -- not only for Biskupic, but for the administration that appointed him. Although he wasn't among the fired prosecutors, it looks like he might've done just the right things to save his job. The Milwaukee Journal reports that Biskupic was on the firing list, but got a 'reprieve' -- presumably for being a good little partisan.

According to McCatchy Newspapers, "Congressional investigators looking into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys saw Biskupic's name on a list of attorneys targeted for removal when they were inspecting a department document not yet made public..."

The Bush administration lost the benefit of the doubt a long time ago. At this point, the best bet is always to assume the worst. There's really no reason to trust these people any farther than we can throw them -- collectively. And that means that it's pretty damned safe to assume that Biskupic started playing ball with Team Bush to save his job. In this case, 'playing ball' meant trumping up charges to put someone in prison for the crime of belonging to the wrong party.

And this is the Bush administration in a nutshell -- profoundly hypocritical. While telling us that they're bringing freedom to Iraq, they undermine freedom at home. They talk about democracy and liberty, but they have no use for it. If it's better for them that you be put in prison -- for whatever reason -- then into prison you go. Guilt or innocence of the crime you're charged with is irrelevant. What matters is that you're guilty of being a political inconvenience.

If you're reading this and you're one of the few who are still a Bush supporter, let me ask you -- is this what you had in mind? If you stand for freedom, then how do you define it when you can be arrested and jailed for working for a Democrat? Almost every day, we see ourselves losing just a little more freedom, the government becomes just a little more autocratic, the law becomes just a little more arbitrary, and justice becomes just a little less meaningful.

Freedom isn't lost in one fell swoop. It's lost piecemeal. You lose a little liberty here and bit of a right there. You're told you'll get these back when it's safe for you to have them again and they never come back. It's never safe.

And what people who aren't free are safer because of it? Who in the world has no rights and is safe because of it? The idea that we have to give up freedom for safety is a lie -- it doesn't do a damned thing to make us safer. People without rights are not safe people. Go find some North Korean guy and ask him. He'll tell you how 'safe' he is.

It's now pretty damned clear that Alberto Gonzales has no use for our system of government. It's a framewok to hang lies on and your rights are an impediment to work around. Much better if you don't have any.

And anyone who thinks Gonzales wasn't chosen because of this is either drunk or in a home for the mentally helpless. The AG is the AG because he's a ruthless SOB; a cutthroat politician first and a public servant and officer of the court second.

In case you've forgotten, we fought a revolution to get rid of this kind of crap. This monarchic power to put anyone in prison, to torture anyone, to throw someone in a hole someplace to be forgotten. And these abuses are as bad now as they were then.

Gonzales has to go. Justice would demand that the place he goes is to prison, but to just go is second best. And the people who chose Gonzales, those people who consider the Constitution 'just a goddamned piece of paper,' need to be right on his heels.

We won't be free again until they're out of office. Impeach the living hell out of this administration.


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Anonymous said...

"And anyone who thinks Gonzales wasn't chosen because of this is either drunk or in a home for the mentally helpless."

No need to give the drunk and mentally helpless a bad name to make your point.

Other than that, excellent job, Griper.

Anonymous said...

Go take a look at Dennis Troha. Not a very sympathetic figure for sure, but his crime, as charged by Biskupic, is donating to Jim Doyle, a Democrat. Don't believe me? The very same donations he is charged with making to Doyle were also made to President Bush and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, yet they are never named in the charges. His only crime it seems was donating to a Democrat. But then again, Biskupic claims he isn't the partisan hack everybody knows he is.