Thursday, March 22, 2007

DEMS stand ground on sacked prosecutors

Nothing, Nothing, Nothing is what the American public will get if G.W. Bush's proposal is accepted.


US Democrats throw down gauntlet over sacked prosecutors
Source: Agence France Presse 03/22/2007

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2007 (AFP) -

Pressure mounted on US President George W. Bush Thursday as for the second time in two days US lawmakers authorized subpoenas of White House aides in a controversy over purged prosecutors.

The Senate Judiciary Affairs Committee allowed its chairman, Patrick Leahy, to issue the subpoenas in its probe into whether the eight attorneys were dismissed for political reasons late last year.

The vote came after a House of Representatives panel on Wednesday agreed that five senior administration officials including President George W. Bush's top political advisor, Karl Rove, should be summoned for questioning.

Bush, whose ties with the Democratic-controlled Congress have been strained over the war in Iraq, has vowed to fight any subpoenas, accusing the Democrats of a "partisan fishing expedition."
He did agree on Tuesday that White House officials could be interviewed privately by legislators, but not under oath, and without written transcripts.

But Democratic lawmakers say that is not enough, and the issue may now have to go before the Supreme Court if the White House refuses to bend.

"We have the right of inquiry and this is a very important inquiry. I think there could be much more to it than meets the eye right now and we need to persevere," Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told Fow News.

Leahy agreed, saying: "After a while, you begin to wonder, do we have an independent judicial system, do we have an independent prosecutorial system?

"And a lot of Republicans and Democrats have questioned what's going on. And I think we ought to -- all I want to do is know what the truth is."

The White House however has accused the Democrats of wanting to turn the investigation into a primetime spectacle.

"What he (Leahy) is talking about is a show trial. That's not designed to get at the truth, it's designed to sort of scold White House officials," said White House spokesman Tony Snow early Thursday.
The White House has already released some 3,000 pages of documents concerning the December sackings, which it says show there was no wrong-doing.

And it has stood by the country's top legal officer, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, facing a clamor of calls for his resignation.

The dispute began when some of the fired attorneys told Congress they were sacked because they resisted pressure from Republican lawmakers over sensitive cases.

While the White House and Justice Department have the right to appoint and remove all 93 US attorneys -- who investigate and prosecute court cases for the government -- replacements are usually only carried out at the beginning of a president's administration.

The issue has managed to divert the focus away from the Democrats' faltering attempts to agree a common congressional stand on the Iraq war and push a timetable to bring the troops home.
And is also providing succor for hardline Republicans, as Bush's ratings plummet to their lowest ever in the opinion polls.

"Why not go to war with Congress?" asked the rightwing New York Post on Thursday.

"Sure, Bush's approval rating is just 35 percent in the latest Gallup poll. But Congress' rating is even worse - 28 percent. Why shouldn't Bush move to take advantage of that?

"Apart from the survival of his own administration, Bush has a duty to fight to preserve the prerogatives of the executive as an institution for future presidents - Republican or Democrat."

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