Roger Fitch Esq • December 2, 2007
Our Man in Washington
It seems the Bush administration has scoured the country for useful idiots and found jobs for every one of them, especially those with law degrees.
Some of the appointees requiring Senate confirmation are so fragrant that, like the Federal Election Commission’s chipmunk-cheeked Hans von Spakovsky , they have to be placed through recess appointments.
A leading source for Bush-appointed lawyers and judges has been the Federalist Society, a right-wing alternative to the American Bar Association that grew out of sleeper cells of “conservative” law students disenchanted with their “liberal” professors.
These days, the once-scorned “Federalists” are represented at all 196 accredited US law schools, and in November the group celebrated 25-years of growing government influence (and regressive judicial activism) with a large convention. It was attended by four Supreme Court justices and the putative president of the US.
Law.com has more on the phenomenal success of the Federalist Society, which more recently has inspired the creation of a counter-organisation for “liberal” lawyers, the American Constitution Society.
The Federalist organisation has certainly helped produce loyal Bushies in record numbers, though not all of its recruits have been competent, or honest.
In any case, the Republicans have enjoyed a ready supply of corner-cutting and highly partisan lawyers since the Reagan years, according to the Nation’s Charlie Savage.
Whether lawyers or policy wonks, the same faces tend to resurface in Republican administrations with depressing regularity.
It used to be the case that compromised or discredited officials in the government, e.g. those who had been investigated for malfeasance or charged with crimes, would defer their comebacks till the next time the party was in office, by which time they would have been pardoned or forgotten.
No longer; under the Bush administration, malefactors are recycled in real time.
When Iraqi lawyers came to Washington in an effort to get Republicans to follow the rule of law in Iraq who better was there to show them around Congress than Manuel Miranda?
In a further proof that no crime or misconduct goes unrewarded in the Bush administration, Miranda, the Republican staffer who was sent off in disgrace in 2004 after he hacked the computers of Senate Democrats, has been given a job “promoting democracy” in the comically-named Office of Legislative Statecraft in Iraq.
Meanwhile, during the Thanksgiving holiday, Democrat majority leader Harry Reid had to keep the Senate in session – pro forma, anyway – just to prevent George Bush appointing unsavoury people through his famous misuse of “recess” appointments .
Law prof Marty Lederman of the Balkin Blog has more on this arcane practice.
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Things seem to be happening at the Department of Justice since Michael Mukasey took over as Attorney General.
For starters, a US grand jury has been convened to examine the sins of the Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq.
Lapsed investigations have been reopened, e.g. the Inspector General’s inquiry into warrantless surveillance, and new people nominated, though loyal Bushies all for key positions.
Harper’s blogger Scott Horton has more.
Happily, Mr Mukasey seems to have acted to remove the hated US attorney in Minneapolis, Rachel Paulose .
Now that Ms Paulose is gone, there are calls for Leura Canary, the extremely partisan US Attorney in Alabama, to be replaced, as Scott Horton reports.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Former US Attorneys has met and shared horror stories about recent events at the DoJ.
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In my last post I reported that former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had been hounded out of France by the process servers for human rights organisations, who laid a torture complaint against him while he was in Paris for a speech.
Unfortunately, the French foreign ministry has instructed the procureur to roll over and dismiss the charges on grounds of governmental immunity, ignoring the now-established Pinochet precedent.
But forget about Paris. Even when Bush administration officials are overseas, the US remains the leading haven for the world’s war criminals.
That’s the drift of the Department of Homeland Security’s own figures.
Curiously, these are not the people being pursued in the US courts for war crimes or terrorism. Former US Attorney Elizabeth de la Vega (pic) has described the official position taken by the Department of Justice (in a Florida case) on war crimes.
As for “successful” terrorism prosecutions in the US, the scorecard prepared by law professors David Cole and Jules Lobel makes depressing reading.