Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Conversation

Pulling something from Jamo's column which I linked to earlier. From 1994 New York Times editorial:

Attorney General Janet Reno seems hellbent on sacrificing her reputation to the White House's effort to contain the Whitewater Development flap. Not only has she continued to refuse, on insultingly specious grounds, to appoint an independent counsel. It now emerges that by so refusing, she has bought time for Justice Department and White House lawyers to cook up a deal to keep the Whitewater records under wraps. Moreover, those records are being handled so sloppily that when an independent counsel is finally -- and inevitably -- appointed, that official will have to spend vast energy to be sure no evidence has been destroyed.

Is no one at the White House reading the history of recent Presidential scandals? These clumsy efforts at suppression are feckless and self-defeating. This White House's attempts to maintain political control of the investigation into President and Mrs. Clinton's real estate dealings in Arkansas are swiftly draining away public trust in their integrity.

Ms. Reno insists she does not wear the White House collar, but her news conference yesterday undermined that claim. She holds out the possibility that she will seek a court-appointed independent prosecutor as soon as the House passes legislation authorizing such positions. But Ms. Reno does not have to wait. She already has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor from outside her department, and Congressional Republicans are right to insist that she do so. When the Independent Counsel Act is revived -- as it ought to be -- then this special prosecutor can give way to a court-appointed prosecutor operating with even more independence.

The issue I want to highlight is not independent (law expired) or special prosecutors, but the very concept that the attorney general should him/herself be independent. That is entirely gone from our media conversation. Every knows Gonzales is Bush's tool, and it isn't remarkable. It's just the state of affairs. The very idea that he should be independent has been stricken from contemporary discourse.