Saturday, March 10, 2007

Oh My

Oh My

WASHINGTON - Presidential advisor Karl Rove and at least one other member of the White House political team were urged by the New Mexico Republican party chairman to fire the state's U.S. attorney because of dissatisfaction with his job performance including his failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation in the battleground election state.

In an interview Saturday with McClatchy Newspapers, Chairman Allen Weh said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.

Weh's account calls into question the Justice Department's stance that the recent decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys, including Iglesias, was made without the White House weighing in. Justice Department officials have said the White House's involvement was limited to approving a list of the U.S. attorneys after the Justice Department made the decision to fire them.

Oh My

WASHINGTON - The growing controversy over the Bush administration's abrupt dismissal of eight federal prosecutors raises a disturbing question: Has the Bush administration tried to use the federal government's vast law enforcement powers against its political enemies?

"It would be enormously problematic if, in fact, the Justice Department or the White House were trying to use U.S. attorneys for political purposes," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia. "The questions are now hanging in the air."

Some Democrats hear echoes of Watergate in the administration's dismissals of the prosecutors and suggest that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign. Others want to know whether Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, played a role in the firings.

Justice Department officials say politics had nothing to do with the firings, but some of the ousted U.S. attorneys and outside legal experts think otherwise. Congressional Democrats say they're determined to find the truth.