Friday, March 09, 2007

How to Corrupt Democracy

We haven't been paying much attention to it here in Canada but a very dark scandal involving the forced ouster of 8 federal prosecutors is unravelling that depicts a calculated effort by the Bushies to undermine democracy in America.

Paul Krugman, writing in today's New York Times, describes the corruption of America's justice department:

"For now, the nation’s focus is on the eight federal prosecutors fired by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In January, Mr. Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath, that he 'would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons.' But it’s already clear that he did indeed dismiss all eight prosecutors for political reasons — some because they wouldn’t use their offices to provide electoral help to the G.O.P., and the others probably because they refused to soft-pedal investigations of corrupt Republicans.

"In the last few days we’ve also learned that Republican members of Congress called prosecutors to pressure them on politically charged cases, even though doing so seems unethical and possibly illegal.

"The bigger scandal, however, almost surely involves prosecutors still in office. The Gonzales Eight were fired because they wouldn’t go along with the Bush administration’s politicization of justice. But statistical evidence suggests that many other prosecutors decided to protect their jobs or further their careers by doing what the administration wanted them to do: harass Democrats while turning a blind eye to Republican malfeasance."

Krugman cites a study done by two professors into investigations and indictments of politicians since Bush took office. The score: 67-Republicans, 298-Democrats. He also pointed out how candidates backed by Karl Rove tended to find themselves blessed by an FBI "investigation" of a Democratic opponent that almost always evaporated after the election. Does that sound strangely familiar?

According to the ousted federal prosecutors, intimidation was used to try to keep them silent but it didn't work. Now the Democratic Congress can subpoena witnesses to hearings that may just get to the bottom of this dirty business. Krugman predicts, "...we'll learn about abuses of power that would have made Richard Nixon green with envy."

I think this is one story we may all want to follow.

Corrupt judiciary, indefinite detention without charge, secret trials - forget Richard Nixon, this sounds positively Stalinist.

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