Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Imperial Presidency in Action

Actually I don't know if this is an example of the imperial presidency in action or an example of just how disfunctional (when it wasn't being corrupt) the last Republican Congress was. The Administration has been firing US Attorneys that it doesn't like and replacing them with political hacks. Normally US Attorneys are vetted by Congress; usually members of Congress recommend them, so they are always political appointments, but the public vetting process generally guarantees that they are qualified.

In the last Congress a provision was secretly slipped into the Patriot Act that allowed the President to appoint temporary replacements for US Attorneys, replacements who don't have to be scrutinized by Congress. When it came to light it was blamed on Sen. Arlen Specter, which was somewhat hard for me to believe since he has not been one of the President's death-eaters.

Specter angrily denied that he slipped anything into the bill. Now it turns out that it was a member of his staff who did it after he was approached by the Justice Department, and he did it without Specter's knowledge:
In later remarks during this morning's hearing, Specter explained to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that he didn't know about the provision until she approached him on the floor and asked about it recently. He then asked his chief counsel, Michael O'Neill, who explained that the provision had been inserted into the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act at the request of the Department of Justice.
This is what happens when there is six years of no oversight of an Administration that has no shame and believes that it has been appointed by God Almighty. This is also what happens when no one actually reads the bills after they have been "finished" in closed-door partisan meetings.

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