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No place for AG Gonzales to go but out

President George W. Bush is a lame duck - he can't seek re-election to another term and Democrats will play the waiting game until the 2008 election in an attempt to win back the White House, as they did last year in the House and Senate. Still, ...

President George W. Bush is a lame duck - he can't seek re-election to another term and Democrats will play the waiting game until the 2008 election in an attempt to win back the White House, as they did last year in the House and Senate. Still, George Bush remains in charge and we hope he can forge public policy in the best interests of this nation and in bringing about a more stable world.

But, that won't happen as long as the credibility of what his administration can do keeps on slipping lower and lower.

Just as the president's profile in handling the military - aside from the war in Iraq itself - got a boost with the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Bush's profile can be improved by ousting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales, former White House counsel and long-time Bush friend, rightly accepted responsibility over the firing of eight US attorneys late last year, admitting that "mistakes were made," but that isn't enough. The activity, occurring just before Democrats wrested control of the two chambers on the Hill, smacks of a political purge not unlike the days of overnight ministry changes in the old Soviet Union.

Adding fuel to the fire were revelations of e-mails sent between Justice Department officials - including Gonzales' chief of staff - and White House officials who apparently plotted the firings. In fact, one-time Supreme Court nominee and former White House counsel Harriet Miers advocated firing all 93 US attorneys and starting over. In what is disturbingly becoming more and more an imperial presidency, the GOP-held Congress worked into the Patriot Act renewal provisions to allow the Justice Department to replace US attorneys without congressional confirmation, all for the sake of thwarting terrorists bent on killing US attorneys.

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Granted, US attorneys serve at the president's pleasure, but a semblance of fairness and equity must be maintained, not just "loyalty to the president and attorney general," as one e-mail professes. The eight who were fired were given no cause for their termination, such as poor record of prosecutions. Instead, the reason hidden between the lines seems political.

Carol Lam, the fired US attorney in San Diego, put Republican US Rep. Duke Cunningham in jail and had opened an inquiry on others, including GOP party donors. Fired US Attorney David Iglesias lost his post six weeks after Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) inappropriately asked Iglesias if he intended to indict Democrats before last November's election in a high-level corruption scandal. An e-mail reports that Domenici's chief of staff was "happy as a clam" when Iglesias was dismissed.

Attorney General Gonzales seems to have forgotten that he is no longer President Bush's attorney, but the nation's attorney. Coupling this matter with the fallout from a report last week that was critical of the administration's use of a special kind of subpoena to get personal records in terrorism investigations, there is no place for Gonzales to go but out.

THE BEMIDJI PIONEER

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