by Max Brantley
Now it's the Washington Post with a long look at the Bush administration's decision to roust a number of U.S. attorneys -- including Bud Cummins of Little Rock -- and replace them with truer, bluer (or should we say redder) political operatives. These include former Karl Rove aide Tim Griffin, installed in Little Rock without a confirmation hearing after Cummins was rudely shoved aside. Now the Justice Department is starting to cast aspersions on those moved out.
Said the torturer in chief, Alberto Gonzales, "From time, to time we make an evaluation as to whether we believe we can put in people who can produce better results, who can do a better job."
Cummins is in the lead of the story.
H.E. "Bud" Cummins III had served for five years as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock -- a job he obtained in large part because of his credentials as a longtime GOP lawyer and avid supporter of President Bush.
So Cummins, 47, was more than a little surprised when he got a call from the Justice Department last year asking him to resign. He was told there was nothing wrong with his performance, but that officials in Washington wanted to give the job to another GOP loyalist.
"I don't think many of us were aware that the administration might want to ask someone to step aside just to give someone else an opportunity," said Cummins, who left office in December and was replaced by J. Timothy Griffin, a former aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove. "The precedent was that once you were appointed, assuming you were successful in office, you were there until there was a change in the White House."
Cummins was the first in a wave of seven U.S. attorneys to be fired by the Justice Department, a move that has prompted sharp criticism from Democrats in Congress and has set the stage for a legislative battle over the attorney general's power to appoint federal prosecutors.