Speaking up | Arkansas Blog

Speaking up

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The so-called Justice Department's massacre of U.S. attorneys, including the competent loyal Republican Bud Cummins, continues to have repercussions. The Washington Post weighs in today, with further reporting that all but one of the attorneys removed (to make way for the likes of Karl Rove political crony Tim Griffin in Little Rock) were rated good performers. But they ran afoul of the White House politically. Several of them, including Cummins, had roles investigating Republican corruption.

Those ousted, including Cummins, are now speaking out.

Two months after the firings first began to make waves on Capitol Hill, it has also become clear that most of the prosecutors were overseeing significant public-corruption investigations at the time they were asked to leave. Four of the probes target Republican politicians or their supporters, prosecutors and other officials said.

The emerging details stand in contrast to repeated statements from the Justice Department that six of the Republican-appointed prosecutors were dismissed because of poor performance. In one of the most prominent examples, agency officials pointed to widely known management and morale problems surrounding then-U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan in San Francisco.

But the assertions enraged the rest of the group, some of whom feel betrayed after staying silent about the way they have been shoved from office.

Bud Cummins, the former U.S. attorney in Little Rock, who was asked to resign earlier than the others to make way for a former White House aide, said Justice Department officials crossed a line by publicly criticizing the performance of his well-regarded colleagues.

"They're entitled to make these changes for any reason or no reason or even for an idiotic reason," Cummins said. "But if they are trying to suggest that people have inferior performance to hide whatever their true agenda is, that is wrong. They should retract those statements."

Meanwhile, in LR, AP thought to ask the question we raised yesterday about Griffin's whining statement that he wouldn't seek Senate confirmation because of the meanies in the Senate. Does that mean he'll just stay through Bush's term as an interim appointee? He won't  exactly say. dBut the real answer is "of course" -- if he can get away with it -- because that was the Bush plan all along. They don't want Griffin questioned about his political activities, thus the permanent interim appointment. If they don't nominate anyone, it will make a sworn liar out of Attorney General Alberto Gonazales who promised the Senate he intended to seek confirmation for every U.S. attorney job. But lying by the Bush administration has become so routine as to be almost not noteworthy. Also, since it's about war and the administration of justice, not sex, it's of little importance, right?


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