Just Try It

by digby

Back in August of 07, when the Democrats whiffed on the US Attorney scandals, I wrote this:

I assume that the Dems have decided that there's nothing to be gained politically by pursuing these issues any further so they don't want to bother. And they are right to the extent that the Republicans will howl like she-wolves if a new Democratic administration tries to fire the GOP whores they've installed throughout the department and now that Gonzo is out they've lost their villain of the piece.

And here's we are:

Mary Beth Buchanan was appointed by President Bush to serve as U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh in Sept. 2001. Buchanan has held several significant posts within the Bush/Ashcroft/Gonzales Justice Department, most notably serving as director the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

Just last month, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Buchanan’s reign was expected to end. Indeed, when a new president is elected, U.S. attorneys of both parties generally submit their resignations to make way for the new appointees. But Buchanan has other plans:

Despite a new administration coming into power, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said she plans to stick around.

“It doesn’t serve justice for all the U.S. attorneys to submit their resignations all at one time,” she said yesterday. […]

More than that, she said she would consider working in the Obama administration. She would not discuss what her future might hold beyond the U.S. attorney’s office.

“I am open to considering further service to the United States,” Ms. Buchanan said.

She’s been described by colleagues as the quintessential loyal Bushie. “She is very focused to the department first of all,” said one assistant U.S. attorney, who asked not to be named. “She’s not independent, and I don’t think she wants to be.”

During her tenure, Buchanan has been criticized for bringing politically-motivated investigations and charges against politicians in Western Pennsylvania, none more famous than the public corruption case against a local high-profile Democrat Dr. Cyril H. Wecht. Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh told Congress that the Wecht prosecution is “not the type of case normally constituting a federal ‘corruption’ case brought against a local official.”

Buchanan hired Monica Goodling, and she hand-picked a Pittsburgh attorney to serve as the U.S. prosecutor in Alaska, going over the heads of Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski.

This is a Republican soldier and if Obama attempts to fire her, she will become a martyr to the cause. And she's not alone. They are all over the Justice Department.

When the US Attorney scandal broke, you'll recall that there was a lot of wingnut chatter saying that because Bill Clinton had asked for the resignations of all US Attorney's at the beginning of his term, Bush had a perfect right to fire US Attorneys who refused to do political dirty work. They set the stage for this at the time. It was entirely predictable that the new administration would be held to a completely new standard --- he would not be allowed to fire any US Attorney who had been appointed by Bush for any reason at all or risk being accused of using the Justice department for partisan gain. It's how they roll.

US Attorneys should be apolitical as much as possible. They most certainly should NOT be hyper political actors as this person was, working closely with a disgraced Attorney General and involved in the scandals. It's outrageous that anyone like her would even still be in the Justice Department today under Mukasey.

If she stays, she will be working against the Obama administration from within. There are probably many others like her at all levels, some burrowed very deeply. After all, the US Attorneys were fired for refusing to go along with political prosecutions or to make way for political friends. You have to wonder about those who weren't fired.

The Demo0crats did the new president no favors by not adequately pursuing this scandal and leaving it in the hands of Mukasey's department. There may be some individual repercussions, but without a full public investigation of the rot inside the DOJ during the Bush years, it left many of these people in place and gave the Republicans a weapon with which to threaten the new president. It will be interesting to see how Obama responds to the threat.