James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Monday, April 23, 2007

Quickies: A correction and U.S. attorneys

A correction: For a couple of days, I had posted here a very brief commentary on what appeared to be a new magazine started by the publishers of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

I made an error in taking at face value a news release without further checking -- something I know better than to do, but did anyway.

As I read it, the news release gave the impression that the Strib was involved in the magazine. It is not. I apologize.

Most news operations have ignored, or nearly so, the very core of the story about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys by Alberto Gonzales's wholly politicized Justice Department.

At the root of the situation – the real reason the eight had the can tied to their tails – is the Republican Party's big effort to disenfranchise large segments of the population that lean heavily to voting for Democrats – blacks, Hispanics and others.

The Bush crowd, and thus Gonzales and his crony/employees, went after the eight fired attorneys because they declined to make weak or entirely false prosecutions that could be expected to frighten certain voters away from the polls. The move also served to intimidate U.S. Attorneys who weren't fired.

Several of them got the message and did the political bosses' bidding. Steven Biskupic, U.S. attorney in Wisconsin, played the political game big time. He indicted 14 black Milwaukee residents for voting illegally and got big headlines with the move. Nine of his cases were either dismissed or lost in court – a rotten record compared with most prosecutions by U.S. attorneys, which normally win 90 percent of their cases. None of the other cases proved to involve any kind of organized effort at fraud.

Biskupic still has his job, however.

And this goes on while the Republicans pursue bills supposedly designed to end almost nonexistant voter cheating (as shown by several studies) but which really are designed to accomplish the same thing as the mostly groundless prosecutions: to intimidate and frighten crowds of voters who can be expected to vote for Democrats.

The April 23 New York Observer carried an article by Joe Conason about the story behind the story.