The new scandal involving the apparently political-based firing of eight U.S. attorneys proved to be the last straw for the oft-critical New York Times: On its editorial page, the paper on Sunday calls for the dismissal of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Meanwhile, McClatchy Newspapers — which has been in the forefront of reporting on the U.S. attorneys story — is out today with another strong probe. That story begins:
“Presidential advisor Karl Rove and at least one other member of the White House political team were urged by the New Mexico Republican party chairman to fire the state’s U.S. attorney because of dissatisfaction in part with his failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation in the battleground election state.
“In an interview Saturday with McClatchy Newspapers, Allen Weh, the party chairman, said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House. ‘Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?’ Weh said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event that month.
“‘He’s gone,’ Rove said, according to Weh.”
The Times editorial opens: “During the hearing on his nomination as attorney general, Alberto Gonzales said he understood the difference between the job he held ? President Bush?s in-house lawyer ? and the job he wanted, which was to represent all Americans as their chief law enforcement officer and a key defender of the Constitution. Two years later, it is obvious Mr. Gonzales does not have a clue about the difference.
“He has never stopped being consigliere to Mr. Bush?s imperial presidency. If anyone, outside Mr. Bush?s rapidly shrinking circle of enablers, still had doubts about that, the events of last week should have erased them.”
It concludes: “We opposed Mr. Gonzales?s nomination as attorney general. His r?sum? was weak, centered around producing legal briefs for Mr. Bush that assured him that the law said what he wanted it to say. More than anyone in the administration, except perhaps Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Gonzales symbolizes Mr. Bush?s disdain for the separation of powers, civil liberties and the rule of law.
“On Thursday, Senator Arlen Specter, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, hinted very obliquely that perhaps Mr. Gonzales?s time was up. We?re not going to be oblique. Mr. Bush should dismiss Mr. Gonzales and finally appoint an attorney general who will use the job to enforce the law and defend the Constitution.”