The Hightower Report

Politicizing U.S. Attorneys; and Ambassador Spic and Span


AMBASSADOR SPIC and SPAN

With his bloody war, torture policies, oil-soaked economics, head-in-the-sand environmental approach, and global arrogance – George W. has tarnished America's once-shining reputation beyond recognition and caused people throughout the world to consider our flag the symbol of a rich bully.

Nonetheless, we can all sleep well at night because, by gollies, Karen Hughes is on the job as Ambassador Spic and Span, making everything all shiny again! Hughes, who was a TV personality before becoming Chief Buffer-Upper of George W.'s image in the late 1990s, is now the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. The position was created by Bush a couple of years ago just for Ms. Hughes, so she could roam the world and … well, do PR, putting a coat of nicey-nice over George W.'s ugliness.

How's it going? Just as splendidly as you might expect. While Bush & Co. have turned Iraq into a nightmarish recruiting ground for young terrorists, let it be known that Hughes says she has visited China to watch a classroom discussion of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. She has also traveled to the Philippines to distribute sewing machines to small businesses, and this year, she's launching summer camps for Morocco's inner-city youth.

And if that's not accomplishment enough for you, try this: Hughes' office now has an Arabic blog team! Yes, they're chattering away digitally on Arabic-language blogs to dispel foreign propaganda with … well, with Bush's propaganda. How many are on her office's blog team? "I think it's four or five," says Hughes.

That's it? Our undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs operation is fighting an entire world of Arabic rage with five bloggers? That's like trying to fight a forest fire with a squirt gun!

This is a total waste of our tax dollars – just another example of the Bushites trying to use PR as political cover for the messes they're making.


POLITICIZING U.S. ATTORNEYS

That little house of horrors called the PATRIOT Act keeps coughing up all sorts of nasty surprises.

The most recent is a provision that the Bushites very quietly slipped into the renewal of the act last year. It changed U.S. attorneys from being apolitical prosecutors to serving as partisan political hacks. Rather than vetting these powerful appointments through the normal Senate confirmation process, the PATRIOT Act's new proviso allows the attorney general to remove any U.S. attorney and substitute someone else to serve indefinitely.

No one noticed this little nasty until recently, when Washington was suddenly purged of seven U.S. attorneys for political reasons. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Bush's puppet, displaced all of them with GOP political loyalists. Ironically, all those ousted had been appointed by Bush, and they had received high marks for their professionalism, but apparently they were not partisan enough for the White House.

Take H.E. "Bud" Cummins, the U.S. attorney for Arkansas. He's one of the most distinguished lawyers in the state, but he was summarily bounced to make room for Timothy Griffin. Is the new guy a renowned legal mind with deep experience as a prosecutor? Ha! He's a joke. While he barely has any legal experience at all, this 37-year-old is a Karl Rove protégé whose only claim to fame is that he's been the research director of the Republican National Committee.

Another one who got the boot is David Iglesias of New Mexico. He got the kick from Bush, and he's not keeping quiet abut it. He says he was pursuing a kickback scheme involving a couple of local Democrats last fall when he got calls from Washington demanding that he speed up their indictments to help Republicans in the congressional elections. This respected prosecutor says he was ousted "because I didn't play ball."

"I know it's not performance-related," he says. "I know it's not misconduct. What else does that leave? Politics."

The Bushites have quit trying to govern and are now trying to turn the entire federal apparatus into a Republican political machine.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Patriot Act, U.S. attorneys, Alberto Gonzales, George W. Bush, H. E. "Bud" Cummings, David Iglesias, Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs

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