Saturday, March 24, 2007

Exhibit F, G, E (whatever) in the Case of the Politicization of the DOJ

If, for example, you desired to fire under-performing attorneys and replace them with what you consider to be qualified attorneys, would one of the qualifications be that they worked to roll back voting-rights protections designed to protect minorities? The answer to that question is yes, at least in the Bush White House:
Since 2005, Bush has appointed at least three U.S. attorneys who had worked in the Justice Department's civil-rights division when it was rolling back longstanding voting-rights policies aimed at protecting predominantly poor, minority voters.

Another newly installed U.S. attorney, Tim Griffin in Little Rock, Ark., was accused of participating in efforts to suppress Democratic votes in Florida during the 2004 presidential election while he was a research director for the Republican National Committee. He has denied wrongdoing.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the four U.S. attorneys weren't chosen only because of their backgrounds in election issues, but "we would expect any U.S. attorney to prosecute voting fraud."

The Bush administration's emphasis on voter fraud is drawing scrutiny from the Democratic Congress, which has begun investigating the firings of eight U.S. attorneys — two of whom say their ousters may have been prompted by the Bush administration's dissatisfaction with their probes of alleged Democratic voter fraud.
"Voter fraud" gets a lot of emphasis in the Republican party. But as you see, the phrase has a unique meaning for the party that does not include quirky voting machines:
In its fumbling attempts to explain the purge of United States attorneys, the Bush administration has argued that the fired prosecutors were not aggressive enough about addressing voter fraud. It is a phony argument; there is no evidence that any of them ignored real instances of voter fraud.

There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in this country. Rather, Republicans under Mr. Bush have used such allegations as an excuse to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups. They have intimidated Native American voter registration campaigners in South Dakota with baseless charges of fraud. They have pushed through harsh voter ID bills in states like Georgia and Missouri, both blocked by the courts, that were designed to make it hard for people who lack drivers' licenses -- who are disproportionately poor, elderly or members of minorities -- to vote. Florida passed a law placing such onerous conditions on voter registration drives, which register many members of minorities and poor people, that the League of Women Voters of Florida suspended its registration work in the state. The claims of vote fraud used to promote these measures usually fall apart on close inspection, as Mr. McKay saw. Missouri Republicans have long charged that St. Louis voters, by which they mean black voters, registered as living on vacant lots. But when The St. Louis Post-Dispatch checked, it found that thousands of people lived in buildings on lots that the city had erroneously classified as vacant.
Nobody in this country believes that legitimate voter fraud should be permitted, or is excusable. An illegally cast vote deprives some other vote of his right to cast a vote. But the Republican Party is not interested in a fair vote; they are interested in pressuring minorities (who traditionally lean Democratic) to note vote at all, pushing not only such unconstitutional tactics as those mentioned above, but also illegal tactics like these:
In the past, voters in low-income and minority areas have been the target of misdirection in the form of mailings, flyers, door hangers, and phone messages instructing them to vote at the wrong location, or on the wrong day. Voters have also been subject to widespread rumors that they would be arrested at the polls for outstanding traffic violations or outstanding child support.
So I ask, if you were interested in building a Department of Justice that effectively enforced the rule of law, who would you hire? Experienced and seasoned prosecutors? And if you were interested in a Department of Justice that would serve as the law enforcement wing of the Republican party, who would hire? Political hacks with a proven track record on "voter fraud" cases of interest to the party? I think you and I both know the answers to those questions.

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