Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is exploiting a loophole in the Patriot Act to appoint U.S. attorneys whose principal qualification is their loyalty to the Bush administration. Recently a number of attorneys have been fired, apparently to make way for Bush-friendly replacements.
WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is transforming the ranks of the nation’s top federal prosecutors by firing some and appointing conservative loyalists from the Bush administration’s inner circle who critics say are unlikely to buck Washington.
The newly appointed U.S. attorneys all have impressive legal credentials, but most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they’ve been appointed to serve, and some have had little experience as prosecutors.
The nine recent appointees identified by McClatchy Newspapers held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law in March.
With Congress now controlled by the Democrats, critics fear that in some cases Gonzales is trying to skirt the need for Senate confirmation by giving new U.S. attorneys interim appointments for indefinite terms. Some legal scholars contend that the administration pushed for the change in the Patriot Act as part of its ongoing attempt to expand the power of the executive branch, a charge that administration officials deny.