Tuesday, March 27, 2007

US Attorneys scandal: The civil liberties angle

It appears two of the US Attorneys among the eight who were dismissed were not trying to kill people with as much zeal as the AG (be it Ashcroft or Gonzo) like. In a story that was first out there a few years ago, the DOJ overruled US Attorneys on multiple occasions when the local prosecutor opted to pursue a life sentence.
But long before this controversy shed light on the political maneuvering between the White House and the Justice Department, two of the fired attorneys were engaged in a largely invisible internal struggle with the Justice Department over its aggressive pursuit of the death penalty.

Both Paul Charlton of Arizona and Margaret Chiara of Michigan have been criticized for failing to seek death sentences with sufficient gusto. Both US Attorneys were pressured to participate in an aggressive campaign begun by former Attorney General John Ashcroft and continued by Gonzales to extend the federal death penalty--particularly into jurisdictions without death-penalty statutes of their own.

Apparently, the Bush Administration has not gotten the memo that the death penalty is on the way out. According to Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center:
"The size of the federal death row has almost tripled from 2000 to the present, during a time when state death row numbers have declined." Indeed, the expansion of the federal death penalty is in direct opposition to declining death penalty trends throughout the country--yet another example of the Bush Administration's deliberate disconnect from its constituents.

(Courtesy Abolish the Death Penalty)

Andy in Harrisburg

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