We'll probably have to agree to disagree. Poster over at CCK forgets the genesis of the US Atty mess

I see that Dawne over at the CCK blog sees the whole US Attorney mess as a big Republican right- wing plot to act above the law, (insert your other favorite liberal anti-republican buzz words in), etcetera, and so on.

Unfortunately, as much as Dawne would care to ignore, this all started when a Democratically appointed Judge tried to step in and insert his own appointee. In other words - if he hadn't tried to usurp the authority of the executive branch, there would have been no need to change the law for "the mess in South Dakota."

On February 6, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the independence of U.S. Attorneys and focused on a change to the PATRIOT Act caused by the actions of a judge in South Dakota. Senator Arlen Specter said the change to the PATRIOT Act “had been requested by the Department of Justice because there had been difficulty with the replacement of a U.S. attorney in South Dakota, where the court made a replacement which was not in accordance with the statute.

In fact, Judge Piersol appointed someone who hadn't been a prior federal employee and did not qualify.” This came after the Department of Justice had asked for an extension of the current interim appointee at the time, but instead, the judge inserted his own judgment.

Why was that a bad move? When the Department of Justice says that "We couldn't even communicate with that individual on classified information until a background check would have been done," it certainly leads one to ask if the action of Judge Piersol was such a wise thing.

Even during the hearing, Democratic Senator Schumer similarly referred to it as “the specific problem that occurred in South Dakota.” The Deputy Attorney General said during the hearing that “we had a very serious situation arise in South Dakota, and that situation illustrates what can happen when you have two authorities seeking to appoint a U.S. attorney.

What was that serious situation? In that case, here in South Dakota, the public defender's office challenged an indictment brought by the interim U.S. attorney, claiming that he didn't have the authority to indict someone because the judge there had appointed someone else to be the U.S. attorney at about the same time.

When we look at what the principals had to say about it in Dave Kranz's Argus Leader column this week - even the title of the article acknowledges the fact "U.S. attorney firings link to S.D. mess"

Yes, it was a mess. And it continues to be a mess. But before Dawne over at CCK lays blame on someone else's doorstep, their own stoop should be swept first.


Anonymous said…
If the judge was so wrong, why did there need to be a law change. Further, this situation must be viewed in light of the US Attorney scandal now coming to light. Conservatives often chide the judiciary for its failure to follow the law. Here, a federal judge did follow the law and you call it politics. Certainly there were political undertones, but this was a judge doing his job.
Anonymous said…
Judge Piersol acted in accordance with the law. If he did not, then why would the law have to be changed to avoid Judge's making appointments? And if Piersol didn't have the authority to appoint, then why was the Justice Department coming to him at the time and suggesting who Piersol should appoint?

This claim that PP keeps making that Judge Piersol did not follow the law is a non-starter. It is simply false! Please quit with the blatantly false claims, PP.

And the Justice Department's claim that they would not have been able to communicate with Mark Meierhenry until his background check was completed is also bunk. Let's not forget that Scott Abdallah was on the job as acting US Attorney right here in SD before his background check was completed.

And to claim that Meierhenry was not qualified! We're talking about an 8-year attorney general of South Dakota who has argued before the US Supreme Court and is widely recognized as one of the best lawyers in the state.

There is nobody else to blame for failure to timely get a US Attorney in place than the Bush administration and our own Senator Thune.

By the way, the US Senate just today passed a bill restoring the right of Judges to appoint US Attorneys when the administration won't get off of its ass.
Anonymous said…
Judge Piersol was following the law. If it was so important to the administration to avoid this problem, they shouldn't have taken so long to appoint a replacement.

And Mark Meierhenry is a former attorney general and distinguished member of the bar - he's obviously highly qualified for the position. I notice PP refrains from mentioning him by name - maybe because people will see that he was a good choice (and a Republican choice, btw).
Anonymous said…
Piersol is Daschle's best buddy and a big liberal
Anonymous said…
the embarassing moment ever for the judicial system is when Piersol tried to hijack the senate race for Daschle, even liberals admit that
Anonymous said…
Anonymous 3:35, what does Piersol being Daschels buddy have anything to do with the administration not getting off its collective ass to get a replacement US Attorney in place?

This mess goes right to the current administration's never-ending quest to systematically dismantle our constitution and to remove congress from any oversight of what they are doing.
Anonymous said…
I remember when Piersol was in the legislature and considered a major liberal Sioux Falls legislator
Anonymous said…
4:12: is that YOU judge Piersol? shouldn't you be vacationing in florida?

just kidding....or am i?
Anonymous said…
4:25, I can assure you that I am not Judge Piersol. I am just a blogger tired of the "whaa!! they did it too!!" response to this mess. It is common for new administrations to replace political appointees, including US Attorneys. Clinton did it, Dubbya did it when he took office. I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is the executive branch of this government using the Patriot Act to sidestep congress to unilaterally replace US Attorneys that do not do the biding of Rove, Chenney, Bush, et al.

Now that the cat is out of the bag and this administration cannot possibly justify the firings of these prosecutors, heads are going to roll and butts are going to get fired.
PP said…
3:18 - I didn't think I needed to name mark, as it's a well known story.

But just because it was Mark, didn't make it the thing to do. As noted, because of Piersol's selection of Meierhenry, the Justice Dept could not communicate information with him, because he hadn't had a background check - AND it caused problems in the criminal prosecution of a federal offender - not the kind of thing you want problems with.
Douglas said…
But just because it was Mark, didn't make it the thing to do. As noted, because of Piersol's selection of Meierhenry, the Justice Dept could not communicate information with him, because he hadn't had a background check - AND it caused problems in the criminal prosecution of a federal offender - not the kind of thing you want problems with."

Seems to me you got some 'splainin to do with the above.

It appears you are trying to re-write history by repeating the same previously discredited story again and again. You can find better issues.

Bush administration incompetence and deceit have been hidden by Republican majorities in congress and a President willing to look you in the eyes and lie about everything...never mind sex with the "lump in bed".

The "Piersol issue" is all smoke and mirrors but it is not going to hide the Bush administration failures.

I am no supporter of Mark Mierhenry for anything. However, he may have been one of the few Republicans available with some ability and experience at the time. Apparently the Bush administration was unable to find a single South Dakota Republican attorney who could fill the position.
Anonymous said…
Looks like your boy Thune doesn't agree with you, he voted to repeal the US Attorney provisions of the "Patriot Act". What gives, Pat?
Anonymous said…
Thune voted against having judges appoint prosecutors you idiots!
Anonymous said…
When finally expose the liberal club of federal judges who do nothing but cause chaos in South Dakota's federal courts?
Anonymous said…
On a side note, Bush has announced that he's firmly behind his Attorney General Gonzales. When the President says he's behind you it means you're about to be pushed off of the cliff (ala Rumsfeld).

Maybe that offshore betting website should take bets on whether Gonzales is out today, or tomorrow, or just in time for the weekend news cycle on Friday.
Anonymous said…
The bill, which has yet to be considered in the House, would set a 120-day deadline for the administration to appoint an interim prosecutor. If the interim appointment is not confirmed by the Senate in that time, a permanent replacement would be named by a federal district judge. NOW, JUST WHO IS THE IDIOT, 9:48?

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