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The U.S. attorney firings scandal has laid bare the administration's -- and particularly Karl Rove's -- preoccupation with prosecuting voter fraud. But there's a flip side to this coin. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has virtually abandoned its traditional role, undertaken since the 1965 Voting Rights Act, of actively protecting African American voters from discrimination.

There's no greater demonstration of that fact than this simple fact: During the first five years of the Bush administration, the Justice Department's voting section only filed a single case alleging voting discrimination on behalf of African American voters. That's despite the fact that the section, part of the Civil Rights Division, was created mainly to protect African American voters from discrimination.

But during that same time period, the section managed to file the first ever "reverse" discrimination case under the Voting Rights Act.

That case, United States v. Ike Brown and Noxubee County, alleges that Brown, the chairman of Noxubee County's Democratic Executive Committee in Mississippi, has been trying to limit whites' participation in local elections. The case, filed in 2005, is currently being tried, and is likely to reach its conclusion later this month.

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update: For a more recent list, click here.

Alberto Gonzales is working hard to shore up support on the Hill, but there are a number of Republicans who aren't worth a phone call.

Below is a list of GOP lawmakers and other notables who want Gonzales gone. In the interest of clairty, we've chosen to limit it to those who've made unequivocal statements -- if the list included those who've merely expressed skepticism, it would be much, much longer.

Here it is:

The Senate:

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)- "For the Justice Department to be effective before the U.S. Senate, it would be helpful."

Sen. John Sununu (R-NH)- "The president should fire the attorney general and replace him as soon as possible with someone who can provide strong, aggressive leadership."

The House:

Rep. Vern Elhers (R-MI)- "Since he's such a close, personal friend, he's hurt the President by what he's doing, he should have the politeness to offer his resignation."

Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-OH)- 'Given the totality of the circumstances, I think it would be better for the President and the Department if the Attorney General were to step down."

Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA)- "Even for Republicans this is a warning sign … saying there needs to be a change."

Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE)- "Frankly, until these statements came out that contradicted his first statement, I was backing him, saying that he shouldn't resign. Now I think that he should."

Other Notables:

The National Review Editorial Board- "Alberto Gonzales should resign. The Justice Department needs a fresh start."

Mark Corallo, Justice Department spokesman (2002-2005)- "Alberto Gonzales' loyalty to George Bush has got to trump George Bush's loyalty to Alberto Gonzales."

How much longer will the list grow after the April 17 hearing?

Note: If we've missed any other notable calls for the AG's head, let us know in the comments.

Though the tide of documents from the Justice Department has stemmed for now, the Senate Judiciary Committee is determined that it not stop.

As we've pointed out before, the Justice Department has not turned over to Congress all the documents relevant to the U.S. attorney firings -- some of those documents are bound to be among the most interesting.

And in addition to the withheld documents, many of the documents provided to Congress have been heavily redacted. For instance, in the documents turned over to Congress, the Justice Department has redacted all information related to other U.S. attorneys they considered firing and all mentions of possible replacements for the canned prosecutors. That's crucial information. Congressional staff have been allowed to visit the department to examine unredacted versions, but are forbidden to make copies or take notes.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will wait no longer, The Washington Post reports. Next Thursday, the committee will issue subpoenas for the unredacted documents, as well as for all other documents the department has related to the firings.

Democrats Delay Gonzales Testimony "Senate Democrats postponed on Thursday Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' first chance to testify in his own defense over the firings of eight federal prosecutors. The decision to shelve next week's Senate Appropriations hearing frustrated the White House, which wants Gonzales to quickly give lawmakers his side of the story amid calls for his resignation." (Associated Press)

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For Vice President Cheney's lies and distortions to be exposed is common. But it's a rare satisfaction for them to be thrown back in his face on the same day.

Yesterday, Cheney, in an interview with Rush Limbaugh, again touted a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, saying:

...remember Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist, al Qaeda affiliate; ran a training camp in Afghanistan for al Qaeda, then migrated -- after we went into Afghanistan and shut him down there, he went to Baghdad, took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq; organized the al Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene, and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June.... This is al Qaeda operating in Iraq. And as I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq.


Now, as with nearly every Cheney statement, this is about three distortions rolled into one big lie. The three distortions: Zarqawi did not organize operations for Al Qaeda prior to the invasion, in fact, he did not affiliate himself with al Qaeda until 2004; prior to the 2003 invasion, he was in the northern Kurdish portion of Iraq, outside of Saddam Hussein's control, not Baghdad; and there's no evidence of collusion between Zarqawi and Hussein. (A bonus fourth distortion might be the fact that the U.S. reportedly had a prime chance to kill Zarqawi before the invasion, but chose not to -- some say because his presence in Iraq provided justification for the war.) But the big lie is that Iraq and Al Qaeda were allies and co-conspirators.

It just so happens that something else happened yesterday: Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) released a declassified version of the Defense Department's Inspector General's report on Doug Feith's intel shop at the Pentagon, the one tasked with finding a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda in the runup to the war. And the report shows that not only did the Intelligence Community speak with one voice before the war that there was no evidence of a significant relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but they were right. From The Washington Post:

...the inspector general's report, in a footnote, commented that it is "noteworthy . . . that post-war debriefs of Sadaam Hussein, [former Iraqi foreign minister] Tariq Aziz, [former Iraqi intelligence minister Mani al-Rashid] al Tikriti, and [senior al-Qaeda operative Ibn al-Shaykh] al-Libi, as well as document exploitation by [the Defense Intelligence Agency] all confirmed that the Intelligence Community was correct: Iraq and al-Qaida did not cooperate in all categories" alleged by Feith's office.

From these sources, the report added, "the terms the Intelligence Community used to describe the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida were validated, [namely] 'no conclusive signs,' and 'direct cooperation . . . has not been established.' "


Sigh.

General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan was raked across the coals last week in a House hearing for having Karl Rove's deputy come and brief government employees on the wellfare of the Republican Party. But apparently that presentation was just business as usual for Rove.

TPM alum Justin Rood reports at ABC News:

The White House political office has been giving presentations similar to the one at GSA since at least 2002, briefing officials throughout the government on Republican campaign information, according to a recent book by two Los Angeles Times reporters.

"[White House political adviser Karl] Rove and [former Bush campaign chief and one-time Republican National Committee head Ken] Mehlman ventured to nearly every cabinet agency to share key polling data" leading up to the 2002 midterm elections, wrote Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten in their book, "One Party Country," "and to deliver a reminder of White House priorities, including the need for the president's allies to win in the next election."

While previous administrations had sent officials to cabinet agencies, the duo wrote, "Such intense regular communication from the political office had never occurred before."


Justin also reports that Doan is under investigation by the Office of Special Counsel. The meeting, and Doan's reported enthusiasm for leveraging the GSA's considerable taxpayer-funded resources to help GOP candidates, is a possible violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits using government resources for political means.

Just a taste of what's to come.

In a letter today to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (who's doggedly preparing for his upcoming testimony), Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) scolded Gonzales for failing to respond to prior questions from the committee and requested that Gonzales prepare a written statement in advance of his April 17 hearing. Leahy said the statement should include "a full and complete account of the development of the plan to replace United States Attorneys, and all the specifics of your role in connection with this matter."

Leahy also not so subtly rebuked Gonzales and the administration for publicly complaining about the late hearing date; the White House has said they want it "sooner rather than later" to "get the facts." Leahy wrote: "As you will recall, my staff had requested earlier dates..., but you had declined those offers."

And after detailing Gonzales' failures in providing answers to written questions from the committee -- sometimes ignoring questions for as long as six months -- Leahy concluded:

You would not tolerate this kind of response time in a Justice Department investigation where months go by without answers and when those answers are finally provided they are outdated or superseded by events. That is not conducive to effective oversight.

As I mentioned over at TPM, today Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) released a declassifed version (pdf) of the briefing slides Doug Feith's office used to sell the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda to White House officials in 2002.

Feith, remember, ran the office of the undersecretary of defense for policy, an office tasked in the runup to the Iraq War with making the case that a relationship existed between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

It's a remarkable document in a number of ways. First, although Feith, unrepetant as always, has claimed that what his office was doing wasn't intelligence analysis, but "criticsm," the briefing is titled, "Assessing the Relationship between Iraq and al Qaida."

Second, the philosophy behind Feith's shop is on full display on a slide titled, "Fundamental Problems with How Intelligence Community is Assessing Information":



In the slide, the briefer complains about the lofty standard of proof of the intelligence community, which had led to a consensus that Iraq and al Qaeda did not have a significant relationship -- as opposed to the "mature, symbiotic relationship" touted by Feith's shop in one slide. "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," the slide reads. After all, this was only a case for war.

And just to see it for yourself, in this slide Feith's office pushes the widely discredited claim that 9/11 attacker Mohammed Atta had met with an Iraq spy in 2000.

Now the calls for Alberto Gonzales' resignation are coming from veterans of Bush's own Justice Department. Here it's Mark Corallo, the Justice Department's chief spokesman from 2002 through 2005.

In a piece on Bush's loyalty to Gonzales, USA Today reports that Corallo thinks Gonzales should step down over "mismanagement" of the U.S. attorneys firings. As he put it, "Alberto Gonzales' loyalty to George Bush has got to trump George Bush's loyalty to Alberto Gonzales."

With Senate on Break, Bush Appoints Officials "President Bush on Wednesday appointed as his top regulatory official a conservative academic who has written that markets do a better job of regulating than the government does and that it is more cost-effective for people who are sensitive to pollution to stay indoors on smoggy days than for government to order polluters to clean up their emissions. As director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House Office of Management and Budget, Susan E. Dudley will have an opportunity to change or block all regulations proposed by government agencies." (LA Times)

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