Remember the US Attorneys

October 14, 2008 1:52 p.m.

It’s time again to remember the backstory of the US Attorney Firing scandal. The firings were one thing. But the story behind the firings, what led to them, is key to understanding the current ‘vote fraud’ scam being played by the Republicans and the media outlets that are going along with the scam.

Remember, the US Attorneys in question were all either Republicans or Republican-leaning independents. In every case, they were appointed by George W. Bush. In most of the cases their firing was tied to ‘vote fraud’ claims stemming from the 2004 election.

The pattern was very consistent. During the final weeks of the 2004 campaign Republican partisans started pressing claims of widespread voter fraud. In many, though not all cases, the examples they pointed to were not even allegations of voter fraud, but allegations of voter registration fraud: examples of people being registered more than once, non-existent people being registered, etc.

The Republicans making these claims argued that these problems with registration cards were opening the coming election up to widespread vote fraud. Logically, this makes no sense. And, more importantly, all evidence shows this has never happened, certainly not in any widespread sense. Every person who claims otherwise is either ignorant or speaking in bad faith.

Nonetheless, CNN and other national news outlets and especially local media outlets, either out of ignorance or bad faith, ran hard with these stories — just as CNN is doing now.

After the election, there was a lot of pressure from Republicans in states like Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, etc. (not surprisingly, all key swing states) to have local US Attorneys prosecute these cases. The word came down from Washington, DC, particularly the political office at the White House that this was a top priority. And the local US Attorneys launched into it.

But there was a problem. Most of these were ethical prosecutors. And when they looked into it there just wasn’t anything there. Most of the stories weren’t even true. And those that were, were obviously isolated and in most cases not done with malice. The number of people who could actually be prosecuted could be counted on one hand. Local Republicans got angry; Karl Rove got angry. And the US Attorneys got fired.

That’s the real story of the US Attorney firing scandal. And what we’re seeing today is textbook — exactly the same as what we saw in 2004 and 2006. It’s a scam. And the very recent history should be enough for news networks like CNN and others not to let themselves become complicit in this disgrace.

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