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February 08, 2007

U.S. Attorney McKay Forced Out For Being a Moderate Republican

A few weeks ago at Washblog, Emmett O'Connell wondered if John McKay, Seattle's U.S. Attorney, had been forced out in some sort of 'Saturday Night Massacre' taking place all over the country. At the time, I said it sounded like mere rumor, but now I think I have to eat some crow because the Seattle P.I. is reporting that it's true. The paper is finally starting to ask some pointed questions, like:

If McKay was fired for political reasons, what was his sin?

Sources say McKay alienated some high-level members of the Justice Department during his vigorous advocacy for an innovative, interagency information-sharing system in Washington state that later became a national model -- the kind of program advocated by the 9/11 commission.

One former Justice Department source said McKay might be too politically moderate for the Bush administration. His brand of Republicanism is more reminiscent of President Bush's father than the current inhabitant of the White House.

Too moderate a Republican. Poppy's kind of guy. It's not enough for Bush that McKay - who he, himself, hired 6 years ago - is a Republican, the attorney has got to be certifiable wacko right wing to keep the office. It doesn't matter that FBI experts and legal experts all say McKay was doing an exemplary job (and upping the Seattle office's conviction rate in to the 87% range). Junior's intent on leaving a legacy anywhere he can.

McKay is not the only U.S. attorney who's recently been replaced under cover of darkness. And the reason it's been allowed to happen is due to a provision slipped into the re-authorized Patriot Act by Senator Arlen Specter, giving the Bush Administration the power to remove attorneys at whim and replace them without so much as the standard Senate confirmation hearing. You remember the Patriot Act - that's the legislation passed in record time back in September 2001 by a Congress terrified of the president, it's own shadow, and the prospect of being labeled traitors. The Patriot Act - the big middle finger extended to those quaint, old civil liberties we once hailed as the hallmarks of our democratic experiment. The Patriot Act is also the document that John McKay was working diligently to uphold for this president. But no matter. He was Poppy's kinda guy. So, now Bush is feverishly trying to fill the attorney's chairs with young-ish, right-minded folks who will do as they are told.

Senator Patty Murray said she finds it "deeply disconcerting that he could have been let go for political reasons". That's a nice sound bite, but I'd like to ask Senator Murray exactly what she and her Democratic colleagues - now in the majority - plan to do about it. It's not just a matter of pushing good attorneys out, it's that the re-strengthened Patriot Act allows for questionable replacements without even a cursory look by a Congress needing to conduct oversight. I have hopes that Senator Pat Leahy, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, will be looking into this, but it's time for all of our senators to start undoing some of the damage that's been done to this country - before the 2008 campaign season begins in earnest and they start skipping votes. So, as they wade through the broken glass of the last 6 years, I'd like to remind the Democrats that flying the banner of "majority" doesn't mean much until you crash the gates and really take the castle.

Sen. Patty Murray

(202) 224-2621 - D.C. office

(206) 553-5545 - Seattle office


Senator Maria Cantwell

(202) 224-3441 - D.C. office

(206) 220-6400 - Seattle office


Posted by shoephone on February 8, 2007 at 09:51 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink


Excellent report, shoephone. Especially, the details of McKay's and the others' effectiveness needs to be broadcast far and wide, and contrasted with the "qualifications" of the replacements.

Posted by: op99 | Feb 8, 2007 10:49:21 AM

Another fine post, shoe, about something that should have everyone's blood pressure shooting through the roof.

It makes me sick at heart to think about the damage this administration has done to our system of justice, how it has perverted the very meaning of "justice." For these people, not only is Lady Justice not wearing a blindfold, she is brazenly holding her thumb on the scales of justice.

There is talk of "correcting" this provision, but for my money, the best correction that could be made is to see the end of the Bush reign - and not 2 years from now, either.

Posted by: Anne | Feb 8, 2007 6:52:17 PM

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