Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Law

With the politicization of the Justice Department now an open secret it's no surprise that other government lawyers are coming forward.

The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.

"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."

Despite CW antipathy towards the legal profession, the people that I met in law school were uniformly sincere individuals whose dedication to the rule of law was unquestionable.

For what is "rule of law" but the recognition that authority is better placed in the accumulated wisdom of a people, "the law", than in the fleeting self-interest of any individual. Even if that individual has been chosen President of the United States.

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