As Steve reported last week, news has came out that Justice Department loyalists interferred in the landmark 2005 Big Tobacco civil suit, forcing the lead prosecutor, Sharon Eubanks, to lower the penalty from a whopping $130 billion to a measly $10 billion. Ms. Eubanks appeared on FOX News Sunday yesterday to talk about the case.
WALLACE: "Do you see some connection between your experience and what happened with the US attorneys?"
EUBANKS: 'Yes. I don't serve at the pleasure of the President and most of the people who work at the Department don't, but they're being interfered with every day in their work."
The timing of this revelation is quite staggering given the purge and the emerging picture of rampant politicization of the Justice Department by the Bush administration. As Ms. Eubanks testifies, politicization is an "every day" occurence under Bush rule. What sets America apart from most other countries is that we pride ourselves (or at least used to) on the rule of law, the notion that no one is above the law. As the purge and tobacco case makes abundantly clear, that principle has been corrupted in favor of political considerations and protection. I think we need to ask ourselves where else has this happened? In what other cases have prosecutors been pressured? Which USAs "played ball" and misused their offices for political reasons? It's the height of naivety to assume that these are isolated instances and not part of a bigger widespread problem.