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Undo law about U.S. attorneys

January 30, 2007

Re "The rumor bill," editorial, Jan. 26

President Bush's wholesale assault on our rights and laws to further his partisan goals and imperialistic view of the executive branch is well documented. At every step, he and his people have lied to the American public about their actions, either explicitly or through omission. The new ability to appoint replacement U.S. attorneys without Senate approval was slipped into the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

Given this cumulative background, why would anyone believe any Justice Department claims regarding this matter, and believe that it won't abuse this power (why else was it included)?

Anyone who doesn't see a massive firing of various U.S. attorneys as indicative of new nefarious action by the Bush administration is either delusional or has not been paying attention the last six years.

Well, the rest of us have been paying attention, and we support our senator's actions in seeking this legislation.

ALICE P. NEUHAUSER

Beverly Hills

*

So, according to your editorial, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was responding to a rumor. Still, not deleting the portion of the Patriot Act that allows the U.S. attorney general to appoint interim U.S. attorneys is shortsighted. That part of the act removes local control over local prosecutions by allowing the removal of a U.S. attorney and appointment, without congressional oversight, of a temporary replacement who is guaranteed to agree with the administration's agenda.

Sure, this is meant to be a short-term proposition, but then, just how long is short-term? Attorneys general can stifle or otherwise affect investigations in a number of ways, not all of which are very visible.

Let's undo this part of the Patriot Act, for starters. There are many other onerous parts of it that need to go too.

BOB WINNERS

Glendale

*

The editorial missed the point about the legislation I have introduced on U.S. attorneys. The Times suggested that this legislation is based on rumor; it is not. It is being done to reverse a change in the law that never should have been made in the first place.

The problem is that current law opens the door to the administration being able to remove U.S. attorneys at will and replace them without Senate confirmation for the remainder of a president's term. This is the danger. And we will correct it and make sure that every U.S. attorney is subject to Senate confirmation.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN

(D-Calif.)

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