Column: A black eye for Bush's Justice Department
"From the beginning, circumstances, including the clumsy whiting out of names on a hit list of prosecutors targeted for replacement by Bush operatives, suggested that Minnesota's veteran U.S. attorney, Tom Heffelfinger, was among the targets of a campaign to turn Justice into a Bush law office.

Any doubt that Heffelfinger was a marked man was erased in September with the release of an investigative report concluding that he had been targeted for removal. The reasons, as preposterous as they were transparent, were that he was too interested in American Indian legal issues (he had been asked by the first Bush attorney general, John Ashcroft, to head a committee on Indian issues) and that he was "weak."

"Weak" apparently means unwilling to serve as a political hatchet man for Alberto Gonzales, who succeeded Ashcroft and turned the Department of Justice into a Federalist Society frat party. The purge that pushed out Heffelfinger and other government lawyers targeted some because they were rumored to be lesbian, or they were considered soft on guns, on gays or on Clintons, or too aggressive in protecting spotted owls. Heffelfinger in June described this debauched Department of Justice as being like a high school but, in fact, it was worse: It was a cult that believed the government belonged to it, not the people"

Get the Story:
Nick Coleman: Paulose Penalty follows unprecedented politicization of Justice (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 12/4)