Editorial: DOJ firing squad targets Indian Country

"If anyone thought American Indians as a group were ignored by the U.S. government, there is now proof otherwise. Native people, and their votes, are among the main targets of one of the most brazen Republican cover-ups since Watergate. It is becoming clearer by the day that the political scandal involving the Justice Department and its firing of seven U.S. Attorneys has nothing to do with job performance and everything to do with stealing the next election for Republican gain.

Seizing an opportunity, the Bush White House instructed U.S. Attorneys to investigate and prosecute ''voter fraud'' cases. Not vote fraud, which would be more appropriate given the widespread, dead-on-target criticism of the 2004 presidential election debacle. Voter fraud refers to the belief by Republican politicians that minorities register to vote under fake names and addresses to throw elections in favor of Democratic candidates. Essentially, voter fraud means voting while black, Indian, poor, imprisoned or gay. Voting - and having their votes count - has become increasingly difficult for these groups.

This is the backdrop for the firing of seven U.S. Attorneys by the Justice Department in closely contested (''battleground'') states: Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Washington, Michigan, California and Nevada. They are ''red'' and ''blue'' states, but look closer and see districts within them where the Indian and minority vote carry significant weight. Asked to resign for ''performance-related issues,'' the U.S. Attorneys believe the firings were politically motivated, that they were punished for not aggressively advancing prosecution of voter fraud cases and others for pursuing investigations of Republicans. They did not behave like ''loyal Bushies,'' a term used by a high-level staffer in DOJ to describe the remaining U.S. Attorneys.

Remember that the administration's voter fraud effort refers to the sham designed to further disenfranchise Native voters. The firing scandal is the most public development in this effort, which will continue until congressional Democrats find strength to pursue a real inquiry into the matter. Forget the weak and forgetful Gonzales. He should be fired, for sure, but for incompetence and giving false testimony. Instead, a criminal inquiry should be launched into the interference of the Justice Department by the head ''Bushie'' and senior adviser to the president, Karl Rove."

Get the Story:
Justice Department firing squad targets Indian country (Indian Country Today 6/8)

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