"First, we now know -- or at least the White House is trying to tell us -- that they considered firing all the US Attorneys at the beginning of Bush's second term. That would have been unprecedented but not an abuse of power in itself. The issue here is why these US Attorneys were fired and the fact that the White House intended to replace them with US Attorneys not confirmed by the senate. We now have abundant evidence that they were fired for not sufficiently politicizing their offices, for not indicting enough Democrats on bogus charges or for too aggressively going after Republicans. (Remember, Carol Lam is still the big story here.) We also now know that the top leadership of the Justice Department lied both to the public and to Congress about why the firing took place. As an added bonus we know the whole plan was hatched at the White House with the direct involvement of the president."
This story is actually an example of why the Bush administration's executive over-reach is such a big deal. The replacement of these attorneys was handled under a provision from the USA Patriot Act reauthorization which allowed the White House to bypass the Senate confirmation process. I'm not going to try finding a link, but way back in December we saw that Karl Rove's opposition researcher had been installed as an attorney in Hillary Clinton's old home state of Arkansas. This is an example of how easy it is to abuse power. The process criticism of everything from the NSA spying scandal to the military tribunals for Gitmo detainees may not be sexy, but this scandal is showing why it is crucial to preserving American democracy.