July 30th, 2008
08:47 AM ET

Justice Department: inside the scandal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/29/art.goodling.sampson.jpg caption= "Former Justice Department White House liaison Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, testify on Capitol Hill, March 2007."]
Bud Cummins
Former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, 2001-2006

For years, there have been allegations that the Department of Justice had made hiring decisions to fit a political agenda - which is illegal. Finally, this week comes confirmation from the department's internal watchdog that several DOJ managers had done so. No surprise, really. But the story of how and why they were able to do it is remarkable.

When I made career hiring decisions as a U.S. attorney, I figured that the best way to make the president who appointed me look good was to hire the best people available. Apparently, the targets of this investigation showed favoritism to conservatives. They should have known better.

Certain to disappoint partisan opponents, there is no evidence that the practice was part of a larger conspiracy emanating from the president, Karl Rove, or the attorney general. I expect similar conclusions in the highly anticipated report on U.S. attorney firings.

The story is simple. Several political operatives worked hard on the campaign trail and then hung around long enough to be rewarded with jobs for which they were not ready. They lacked the experience, judgment and temperament for the positions they attained and the decisions that went with them. They were unsupervised by grown-ups. They screwed up.

Filed under: Bud Cummins • Keeping Them Honest • T1
July 30th, 2008
08:14 AM ET

Morning Buzz: earthquakes, energy and politics

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/30/art.bush.rosegarden.jpg  caption="President Bush makes a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday. Accompanied by members of his Cabinet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake, and Vice President Dick Cheney."]
Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Good morning 360 friends!

Today, it's all about the economy...of course...

President Bush talks energy and gas prices from the Rose Garden this morning, with his VP and Cabinet standing by him, prodding Congress to allow more offshore drilling, though experts debate whether that would cut gas prices anytime soon.

Congress is debating proposals to open up more drilling, as well as to crack down on speculators allegedly driving the energy market and the rest of us crazy. And it's not yet clear whether it can pass a bill before going on vacation at the end of the week. Joe Johns is keeping them honest, reporting that story tonight.

Both presidential candidates are talking economic security.. John McCain starts the day speaking with workers at Wagner Equipment, a Colorado company focused on selling big Caterpillar equipment so crucial to the economy.

Barack Obama talks about economic security with Sen. Claire McCaskill at two town hall meetings in Missouri, before having a barbeque with 200+ supporters.

What do you think of their proposals?

Also tonight, Dana Bash's travels with McCain's woman on women - Carly Fiorina, a top McCain adviser and former CEO of Hewlett Packard - about her efforts to build stronger support among women, and to show her candidate is talking about issues that women care about. Is it working?

And then there's the war. No, not that one.. but other war. U.S. losses in Afghanistan have spiked. Generals have asked for 10,000 more troops there, but that won't happen while President Bush is still in office. Peter Bergen, who testified about it on the Hill this week, reports for us tonight.

Also, the US might have one of Al Qaeda's top 10 leaders in an alleged attack on militants inside Pakistan this week. Under the nom de guerre al Masri, Peter reports this man of many names has led Qaeda's biochem program. The attack marks a new aggressiveness with Pakistan..another sign of it: the NY Times today reports the CIA has confroned Pakistan with more evidence of links between its intelligence service and militants.

And back in the U.S., a flood of home video shows how shaken Californians were in yesterday's 5.4 magnitude earthquake. Tonight, Ted Rowlands shows us some of that tape, plus animations of what the BIG ONE would look like, the earthquake of at least 7.0 that experts say is a near certainty in years to come.

We'd love to hear your thoughts about an of this and more. Thank you for joining us tonight at 10pm!


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • The Buzz
July 30th, 2008
06:52 AM ET

Obama Backs Larry Craig? A hot-button issue

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/28/art.button1.cnn.jpg caption="An image of the mistaken button, courtesy of CNN affiliate KPVI."]
Alexander Mooney
CNN Ticker Producer

Barack Obama likes to stress his willingness to work across party lines, but Republican Sen. Larry Craig probably isn't the Illinois senator's top choice when it comes to showcasing his bipartisan credentials.

But campaign buttons mistakenly featuring those two politicians surfaced over the weekend under the Obama campaign's motto "Change You Can Believe In," according to CNN Idaho affiliate KPVI.

The buttons, created by an Ohio-based company called Tigereye Design, was supposed to feature Obama alongside the Democratic Senate candidate in Idaho, Larry LaRocco.

A retired editor for the Lewiston Tribune noticed the mistaken buttons and printed them in Sunday's edition.


Filed under: Raw Politics
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