Tuesday, March 27, 2007

U.S. Attorneys at Everyday Low Prices?

Here's another example of the potential reach of the U.S. Attorney scandal.

In this week's New Yorker, Jeffrey Goldberg examines Wal-Mart's efforts to get right with liberals. The first part of the article catalogs Wal-Mart's multitude of sins. In addition to paying abysmal wages, busting unions, and squeezing suppliers, Wal-Mart operates a "Threat Research and Analysis" division.1 An employee of that unit was recently fired for eavesdropping on the phone calls of a NY Times reporter who covers Wal-Mart.

So far, so good, right? Not so fast: the employee -- acting within the scope of his employment with Wal-Mart -- may have committed a crime: a federal crime. Who prosecutes federal crimes? U.S. Attorneys -- in this case, the U.S. Attorney for Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is headquartered. According to the article, the U.S. Attorney is investigating the incident.

Who is the U.S. Attorney for Arkansas? Well, as of December, he's none other than Timothy Griffin "a former opposition researcher for the Republican Party and an aide to (Karl) Rove..."

Why is Griffin's political affiliation important independent of the U.S. Attorney scandal? It isn't: political affiliation is at the heart of the U.S. Attorney scandal. U.S. Attorneys were fired because they refused to selectively prosecute Democrats for bogus voter fraud charges absent actual evidence thereof.

According to the New Yorker, Wal-Mart is "traditionally a Republican-leaning company," that has given more seventy-five percent of its political donations to Republicans since 1992. (Guess they didn't much care for their former governor.)

Do you think Mr. Griffin will follow through on allegations of eavesdropping by Wal-Mart? He very well may. We don't know if the political affiliation of targets who are not politicians will factor into who is -- or is not -- prosecuted. But given what we know about the U.S. Attorney scandal already, is it within the realm of possibility?

1 WTF? Is this Bentonville -- or Langley?

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