Friday, March 24, 2006

Make of this what you will:

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates has been named to replace a judge who resigned from the secretive court set up by Congress to oversee domestic spying.

Bates, a former Whitewater prosecutor, was appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts in February to replace U.S. District Judge James Robertson, who quit shortly after news reports about the Bush administration going around the court to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens suspected of communicating with terrorists.

This is weird:

The appointment was not announced by the court. Secrecy News reported the appointment Friday after it appeared in Bates' official online biography.

"In February 2006, he was appointed by Chief Justice Roberts to serve as a judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," according to Bates' bio on the Web site maintained by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia....

Three years ago in The Washington Post, E. J. Dionne summed up all you need to know about Bates:

...consider the ruling of Judge John D. Bates in December declaring that Congress's General Accounting Office -- and thus the public -- had no right to learn the specifics about meetings between Vice President Cheney's famous energy task force and various energy executives and lobbyists. The same John Bates, an appointee of the current president, was an attorney for Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation and pushed hard (and successfully) for the release of various White House documents related to Hillary Rodham Clinton's activities.

"When that guy was working for Ken Starr, he wanted to go open the dresser drawers of the White House," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "I guess it's a lot different when it's a Republican vice president." Such suspicions of partisanship in the judiciary are corrosive because, unfortunately, they are now plausible.

Indeed they are.

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