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Guerrilla Warfare in Washington D.C.

The bureaucracy strikes back: The Bush administration's fallen legion, part 3.

| Mon Feb. 13, 2006 3:00 AM EST

In the first installment of this series, I offered 42 names to begin what now seems an endless -- and ever-growing -- list of top officials as well as beleaguered administrators, managers, and career civil servants who quit their government posts in protest or were ridiculed, defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arm tactics, cronyism, and disastrous policies. In the second installment, I added what turned out to be a modest 175 further casualties to the rolls of "the Fallen." With this latest installment, TomDispatch's tally of the battling bureaucracy's casualties stands at approximately 243 -- and rising (so please continue to send your suggestions of deserving legionnaires to:

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Despite this toll, now into the hundreds and counting, it seems that we've barely scratched the surface. In fact, since the last installment, other commentators have increased our knowledge of these folks by digging into what Tom Engelhardt has aptly called the Bush administration's "war with the bureaucracy" -- a battle between the Bush administration and the career civil servants (sometimes even Bush's own appointees), who constitute "the only significant check-and-balance in our system since September 11, 2001."

In one such effort, Daniel Klaidman, Stuart Taylor Jr., and Evan Thomas, writing for Newsweek chronicled a Palace Revolt -- a secret war waged not by black-ops troops in the wilds of Waziristan, but behind closed doors in Washington where "loyal conservatives, and Bush appointees fought a quiet battle to rein in the President's power in the war on terror." They profiled a number of the unlikely rebels, including:

Jack Goldsmith: A former assistant attorney general who, after working in the general counsel's office at the Pentagon, was tapped to head the Justice Department's powerful Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) -- known as the "mini Supreme Court" of the executive branch. There, his opinions against torture, among other principled stands, brought him into direct conflict with David Addington, formerly counsel (now chief of staff) to Vice President Dick Cheney. He became "a rallying point for Justice Department lawyers who had legal qualms about the administration's stance" that the President had near-absolute power and "the central figure in a secret but intense rebellion of a small coterie of Bush administration lawyers." All of this eventually led him to leave "his post in George W. Bush's Washington to become a professor at Harvard Law School." Resigned, Summer 2004.

James Comey: A former prosecutor and Bush nominee who served as deputy attorney general from 2003-2005. In December 2003, after then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from a probe into the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity (meant to discredit her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who challenged White House justifications for the Iraq war), Comey appointed dogged special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald. Then, during Ashcroft's hospitalization in March 2004, as acting Attorney General -- and on the advice of his national-security aide Patrick Philbin as well as Goldsmith -- he further endeared himself to the administration by refusing to reauthorize the President's illegal spying program, angering White House figures from Addington to President Bush (who began referring to Comey with various "put-down nicknames"). Resigned, Summer 2005.

Patrick Philbin: A former OLC lawyer who then became national-security aide to the deputy attorney general and was "the in-house favorite to become deputy solicitor general. Philbin saw his chances of securing any administration job derailed when Addington, who had come to see him as a turncoat on national-security issues, moved to block him from promotion, with Cheney's blessing." He declined comment to Newsweek but was reported to be "planning a move into the private sector." Expected to resign soon.

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