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Elect, don't appoint, the US attorney general

It's the AG's job to enforce the law, so it's a conflict of interest to have him appointed by the president.

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We should admit it. There was a breakdown in the balanced operation of the US government.

Amid his first acts in office, President Obama set a timeline for the closure of Guantánamo Bay and secret detention facilities around the world, ended abusive interrogation techniques, and lifted secrecy restrictions ordered by President George W. Bush on the records of past presidents. These moves are welcome, but they do not change the fact that during the last administration, President Bush and Vice President Cheney were confronted with too few checks on their expansive interpretation of executive power.

It's time for some rewiring. Just as we have to create new strategies to deal with shortcomings recently revealed in our economic system, we have to address this lack of accountability within the executive branch. One simple solution lies in how the attorney general is appointed.

It is the attorney general's responsibility to ensure that the laws of the country are enforced, including against the country's highest office holders. Yet, in our current system the attorney general's loyalty is torn between the laws he or she swears to uphold and the president.


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