One of the issues in the scandal over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys is a change in the law last year that gave the attorney general unlimited authority to appoint interim U.S. Attorneys who could stay in power indefinitely, without ever needing confirmation from the Senate.

Listen to Democrats, and the change was snuck into the depths of the USA Patriot Act conference report last year, hidden from everyone but the Justice Department and a few in-the-know GOP staffers. Republicans, not surprisingly, describe an open process in which Democrats had plenty of opportunities to protest the inclusion of the change — but failed to do so.

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