March 03, 2007

Firings at the DOJ

It seems that the DOJ has finally come up with a way to counter the growing negative press regarding the unusual firings of US Attorneys last December. According to John Solomon, the ever-so reliable defender of the truth of the right wing talking points who was recently hired by the Washington Post because of his outstanding work, these firings were done because Bush's DOJ wants to make sure only really good and public minded prosecutors are working on our behalf. In fact, it is precisely because the DOJ is looking out for us that those attorneys have lost their jobs. How very, very nice.

Here's Solomon's first paragraph on this topic:

The White House approved the firings of seven U.S. attorneys late last year after senior Justice Department officials identified the prosecutors they believed were not doing enough to carry out President Bush's policies on immigration, firearms and other issues, White House and Justice Department officials said yesterday.

It appears that although the White House approved these firings, the complaints about their performance came from their own states and districts.

The list of prosecutors was assembled last fall, based largely on complaints from members of Congress, law enforcement officials and career Justice Department lawyers, administration officials said.

So who in California might have been voicing complaints that led to Carol Lam being fired? We know that Diane Feinstein was quite vocal in her support of Ms. Lam. So was it Barbara Boxer that raised a fuss? No? Perhaps it was someone in Congress? Wonder if Rep. Jerry Lewis had little talk with his friends in high places?

So when was this purge put in place? Ummmm. It appears the prosecutors were identified before the November election.

Officials portrayed the firings as part of a routine process, saying the White House did not play any role in identifying which U.S. attorneys should be removed or encourage the dismissals. The administration previously said that the White House counsel recommended a GOP replacement for one U.S. attorney, in Arkansas, but did not say that the White House approved the seven other firings.

"If any agency wants to make a change regarding a presidential appointee, they run that change by the White House counsel's office," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "That is standard operating procedure, and that is what happened here. The White House did not object to the Justice Department decision."

The seven prosecutors were first identified by the Justice Department's senior leadership shortly before the November elections, officials said. The final decision was supported by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and his deputy, Paul J. McNulty, and cleared with the White House counsel's office, including deputy counsel William Kelly, they said.

Yup, people like Carol Lam were not doing enough to carry Bush's water and as soon as Arlen Spector (or his doppleganger staff member) added a provision to the renewed Patriot Act law that allowed the Bush administration to name new US Attorneys without Senate approval, suddenly, eight US Attorneys were identified as being so bad that they needed to be fired right away because they were not doing what the DOJ wanted.

Josh had some very good questions that really should be answered. I suspect the House will have some very interesting hearings this week.

Posted by Mary at March 3, 2007 06:08 PM | Law/Justice | TrackBack(2) | Technorati links |

It seems to me that the White House is expending an extraordiary amount of effort creating plausible stories covering circumstances that happened months ago. Those stories should have happened months ago, too. But they didn't. On the other hand, I remember that the netroot's take on this was that Gonzales was just trying to cement some sort of right-wing police hegemony.

Now the circumstances are more interesting: Carol Lam gets canned while conducting a black budget/Cunningham/CIA corruption investigation, AND six other attorneys get fired the same day, providing some nice cover, AND Negroponte resigns his position because things were looking too much like Iran/Contra, AND Cheney is using unauthorized funds to pay three jihadist groups to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon. And those jihadist groups happen to have ties to Al Quaeda. Give me a couple of needles and I can crotchet those corruption threads into a doily.

Posted by: episty at March 4, 2007 11:02 AM

do the "new" attorneys gain financially? is it possible that they are also corrupt, as in graft? a raise, fatter pension?

Posted by: chrisl at March 4, 2007 02:02 PM

chrisl, that is one of the open questions right now. The US Attorney from Arkansas was fired to make way for one of Karl Rove's proteges. One of the stories that McClatchy wrote in January was that some of the attorneys were being forced out to make way for good positions for up-and-coming conservatives that needed to polish their resumes.

Being named a U.S. attorney “has become a prize for doing the bidding of the White House or administration," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who's now a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "In the past, there had been a great deal of delegation to the local offices. Now, you have a consolidation of power in Washington."

Of course, what I believe is that the government was trying to stop Carol Lam in her investigation into corruption and most of the others were cover for that one act.

It's going to be a very interesting week with two major sets of hearings going on in Washington.

Posted by: Mary at March 4, 2007 11:25 PM