The first and foremost response would be that they did one helluva job in ferreting out crooked republicans and just didn’t prosecute enough democrats. I say this because one of the 6 fired US Attorneys was Carol Lam, US Attorney for the San Diego district. Ms. Lam spearheaded the investigation and subsequent conviction of Randy Duke Cunningham. Rep. Cunningham holds the distinction of being the biggest crook ever convicted as a seated elected representative of the United States. Before Ms. Lam was fired, she indicted Dusty Foggo and Brent Wilkes in the same case. Mr. Foggo was in the employ of the CIA at the time he and Brent Wilkes decided to grease their palms and those of others, to steer contracts to specific government contractors.
To address these firings, one might look at the exemplary records of these US Attorneys. The government has intimated that they were released due to their job performance. When several of these fired employees addressed the exact reasons for their being fired with members of the government..the government refused to provide them with reasons.
A point of fact: Last year's renewal of the USA Patriot Act, contained a provision that abolished limits on how long interim prosecutors may serve. For 20 years, the attorney general could choose someone to serve as U.S. attorney for 120 days, after which a federal judge could pick a prosecutor who would serve until the confirmation of a permanent replacement.
Another fact: Excluding the current debacle, the Congressional Research Service found just five instances over 25 years in which U.S. attorneys were fired by the president or resigned following reports of questionable conduct. A Reagan-era prosecutor was fired and later convicted in federal court in connection with charges that he leaked confidential information. A Clinton appointee resigned over allegations he bit a topless dancer on the arm during a visit to an adult club following a loss in a big drug case. The CRS study did not include departures that followed a change in presidential administration, when turnover is common.
Now, I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I would expect to be told why I was being fired. Especially if my name was Carol Lam and I had ferreted out a group of government employees who had taken advantage of our government and the trust of the people of the United States AND government employees who enriched themselves at the taxpayers expense. I would like to note the following from the Dept. of Justice’s own website about Ms. Lam: United States Attorney Lam is the recipient of both the Director's Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney, and the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service. Ms. Lam also prosecuted 7 corrupt border patrol agents who were allowing hundreds of illegal immigrants into the US.
I have worked for company’s that laid me off because I did such a damn good job; my services were no longer needed. I do not see this as the case for these US Attorneys. Something tells me their jobs would never be done. So why, my dear reader, would Uncle Al Gonzalez fire these US Attorneys?
Politics, control and power. The fact is, these US Attorney’s refused numerous requests to appear before congressional hearings on their firings. They were finally subpoenaed. Once they showed up today, they sure had plenty to say about the subject of their firings.
I got up early and watched the hearing on Cspan. It was also a webcast, which was nice. I was floored by what I heard. Four of the US Attorney’s fired appeared and answered questions.
The US Attorney David C. Iglesias of the New Mexico Judicial District spoke about Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson’s pressure to indict a democrat before the elections last November. Mr. Domenici has made a statement in recent days that he did not pressure Mr. Iglesias. US Attorney Iglesias said he most certainly did pressure him during his testimony Tuesday. It should be noted that Mr. Iglesias is a registered republican.
The testimony of H.E. “Bud” Cummins, III former U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Arkansas was very enlightening. Mr. Cummin’s talked about a phone call he had with a member of the Justice Department shortly after a piece appeared in WaPo on February 18th. He said he was threatened to keep his piehole shut and if he didn’t…
Information that the US Attorney’s wouldn’t like might find its way to the press.
Mr. Cummin’s felt compelled to share this information with the other fired attorneys in an email. In his testimony he said he felt he was given this warning to pass on to the other fired attorneys. So he did. He emailed all of them and a copy of that email was presented to the Senate hearing Tuesday afternoon. Below is a copy of the email:
From: H.E. Cummins
Sent: Tue 2/20/2007 5:06 PM
To: Dan Bogden; Paul K. Charlton; David Iglesias; Carol Lam; McKay, John (Law Adjunct)
Subject: on another note
Mike Elston from the DAG's (Deputy Attorney General's) office called me today. The call was amiable enough, but clearly spurred by the Sunday Post article. The essence of his message was that they feel like they are taking unnecessary flak to avoid trashing each of us specifically or further, but if they feel like any of us intend to continue to offer quotes to the press, or organize behind the scenes congressional pressure, then they would feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off and offer public criticisms to defend their actions more fully. I can't offer any specific quotes, but that was clearly the message. I was tempted to challenge him and say something movie-like such as “are you threatening ME???”, but instead I kind of shrugged it off and said I didn't sense that anyone was intending to perpetuate this. He mentioned my quote on Sunday and I didn't apologize for it, told him it was true and that everyone involved should agree with the truth of my statement, and pointed out to him that I stopped short of calling them liars and merely said that IF they were doing as alleged they should retract. I also made it a point to tell him that all of us have turned down multiple invitations to testify. He reacted quite a bit to the idea of anyone voluntarily testifying and it seemed clear that they would see that as a major escalation of the conflict meriting some kind of unspecified form of retaliation.
I don't personally see this as any big deal and it sounded like the threat of retaliation amounts to a threat that they would make their recent behind doors senate presentation public. I didn't tell him that I had heard about the details in that presentation and found it to be a pretty weak threat since everyone that heard it apparently thought it was weak.
I don't want to stir you up conflict or overstate the threatening undercurrent in the call, but the message was clearly there and you should be aware before you speak to the press again if you choose to do that. I don't feel like I am betraying him by reporting this to you because I think that is probably what he wanted me to do. Of course, I would appreciate maximum opsec regarding this email and ask that you not forward it or let others read it.
I don’t know about you, my dear reader, but I hope this hearing causes some major discomfort for some major league assholes in our federal government..Pete Domenici and Mike Elson in particular. Politics have NO place in the judicial system. The fact that 6 of the fired US Attorney’s had positive job reviews prior to being shit-canned tells me that it did play a part in their firing. Thanks BushCo, your running true to form ya fuckwit. Read the Feb 18th WaPo article my dear reader and perhaps the testimony from Tuesday’s hearing..then you tell me what went down and friggin why. Slate also has a good writeup about how the Patriot Act amendment was slide into the bill..and by who. Does the name Arlen Specter ring a bell? He is also on the Senate judiciary committee, you know..the guys that held the hearing today..
Cross-posted at The Blue Republic