Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Reasons Why The Prosecutors Were Fired

McClatchy has an excellent run-down of why Preznut Bush, Abu Gonzales, Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), Representative Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico), Representative Doc Hastings (R-Washington) and assorted other Republicans might have wanted federal prosecutors purged:

What's still not clear is why the prosecutors were targeted. The internal documents reveal extensive planning for the firings long before the White House and the Justice Department agreed on which prosecutors should go. Names seemed to be added and dropped from the target list for no obvious reason.

In 2005, then-White House counsel Harriet Miers proposed firing all 93 U.S. attorneys as part of a second-term house cleaning. Administration officials said Gonzales and Rove both rejected that idea.

At that point, Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff, started working on a scaled-back plan. In an e-mail to Miers in early 2005, Sampson recommended retaining "strong" U.S. attorneys "who have produced, managed well, and exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General."

He called for ousting "weak" appointees "who have been ineffectual managers and prosecutors, chafed against administration initiatives, etc."

Sampson was forced to resign Monday after Justice Department officials blamed him for failing to keep Gonzales informed of the dismissal plan.

"We never had a discussion about where things stood," Gonzales told reporters. "What I knew was that there was an ongoing effort that was led by Mr. Sampson . . . to ascertain where we could make improvements in U.S. attorney performances around the country."

At least two of the U.S. attorneys who were later forced to step down, Iglesias in New Mexico and Paul Charlton of Arizona, were on Sampson's "retain" list in February 2005.

But by September of 2006 - after it became clear that Charlton had launched an investigation of Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz, - Sampson included the Arizona prosecutor on another list of U.S. attorneys "we now should consider pushing out."

Other memos and e-mails suggest a variety of reasons that individual prosecutors might have fallen out of favor.

In an e-mail dated May 11, 2006, Sampson urged the White House counsel's office to call him regarding "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam," who then the U.S. attorney for southern California. Earlier that morning, the Los Angeles Times reported that Lam's corruption investigation of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., had expanded to include another California Republican, Rep Jerry Lewis.

Cunningham is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence in Arizona. Lewis has not been charged with any crime. Lam was forced to resign.

In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he wants to know whether Lam was fired for the Cunningham case or because "she was about to investigate other people who were politically powerful." Lam declined to talk publicly about her dismissal.

Another e-mail suggests that Justice Department officials wanted Lam to be more aggressive on immigration enforcement.

Justice Department officials compiled complaints from a variety of sources. The head of a Justice Department anti-pornography task force complained that two prosecutors had failed to pursue obscenity cases.

White House officials say both Bush and Rove complained to Gonzales that the Justice Department hadn't been aggressively enough about pursuing voter fraud cases, but didn't mention any prosecutor by name.

Republican officials lodged similar complaints against Iglesias and U.S. attorney John McKay in Washington state, who was also forced out.

Iglesias said he still believed he was removed for resisting political pressure to go after Democrats before elections on voter fraud complaints and also on unrelated corruption charges. Some Republicans were unhappy that Iglesias didn't indict Democrats accused of corruption before the 2006 congressional elections. In 2004, he said he had heard rumblings that state Republicans were unhappy that he didn't pursue election fraud.

"Most of it was garbage, but we did look into more deeply into specific allegations and we could not find any evidence to indict," he said Tuesday.

Cummins, the ousted Arkansas prosecutor, also took issue with the voter fraud explanation.

"I would have serious doubts that anybody would fail to pursue voter fraud," Cummins said. "What they're responding to is party chairmen and activists, who from the beginning of time, go around paranoid that the other party is stealing the election."

The Bushies and their GOP cronies had a problem with Carol Lam because she was expanding the Duke Cunningham corruption/defense contractor investigation to other Republicans. They had a problem with John McKay because he didn't want to open an investigation into non-existent voter fraud in the 2004 Washington governor's race. They had a problem with David Iglesias because he refused to indict Democrats at politically expedient times for Republicans and refused to bring indictments on specific allegations for which there was no evidence of a crime.

In other words, the Bushies and their Grand Old Corrupt Party cronies wanted these prosecutors to stop investigating Republicans for criminal wrongdoing while simultaneously indicting Democrats for crimes that were never committed (at politically expedient times for the Republican Party, of course - meaning right before elections.)

I keep hearing how much of what the Bush administration has done in the prosecutor purge scandal, while politically sleazy, may not rise to the level of a crime or break any specific criminal statutes.

But let's ask these two questions: aren't people who pressure prosecutors to NOT indict fellow party members for crimes for which there is evidence and/or people who fire prosecutors who are investigating fellow party members for these crimes so as to STOP the investigations engaging in obstruction of justice? And aren't people who pressure prosecutors to indict innocent people simply because they belong to a different party engaging in some kind of false allegations crime?

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