I love when Murray's been quiet for a long time, because it means his next story will be a doozy. And this one doesn't disappoint. The actual jist of the story--that Alberto Gonzales delegated all authority for hiring and firing of political appoints to Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson--doesn't surprise me. The delegation of authority, thereby providing top Bush allies like Cheney and Gonzales with plausible deniability even while allowing a program clearly bordering on (if not passing into) illegal territory, is something that has been going on for some time. There is a twist here--by delegating this authority, Gonzales also allowed the process to be taken over by the White House.
A senior Justice Department official, who did not know of Gonzales's delegation of authority until contacted by National Journal, said that it posed a serious threat to the integrity of the criminal-justice system because it gave Sampson, Goodling, and the White House control over the hiring of senior officials in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, which oversees all politically sensitive public corruption cases, at the same time that they held authority to hire and fire U.S. attorneys.
"If you are controlling who is going to be a U.S. attorney and who isn't going to be,... firing them outside the traditional process... and the same people are deciding who are going to be their supervisors back in Washington... there is too much of a potential for mischief, for abuse," the official said. [my emphasis]
I'm most fascinated by the way this is going to change the tenor of the USA scandal.