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April 08, 2007

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You know, I am equally taken aback by this; however, I pretty much always assumed this was happening. Once it was announced that an "Office of Faith Based Initiatives" was being prominently placed in the White House, I kind of figured the initiatives were not limited to soup kitchens. In a way, I have been heartened, in a small way, by the quality of many of the USAs they first appointed. Unfortunate that, for the most part, we learn their quality by them being canned in favor of dogmatic theocrats. I will say that, from the outset, it was clear that Paul Charlton here in Arizona was a first rate USA. In some ways, he may even have been superior to Janet Napolitano, who had previously been USA-AZ and is now Democratic rising star as Governor. I also, and with great sorrow, think that the infestation of the DOJ will be easier to remedy than that of the Supreme Court. The issue of Bush being able to likely appoint two or more Justices if elected to another term should have been as significant as any issue, including the war, to any progressive or moderate thinking person. The thought that Stevens, Kennedy or Ginsburg may pass before January 2009 terrifies me, although I have to think that if a hint of spine could be mustered, the Dems could run out the clock on any nomination.

Of course, the great thing about having Liberty or Regent on the resume is that it means that no one even has to ask about your position on Roe, or whether you are a Bush supporter.

MarkC - You got that right; however, it doesn't appear to have stopped them. I believe EW is directly on target with her (and she picked up on it immediately) take on Schumer's tact on the loyalty questioning.

so ask monica what the duties of her job are, watch her take the 5th, and then ask her if she really means to testify that her job description really includes committing crimes

she can't have it both ways

either her job description includes non criminal activities, or she was employed to violate the law

call it a "Catch 22"

I've been pointing this up to anyone who'll listen, these are pod people. It doesn't matter if they are raving lunatics, as long as they do the bidding of the Religious Right.

Cop a USA appointment long enough to merit a Federal Bench nomination without too many eyebrows going up, and you have freeze-dried, ready-to-go hermetically sealed SCOTUS nominee in waiting for the next seated justice to "pass".

The question is, how many are in the pipe, like our dear Ms. Paulose, and how many are already on the Federal Bench, planted and awaiting a pliant GOP congress for the next SCOTUS opening? Don't laugh, it wasn't TOO long ago Newt Gingrich was a joke. Now, the MSM can't get enough of his mug, can it?

Bugboy

I've been contemplating organizing an effort to do USA WatchBlogs for the most egregious hires. We can't do anything about their appointments (yet) but we can shine a light on their atrocities, and perhaps prevent some.

ew - Well, my Advance Polling point on the role of Buzz Saw Goodling in BushInc's Faith-Based DoJ is up on your Three Sentences thread, so you know you've got my vote on this.

But whether you intended this OTHER consequence or not [I expect you did, since sanity appears to be your edge in this line of work.], I very much appreciate your training your legendary EW-Vision on a SINGLE TOPIC frm Sampson's testimony - because in doing so you've succeeded in making it makes a series of smaller points I tried to make about The Importance of It Being Kyle in a post over at TPM, but much more effectively as usual:

[1] Someone in BushInc [Think hard now, who is their resident genious at growing roses in a medium of mammalian waste] figured out Sampson was the prime candidate to act as a firewall for AlG and the Out House [I think that was behind Sampson's "resignation" - to make him appear more credible as some sort of "dissident" and to use that in combination with his "I don't need no stinkin' Fifth Amendment Kevlar to portray" so-called "volunteering" to appear before the Committee. Awesomely audacious is what I call it.

[2] Sampson proved highly adept at an Old-School strategy that the Nixon administration kept calling in the huddle during their Prevent Defense phase: the Non-Denial Denial. N-DD is the first play in the book for those who seek to avoid what some call A Perjury Trap and others call The Truth.

[3] I didn't catch Sampson's appearance before Leahy's committee in a single sit-down, and over several days thereafter I was reserved about whether the committee actually succeeded in dragging enough out of Sampson to justify the hype in the MSM - that hype being that to which I attributed the MSM's next spin that even some Bushies now were sitting up and taking notice. Thank you for helping me see that the committee did in fact succeed, and through a classic lawyer's strategy in the face of a firewall witness: Wear 'Em Down. Keep 'em up there until the eyes glaze over and the shoulders droop, and the mind turns to rubber from having to keep all those plates up and spinning, and then you'll get all you can from this type of witness.

Which, in the end, is Non-Denial Denial. So, well done Leahy committee. And well down emptywheel, too, because you've shown this same approach can be repeated with every single topic.

So where are we now?

You know, I really thought that if and when things reached this stage, what would kick in would be something like what John Dean [who I would credit for having far better insight into the workings of the authoritarian brain chemistry than me] forecast in one of his FindLaw pieces early this year - The Seige of Fortress Bush: the sealing of the castle followed by re-enactment of the most inhumane and soul-destroying phase of World War I - Trench Warfare. He gather he foresaw this as an obvious resort to retain the trappings of power and safeguard the jewels in the Bush Tiara - Iraq, Oil & Climate Change Denial.

But now it seems possible that when it occurred to "them" [Ha!] that the Sampson Firewall had been breached [I think "they" considered the contingency that those clever former-prosecutor Dems on the committee might have seen a Sampson or two before in their day.], then all the little Bushies went into full Threat Alert and scrambled to battle stations.

Right at this moment I believe we are seeing The Nation of Bushlam fully Mobilized - menacingly deep growling from the King & Kingette, saturation bombing of Cambodia, er, the current position of the Dems Queen Bee, murmurs of "Never Surrender" up and down the line at every point.

That's not Fortress Bush. That's... that's... that's the Last Big Surge!

You know, Woodward missed it first, so he gets first place. And while Dean seemed to get it, especially with Worse than Watergate and his more recent MRI on the American authoritarian brain, I think he's missed it, too. This isn't just WORSE than Watergate - it's Watergate on Crack.

Bush is going down - but not in January 2009; and not even in calendar 2008. Bush goes dow THIS year.

FWIW, LabDancer, I have a suspicion that Mike Elston (Paul McNulty's COS) might actually be the keeper of the info that could really kill them. The "file" Sampson said he didn't have? I think Elston had it and didn't turn it over.

He did testify, behind closed doors, then went promptly "on leave." Keep your ears open to figure out where he ended up...

Since the formulation "I don't remember ever being aware" sounds like a way to escape perjury, I think Schumer should follow up with a question like "If you had ever heard anything like this, is this the kind of thing you would remember? Would it stick out in your mind? Explain."

At some point the questions need to get beyond answers of misremembering, not remembering, and framing the question slightly differently. For instance, if asked did you fire for political reasons, the answer came back as "not for any inappropriate political reasons", then eventually the line was no difference between political reasons and performance reasons. This is a way to get out from perjury: we say performance, you say political, what the diff?

EW,

I felt you are correct that Schumer must have heard that Goodling asked some inappropriate question to a career applicant, or told someone else to, or both.

But I doubt that the scandal is right there.

DOJ is just too big; Goodling cannot talk to all the applicants. And, with one small exception, I have not heard about any broad directive about hiring.

Now, the Federalist Society, and the grooming of rightwing judges -- that is not a secret. Just networking with a purpose.

If Goodling were really, deeply involved in some inappropriate hiring, then it was more targeted. Somewhere sensitive.

Sensitive to one or more purposes.

But what?

Maybe some gambling investigations. Maybe some something elses.

Interesting.

Hi Marcy. Just to start your USA WatchBlogs, take a look at this hot breaking story.
US A Biskupic used more than a year trying to find voter fraud before he committed the abortion of justice, falsely convicting Georgia L Thompson, just in time to use her to smear Doyle in the Governors race. Now there is a linky to the Whitehouse:

Sources tell No Quarter that Rick Wiley, then the executive director of the state GOP, directed a staffer in 2005 to prepare a 30-page report on election abuses in Wisconsin so Wiley could pass it along to a top White House official.

That document, entitled "Fraud in Wisconsin 2004: A Timeline/Summary," turned up last week in the horde of White House and U.S. Justice Department records released by the House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

"The report was prepared for Karl Rove," said a source with knowledge of the situation. "Rick wanted it so he could give it to Karl Rove."

somethingisrotten

That document was actually turned over in the dumps--at least the last page, obviously printed from Turdblossom's computer (his WH one, IIRC). It was on taht basis that I thought they might be targeting Biskupic, but I see they were heralding him.

So are you volunteering for E WI/Biskupic?

I'd rather recommend xofferson at dailykos - xoff at www.uppitywis.org. I'm not even close to being a local (I live on another continent).

ew,

That link to jsonline explains something that's been bothering me. The very next page after the ones from Rove's computer is a set of hand written notes that start off talking about Philly, Milwaukee, and Alburquerque. Now that I know that Dana Perino identified those places as ones where there were complaints about voter fraud, I can understand what the page is all about. I would draw everyone's attention to this part:
----
bad: Nevada, NM, M.D.Ga, EDNY
good: MW, Phila (crossed out MW - good @ local. Fed level - 50 - 50
Philly - indifferent on Fed side.
----

If you're looking for USAs that got pulled off the hit list, the Middle District of Georgia and the Eastern District of New York are good places to start.

Great post, great thread. somethingsrotten, thanks for the link to uppitywis.

Atrios makes the important point that if senior loyal Bushies have polluted the career positions with placements from Praise Lord Jesus Law School, it's going to take a purge from any victorious Democrat in 2009. And the usual wingnut suspects will scream about it being just the same as the 2006 purge. Nice bit of inoculation. Which means that candidates will have to be up-front about needing to restore meritocracy to the department, perhaps by commissioning a bipartisan panel that includes reliable small-r Republicans before cleaning the Augean stables of DOJ.

There's a warped political genius in turning the friggin' Department of Justice into a partisan shop. It short-circuits the remedy to politicisation elsewhere across career positions.

(I also think it's worth doing a bit of reccy into the handful of cases that appear to be doled out to loyal-Bushie recruits in order to pad their resumes.)

As far as sorting out the bushies from the real USAs, would looking at the federal court calendars do the trick? You'd have to go back, I think, all the way to Jan 2001, and look at every case they filed to see which ones got the slow boat, which ones were 'lost', etc. Also the ones like the tobacco case, where the resolution was a wet firecracker.

DOJ does not equal the US Attorney offices.

US Attorneys are not significant for most policy issues that are interesting to the politicos. US Attorneys ARE significant for criminal prosecutions.

To the extent that Rove was especially targeting US Attorney offices, it was probably about bringing or not bringing criminal cases.

Other things, like civil rights enforcement, voting rights, etc, are all at main DOJ. And we know there was some action there.

But they are two very different worlds -- US Attorney offices and main DOJ -- keep that in mind.

You mean Monica asked some questions like this one [from the same Boston Globe article]?

In a recent Regent law school newsletter, a 2004 graduate described being interviewed for a job as a trial attorney at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in October 2003. Asked to name the Supreme Court decision from the past 20 years with which he most disagreed, he cited Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling striking down a law against sodomy because it violated gay people’s civil rights.

"When one of the interviewers agreed and said that decision in Lawrence was ‘maddening,’ I knew I correctly answered the question," wrote the Regent graduate . The administration hired him for the Civil Rights Division’s housing section — the only employment offer he received after graduation, he said.

"There's a warped political genius in turning the friggin' Department of Justice into a partisan shop. It short-circuits the remedy to politicisation elsewhere across career positions."

I think this is really the crux. The broader point is that since the right-wingers have been unable to mute the judiciary through the appointment of RW judges, they'll try to rig the USA offices (then later, as has also been pointed out, make judicial appointments of those USAs).

It's really like something out of Hannah Arendt. They are trying to seed the government with people that have been groomed in their alternative right-wing institutions like the Fed Society and Regent. Arendt wrote about fascist movements setting up these kinds of "parallel legal institutions" that would be ready to "take over" when the time comes. This looks like a version of that. Goodling looks to have been central to this effort.

It was on taht basis that I thought they might be targeting Biskupic, but I see they were heralding him.

Isn't it too soon to conclude this? My impression was that after the 2004 election, Biskupic failed to prosecute the outlandish voter fraud cases that the WI R's were trumpeting. The Thompson case didn't even start until the contract was awarded in March 2005, and she was sentenced in Fall of 2006.

I think that the state R's might have been agitating to get rid of Biskupic, and at the same time or soon afterward Biskupic prosecuted Thompson to polish his bona fides with with White House.

Then it would illustrate the effect having one's name bandied about regarding the draft "replacement list" has on choices of what cases to prosecute.

Bloggers here and at FDL already see the USA firings as evidence of Rove executing a plan to give political operatives and opposition researchers subpoena power and the power to bring political cases in furtherance of a Permanent Republican Majority.

Accordingly, we take for granted that Gonzales is lying when his lips move.

MSM is not there yet (about the motives for the firings, at least).

So for the record, I want to state the obvious:

Suppose that it was true that Gonzales was honest, and had mistakenly and sloppily given inaccurate stories about the firings to Congress, and saw that Republicans were even deserting him and questioning his competence and honesty. In that position, wouldn’t he have immediately gone to Goodling when she first announced TWO WEEKS AGO that she was going to plead the Fifth and said, “Tell me what I don’t know, because I’m in trouble here,” and then fired her for refusing and obstructing his own investigation into the facts that he needed to protect himself?

Instead, she got two weeks to turn in a resignation.

No explanation for that sequence of events evidences Gonzales’ competence, honesty, or control over the DOJ.

It does indicate that Gonzales already knows everything that is going on, is part of it, and is working as hard as he can to conceal as much as he can for as long as he can.

I don't think Gonzales is preparing to conceal it any more. I think he's preparing to come out and argue that it's all not only permissible, but somehow necessary and proper to the functioning of the DoJ.

I saw Sampson's testimony not as spilling the beans, but as the first salvo in a new and aggressive program to confront the committee and the assumption that this is improper, unethical, or illegal. I think they plan to come out and argue that we're all mistaken, just as we are about torture, domestic surveillance, redistricting, etc.

+1 Albert. Paging CNN: let's talk about logic! The only logical explanation is that Gonzales is complicit.

MarkC

Yes, I've been wondering the same thing since I posted that.

Fall

I still can't rule out some kind of weird "likes her brownies" personal relationship there.

Kagro

Yeah, probably right. That's why I've been suggesting Monica is about firewall, not immunity.

Again,

it seems amazing to me that you forget that the people Monica was interviewing, etc., were degreed lawyers who would know how to protect themselves then and now.

If something untoward was about, then why haven't these people come forward. They don't seem to have, so I assume that there is nothing there excep;t some osturing by Democratic legislators, and liberal bloggers.

Nixon's guys, except for Dean, were all a lot older than Bush's kiddie corps. The kiddie corps also have parents, aunts and uncles, who are all offering all kinds of unsolicited career advice. They saw what Fitzgerald did to Libby. They heard the jury asking, "where's Rove?"

I agree with KagroX about the plan, but imho, actually convincing the soldiers to execute it, is a lot tougher. Sampson gave up Gonzales with the WH's blessing and these kids have their whole life ahead of them.

I've been wondering how many of the US Attorneys that Goodling and Sampson placed were Jewish. Or Islamic. Or any religion that wasn't Christian.

It is possible that this is a tight little clan that can keep the lid on everything, and that they are motivated by their internal political ambitions exclusively, so that there is no smoking gun establishing unequivocally a criminal conspiracy (as opposed to, say, merely desiring to undermine democracy).

Rove knows better than we do what they did. They know better than we do where they are vulnerable. They are working very hard on a coverup respecting the firings, which is not obviously something that needs covered up.

......Unless we find the guy from the tobacco lobby who cut the check to buy the rights to write the closing argument in the tobacco case.

Or something like that.

Jodi: They were "degreed" by a clown college. But I see that raises no red flag with you. Gee, I wonder why?

Jodi: Have you considered that they'd have to answer some questions that they might prefer not answering, like how they got such good jobs with no experience and a law degree from a school which is, at best, second rate?

I thought one of the most interesting stories was of U.S. Attorney Margaret Chiara who did everything they wanted, including pursuing the death penalty when she didn't think it was warranted. Then they told her that they wanted to give someone with "more energy" a chance to have the job. (Ms. Chiara is 63 years old.) Ironic that she could pursue an age discrimination suit against the DOJ.
However, she is most worried about her negative job review that they later gave as the reason she was fired.
Some poor guy gets the death penalty where it's not warranted, and she's concerned about her job prospects.

This is probably out there, but I have not seen it:

Will congress still be able to haul Monica's skanky ass into a hearing so that the cameras will verify her 5th rights now that she has resigned?

Along the lines that Kagro X argued,

my nightmare is that Abu and others come out and dangle some Mickey Mouse stuff that is irritating to liberals but far from the worst that they've done, and so

make the irritating stuff the big media issue, and then aggressively defend some obnoxious but not too significant stunts.

It will be challenging to locate what they are really hiding, and then to focus on that without getting distracted.

My guess is that there are 3 or 4 things that they are really hiding. My bet is that Goodling administering loyalty oaths to candidate career types is NOT one of the 3 or 4 big things.

I bet she did it (at least once or twice), but I don't think it is the big secret.

I am not sure what is. But my hunch is that it has to do with decisions not to prosecute in San Diego and in Wisconsin. And decisions to prosecute chicken salad "voter fraud" cases elsewhere.

Just a hunch.

ll,

yes. Congress just has to authorize and issue a subpoena.

Splash said:

"I think that the state R's might have been agitating to get rid of Biskupic, and at the same time or soon afterward Biskupic prosecuted Thompson to polish his bona fides with with White House.

Then it would illustrate the effect having one's name bandied about regarding the draft "replacement list" has on choices of what cases to prosecute."

Splash - I think this is the most likely explanation.

Also, to take a step back and look at this on a meta-level, I believe that we would mistaken to view the Rove/Gonzalez policy toward the US Attorneys/DOJ as directed solely towards either (i) directing prosecutions/investigations toward their political opponents (using the appointments/departments "offensively") or (ii) preventing prosecutions/investigations of corrupt or criminal Republicans (using the appointments/departments "defensively").

Rather, we should view the Bush policy toward US Attorney appointments and DOJ operations as a comprehensive program meant to (i) provide 360 degree control over the "offensive" and "defensive" aspects of the US Attorneys/DOJ,(ii) burnish the credentials of hardcore Republican/Christianist operatives who can later be appointed as judges on the Federal bench, and eventually the Supreme Court bench and (iii) leverage their administrative/appointment power in any other way imaginable to increase the power of the Republican party and destroy the Democratic party.

If the goals set forth above were achieved, and the DOJ and US Attorneys become a de facto arm of the Republican party, then the Republican party itself in turn would acquire the power in the political realm to act corruptly in coordination with business interests/lobbying interests/voter suppression efforts/etc. in ways that would historically result in prosecutions.

So, the politicization of the US Attorneys/DOJ enables the Republican party to significantly ratchet up their strength as a political party within the political realm, meanwhile ratcheting down the Democratic party's power with a slow bleed of prosecutions and investigations based on trumped-up charges brought by partisan operatives brought into power by the Bush administration.

Surely Rove hoped that there would be a cyclical process of DOJ/political party reinforcement, which would involve the politicized justice system strengthening the Republican party's political strength through the uneven application of justice, which in turn would lead strengthen the party to appoint even more political operatives in the DOJ, US Attorneys offices, and on the courts themselves. And so on, and so forth.

"Creeping fascism" really is the best description of what is being uncovered here.

xyz,

There are some problems in the details.

First, you must distinguish between THE United States Attorney, and the career Assistant US Attorneys (who stay over time -- though not always that long).

You are undoubtedly correct that putting in hacks to be THE US Atty is to burnish credentials for the bench or higher office. But this is not new. Or terribly dangerous.

Goodling has been accused (implied) by Schumer of applying litmus test to the Assistants (career types). Scandalous, but how important? Probably not to many candidates. And, anyway, the Assistants do not handle the really hot political issues, like civil rights, voter rights, etc., in important cases. Main DOJ takes the lead on that stuff.

(Boston Globe scandal involves loyalty test for trial attorneys (career) at Main DOJ -- that could be significant from policy point of view.)

Given the nature of the offices, my guess is that THE United States Attorneys were the focus of the Rovians (not the career types), and the central scandal involved decisions to prosecute or not prosecute certain criminal cases.

jwp, I agree completely that there is some stuff even more serious stuff or at least a lot greater detail about what we already suspect/know.
OT, per AFall's excellent analysis above about Gonzales' knowledge, I profited from greatly, I would throw out this scenario for consideration. It's possible in this undisciplined a WH, that Rove went around Gonzales, straight to Goodling on certain things. Whether that's accurate or not, I bet Gonzales is at least a little concerned about the possibility. Monica may see Gonzales as her safety net. She might think it's better to blame something on Gonzales, which actually came from KKKarl. Based on emptywheel's, as per usual, laser like analysis of Kyle's non denial denials, I think we're headed for the identical pattern we saw in the Libby trial. Many, many, witnesses testifying that Monica administered loyalty oaths that we as subtle as a buzz saw. What sank Libby was that it was his word, against nine other witnesses. I suspect Monica has a lot more than nine looking forward to testifying against her, plus, a lot of these people the WH probably has little direct leverage against.

jwp, I really appreciate the level of detail you brought to your last comment. Maybe it's my naivete, but your comment ever so slightly appeared to me at least to drain some of the real serious danger from the scandal? I see this as another example of the GOP putting government up for sale. Steal from the government or whomever and then avoid prosecution by paying off a percentage of what you stole back to the GOP. How many more L. Dennis Kozlowski types are out there, who didn't get prosecuted or who got a much lighter sentence?

What else could the rovies be trying to conceal? How about illegal wiretaps? misuse of classified information? forged documents?

John,

Trying to put myself into a Rove/Norquist/Abramoff mindset is a stretch, thank goodness, but I ask myself what would they want?

Assume that they fancy themselves as real politiK architects of an unassailable majority for 50 years. They think that they are sitting around thinking great thoughts. How do they think that they achieve their ends?

Problems include demographic shifts. How do they cope? How do they keep winning elections?

Some of it is demogoguery. Get Latin voters by convincing socially conservative Latins that Dems are party of gays and abortion. Soft on terrorism. And throw an olive branch on immigration that appeals to big business.

Some of it is suppressing the low-life vote (from their prospective).

Some of it is money. Find war chests for Repubs. Attack the money sources for Dems.

Some of it is blackmail and intimidation against individual Dem candidates. Smears. Etc.

That would be my hunch at the roadmap, and my guess is that there are many aspects of the vague "approach to Repub supremacy" that they dream about.

But in the here and now of the last five years, what good uses did Rovians have for the US Attorne offices?

Voter fraud suits seem less of an accident of emphasis.

Efforts to corral the gambling money by selective prosecution?

Protecting Abramoff friends that are part of the money machine?

Limiting the inquiries into the Cunningham/ / / others money machine?

I do not know. I really don't. But there were specific targets at specific times, I bet.

It was not just a matter of Goodling quizzing a couple of Assistant candidates about their social views.

Indeed, Rove would love to have the media seize upon that as the big issue.

Thanks very much jwp. Now I get it.

JWP:

I'm glad to see you mentioning Abramoff. Through all these comments I've been wondering about the dirty dealin's in Saipan for the Tan Clan? We had 1 USA who was going to do justice, replaced by another who buried it. Was there so much dirt that obstruction of justice would be the obvious net result of the personnel change, if word got out?

My bet is that Goodling administering loyalty oaths to candidate career types is NOT one of the 3 or 4 big things.

The big things are likely to be the kind of things that can't be consumed at one sitting. Or, to use another analogy, archaeology where you're extrapolating a mile-wide site from a ten-foot trench. Josh Marshall thinks San Diego and Wilkes is the key. Digby thinks bogus voter fraud cases and their role in election strategy. I don't know, but I do know that the 'big things' won't emerge like a gleaming nugget from the ground.

I do think the politicisation of career-level is a huge thing, but that's the planting of seeds for future dominance. Although if you have Pat Robertson-school thirtysomethings in AUSA posts, they're less likely to chafe when their boss tells them what the agenda is.

kspena asked: " What else could the rovies be trying to conceal? How about illegal wiretaps? misuse of classified information? forged documents?"

Well, let's see now:

[1] The Pandora's box called Watergate originated with what the Nixon administration at first spun as a "two-bit failed burglary".

Except that the money thrown to perform the "burglary" was far from "two bit". Nixon's re-election campaign fund threw a TON of money at this and other operations, and continued to do so even after there was nothing for Nixon to be re-elected TO.

And except that it wasn't about burglary - they were caught re-entering to effect repairs on bugs they had installed previously, for the purpose of illegally monitoring the Democratic National Committee.

And except it was carried out not by burglars, but by ex-CIA operatives with connections to the RNC and working with "excess" funds from Nixon's re-election campaign.

[2] Even before this USAs thing blew up, Sen Leahy had got to the point where he was so ticked off with AlG he put him under oath every single time the Committee had him in front of it;

- which historically is extremely unusual with senior administraion officers, and quite possibly unheard of with the freaking Attorney General! [I think it is IN FACT unheard of, but I'm hedging because of Watergate. No web in those days - had to depend on newspapers, like [Yikes!] WaPo.

- which Sen Leahy has pointed out to AlG - in fact, a number of times apparently out of concern that for some reason it didn't seem to be sinking in.

[3] The worst of the Committee's blow-ups with AlG in the comfy chair to date was over the FISA Court applications process - something on which the Committee has never received reliable information from DoJ.

The second worst was over unwarranted wiretaps, including the National Security Letters - something about which the Committee still hasn't yet had an opportunity to tear AlG a new one, and a program which, given the secrecy which the DoJ and the Bush administration have imposed on any details, I am unable to understand how it could possibly NOT have been abused for solely political purposes.

[I'll save my full rant on why I feel that way for a longer post somewhere.]

[4] FBI & other investigators don't hook up wiretaps on their own [Well, some of them do, but not legally.]. They get the telcos to do the hookups. Telcos won't do hookups without Court orders [Well, sometimes they don't, but not legally or without potential civil liability.]. They GET those Court orders from the lawyers at DoJ.

[5] J. Dean: "Worse than Watergate". Me: "Watergate on Crack".

FWIW my eyes glaze over at the rants of conspiracy theorists. Mostly I expect that's owing to my political leanings - apparently if you list to the right you start to believe in the Mystic Bunny. But in part I think that's because I worked for decades in a world where the object was to PROVE or defend against others trying to PROVE conspiracies. That's PROOF, not THEORY. Proof to the satisfaction of both juries and judges. Public, no net, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt, lie-and-you-die PROOF.

Wiretapping is a powerful tool in law enforcement [When the word "conspiracy" appears in an Indictment, 9 times out of 10 you can count on the word "wiretap" coming out of the investigators' mouths during the trial.] I'm led to understand that power operates on the psyche like an aphrodesiac on normal persons. Whatever, it seems power attracts some pretty wierd behavior, and I know wiretapping in particular attracts some pretty spooky types - not all of them necessarily able to maintain a level of objectivity appropriate to being entrusted with that powerful weapon.

Oh, I forgot one last number:

[6] The Bush administration in general - and the Bush Out House in particular - is heavily infected with wierd fuckers.

I hope that answers your question.

Though I certainly have my own policy priorities, this is why I'd rather see a good clean-up sort of president, who would not mind a one term presidency, and who knows the bureaucracy well enough to adopt a set of key tasks for immediate attention, and get at least the essential government functions operating again. The liklihood is that whomever is elected will be sabotaged viciously at every turn anyway, so they might as well take an active approach.

LD,

The wiretaps angle is interesting. But as a practical matter, I am not sure if that would be an AUSA or main DOJ. The FISA court is Main.

jwp

Two points.

First, I don't think you can dismiss the voter fraud (or say that Civil Rights is all handled at main DOJ) given that Griffin was the person the PATRIOT policy was supposed to be used on. Consider his USA appointment a reward for disenfranchising thousands of African Americans in FL. What do you suppose he's going to do in AR? And why do you suppose all of these USAs (with the exception of CA, though Rove has been making noises about winning CA of late) were fired in swing states? You don't win swing states JUST by making sure the Blunts and Renzis and Cunninghams don't get prosecuted. And why do you suppose John McKay got fired, after pissing off the Republicans in his state for not drumming up a voter fraud case in teh Gregoire race. Karl has a very specific plan to use caging (Civil Rights issue, after all) in swing states to win close elections--I know they're planning on it here in MI in 2008.

Second, I think you misunderstand the importance of proving (if Schumer can do it) that Monica used loyalty oaths. Short of proving that Lam was dismissed bc of the Cunningham case or getting Rove and Miers to testify truthfully, the Dems will have a tough time proving that these firings were about political influence. Except if they can show a clear sign of political hiring and firing elsewhere. The AUSA loyalty oaths does that, does it in spades, bc it gives you a crime to puruse, thereby giving you the political ability to force Rove and Miers to testify (not that they will tell the truth). If you prove that Goodling politicized the career ranks, you get more leeway for investigation from the Republicans on the committee, that will eventually let you get to the big stuff.

As far as why they got fired or bought out, here's a speculative list:

AR WD Cummins, prosecution of Blunt (note, there are resignations in MO that may also relate to same)
AZ Charlton, Renzi case
CA SD Lam Wilkes, Foggo, Lewis, CIFA
CA CD Deborah Wong Yang Lewis
CA ND Kevin Ryan (very speculative: BALCO)
MI WD Chiara, support of Gun Lake tribe in their casino bid
MN Heffelfinger, United Health
NM Iglesias, non-prosecution of "voter fraud" and corrupt Dems
NV Bogden, Gibbons? Probably also to set up caging of Latinos
WA ED Non prosecution of "voter fraud" in Gregoire race

EW,

1. I do not dismiss voter fraud. But that is US Atty -- not the assistants to any significant degree.

2. The problem with AUSA oath issue is scale. I doubt it was widespread. The fear is that this molehill sucks media attention away from the real issues.

The oath issue is more likely to be important at Main DOJ -- though I don't know that it was, except in Civil Rights.

3. Very interesting list. I wonder how we can find out more.

jwp

I'm really fascinated by your certainty of how involved or not AUSAs are in this. After all, we know the Bush cronies have routinely been shopped out as AUSAs to acquire some kind of prosecutorial experience so they can become AUSAs. And we also know that Pat Collins in Chicago resigned unexpectedly, while he was right in the middle of a fraud case that may affect one of Rove's buddies. And we know that there is something funky with one of Chiara's AUSAs, which has held up his appointment as USA in ILSD.

jwp - In defence of my own sorry ass, I think I must have been trying to gauge the calibre of Sen Leahy's animus at AlG; but you're strictly right: including AlG's FISA court obfuscations only serves to stretch my submission for Watergate on Crack in a direction for which there's no support that even this bunch of psychopathic abusers did.

Still, even restricting the numbers involved to the shallow end of the pool, you'd have to agree that's it hard to overstate the dimensions of privacy invaded. Take just one phone line at 10 calls per day; that's 300 per month. Assume half those are not with phone lines also covered by an order. Now put 10 phone lines on one order; that's 1,500 per month. Now consider there were thousands of calls the Inspector General implicated in his analysis of the mere handful of spot checks he performed. It doesn't take much before we get into territory analagous to that old punchline attributed to the late Sen Everett Dirksen on questioning a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a draft budget for the military [paraphrasing from dusty memory] "I accept your point, General, that it may not be reasonable for us to expect you've looked into each and every item on this draft budget. But I'm going to ask you to humor me, General, and just try to look at for a moment from the standpoint of the American taxpayer: a billion here or there may not seem like much to you and me, but after a while, I'm concerned the public may think it all adds up to some real money."

ew - Right you are, cap'n. But as I understand it [and not just from Sen Schumer - I downloaded AlG's testiphoney back in January & have listened to it twice now.], the Leahy Committee already received AlG's lies and also knows he's been taking two-a-day choir practice on his non-knowledge of what his own Chief of Staff & and his own liaison office knew [How was it they ended up doing this? Did each of them send the other on a junket?]. So why dwell on that? Let's get right to the Felonies and Misdeanors. Because it's not as if AlG is the brightest bulb on the bush. See this at Josh Marshall's lemonade stand:

"At a recent "prep" for a prospective Sunday talk-show interview, Gonzales's performance was so poor that top aides scrapped any live appearances. During the March 23 session in the A.G.'s conference room, Gonzales was grilled by a team of top aides and advisers—including former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House lawyer Tim Flanigan—about what he knew about the plan to fire seven U.S. attorneys last fall. But Gonzales kept contradicting himself and "getting his timeline confused," said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got "exasperated" with him, the source added."

She-Bang!

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

LabDancer

Yeah, I think they have him and/or McNulty on perjury. But I'd rather not hang another impeachment on perjury.

Great post, EW.

Goodling claims (via her lawyers) that cooperating with the Congressional investigation would put her in legal jeopardy in spite of her "innocence," because partisans would gain a toehold to conduct a political witch hunt.

While you pick apart that innocence firewall, Goodling can still be useful to us. She, as a lawyer in one of the top DoJ positions, fears government investigations could put her in legal jeopardy if she merely shares information about herself? And what might she think if government helped themselves to the information --without a warrant or her permission?

Seems her position is a far cry from the pro-NSA-spying-on-Americans Republican talking point 'if you are innocent you have nothing to fear.'

I think that it's interesting that they, they being the attempted inserts, are referred to as 'faith based' when it's clear that's the last thing they would consider, i.e. a personally trustful deliberation and decision, before acting as expected by others, when they know the people doing the expecting are breaking the law. The Pope admits to colluding with the Nazis, but claims it was out of his hands and not his decision to go along with them.

"Seems her position is a far cry from the pro-NSA-spying-on-Americans Republican talking point 'if you are innocent you have nothing to fear."

Great point.

What's wrong Monica, are you suddenly afraid of a little waterboarding? Please remember torture in the US can never go beyond something approaching organ failure.

somewhere in this mess there is a huge issue, and pots of gold for the mega-energy companies, in the leases of easements negotiated between energy and indian tribes, especially in the vast western states. dominici is a big player, and iglesias may have not been as helpful to energy as dominici would have liked. or, conversely, abramoff may have desired more favor for his clients from iglesias than was forthcoming--although the tribes are forever getting screwed on easement leases. i don't know much about it, but i try to keep up with indian issues, and this one is big.

somewhere in this mess there is a huge issue, and pots of gold for the mega-energy companies, in the leases of easements negotiated between energy and indian tribes, especially in the vast western states. dominici is a big player, and iglesias may have not been as helpful to energy as dominici would have liked. or, conversely, abramoff may have desired more favor for his clients from iglesias than was forthcoming--although the tribes are forever getting screwed on easement leases. i don't know much about it, but i try to keep up with indian issues, and this one is big.

"His advisers finally got "exasperated" with him, the source added."

This is probably transparently obvious to everyone else, but I thought I would just add it. My guess is that "His advisers" was probably leaked to make it appear as though Gillespie and Tim "Tyco" Flanigan are somehow loyal to Gonzales. I doubt that is the case. I suspect both are primarily "helping" Gonzales wrt his potential as a firewall for Bush. This leak may be a signal from the WH to Gonzales that he is beginning to ask too many questions about just how much will be hung on him.

"Some poor guy gets the death penalty where it's not warranted, and she's concerned about her job prospects."

Chiara only won one death penalty case. I oppose the death penalty, but if anyone is going to be executed, a serial killer like Marvin Gabrion qualifies.

EW-- I agree with you on the motives for the firings of the USA's except Kevin Ryan--word here is that he really was a very poor manager and highly criticized by federal judges. He may be the one exception.

I think it is not one thing but several--manipulation of elections, career promotion, control of the means to smear oppponents etc all in the service of maintaining the permanent GOP majority and a lock on the federal judiciary. This is why no more judicial appointments or appointments at DOJ should pass the Senate until they get to the bottom of this and no more recesses until next year.

Mimikatz

Oh, I know he was a bad manager. But the reason I'm raising it skeptically is 1) Ryan wanted to stay on to finish up some kind of case, just as Lam did. We know which case Lam was referring to. But do we in the case of Ryan? And 2) there is stuff about BushCo objecting to Ryan imposing the new tough sanctions on steroids in his district. It's the reverse of what they did with death penalty and immigration and drugs--objecting to a USA FOLLOWING their guidelines. So I wonder if BALCO--or something related to it--was at issue.

Also, WRT the bad manager thing. How long until they have to fire Paulose for the same reason?

Betcha Schumer already has testimony of loyalty oaths, possibly even given in Sampson's or Gonzalez's presence.
Or else why would he ask those specific questions?
And yes, looking at the hirings in terms of racial or religious discrimination is a good idea.

then the Republican party itself in turn would acquire the power in the political realm to act corruptly in coordination with business interests/lobbying interests/voter suppression efforts/etc. in ways that would historically result in prosecutions.

They weren't waiting for the full installation for this 'phase two'. See the Griles-Federici-Abramoff oil & gas royalty ripoff, chronicled by Mary Beth Williams at Wampum (and at more length in a book she's working on).

scoorer said he forgot and was convicted for lying. forgetting under oath was proven dangerous

I didn't read every commment, so someone else may have pointed this out, but along the same track as MarkC points out above (if you're from Liberty or Regent, there's no need to ask questions of applicants), even if the applicants weren't from Liberty or Regent, it's often easily ascertainable to discern where an applicant stands politically without the need to ask pointed questions on the matter, either because that applicant has revealed to someone else their political leanings, or left it obvious through a Google search, or was a friend of a friend, factors which would render pointed loyalty questions moot. So even it's possible that Sampson was simply being asked too narrow a question by Schumer, because whether or not anyone at the DOJ *asked* such a question of an applicant in no way precludes political loyalty being an important factor--indeed a prerequisite. It seems likely to me that DOJ lawyers, even questionably qualified Regent grads, would at least be bright enough to never ask such pointed and loaded questions, when the information sought is often easily ascertainable, either through other means, or less pointed questions.

Scott,

You are absolutely correct. But the new hires come and go.

In general, the power positions are supervisor positions, and those are rarely hired from outside. Promotion from within. And that narrows the discretion significantly.

Possible to politicize the supervisory positions, but much, much more difficult. And as a general rule, I have no reason to think it has been done. In some specific areas, maybe. But so far the only story that I have seen in DOJ concerned Civil Rights section of main Justice.

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