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March 23, 2007


emptywheel - I found a mention of Carol Lam in a transcript of a House Judiciary hearing from 4/6/06 with AG Gonzales testifying:

"I want to tell you something which you may not be aware of. I recently spent a full week on the Mexican-California border riding around with Border Patrol agents. I was with them 2:00, 3 in the morning as they arrested various illegal aliens and smugglers, which are also known as ''coyotes.'' I learned some things from these Border Patrol agents directly that I want to relay to you.

These coyotes get approximately $1,500 per person that they illegally smuggle into the U.S. The Border Patrol agents told me that they have arrested some of these alien smugglers between 20 and 30 times. They tell me that the U.S. Attorney in San Diego for the Southern District of California, Carol Lam, has repeatedly refused to prosecute them, that the prosecutions have been slashed dramatically, that under the guidelines and practice of this U.S. Attorney, the only way you're really going to see a prosecution is if someone dies in the transport of the illegal aliens or if one of these alien smugglers attempts to run over someone going through a port. [...]

One example is Antonio Amparo Lopez, who has been arrested for alien smuggling for financial gain. He has been arrested more than 20 times. He has a long criminal history. The U.S. Attorney has refused to prosecute this attorney—this alien smuggler.

It's a concern not only to me. Congressman Darrell Issa has been leading the charge on this issue. It's a concern to him. Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner has raised concerns about it. Chairman Duncan Hunter has raised concerns. Nineteen members of the Republican California delegation wrote to you and President Bush on October 20 of 2005.

The morale is so bad among these Border Patrol agents that I show you a photograph that they call the ''Wall of Shame.'' It has pictures of over 200 coyotes that have been arrested by the Border Patrol agents in the Southern District of California who this U.S. Attorney has repeatedly failed to prosecute.

Here's some straight talk. The pathetic failure of your U.S. Attorney in San Diego to prosecute alien smugglers who've been arrested 20 times is a demoralizing slap in the face to Border Patrol agents who risk their lives every day."


Pretty harsh, no? I've been searching for news stories around April that could have triggered this kind of attack against a US Attorney in an open hearing and found a hung jury case in San Diego County that was announced on April 5th involving Tenet Health Care.

From SignOnSanDiego, April 5, 2006:
"Legal experts said Lam was signaling to health care executives that they could be sent to prison if convicted of making fraudulent contracts with doctors.

Lam crafted a theory that sent shivers through the health care industry. At its heart were “relocation agreements,” contracts that hospitals use to recruit doctors and whose use is widespread in the industry. "

- - -
I'm not saying any of this is related. Just putting it out there for people who are thinking about timelines and motivations.

Wonder who the "senior source" at DHS is. Ah, the Department of Homeland Security, Joe Lieberman's gift to the Republicans that keeps on giving.

At any rate, Issa also went on Lou Dobbs sometime in May '06 and, in trying to discredit Lam, apparently cited to a Border Patrol document that had been altered without the knowledge or approval of the Border Patrol. Documents on this were part of the recent dump (ht TPM Muckraker). I think pdf 11-4 or 11-5.

Darrell Issa should be investigated for obstruction of justice.

Great to see you sinking your teeth into this new scandal!

It's great to see you on this story emptywheel.

What thoughts do you have about the $140,000 Questions? i.e., the $140k MZM contract with the OVP and the $140k yacht price.


i don't doubt for a minute that this was a carefully crafted attack on lam to keep her from going further on the wilkes-cunningham-foggo congressional inquiry.

it seems to have been planned and executed over time, several months - something the other dismissals of u.s. a's seems not to have been.

in any event, the doj does not seem to have planned ahead to entrap the others as they did carol lam.

josh marshall at "talking points memo" has speculated that some or all of the other firings were to provide cover for firing lam as she clearly signaled intent to expand the probe.

immigration might have been a priority to the doj, but not so high a priority as congressional corruption. that should be self-evident

speaking of congressional corruption, should we now put the congressman jefferson investigation in a larger context?

so what has happened with this case since lam left?


Carol Lam discredited that document when she was defending herself against these complaints. But that doesn't stop Issa from trotting it out again every chance he gets.

Curiously, Sen Feinstein also sent a letter expressing concerns about Lam

from an article at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/politics/20070314-9999-1n14lam.html

"Concern about Lam's prosecution rates came to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's attention last summer, when Border Patrol agents complained that despite their high border apprehension rates, Lam prosecuted few such cases. In a June letter to the Justice Department, Feinstein, D-Calif., asked for Lam's prosecution figures."

What prompted Feinstein to request the figures?
Are there other cases of complaints from Border Patrol agents? Who decided to make these complaints? Did Border Patrol in any other states make similar complaints? Were they also in relation to fired USA's? Was anyone in Bush admin pulling the strings on this?

CNN's Lou Dobbs had a piece this afternoon that I thought was going to be a Carol Lam hit piece but it turned out to disclose that the very criticism of no prosecutions was due to the AG's own policies on prosecuting coyotes...California didn't use a threshhold of # of times running the border, but instead the gravity of the crime. Two of the other states used a threshhold of 6-10 illegal crossings before prosecution was undertaken. Lou's piece pointed out this was a Gonzales policy directive. Interesting.

Interesting about Tenet. I'll throw this out there, too. The USA in MN, Heffelfinger, resigned and was replaced by Rachel Paulose, 33yr old Federalist society member, hand-picked by Abu, and nominated by Norm Coleman on the final day of the session.

stories here

and here

One of the things that was on the USA's docket at that time was stock options backdating by United Healthcare.

Also, Heffelfinger investigated charges of "voter fraud" which were being hyped by Rep SOS Mary Kiffmeyer, and declined to press any charges.


This was also said by the Honorable Issa in that 4/6/06 hearing cited above:

Mr. ISSA. While you're finding that, I'd also like to thank you for quickly recusing yourself and taking the lead on making sure that there is a fair and impartial answer to the gentleman's questions, because I think that sort of leadership, and quickly, is very non-Nixonian. In the Nixon period in which I enjoyed my youth, there was just the opposite. There was a statement that nobody would answer, and everyone was above the law, and I think this Administration, you in particular, have never implied that in any way, shape or form.

Could someone follow up on WhiteWidow's post? Was there a DOJ policy for California coyotes different from the DOJ policy on coyotes in other states? If so, when was this policy put in place? Just in time to catch Lam?

Where can I read more about this OVP - MZM thing? That is ... fascinating.

Several points here:
Lam, in fact, seems to have devoted half her office time and personnel to prosecuting immigration cases. However, in stead of going after low-level coyotes, she went after the higher-ups (much like a DA will not go after street dealers but the higher-ups in drug dealing).
She also got the Border Patrol mad at her because she prosecuted some of their own for running their own people-smuggling operation.

(I am VERY interested in the medical story. More on it?)

But the 'coincidence' of her firing -- and the 'we have trouble with her' memo after she went after Foggo is conclusive on this one.

But the 'coincidence' of her firing -- and the 'we have trouble with her' memo after she went after Foggo is conclusive on this one.

Interesting - I think that both the Issa leak of his immigration problems *and* the "we have a problem" email have a similar alternative explanation.

Imagine Issa had been working quietly for months to get Lam fired (and oddly, the DoJ was defending her to Issa while criticizing her internally on immigration, per the emails as reviewed by the WaPo.)

And imagine Issa had found some supporters, such as Sampson.

And then Ms. Lam wins huge headlines with her big corruption case.

Well, people who want to fire her have a problem, yes - firing her in the midst of her prosecution of a Republican will be awkward, one might think. Hence the email.

And Issa might think, gee, Ms. Lam is getting such great press that if I don't push back she will be canonized by the end of the month and I will never get her fired. So he dumps his immigration stuff. And that immigration file dump may well have been coordinated with his DoJ supporters that had been laying the groundwork for her dismissal before Ms. Lam fired the bolt from the blue.

Obviously, that is not the only possible interpretation and I have no doubt we would all be delighted to re-assess as more facts emerge. But I offer it as a counterweight to the notion that sinister motives are the only possible interpretation.


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Today was a complete loss, but oh well. I don't care. So it goes. Nothing going on , but shrug. Not much on my mind these days. Such is life.

I haven't been up to much , but I guess it doesn't bother me. Pfft. I just don't have much to say lately, but maybe tomorrow. Basically nothing seems worth doing.

Space Exploration Benefits Our World, costs too much

Blame the parents of a murderer parents for the crime

The U.S.-Mexican border fence works, doesn't work

My life's been pretty dull these days. Such is life. I've basically been doing nothing.

I've just been letting everything wash over me. I've pretty much been doing nothing. I've just been sitting around not getting anything done.

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