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May 26, 2007


Come on. It was a good guess. A lot of lawyers hired by Gonzo haven't tried any cases. What's the tally on Paulose or Griffin? What cases are they first chairing right now? Or have they adopted George's caricatured definition of management, that it's all about sitting behind the desk while the hired help do all the work?

E of H, you've hit upon the whole REPUBLICAN definition of management, ie. governing. I'd only add, "and you collect all the money."

erm - Looseheadprop's name is mispelled. ya' might want to fix that...

keep pushing. As cynical as I am, I'm sure it's all there under the surface, and all there in Karl Rove's mail.

If anyone can be tolerant of mispellings, it should be me. *g*

It's funny that you say that you have never heard of the USAs being told that they were the front lines in the GWOT.

I thought that was common knowledge. IIRC the "threat assement" information was intially transmitted to the USAs to disseminated to local law enforcement and emergency services.

USAs were suddenly being given direction to do take "charge" of all sorts of things that they had been hand's off of before.

It was in this atmosphere that a number of blunders happened because they were told that the normal rules did not apply.

I don't mean to minimize what happened with Padilla as a mere blunder, it wound up being a huge problem for the man and for the Constitution.

"USAs were suddenly being given direction to do take "charge" of all sorts of things that they had been hand's off of before."

Thanks lhp. I had no idea about this either and it sounds incredibly stupid typical of this administration.

1. If USA's are supposed to be "in charge," why have a completely autonomous department of HOMELAND SECURITY? If the USA's are "in charge," let Homeland Security report to them.

2. Regardless, USA budget for terrorism prosecutions should come right out of HOMELAND SECURITY's budget.

3. As we all already know, DeadEye has been slashing USA budgets.

4. I can't think of many better ways to pave the way for even more rampant un-prosecuted white collar crime, than to cut their budgets and tell them to "take charge" of the GWOT in their district.

5. Defense attorneys with deep pocketed white collar crime clients must be just salivating at the prospect of taking on a US Attorney. Not only do you have a very high probability of exhausting the USA's resources to prosecute, it's incredibly profitbable litigation.

Heffelfinger sure has taken a long time to get a spine. He must have known way back in early 2006 when he was asked to resign that this was highly unusual; he must have known something was very wrong in December 2006 when the Gonzales 8 were dismissed in the same way he was. It took David Iglesias coming forward before the story really acquired legs. What appears to have finally gotten under Heffelfinger's skin enough to change his tune is the trashing of his professional experience. Why so damned long? after so many of the other dismissed USA's have come forward, why has it taken Heffelfinger more than a year after his dismissal and a handful of months after the Pearl Harbor Massacre for him to begin to speak out? There's something else to this portion of the story; let's hope it doesn't take another handful of months before we get to the bottom of it.

thanks sara.

i's love to see heffelfinger testify before congress. all the more since his first response to having been fired was a gentlemanly "nothing inappropriate in my dismissal".

with respect to the u.s. a's and sept 11, my first reaction to your post was that the bush admin did not know how to manage a crisis.

but i think that is incomplete.

i think they only knew how to manage a crisis by managing, manipulating, and exploiting both the the fear and the patriotism that surfaced after sept 11, 2001.

the problem with this approach, when amplified by a willing media, is that it created a near mob mentality in this country.

maybe that is part of what l'prop means by mistakes like padilla (a whisper of a very interesting perspective i had not heard before).

certainly twenty years from now,

doj is going to have to face historical judgment about an entire series of dubious investigations and prosecutions of muslims and groups of goofy young males, e.g., (miami's haitian "sons of david"(?), playing war games in the woods.

and at the same time,

explain their colossal failure (thru the fbi) to stop the sept 11 bombers when it would have been so easy to have done so by following the leads from minnesota and arizona.

one stain of bureaucratic bad judgment cannot be made up in history by another stain of overzealous, cover-your-ass, ex-post facto prosecution.

but back to the problem at hand:

the doj, as you, sara, pointed out some months ago, needs to function. it is extremely important that it get back to its business.

how is that going to happen while bush is clinging to gonzo and rove is covering up his corruption of the department?

Better late than never!

Speaking of U.S.Attorneys, what are we to make of this?

Mickey, re: Bradblog and Palast. You might want to read Drational at Daily Kos before deciding what to make of it. Given Drational's experience with tracking rove-ian emails, I think it is worth reading him on subject.


I don't see anything obviously weird with the more or less 'no comment' response. First consider that the guy is a prosecutor. Hunches, guesses, when viewed from a distance could look like bad feelings. Anything he said would only reinforce a disconnect with the DOJ. Second, the guy is not a whistle-blower. This status is something of an attitude, and not everyone is up to it. This resonates with the first issue. If you live in the real world, you must realize that your boss could hate you. But if he lets you go quietly, why make a fuss?

This pretty much describes the situation until DOJ started making specific comments about USAs. Everything changed because reasons for firing were presented. These reasons could be tested against known facts. This situation vastly simplified the response by any USA.

The big picture is lost when we look at individual USAs. Wondering about their response is equally useless. None of the USAs was predisposed to think that they were fired as part of a pattern, although I think it is starting to sink in.

The big picture is that there was a general review, at least in theory, of performance. This review, all by itself, should raise alarms. The concept is what you do if you are cutting costs: find the least productive people and fire them. But the concept does not apply in this case. It is nearly impossible to compare USAs to each other.

The truth is that management must always be on the alert: a single defining action could result in instant termination. Needing several reasons to fire someone is either proof of bad upper management, or of a cover-up for some other reason. A good manager has no trouble articulating the exact reason to terminate an employee. Whatever the reason, there is no accumulation of points for firing. The reason is obvious: any replacement must have flaws, which are currently unknown. The only reason to fire someone must be that they endanger the functioning of the position they fill. This is the only consideration. They have proven that they cannot fulfill their duties. The defect could be a tiny flaw, but for those responsible for the decision, it should be easy to articulate.

More on Palast if anyone is interested.


TomJ 2:29 -- I wish that I could say that Heffelfinger had no reason to believe he was part of a pattern of changes, but prosecutors already had plenty of reason dating from Frederick Black's removal on forward to know that there was a systemic effort to politicize the DOJ and the judiciary. He's also had since December to say something other than "no comment" or "I left for the money (without a job in hand)".


it's the picture at brad blog that gives palast away.

he's living out a personal fantasy, i would guess.

kind of like michael ledeen.

better fix that LHP typo... or was that our wayward sparrow?

I don't know why Heffelfinger didn't speak out earlier -- I rather suspect he did in the inner circle of former Federal Prosecutors, because David Lillehaug who had the job the first six years of Clinton's administration, (Wellstone's nominee for USA), has done a number of interviews, reflecting much of what TH seems to be saying now. Likewise Amy Klobuchar who was Hennepin County Attorney before being elected to the Senate, and very much a friendly collegue of Heffelfinger, has been outspoken and pushing the SJC to investigate Hef. Tom Heffelfinger has never been attracted to the red eye of the local TV camera -- in that respect he is very much like Fitzgerald. If he had an indictment to announce, it was plain vanilla. He virtually never commented on verdicts. I suspect the unwillingness to hype political messages may have been a black mark given the way BushCo evaluates things.

I am not at all convinced that Tom Heffelfinger was actually "fired" as we understand all this. I can well imagine he got the message that his term was up, and he should move on indirectly -- perhaps through his Cousin, Wendell Wilkie IV. He did not leave without a job -- he went to a very well connected Republican Law Firm, with which he previously had an association, and while he did have children to educate in schools where the posted price is over 40 thousand per year, the Heffelfingers are not without resources to deal with that cost no matter what Daddy's income might be. It might mean one less million dollar work of art donated or purchased for extended loan to the Mpls Museum of Art or the Walker,-- but that is hardly the point.

Anyhow, I really encourage people to listen to the MPR program with his speech. It has to be understood in context -- but I suggest it is important to the end of getting rid of Gonzo and all he represents. And it may also be about cleaning the Republican Party of some of the rot, though that will take a couple of election cycles. It was, afterall, the Wilkie Faction in the Republican Party back in the 1940's which broke the back of the isolationists -- and locally, that faction produced Harold Stassen who ran for President till he was blue in the face, but was also one of the key people who drew Republicans into the UN. I am not voting for them, but I understand some of these long term threads.

Heffelfinger made several "terrorism" cases during the 2001-02 period. He closed down the informal banking system used by Somali Refugees on grounds that some of the funds were being transferred to terrorists -- and he prosecuted several brokers who were managing those funds. He also captured a Canadian-Somali living with his American Wife in Mpls, and he got shipped off first to NY, and then N.VA for indictment and trial. The reports on the trial were pretty thin, but apparently there were communications intercepts from Canada that led to the case being filed. While Heffelfinger was not yet installed as USA when Colleen Rowley was trying to get to the FISA court so as to search Moussaoui's computer and effects pre-9/11, he had to deal with the aftermath when she blew the whistle. He was just moving into the office when she was trying to get a warrant. What else he did, I don't know, but the Somali Community complained loudly about investigations and all. By the way one of the arguments in DFL circles for endorsing Keith Ellison for Congress rested on the importance of showing that a real Muslim could get elected to an important office, even if he wasn't from the Somali Community. He did a good deal of pro bono immigration legal work for them before he started running in May of 2006, and recruited lawyers to keep up the cases after he had to move on. And it was the right move -- people who had been sitting around drinking coffee and doing nothing effective suddenly learned how to help run a congressional campaign and got busy applying for citizenship and all. Heffelfinger doesn't really say it in his speech, but knowledge of your local community includes knowing the resources that will "include" the new migrants into the political culture and give them a stake -- meaning you will have internal policing of the community to preserve their stake -- and you won't have much tolerance of Jihadi talk. There is much more involved with this than just the strict legal stuff. I had fun several weeks ago when the guy who helps me with the garden brought around a couple of his Somali buddies to move some heavy stuff -- and I popped for a pitcher of Lemonade when they finished, served up in World Series, 1989 cups (remember Kirby Puckett's home Run in that 6th game???) and I got to discuss emigrant history and Twins Baseball for about an hour -- pointing out that until 1972, when we cleaned up the State Constitution, we had laws requiring that the Norwegian Language and Constitution had to be taught in all High Schools. I had fun describing the conflict between Swedes and Norwegians in Minnesota, and how that passage in the consitition was part of the Norwegian demand for independence from Sweden in 1907. They had no idea.

Loosehead, sorry about the misspelling. I still don't find success in editing with the Typepad program and not destroying the post. I try -- I look up words, but I am one of those folk who just does not "see" spelling mistakes.

In general, I think what we are about is moving Gonzo out of his office, and any block of power or influence that will assist this is all right by me. That's why I find the fact that Heffelfinger finally spoke out, endorsed the Congressional investigations, and called DOJ "Fundamentally Broken" before the standing ovation meeting of the local Bar is of importance. It helps with the underlying question about BushCo -- "Can they Govern?" The more institutions, and people within them that pose that question -- the closer we are to removal.

Again -- more posting problems. Lost Text.

I wanted to make a point about power and how it works in the US.

I wanted to remind that Heffelfinger is also about Wilkie -- and I rather assume that he got the message to resign rather than be fired through some sort of interior Republican Message system. Establishment protection versus the revolutionaries, and all that. A Heffelfinger doesn't have to worry about the posted price of over 40 thousand a year to private colleges for his kids. But he had a job anytime he wanted, at a local Republican Identified Law Firm. To understand this you need to realize that perhaps the only thing lost was that either the Mpls Institute of Art or the Walker did not get the million dollar donation or extended loan they hoped for. You didn't hear squak because that is not how things are done in these circles.

It was the Heffelfinger-Wilkie circle and set that produced the local pol, Harold Stassen, who though he may have run for President till he was blue in the face, also hauled the former isolationists into the UN. BushCo wants to destroy much of that -- and we need to look at what is happening sufficiently broadly to incorporate all this.


You are a treasure. Thank you so much for your overview and facsinating historical detail!

Never mind the typos ... although, I think "LooseheadPOOP" (along with JEP's comment or was that our wayward sparrow?) might deserve some sort of Koufax award.


jeez sara

you ought to be teaching poli sci now, along with history.

that would have been a REAL education for your students.

thanks for the details in the post and in your comments -

that wonderful historical detail.

fascinating to read.

orionATL -- hey, history is not just a string of facts or quotes extracted from dead men's archives, it is political science and sociology, economics and anthropology, psychology and even art appreciation and all. History isn't really a science, (though it has methods) but really is an art.

It is about remembering that mankind has a habit of returning to past practices of botching things up, but sometimes humans are fairly enlightened and they improve their past performance. That means a study of how and why things happened as they did can be informative. And Historians are lucky -- they can use any thread as evidence. They can select the evidence they plumb and interpret. They can even select the theory that provides the framework for what they do in organizing materials from the past. Historians have the capacity to be anarchists.

An example -- Intelligence History. I see two sociological theories as applicable to the problem. First, Georg Simmel who did some delightful late 19th century essays on the notion of "the secret" as critical to understanding how power is exercised. Broken down, if you ain't got access to "the secret" you are out of contention for influence or power. Of course the notion of "the Secret" can be mystified -- and it may not really be a secret, but just the same, the idea is useful in any analysis of how supposedly "secret" information is used to limit the participation in decisions of importance... or who has power.

The alternative, but not necessarily conflicting theory is Max Weber on Bureaucracy. You know reading that SSCI last Friday drove me crazy as I surfed through the material and imagined around it the bureaucratic process of arriving at the bullet points. You note all the national interest assumptions about Turkey, Iran and Syria are in the clear, -- but where Jordan and Saudi Arabia should be reviewed, big empty blocks of nothing. This isn't about any sort of "secret" it is about bureaucracy and how it works to preserve a power fulcrum. Two different approaches, and they can be used as needed.

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