« The David Iglesias Cover-Up | Main | Novak, I'll Blog You When You're Gone »

July 27, 2007


-- I've been waiting for some time for Congress to contest Paul Clement's claim that Congress has no legislative need for more information into the USA firings. --

The DOJ and WH have fronted a fair number of weak, ignorant and/or bizarre legal rationales for their actions.

Not that I'm impressed with Congress either, but there are in fact a limited number of constitutional and legal principles that can be fairly and honestly argued. That Congress has the constitutional power to vest appointment authority for USAs is a good one.

It's still not clear on exactly who was responsible for choosing which USAs would be replaced without cause - except, I think, President Bush and AGAG have indicated that their approvals were in the nature of formalities rather than involved decision-making. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion that some underlings were making without-cause replacement decisions.


Like you, I've been underwhelmed with some of Congress' response, to date. But I do think this report heads us in a good direction.

I'm a believer in maintaining tension between the branches. I don't like the idea of a too-powerful "any" branch, and as far as I can tell, DEMs and GOP are equal-opportunists when it comes to getting over on the public.

I'd much prefer an honest and transparent government, but the people we elect are (mostly) arrogant, politically and power motivated, and willing to twist principle in order to win.

In other words, even the winner is a loser, as far as I'm concerned, and might even be the bigger loser - seeing as how easily principles are tossed out.

Not to resurrect a sore point, but to provide an example where "politics over principle" is bad for the public, SCOFLA cherry-picked FL election statutes in order to get the outcome it preferred in the 2000 election -- with the ultimate result being an unnecessarily weird chain of events culminating at a SCOTUS decision that is rarely accurately presented by commentators.

cboldt - I would take issue with your conclusion in the last paragraph, but that is done and over and there is no reason to divert the attention of this thread. Pretty much agree with the rest of your statements as to the corrupting and corrosive nature of political power.

I want to point to what will strike a lot of folks as a really minor issue, but I think is really important. Footnote 51 says that Biskupic was added to the March 2, 2005 firing list by Kyle Sampson. This matters because we can narrow the list of suspects for those changes. If you look at the timestamp on Sampson's email, he sent the original list to Miers at 5:46pm. He added Biskupic and somebody else to the firing list in an email he sent to Miers at 9:49pm. In the 9:49pm email he says he added them "based on some additional information I got tonight". We know who he was with between those two emails. The very first page of the document dump, Sampson requests that Bill Mercer (or more likely Judy Beeman) to set up a dinner for the AG's Advisory Council for 6 or 6:30pm on March 2. The attendees were the USAs on the Council, Gonzales (and maybe Mrs. Gonzales)Sampson, and Ted Ullyot.

I think somebody needs to subpoena Ted Ullyot and find out what was discussed at that dinner meeting (because I'm sure Gonzales has forgotten, er, has been recused, will invoke the "I'm a doofus" privilege, or something).

This corrupting and corrosive nature of politcal power is no hot news. This is the underlying reason for a system of checks and balances in the first place.

Which leads all the way back to the rusty old concept of "an informed electorate".
The people are supposed to choose honest candidates that work for some combination of "what's good for the country" and, to be perfectly frank, what's good for the voter.
The emergence of the Internet and forums such as this allow honesty and intelligent governing to be seen, and dishonesty and corruption to be exposed.
I fervently hope we will someday look back and see this form of media as the savior of the Republic, as well as the replacement for traditional mass-media in informing the electorate.

Index of McClatchy articles on the USA scandal back to 4/13/7. link

Very nice catch William Ockham. Very nice.

Now off to read the report.

Before too many protections get put into place, I would like to see wholesale removal of all Federalist Society members from any government position.

Maybe all Regent Univ. Law School grads also.

Then protect the system, after it has been flushed of toxins.

Well. Just saw a segment of the Friday edition of Hardball where Matthews said he thought Gonzales was lying and asked both Iglesias and Cummins if they thought AGAG lied in his testimony. Iglesias flat out said yes Gonzales was patently dishonest; Cuymmins was a bit more guarded in his phrasing, but basically agreed. The other Gang of 8, the wrongfully sacked USAs, are going to inflict serious damage to the Administration before it is over. I can just picture Condi and Bush on their little matching AirDyne exercise cycles in the basement commenting to each other "Who could have expected that would happen?"

You have to wonder whether the sneak revision to the appointment provisions was done, not in the spirit of unitary executive theory (which is, in essence, 'all flows from the king' arbitrary monarchy theory) but to create a legislative precedent for the Youngstown test.

That's bitten BushCo in the ass, because we now have an explicit decision to re-assert a legislative interest in the basis of US Attorneys' positions, which would presumably be counted in a serious (i.e. non-hackish) legal analysis.

So they fall back on the arbitrary monarch unitary executive theory.

PIN - I agree completely. For such evil geniuses, these guys sure are dumbfucks.

I think Gonzalez has attempted to mislead Congress in a few areas but on the issue of TSP, he is splitting hairs by distinguishing between the program Comey modified and then approved, and the one Comey and Mueller objected to and would have resigned over. Regretfully, this is the apparent contradiction that has gotten the most press... so here we are in the pin cycle again.

Reading TNH prepared me for the discussion on the NewsHour tonight. A law professor from Ohio State and a former Republican DOJ attorney took turns answering questions about the issues relevent to Gonzo's testimony on a host of questions. The shill said the Goodling politiciation issue was being handled by the IG. No one pointed out the problem that EW identified. Would someone please tell these news correspondence to do their homework before they run the story.

Thanks for providing the link. I still have a ways to go, but some initial observations.

The good.
1. I'm glad that the HJC has compiled this information.
2. The HJC raises the right questions regarding the firings.
3. The analysis appears to be comprehensive (in the sections that I've read thus far).

The not so good.
1a. The organization of the information is, well, it could be a lot better.
1b. It would have been better to frame the key issues at the outset. (e.g. Congress as a rule making body has Constitutional obligation at stake in this issue. The Constitution vest Congress with authorities to organize departments and establish rules governing inferior offices, and Congress cannot effectively fulfill its Constitutional obligations if the Executive branch prevents it from obtaining a complete record of the facts. The questions at stake here are large enough deviations from precedent to raise questions, and require full disclosure on the part of the Executive branch, so that, if there have been criminal violations Congress will be sufficiently informed so as to apply the appropriate legal remedies. Congress cannot achieve this end in a case where the Executive branch obstructs a legitimate inquiry).
2a. The Iglesias section is on balance good, but the first sentence is a snoozer. "The Committee has obtained substantial evidence that the firing of David Iglesias may have been a political act." Well so what? His firing was undoubtedly a political act. As was his hiring. As is any act that occurs within the political realm. That's not at issue here. What makes the firing disconcerting is that it appears to have been done on the basis of purely partisan considerations. How can our justice system administer justice impartially and serve the public interest when personnel decisions are made solely on the basis of purely partisan considerations? The very existence of laws such as the Hatch Act, and the Senate's long-standing role in the hiring process highlight these issues.
2b. It would also be stronger to state the facts first--preferably based on the available chronology--and then to state the "concerns". The HJC needs to consider the audience--they should have vetted this with skeptical or simply uninformed readers. Outside readers would provide the authors with a point of view that they probably aren't getting from within.
2c. If the conclusion needs to be spelled out, wait till the end of the section. The only deviation would be if the conclusion in itself is smoking -- see Baker-Hamilton "The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating" (did we get your attention?). "The Committee has obtained substantial evidence that the firing of David Iglesias may have been a political act." OK, I'll continue reading because I'm part of a friendly audience. The pitch though ideally should be made to those Americans who are forming their opinions on this issue. The report itself serves the function pretty well, but it could be much better.

Hopefully, the committee recruits some top-flight legal writers to bring the baby home in its next iteration. This first version is good, but it doesn't read as well as say the Congressional Research Service report.

Geez Franklin, I was happy they got it out at all. Actually, your criticisms are valid. It might also behoove them to do a Reader's Digest version about 15% of the length or something. We might need to help them out.

Great Post, EW! Thanks!

Very Informative Comments!

David Broncocchio had an interesting program on 2004 voter suppression on PBS's NOW tonight (http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/330/index.html). It links both State and National Republican Parties to the drive. The web also has an interview with David Iglesias.

Systematic minority voter suppression is one of the biggest crimes that could ever perpetrated in any democracy. I think that the USA firings is just the tip of this iceberg. Remember how Rove was so cock-sure the Republicans were going to hold the House and Senate just before the election? I think the vote against Republicans would have been even bigger -- I mean, you know they were cheating as fast as they could. The tidal wave was bigger than they expected and they couldn't control it.

Thanks for your hard work Marcy. You are a true patriot.

What I find interesting is the understated connection the Committee raises about Karl Rove. His sudden public interest in messing with DOJ comes as he is called for a second and third time by Fitzgerald to testify in the Plame matter. Page 20 of the report.

Karl is interested in revenge because he is sweating time in front of a Grand Jury investigating something he left his fingerprints on. He doesn't want it to happen again.

This is about what Karl wants. Even Kyl Sampson thinks it's weird, but "if Karl thinks there is the political will to do this, so do I."

Karl was ultimately before Fitzgerald 5 times. How does the chronology of decisions at DOJ match the chronology of Karl's appearances before Fitzgerald?

IANAL, but i think the report is written in an almost conversational tone and it helps. I would also like to see a chronology, but as a chart in the appendix. If you are writing for lawyers, you probably do write differently. But I have no objection to the format and style they used, and I think it is written this way intentionally.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Where We Met

Blog powered by Typepad