Sunday, April 01, 2007

# Posted 9:34 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

US ATTORNEYS: WILL THE SCANDAL LAST? I've been surprised by the ability of the US Attorneys story to stay on top of the headlines, often ahead of Iraq. For the third week running, the Attorneys have been the headline issue on both Face the Nation and Meet the Press.

How many other domestic issues have been given that honor either this year or last? Maybe the Alito nomination. Going back to 2005, there's Katrina and Abramoff.

But thinking long-term, does the Attorneys scandal have any sort of lasting importance? I think the story's gotten this far because the Attorney General and his staff told some fibs about why they fired eight US Attorneys. It wasn't incompetence. It was politics.

Yet ultimately, the sitting administration has every right to get rid of US Attorneys for political reasons. It goes against custom, but it isn't wrong. For this story to really matter, I think there has to be some solid indication that the firings were part of a cover-up.

Now, it is part of the standard narrative that the eight Attorneys were fired, in part, because they were going after corrupt Republicans too aggressively and corrupt Democrats not aggressively enough. Yet this point never seems to get much follow-up on the Sunday talk shows, in spite of its importance.

Here's how Bob Schieffer started out his interview with Dianne Feinstein a couple of weeks ago:
SCHIEFFER: ...[S]enator, I would start by saying, one of the prosecutors who was fired is from your state of California, Prosecutor Lam, who put Duke Cunningham, the
Republican congressman who was caught on bribery charges, put him in jail. She was in the midst of another investigation along that same line. Do you think that that's what's going on here, that these people were fired because they were getting too tough with some people in the Republican Party?

[FEINSTEIN]: Well, let me speak about Carol Lam and then the fact that five out of the seven
called on December 7th told they'd have to be out by the middle of January.
Five out of the seven of them had public corruption cases...I think it was May 10th, [Lam] sent a notice to the Justice Department saying that there would be two search warrants sent in the case of "Dusty" Foggo and a defense contractor. That--the next day, an e-mail went from the
Justice Department to the White House saying, `We have a real problem with Carol Lam.'
Yet strangely, after raising the prospect of a cover-up within the White House, Feinstein pretty much let the issue go. If there's more than coincidence to back up those kinds of allegations, why aren't Democrats going after the ccrruption issue more aggressively? Or is Feinstein just spinning unrelated strands into a web of conspiracy?

I honestly don't know and I'd appreciate your input. I've mostly been following this case via Sunday morning talk show, which is hardly the best way to master the details. Maybe I should go read Josh Marshall's blog instead. What say you?

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(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

This is not a purely political scandal. There is sufficient evidence to point to real criminal action on part of members of govt here. Five of the 8 attorneys fired were pursuing major criminal cases involving prominent republicans. The most disturbing one is the cases being pursued by Carol Lam. Further, there is ample evidence to support the hypothesis that attorneys were being replaced to make for politically pliable appointees, which is unprecendented. You should definitely read Josh Marshall. He is very fair and has done a lot of work on this.

Katrina and other debacles weren't investigated at the time because the (republican) congress did not perform its oversight duties. I would not be surprised if these issues are reexamined by the present congress.
The attorneys are gone. And yes, Bush has that right.

It has certainly become political by the administrations fault, by lacking any kind of consistency. And had there been not attempt to even talk about the Patriot Act II to allow appointments without any kind of confirmation, I suspect that this would have passed the smell test.

But now it doesn't. It has opened up the door to investigation that may turn out to have actual indictments. Opening up the DOJ to be so political is going to be a bad thing. Regardless of what party you are.

And Congress may try to "fix" that if they get too mad about it.
If you recall, Frederick Black was the long time acting Acting U.S. Attorney in Gaum. He had been unexpectedly demoted and removed on November 19, 2002, in order to stop an investigation into Jack Abramoff.

So yes, there is good reason to assume that this is part of a pattern.

BTW, Gaum might seem kind of obscure. Abramoff was representing Northern Mariana Islands manufacturers. Abramoff, Delay and Doolittle were trying to create a legal gray area where sweatshops could be operated within US jurisdiction.

Kind of a manufacturer's Guantanamo.
The MSM is not asking the hard questions.

Feinstein is on record asking for Lam to explain her lack of movement on immigration issues. At the Samson complains that DOJ didn't see it as a problem.
Sorry for missing some words in my previous post. It should read:

The MSM is not asking the hard questions.

Feinstein is on record earlier asking for Lam to explain her lack of movement on immigration issues. At the Samson hearings she complains that DOJ didn't see it as a problem.
By all means, read Josh Marshall for some balance. Chris Matthews and Bob Schieffer are so in the tank for the administration, you'll never find out what's going on listening to them.

If you want a viewpoint even farther right than George Stefanopoulos (if that's even possible), I think Tom Maguire has been posting a lot on this story.
I wonder if Anon, up on top there, could throw me a link, here, to those "...most disturbing ... cases being pursued by Carol Lam" that have been dropped by her successor?

I think that's the reason you are seeing the Dems dance around real corruption charges: no one can find any case against a Rep which was dropped.
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