Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The story of the fired prosecutors

There are a lot of things happening these days that get a fuller airing thanks to having the opposition party in control of congress. Here's a quick re-cap, based on a story in the Seattle P-I about John McCay.

John McKay, the former U.S. attorney for Western Washington, confirmed Wednesday that he was ordered to resign last month and "given no explanation" for a move that critics immediately denounced as politically motivated.

McKay said he was told to step down in a phone call Dec. 7 from Mike Battle, a senior Justice Department official.

"I certainly was told of no performance or management issues," McKay said. " I understand I serve at the pleasure of the president. I knew that, and so I resigned."

However, on-going problems with this administration in the areas of accountability, playing hardball politics and competence surely come into play. After all, this is an administration that habitually and continuously lies to the American public about its intentions and motivations.

Sure enough, 'prosecutor-gate' is now a raging controversy. In fact, if it weren't for the Scooter Libby verdict (yes, of course he lied), this issue would be huge front page news. Well, this might've been knocked off by Anna Nicole Smith, David Beckham's knee or even Iraq, but its still a big story.

From Salon's Mark Follman:

[A]t least three of the eight fired attorneys were told by a superior they were being forced to resign to make jobs available for other Bush appointees, according to a former senior Justice Department official knowledgeable about their cases. That stands in contradiction to administration claims that the firings were related either to job performance or policy differences...

As I noted at the top, the opposition party is on this, and they are on this like stink on shit. With great drama this morning, DiFi unloaded this little gem:

During her opening statement during this morning's hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) revealed that the Justice Department had written to her last year and assured her that Carol Lam was doing a fine job prosecuting border cases -- even though they've said that the reason for Lam's firing was her poor performance on border cases.

[Note: That last embedded link takes you to Josh Marshall's TPM Muckracker website. Josh has been doing a tremendous job covering this story.]

The fired prosecutors also gave their own testimony today, and we learned the following:

Alleging heavy-handed political pressure, fired U.S. prosecutors testified Tuesday they felt "leaned on" by Republican lawmakers to seek indictments and hushed by a Justice Department official who didn't want them talking about their dismissals.

Testifying before Democratic-controlled congressional committees, six of eight recently ousted prosecutors said they were fired without explanation. Several described what they said was improper pressure by Republicans on pending cases.

New Mexico's David Iglesias told lawmakers he felt pressed by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., last October to rush indictments against Democrats before Election Day.

Arkansas' Bud Cummins wrote other fired prosecutors in an e-mail last month of a "message" conveyed by a Justice Department official that if they continued to talk with news reporters, the agency "would feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off" and fight back.

And John McKay, the fired U.S. attorney in Seattle, said he stopped a top aide to Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., from asking him detailed questions about an investigation into the disputed election of Washington state's Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2004.

This is why we need the checks and balances that makes our American system of government work. I don't mean the balance between the presidency and congress. When you have a supine congress, the bad guys can get away with just about everything.

I'm talking about having some sort of balance between the two parties. I don't think its an accident that San Diego is such a haven for corrupt pols. The dems have no power there; reeps do as the want, and they take what they want, too.

There may not be a new sheriff in DC (not yet, at least), but the deputy is at least on the ball to spot the thieves stealing hubcaps off parked cars. We should all be thankful this is getting the airing it deserves.

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