Monday, March 19, 2007
Burned By The USA?
The first whiff of something suspicious came when a 15-year-old boy received a voter registration card in the mail. Soon a second one arrived. Then his 13-year-old neighbor got one, too.Conversely, Democratic accusations that the firings were orchestrated to cover Republican corruption appears bolstered by the treatment of Carol Lam (who indicted former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham):
Neither boy had applied for the cards, and it looked as if their signatures and birthdates had been forged. It was August 2004, and the local authorities quickly traced the problems to a canvasser for a liberal group that had signed up tens of thousands of voters for the presidential election in this swing state.
State Republican leaders demanded a criminal investigation. And with the television cameras rolling, the United States attorney, David C. Iglesias, a boyish-looking Republican, promised a thorough one. “It appears that mischief is afoot,” Mr. Iglesias said, “and questions are lurking in the shadows.”
The inquiry he began, however, never resulted in charges, so frustrating Republican officials here that they began an extraordinary campaign to get rid of him that reached all the way to President Bush.
Mr. Iglesias was the target of fierce criticism by lawmakers and political operatives, more so than any of the other seven prosecutors whose dismissals have set off a furor in Washington, interviews and a review of Justice Department documents show.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a television appearance yesterday that Lam "sent a notice to the Justice Department saying that there would be two search warrants" in a criminal investigation of defense contractor Brent R. Wilkes and Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who had just quit as the CIA's top administrator amid questions about his ties to disgraced former GOP congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.As subpoenas start getting sent out this week, the odds that Rove ends up testifying are slim and none (and slim just left town). On the other hand, the odds that Attorney Generaly Alberto Gonzales (AGAG?) is around one month from now are less than 30 percent. Not even Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), perhaps the administration's strongest congressional defender, was willing to say that he still had confidence in Gonzales. Of course, one of the biggest problems that DOJ has is the bipartisan view that Justice officials -- particularly Deputy AG Paul McNulty -- were, ahem, "less than candid" when he testified before Congress that the USAs were sacked because of "performance-related" issues.
The next day, on May 11, D. Kyle Sampson, then chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, sent an e-mail message to William Kelley in the White House counsel's office saying that Lam should be removed as quickly as possible, according to documents turned over to Congress last week.
"Please call me at your convenience to discuss the following," Sampson wrote, referring to "[t]he real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires."
Meanwhile, kudos to Josh Marshall and the "TPMpire" for being the part of the blogosphere that hammered at this story from the start and pushed it into the broader mainstream media -- something that has just now been noticed by that media. On ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Time magazine's Jay Carney credited Marshall and made a point to say that he (Carney) thought the story was much-ado-about-nothing initially, but now admits that he was wrong.