pageok
pageok
pageok
James Comey's Testimony, and His Continuing "Errring on the Side of Neutrality and Independence":
Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified before the House Judiciary Committee today, and his recollection of the work of the 8 fired U.S. Attorneys stood in sharp contrast to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's official line. The gist of Comey's testimony: Most of the fired U.S. Attorneys were outstanding, and they certainly weren't fired for what you would traditionally think of as "performance" reasons.

  Listening to Comey's testimony reminds me of this fascinating 2004 Legal Times story (that I blogged about here and here) on why the universally-respected Comey was not likely to be nominated for the Attorney General slot when Ashcroft stepped aside. From the introduction of the 2004 story, with emphasis added:
  There are a number of candidates who could be tapped to replace John Ashcroft as attorney general if President George W. Bush wins re-election. But perhaps the most obvious choice, Deputy AG James Comey, almost certainly will not be.
  Since his confirmation as the No. 2 Justice Department official in December 2003, sources close to the department say Comey has had a strained relationship with some of the president's top advisers, who feel that Comey has been insensitive to political concerns.
  According to several former administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, tensions were sparked when Comey appointed a special prosecutor to take over the investigation into whether a White House official leaked a Central Intelligence Agency operative's name to the media. The special prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, has doggedly pursued the probe, and several administration officials, including presidential adviser Karl Rove, have been questioned by prosecutors.
  Distrust of Comey deepened after some of his early staff picks were vetoed by the White House for not having strong Republican credentials, sources say.
  "The White House always wants to make sure the administration is staffed with people who have the president's best interests at heart. Anyone who resists that political loyalty check is regarded with some suspicion," says one former Bush administration official. "The objective in staffing is never to assemble the best possible team. It is to assemble the best possible team that supports the president."
  Earlier this year, after the disclosure of internal administration memos that seemed to condone the torture of suspected terrorists overseas, Comey pushed aggressively for the Justice Department's memos to be released to the media and for controversial legal analyses regarding the use of torture to be rewritten.
  In a deeply partisan administration that places a high premium on political loyalty, sources say Comey — a career prosecutor and a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — is not viewed as a team player.
  "[Comey] has shown insufficient political savvy," says the former official. "The perception is that he has erred too much on the side of neutrality and independence."
  Comey still has this "problem," it seems. Of course, the White House's eventual pick, Gonzales, does not.
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't he have a lot of responsibility for the Fitz appointment? His mandate to Fitz appears to have been overbroad, and arguably gave him the leeway to ignore DoJ charging guidelines, etc. In short, Fitz was cut loose, apparently by Fitz, to do whatever he wanted, regardless of the normal DoJ guidelines. The AG, et al. effectively couldn't manage him if he/they wanted to.

If this has any substance, it would be a good reason that Comey is unlikely to get the top job at Justice in this Administration, and maybe even in the next. Not that what he did was legally, or even ethically wrong, but rather politically it did serious damage to the Administration.
5.4.2007 3:20am
Justice Fuller:
Bruce Hayden,

I don't think I follow. What was the mandate that you think Comey gave to Fitz, and why was it overbroad, and what DOJ guidelines did it allegedly violate? I hadn't heard about this.
5.4.2007 3:25am
Kovarsky (mail):
Bruce,

Victoria Toensing called, she wants her story back.
5.4.2007 3:53am
BGates (www):
Kovarsky,

Richard Armitage called, he wanted to gossip about CIA employees, because it's not illegal when he does it.

I don't know of anything Gonzalez has done to merit being AG, but when was the last time an Administration official would have disagreed with the sentiment, "The White House always wants to make sure the administration is staffed with people who have the president's best interests at heart"?
5.4.2007 5:40am
Philistine (mail):

His mandate to Fitz appears to have been overbroad, and arguably gave him the leeway to ignore DoJ charging guidelines, etc. In short, Fitz was cut loose, apparently by Fitz, to do whatever he wanted, regardless of the normal DoJ guidelines. The AG, et al. effectively couldn't manage him if he/they wanted to


How so?

Here are the letters and memo giving him his mandate. None of them appear to give him power to ignore charging guidelines, etc.
5.4.2007 7:31am
Jeek:
"The objective in staffing is never to assemble the best possible team. It is to assemble the best possible team that supports the president."

I find it hard to believe that this is not always the case in every administration. The whole point of having political appointees is to appoint staff who support the President and his agenda.
5.4.2007 9:03am
Chris B (mail):
Saying that Comey doesn't share Bush's agenda is not the same thing is saying that Comey has no agenda.
5.4.2007 9:13am
John (mail):
Why in the name of god would any president want an attorney general who was "neutral" and "independent"? Why would he want any cabinet member like that? I would think that he would want some one who would be an advocate for the administration's positions. Perhaps I misunderstand the terms, but a political appointee has no business being neutral. Have you asked, say, the Clintons if they agree with your view?
5.4.2007 10:02am
Felix Sulla (mail):
Right. How dare Comey have a spine and some silly notions about being fair and correct! On a related note...how did someone with a spine and a few actual principles ever rise even to Deputy AG in this administration?
5.4.2007 10:18am
Prufrock765 (mail):
There is a difference between seeing that a president's policy goals are pursued and seeing that a president's popularity rating is maintained. Based upon that distinction where did Mr. Comey fall short?
5.4.2007 10:30am
Special Guest:
Wow. We're talking about the nation's top law enforcement officials, folks. If you can't see why a certain degree of neutrality and independence is vitally important for the integrity and reputation of the justice department, I don't know what to tell you.

Seriously. If you were CEO, would you hire only yes-men with inferior skills to run your programs? Or would you, indeed, seek to install the best team possible that would provide you with a balance of loyalty and the independence to speak up and let you know when you were off track?
5.4.2007 10:33am
Eli Rabett (www):
Gentlemen, thank you again for showing either why the US ATTN office must be decoupled from presidential appointment or why Alberto Gonzales must be impeached and convicted to preserve the appearance of fairness in prosecution.
5.4.2007 10:34am
ed o:
the President wanting his appointments to have some degree of loyalty to him-you mean, unlike the State Department staffers leaking secrets because of their policy disagreements. shocking. as to the issue of independence, the President is the chief executive, not the AG. if he sets priorities, please explain how his underlings undercutting them should be viewed?
5.4.2007 11:25am
ed o:
by the way, in even local offices, courtroom prosecutors can't just offer deals or make policy decisions based on their whims. they have supervisors and protocols requiring approval for certain deals and, in some cases, blanket edicts that no deals be offered. somehow, though, we get positions offered here that the president of the united states can't do things in terms of setting policy that the local district attorney can do.
5.4.2007 11:28am
AF:
Orin has found a kindred soul.
5.4.2007 11:35am
Nate F (www):
Wait wait wait, did I just read roughly a dozen people actually arguing that everything that has happened in the DOJ in the last couple years is OKAY? Special Guest nails it exactly. Staffing any organization with yes men is dangerous, and staffing the DOJ with them is incredibly dangerous.
5.4.2007 11:59am
Jeek:
Wow. We're talking about the nation's top law enforcement officials, folks. If you can't see why a certain degree of neutrality and independence is vitally important for the integrity and reputation of the justice department, I don't know what to tell you.

Wow, if you don't know that the Attorney General has always been a political appointee since 1789, I don't know what to tell you.

Seriously. If you were CEO, would you hire only yes-men with inferior skills to run your programs? Or would you, indeed, seek to install the best team possible that would provide you with a balance of loyalty and the independence to speak up and let you know when you were off track?

Someone who is loyal need not be an incompetent yes-man (though to be sure, that seems to be the case often enough in this administration).

Someone who is not loyal is useless and dangerous, regardless of how competent they are.

The President, like any CEO, has the right and the duty to appoint staff who will carry out his agenda loyally and effectively. That does not make the staff automatic "yes-men with inferior skills".
5.4.2007 12:06pm
SP:
Then riddle me this - why does Bush seem to have such a bizarre fasscination with "loyalty"? He places it above anything else, by far, even when it is clearly hurting him politically.
5.4.2007 12:06pm
CollegeProf:
John writes:
Perhaps I misunderstand the terms, but a political appointee has no business being neutral.
Yes, you clearly do misunderstand the term. The term "political appointee" means a person appointed through the political process -- not someone appointed in order to be political.
5.4.2007 12:10pm
Jeek:
everything that has happened in the DOJ in the last couple years is OKAY?

Of course not. Arguing that the AG is - and should be - loyal to the President is NOT the same as arguing that everything that has happened in the DOJ in the last few years is OKAY.

In my view, Gonzales is either a fool or a villain (or both) and clearly needs to go. This does not mean, however, that the President has not the right and the duty to appoint someone loyal to him to run the DOJ.
5.4.2007 12:10pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
It is interesting, seeing on this board a majority pro yes-men sentiment from right wingers.

You would think they would understand that the loyalty an AG or member of the DOJ should have, first and foremost, is loyalty to the rule of law and the neutral administration of justice.

I guess not with the right-wing. It is interesting to observe the right become so extreme. And they wonder why they are about to be kicked to the curb in the next Presidential election.

One thing voters don't want is a politicized DOJ. Rather, what they want is a DOJ who upholds the rule of law.
5.4.2007 12:11pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Beyond agreeing with what Nate says, a lot of commenters here act as if appointees are merely vassals to El Presidente, and that therefore loyalty to El Presidente is their only duty.

Ahem.

Does the fact that they are employees of the federal government (who have in many cases actually taken oaths to defend the Constitution, uphold the law, etc.) have no bearing on anything here? We're not talking about good faith stuff here either, with the DoJ stuff we are talking about full-on use of the department and its personnel as Republican political tools, whether it is consistent with the law or not.

You can be loyal to the president without servicing his every desire no matter what it is, and you certainly cannot discharge your duties as a government official when your only criterion is pleasing George Bush at any cost.
5.4.2007 12:15pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
John wrote:


Why in the name of god would any president want an attorney general who was "neutral" and "independent"? Why would he want any cabinet member like that? I would think that he would want some one who would be an advocate for the administration's positions.



This position was first articulated by Andrew Jackson. He changed the nature of the cabinet considerably. Prior to Jackson, Washington's policy of hiring the best and brightest who could then offer the best advice to the president held. Jackson said that the point of any government official is not to offer advice but to carry out the will of the President, which was also the will of the people who elected the president.

Ever since Jackson's "spoils system/rotation in office" innovation, incoming administrations have had to decide what model to follow. Some prefer to hire bright people who will get the job done and offer advice. Lincoln and Reagan are too examples. Lincoln and Reagan both articulated broad political objectives and then let their cabinet officials recommend courses of action. Bill Clinton followed this model too - but in his case informational paralysis/concern with the polls meant that all the advice from the cabinet just became a sophomoric bull session.

Some presidents have followed the Jackson model. Bush is one of them. I'll leave it to the Volokh readership at large to determine if the nation has been well served by the appointment (and retention) of incompetent but politically loyal officials.
5.4.2007 12:20pm
ed o:
I guess some don't realize there is a difference between loyalty and being a "yes man". In a corporate setting, right on down to the french fry line at the local fast food joint, would you want an employee who is undermining you and stabbing you in the back the minute your back is turned. how about, in the prosecutorial setting, one who refuses to follow the office policy of not offering plea deals on DUI cases? neutrality in the administration of justice is not synonymous with failing to follow the priorities set by your boss. try doing so in any sort of business setting and see how far you get.
5.4.2007 12:21pm
Chris B (mail):
From the article it's clear that Comey disagrees with other Bush administration officals on some issues.

That is not the same thing as providing evidence that he is, in fact, politically neutral and independent.
5.4.2007 12:22pm
Martin Ammorgan (mail):
From the recent Newsweek:

"Deputy chief of staff Karl Rove participated in a hastily called meeting at the White House two months ago. The subject: The firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year. The purpose: to coach a top Justice Department official heading to Capitol Hill to testify on the prosecutorial purge on what he should say."

Anyone who would defend that, and plenty here will it seems, must be a paid operative of the RNC, since no one could be so dumb for free.
5.4.2007 12:29pm
ed o:
bingo-but, in the minds of some, opposition to Bush is all that is needed to prove your "neutrality". the State Department is being "neutral" when it leaks secrets designed to undermine the war on terror. ditto the CIA. with this being the standard, all this neutrality starts to look an awful lot like nothing more than anti bush political activity.
5.4.2007 12:32pm
Houston Lawyer:
So I guess we can count on Hillary to appoint Ken Starr as AG if she gets elected. Anyone here think that Janet Reno was the most qualified person for that job?
5.4.2007 12:39pm
badger (mail):

Of course not. Arguing that the AG is - and should be - loyal to the President is NOT the same as arguing that everything that has happened in the DOJ in the last few years is OKAY.


An AG's first loyalty must be to the American people and Constitution. His or her loyalty to the president is always a distant second.
5.4.2007 12:53pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Why in the name of god would any president want an attorney general who was "neutral" and "independent"? Why would he want any cabinet member like that?'

To fight a war? Why did FDR take in Knox and Stimson? JFK named a Republican Secretary of Treasury.

The US political establishment has been such that no Republican president has ever felt it necessary to take a Democrat into his Cabinet, so far as I can remember.

Why would Gonzales want to stay in his current position, being humilated day after day and being exposed as a pawn who was not, in fact, running the department?

Otherwise, what Special Guest said.
5.4.2007 1:08pm
Hattio (mail):
ed O, How was Comey stabbing Bush in the back? And how does a decision to open an investigation (not prosecute, open an investigation) compare to a decision to offer a deal on a DUI when the office policy is to not offer a deal on any DUI's. Surely you're not saying that no matter the crime and no matter the situation no special prosecutor should ever be appointed.
5.4.2007 1:09pm
Hewart:
I'm reminded of the motto of many a police force in the USA:

"Loyalty above all else, except Honor."

You remain loyal to your chain of command, except when that loyalty requires you to dishonor yourself, the institution or the Law, itself.

Loyalty in the DoJ is commendable. But when it is taken to the point of undermining the Rule of Law and the trust the nation has in its prosecutors, it undermines our Republic and dishonors all of us.
5.4.2007 1:19pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):


One thing voters don't want is a politicized DOJ. Rather, what they want is a DOJ who upholds the rule of law.



The next non-lawyer who votes for President on that issue will be the first.
5.4.2007 1:27pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

The US political establishment has been such that no Republican president has ever felt it necessary to take a Democrat into his Cabinet, so far as I can remember.



Other than the current president of course. Norm Mineta.
5.4.2007 1:28pm
Kevin Lynch (mail):
Harry Eager:

The US political establishment has been such that no Republican president has ever felt it necessary to take a Democrat into his Cabinet, so far as I can remember.


Well, THIS president had a Democrat, Norman Mineta, as Secretary of Transportation for five and half years.
5.4.2007 1:34pm
ed o:
The general tenor has been that loyalty with prosecutors and following the priorities set by their boss is somehow an anathema to justice. That view is quite simply wrong and wouldn't be followed in the office of the lowest traffic court of the smallest local DA's office in the United States. what that has to do with special prosecutors, I have no idea. please answer why a president would appoint someone that he thinks would not loyally follow his directives and orders? if, as some matter of honor, the directive or order couldn't be followed, resign. it's that simple.
5.4.2007 1:38pm
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Once again, we have people on this thread beating up strawmen. Nobody said that "loyalty" was supposed to trump "the law." In fact, please show me where anyone at DOJ broke the law in pursuit of loyalty.

You have only to look at the innumerable knives sticking in Pres. Bush's back to see why he prizes loyalty. As did all of this predecessors. How else do you explain Bobby Kennedy being AG? Of course, it is always OK when a Dem does it.

You folks on the Left would have a whole lot more credibilty if you didn't live in a black/white world where Dems are philosopher kings and Reps are scoundrels. It just makes you look silly (and completely unserious).
5.4.2007 1:50pm
Justin (mail):
"designed to undermine the war on terror"

I call shenanigans.
5.4.2007 1:50pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
ed o:

No honorable president/district attorney would require his appointees to use the legal system to aggrandize his friends and punish his enemies. If Bush or Gonzales or Rove did that then they should be condemned. If not, then, sure the boss should hire someone who is willing to effecutate his policy initiatives (no reduced pleas in DUI's for example).

Are you saying that no one in the DoJ or the White House did anything wrong in this episode? Or that they did do something wrong and that we nevertheless should not be shocked by the wrongdoing?
5.4.2007 1:56pm
Special Guest:
Le Compte - You're attacking the strawman. It's not a question of law vs. loyalty. It's a question of turning law enforcment into a campaign tool. That may be technically within the bounds of the law, but it does serious, and possibly irreparable damage, to the justice department's reputation for fairness in individual cases. EVERYONE should be gravely worried about this, Republicans and Democrats.
5.4.2007 2:01pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
LeCompte: Breaking the law at DoJ....ok, I can think of at least two here: (1) if Monica Goodling, et al, in fact were hiring career attorneys for DoJ according to their loyalty to El Presidente and the party (flatly illegal); and (2) perjury (flatly illegal, though oddly fashionable).
5.4.2007 2:14pm
markm (mail):
I guess some don't realize there is a difference between loyalty and being a "yes man".

I think most of us know the difference, but we also know the difference between not being a yes man and following the Bush Derangement Syndrome agenda.

OTOH, Bush should well know the difference, with his business management background, but something's gone wrong. Either Bush isn't competent to pick good subordinates, or he's unable to keep their loyalty.
5.4.2007 2:15pm
ed o:
you are going to have to provide the examples of the Bush Justice Department being used to go after his enemies or being used as a campaign tool before you can trot that out. You can also back things up by showing what was improper about firing them. even if a wrong decision, firing these USA's means nothing in the big picture. as to fairness, could one have a show of hands by defense counsel so enamored of the Justice Department that they feel it plays "fair".
5.4.2007 2:24pm
Jeek:
To fight a war? Why did FDR take in Knox and Stimson? JFK named a Republican Secretary of Treasury.

What has JFK's Secretary of the Treasury got to do with fighting a war?

Did Truman have a Republican SecDef during the Korean War? Did LBJ have a Republican SecDef during Vietnam? No. So much for that argument.

The US political establishment has been such that no Republican president has ever felt it necessary to take a Democrat into his Cabinet, so far as I can remember.

John Connally, Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury.
5.4.2007 2:31pm
Jeek:
Some prefer to hire bright people who will get the job done and offer advice. Lincoln and Reagan are too examples. Lincoln and Reagan both articulated broad political objectives and then let their cabinet officials recommend courses of action.

Ha. Aren't you old enough to remember the relentless media attacks on Reagan's subordinates? The likes of Watt, Meese, Pierce, Poindexter, and McFarlane are now good examples of appointing bright people and letting them get their jobs done?
5.4.2007 2:38pm
ed o:
no, under the revisionist history, the left respected Reagan and actively assisted him in his Cold War battles with the Soviet Union. Of course, this is a crock but if they repeat the lies often enough, people might start to believe it. here is a broad policy objective-aggressively enforce immigration violations (not weight until the 6th arrest of an illegal before you do something). if the response of the subordinate is "screw you", is it the position of the scholars here that the President or AG should shrug their shoulders and butt out?
5.4.2007 2:44pm
ed o:
oops, make that "wait" as in "wait before sending"
5.4.2007 2:47pm
Special Guest:

you are going to have to provide the examples of the Bush Justice Department being used to go after his enemies or being used as a campaign tool before you can trot that out.


Huh? That's the whole scandal that started out this whole mess -- the allegations that prosecutors were fired because they weren't going after politically advantageous corruption or voting fraud cases in an election year.
5.4.2007 2:48pm
Cecil Turner (mail):
Sorry, but when the acting AG appoints someone who successfully covers up the leak he was assigned to investigate for three years--whilst pursuing a tangentially-related obstruction charge against a politico--I can see how Administration officials might legitimately view that as less-than-helpful. And whether or not he intended Fitzgerald to be essentially without supervision (and above DOJ guidelines), it certainly had that effect. Excuse me if I don't pine for Comey.

Similarly, his defense of the fired USAs falls a little flat, especially the bit on Lam. The paper trail shows both sides were unhappy with her immigration prosecutions . . . one of the few points of agreement. Considering the hot-button nature of immigration at the time, the contention it couldn't be the actual cause is a bit hard to credit.
5.4.2007 3:03pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
What a lot of Communists we have bred in America. I mean, isn't that the political system where Party and State are merged? And we even seem to have bred the Stalinist variety, where Party, State, and Maximum Leader are fused.

No one is asking for an AG who is neutral with respect to policy. We are asking for prosecutors who do not, for example, fire underlings for investigating corruption in one political party and reward underlings for creating spurious corruption investigations into the other political party.

It speaks volumes that loyalty to the Bush/Rove agenda requires ignoring the Canon of Ethics (and the law, generally). Are we still swearing an Oath to the Constitution, or have we regressed to something more, uh, feudal.

Heil BushRove!
5.4.2007 3:15pm
William Tanksley (mail):
"Wow. We're talking about the nation's top law enforcement officials, folks. If you can't see why a certain degree of neutrality and independence is vitally important for the integrity and reputation of the justice department, I don't know what to tell you."

Neutral and independent from what? The elected head of the executive branch of government? To whom would this official be accountable, then? The Judiciary? He's already accountable to Congress, and is being called to account. I don't see how making him LESS accountable would help. I certainly don't see how giving him a long term would be an improvement.

I think the point of the AG is to be politically influenceable. The courts are apolitical.

Of course, I don't demand that he be _incompetent_.
5.4.2007 3:21pm
ed o:
ie: no, I guess you can't point to any cases or facts where prosecutors were fired for conducting investigations (or promoted for conducting spurious ones). little hint for the challenged above: Duke Cunningham got convicted, William Jefferson is still out there lurking with no indictment on important subcommittees. if that is what these corrupt and politicized prosecutors call doing their work, I guess we Bushbots need to go back to the drawing board in our efforts to subvert justice.
5.4.2007 3:22pm
ed o:
Perhaps, like with the FBI in the glorious days of J. Edgar Hoover, we should have the AG running his or her own little fiefdom with no loyalty to anyone but himself? absolute neutrality, anyone?
5.4.2007 3:32pm
Special Guest:
Alright, Ed o, if you want to ignore reality, go right ahead. The fact is, the people who should be most appalled by this whole situation are AUSA line prosecutors, Republican and Democrat, whose professional repuations are all being tarnished. Now, whenever a prosecutor brings a corruption or voting fraud case in any proximity to an election, there will always be a taint of scandal in the air. That sucks.
5.4.2007 3:35pm
Special Guest:

I think the point of the AG is to be politically influenceable. The courts are apolitical.


Ok, I will spell it out for you. Acceptable political influence on prosecutors has to do with blanket policies based on how to best expend limited resources in order to advance the goals of the justice system. An example of this would be the politically-influenced efforts of federal prosecutors to "get tought on guns" by "adopting" state gun charges and turning them into federal prosecutions with their stiffer penalties. In order to apply this policy, prosecutors set up a system to review possible cases, decide which ones are worth going after, work to get the cooperation of the local authorities, etc. It operates on the level of general policy rather than top-down intervention into specific cases.

Unaccepted lack of neutrality is using *individual* prosecutions (either dropping them or initiating them) for specific political gain.

Can you really not see the difference, or the threat to the whole system if each individual prosecution is now suspected of having political motivations?
5.4.2007 3:43pm
ed o:
is that another response that fails to answer the question? what investigations were called off based on the marching orders of our evil dictator? what corrupt and politically based prosecutions went forward based on the orders of the same? since you can't answer the question, you might want to ask yourself who is ignoring reality. as to the reputations of line prosecutors, most criminal defense practitioners, if polled honestly and not giving the PC/hate Bush line, would likely check the dishonest snake box.
5.4.2007 3:47pm
Seamus (mail):

Did LBJ have a Republican SecDef during Vietnam?



It was my understanding that Robert McNamara was, in fact, a Republican.
5.4.2007 4:15pm
Hewart:
Henri: "You folks on the Left would have a whole lot more credibilty if you didn't live in a black/white world..."

An excellent example of the very black-and-white thinking you decry.

Quelle ironie!
5.4.2007 5:00pm
badger (mail):

Similarly, his defense of the fired USAs falls a little flat, especially the bit on Lam. The paper trail shows both sides were unhappy with her immigration prosecutions . . . one of the few points of agreement.


If that's really why Lam was fired, why did the DOJ never tell her that her job was on the line? Why, when Sen. Feinstein asked DOJ how Lam was doing on immigration, they gave her an all clear? Why, when Lam was fired and she asked why, couldn't the DAG tell her the reason?

Honestly, the first point is the most incriminating. Who, when dissatisfied with the performance of an employee, fires them without at some point communicating prior dissatisfaction? That is not how real human beings act. While Lam was under a bit of fire for immigration (as pretty much any border USA faces at one time or another), DOJ never really had a problem with her performance until they needed to find an excuse.
5.4.2007 5:02pm
badger (mail):

no, I guess you can't point to any cases or facts where prosecutors were fired for conducting investigations (or promoted for conducting spurious ones). little hint for the challenged above: Duke Cunningham got convicted, William Jefferson is still out there lurking with no indictment on important subcommittees.

So is William Jefferson going to be an excuse for everything now? It's okay that Republican after Republican gets sent to jail because of Jefferson? It's okay that USAs investigating Republicans get canned for phony reasons because of Jefferson? Hey, if you tried really hard you might be able to justify the Iraq War because of Jefferson to. I'm thinking something of the line of: "So Rumsfeld and Doug Feith, honest Americans trying to keep their nation safe are kicked to the curb, while "Dollar" Bill Jefferson is still smiling on Capitol Hill? Maybe the WMD are in his fridge!"
5.4.2007 5:08pm
Martin Ammorgan (mail):
And how praytell did Fitzgerald "cover up" the leak? Did not the FBI know about Armitage even before Fitz's appointment, if that's the "cover up" you're alleging? And did not Bush himself then know about it? Well, ok, maybe not Bush, but definitely whoever is running the executive branch.
5.4.2007 6:11pm
Montie (mail):

Acceptable political influence on prosecutors has to do with blanket policies based on how to best expend limited resources in order to advance the goals of the justice system. An example of this would be the politically-influenced efforts of federal prosecutors to "get tought on guns" by "adopting" state gun charges and turning them into federal prosecutions with their stiffer penalties. In order to apply this policy, prosecutors set up a system to review possible cases, decide which ones are worth going after, work to get the cooperation of the local authorities, etc.


And what if one of those independent and neutral AUSAs say to the President, "Forget about it. I am doing my own thing here."? I think the President is fully in his rights to fire that person without going through a long process to do so.

I am fine if people want to criticize the Bush administration for firing the AUSAs or exherting improper influence over them. However, I don't want is to take away accountability of bureaucrats to elected officials.
5.4.2007 6:15pm
Enoch:
It was my understanding that Robert McNamara was, in fact, a Republican.

Nope. See Shapley's biography, p. 59. He was a Democrat who voted for liberals, and defied the stodgy Republicans at Ford by living in Ann Arbor.
5.4.2007 9:04pm
Henri Le Compte:
Hewart:
Ah!! The very response I was looking for! Unfortunately, I got bored with this thread, and didn't check back very often. It gets tough waiting days to score some little debating point.

Anyway, if you still care, the point of my post was simply this-- both sides have politicized the office of the AG. Always have; always will. But, for some reason, all you fellows on the Left want to argue the absurd position that this doesn't happen under Democratic Administrations. The Clintons were solely interested in the abstract administration of pure justice, and everything was wonderful until that scurrilous fool Bush came in an sullied everything.

That is the absurd black/white position that all you folks are arguing over and over on this thread. It is silly. And unconvincing. Which is not to say that I think the Democratic Left is silly in everything it says, or all of its positions (which is what I believe you are accusing me of). Just this one.

The very silly one.
5.5.2007 11:15am
libertarian soldier (mail):
Houston Lawyer: Reno was evidently the most competent person that hadn't illegally hired a nanny.

Badger: where do the people come in? The oath from 5 USC ยง 3331 which states the following:
"An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: :
"I (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully
discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
5.7.2007 2:09am