Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lost my confidence 
That's what Bush's Attorney General is saying about those federal prosecutors who were recently let go, in an editorial in USA Today.

As any employer or manager knows, the handling of personnel matters — especially the termination of employees — is one of the most challenging tasks in any business. Personnel matters in the federal government are no exception.

To be clear, it was for reasons related to policy, priorities and management — what have been referred to broadly as "performance-related" reasons — that seven U.S. attorneys were asked to resign last December.

The Justice Department, out of respect for these individuals, would have preferred not to talk publicly about those reasons, but disclosures in the press and requests for information from Congress altered those best-laid plans. Although our reasons for their dismissal were appropriate, our failure to provide those reasons to these individual U.S. attorneys at the time they were asked to resign has only served to fuel wild and inaccurate speculation about our motives. That is very unfortunate because faith and confidence in our justice system are more important than any one individual.

We have never asked a U.S. attorney to resign in an effort to retaliate against him or her or to inappropriately interfere with a public corruption case (or any other type of case, for that matter). Indeed, during the last six years, the department has established an extremely strong record of rooting out public corruption, including prosecuting a number of very high-profile cases.

Like me, U.S. attorneys are political appointees, and we all serve at the pleasure of the president. If U.S. attorneys are not executing their responsibilities in a manner that furthers the management and policy goals of departmental leadership, it is appropriate that they be replaced. After all, the responsibility of the Department of Justice, and of the Congress, is to serve the people of the United States. While I am grateful for the public service of these seven U.S. attorneys, they simply lost my confidence. I hope that this episode ultimately will be recognized for what it is: an overblown personnel matter.

This is cheap.

It would have been better if Gonzalez had remained mum about it. This sheds no light on the Administration's decision. All it does is slime the fired attorneys.


The attorneys may have lost Gonzalez's confidence. With this op-ed, Gonzalez has lost a measure of mine.

Splash, out


Nobody in government has more discretion than US Attorneys. They have relatively small budgets and limited numbers of attorneys, but they have great freedom to exercise their discretion over which types of cases (civil and criminal) they pick to prosecute. The Department of Justice has always tried to guide their discretion in the general range of cases picked. For instance, one US Attorney pushed out a while back wasn't interested in prosecuting certain types of environmental offenses the Administration felt were important. Should the president's attorney general be able to fire subordinate political appointees for failure to adhere to policy? I think so.

Lost in this is the tradition started by Bill Clinton, to reach completely outside the career ranks for almost all US Attorney appointments. He began the tradition when he fired every single U.S. Attorney upon taking office. Prior to that, the position had been significantly less political.

In the cases in question, I am of the impression that at least two or three of the US Attorneys left because they were offered extremely lucrative positions elsewhere - this is a common motivation for good prosecutors to leave public service.

The Times acts as if the lobbying corruption cases didn't exist. Funny, seems to me they were actually much in the news, many people went to jail, and it cost the Republicans the last election... To read the Times' account, you'd think that Jack Abramoff had never existed...

think the NY Times is making much out of very little here, and you are making the mistake of reading their op-ed-posing-as-news stories as being factual. They assume a lot. If you want the real story about why each was fired, find a Member of Congress in your AO who is on Senate or House Judiciary and ask them to point you to Gonzales' specific testimony. Gonzales' comments, as I read them, amount to, "If you keep bitching about your dismissal, we are going to explain *exactly* why we fired you and we don't think you will like that." That isn't blackmail, it's hardball. You can safely bet that the former USAs who keep talking about why they left are the ones that didn't screw something up. The ones that are suddenly quiet, you can probably assume did mess up.

I don't like Gonzales at all, and concede this isn't a nice tactic, but thschooneris ain't beanbag.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!