Marisa Taylor and Greg Gordon write for McClatchy Newspapers:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is transforming the ranks of the nation’s top federal prosecutors by firing some and appointing conservative loyalists from the Bush administration’s inner circle who critics say are unlikely to buck Washington.
The newly appointed U.S. attorneys all have impressive legal credentials, but most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they’ve been appointed to serve, and some have had little experience as prosecutors.
For background on the U.S. Attorney scandal — it’s not generally acknowledged to be a scandal, but it should be — see old Mahablog posts U.S. Attorneys: Itâ€™s the Replacing, Stupid and The Purge. In a nutshell, the White House is using a provision inserted into the Patriot Act last year to fire U.S. attorneys and replace them without (constitutionally mandated) Senate approval.
U.S. attorneys usually are appointed at the beginning of a president’s term and serve for four years, after Senate confirmation. Firing in mid-term for reasons other than gross misconduct is extremely unusual, although not illegal. What is more fishy is that the White House has given itself the power to appoint “interim” attorneys who can serve indefinitely without confirmation by the Senate.
Taylor and Gordon of McClatchy continue,
The nine recent appointees identified by McClatchy Newspapers held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law in March. …
… Being named a U.S. attorney “has become a prize for doing the bidding of the White House or administration,” said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “In the past, there had been a great deal of delegation to the local offices. Now, you have a consolidation of power in Washington.”
I like this part:
A Justice Department spokesman said it was “reckless” to suggest that politics had influenced the appointment process.
Sounds like a threat to me. Anyway, here are the nine new U.S. attorneys:
Tim Griffin, 37, the U.S. attorney for Arkansas, who was an aide to White House political adviser Karl Rove and a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. Rachel Paulose, 33, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, who served briefly as a counselor to the deputy attorney general and who, according to a former boss, has been a member of the secretive, ideologically conservative Federalist Society. Jeff Taylor, 42, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., who was an aide to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and worked as a counselor to Gonzales and to former Attorney General John Ashcroft. John Wood, U.S. attorney in Kansas City, who’s the husband of Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers and an ex-deputy general counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Deborah Rhodes, 47, the U.S. attorney in Mobile, Ala., who was a Justice Department counselor. Alexander Acosta, 37, the U.S. attorney in Miami, who was an assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division and a protege of conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. John Richter, 43, the U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City, who was the chief of staff for the Justice Department’s criminal division and acting assistant attorney general. Edward McNally, the U.S. attorney in southern Illinois, who was a senior associate counsel to President Bush. Matt Dummermuth, the U.S. attorney in Iowa, who was a Justice Department civil rights lawyer.
This is from an editorial in yesterday’s New York Times:
The federal investigation into Congressional corruption is approaching a crucial deadline and potential dead end. Feb. 15 is the last day on the job for United States Attorney Carol Lam of San Diego, the inquiryâ€™s dedicated prosecutor, who is being purged by the Bush administration.
Her investigation led to the imprisonment of former Representative Randy Cunningham, the California Republican who took millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for delivering lucrative government contracts. But just as Ms. Lam was digging into other possible wrongdoing, the White House decided to force her from office without explanation.
Ms. Lam has been investigating the dealings of Brent Wilkes, a private contractor and deep-pocketed political contributor who was designated co-conspirator No. 1 in the Cunningham case. Mr. Wilkes developed other cozy relationships. Among other avenues, the inquiry has been looking into rich government contracts secured by corporations and lobbyists with ties to Representative Jerry Lewis â€” the former appropriations chairman â€” and his staff. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mr. Wilkes could be indicted before Ms. Lam leaves office. The question now is whether her successor, as yet unnamed, will pursue the inquiry with the same dedication or will quietly smother it.
I don’t yet know which of the nine people above is replacing Lam. In fact, I infer from the list of nine that nine U.S. attorneys are being replaced, but news organizations and Congress have only been able to identify seven. Not exactly transparent, huh?
In the wake of the recent firings of a half-dozen U.S. attorneys, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, filed bills that would restore to federal judges the right to name interim appointees when vacancies develop. On Thursday, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., whose office has confirmed that he inserted language making the change in Patriot Act last year, gave his qualified support to Feinstein’s bill.
Justice Department officials have refused to say how many prosecutors were fired or to explain the firings, but Feinstein has said she’s aware of the ouster of at least seven U.S. attorneys since March 2006.
Not only should everyone in this White House be indicted and prosecuted, every politician and journalist/media personality who has ever once covered Bush’s butt in the past six years be indicted and prosecuted. However, there may not be enough honest and independent U.S. attorneys to do it.
Patrick Fitzgerald is a U.S. attorney, btw. I bet ol’ Speedy is achin’ to force him out, too.
With friends like Arlan Specter, the constitution needs no enemies.
When the White House lost control of the legislative branch in November, they kicked it into gear and have started taking control of the judicial branch.
Checks and balances are the dictator’s worst nightmare.
This is very creepy. I’m urging people to contact the US DOJ. Link at bottom of my brief take on this.
This is just one more example of the tightening police state.
I came across a really creepy one recently. See the response by former Black Panther member Richard Brown to JR’s question. The Return of Frank and Ed.
Goodbye checks and balances. Worse than Iran contra getting away with it, here we go. the whole system has been gamed.
“Rats in the Grain” is a good book outlining how the Justice department shifted and limited the original FBI’s investigation of Archer Daniels Midland…..even to disappearing important documents. If anyone remembers, the whistleblower-turned-FBI-mole got more prison time that the politically-connected corporated heads caught red-handed fixing prices of lysine by doing so under cover of an international ‘association’. [sorry, cannot remember the author at this moment]
Hey, does this mean that the language inserted by Specter into the Patriot Act renewal was never noticed by other legislators? Maybe it is true that our representative in the U.S. Congress and Senate never really read the bills before they vote.
Ah, the latest Crony Job Fair. Only wingnut’s need apply…
Gonzales is stiff-arming Congress on requests for information. I don’t have the name of the representative on the Judiciary Committee who wa promised a file regarding the DOJ decision to grant a Mexican drug smuggler immunity to testify against 2 border patrol agents. The border patrol agents were pursuing the suspect after he abandoned a van full of marajauna. The agents say the suspect was armed and shot him in the ass, but he was able to drag it back to Mexico.
The agents are serving 10 year sentences and Republicans (and too few Democrats) are asking why the cops are in jail and the smuggler (that fact is undisputed) was given a free pass to testify.Republicans want to know what decisions and political pressure led to that trial and Gonzales is not going to tell Congress.
This is off topic…but what the hey.
Maybe some of you old-timers remember the Hollywood actor Peter Lorrie. Every time I see Abu Gonzales, a picture if Peter Lorrie comes to my mind. The characters that Lorrie played as a shifty-eyed underling willing to bury bodies has a strange resemblance to a characteristic quality I see in Gonzales. Can anybody see the same thing?
I don’t know if Alaska would be on the “tops” list…but I’d like to see a complete list. Notice how Nelson Cohen is claiming HE is not part of this exclusive group. Then read the article below from the CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER:
“But Gonzales overrode Stevens’ objection and put in Cohen to be U.S. Attorney in Alaska on a temporary basis. As such, the Cohen appointment does not require Senate confirmation”
From the DOJ website:
Key Personnel In United States Attorney’s Offices
Site Phone Phone Number
Office: (907) 271-5071
Fax: (907) 271-3224
Site Address Type Address
Mailing: Federal Bldg. & U.S. Cthse.
222 W. 7th Ave., #9, Rm 253
Anchorage, AK 99513-7567
Shipping: Federal Bldg. & U.S. Cthse.
222 W. 7th Ave., #9, Rm 253
Anchorage, AK 99513-7567
* Represents Presidentially Appointed United States Attorney
Official Position/Title Name
USA Nelson P. Cohen
CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER
Senator Stevens Feuds with Main Justice in DC as FBI Raids Son’s Office in Alaska
20 Corporate Crime Reporter 35(1), September 6, 2006
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is feuding with the Justice Department.
On August 22, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appointed Nelson Cohen, head of the white collar crime unit at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania â€“ to be the interim U.S. Attorney in Alaska â€“ over the objections of Senator Stevens.
Senator Stevens said at the time that he was â€œfurious at the way the Attorney General handled the matter.â€
According to a transcript provided by Senator Stevens’ office to Corporate Crime Reporter, at a press conference on August 28 in Anchorage, Alaska, Senator Stevens was asked by a reporter â€“ â€œWho do you think should be U.S. Attorney?â€
â€œWell not someone who comes from Pennsylvania, and that’s a little problem I have right now, finding out what to do about that,â€ Stevens said. â€œBecause very clearly, I was called three weeks ago now, and told they had someone who they’d like to nominate from outside Alaska. And we said, â€˜No, no. You’re not going to do that. You can’t do that. You don’t do that in any other state. You’re not going to do it in this one.’â€
But Gonzales overrode Stevens’ objection and put in Cohen to be U.S. Attorney in Alaska on a temporary basis. As such, the Cohen appointment does not require Senate confirmation.
In a press release , the Justice Department says that prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh, Cohen practiced law for ten years in Alaska.
â€œWe submitted some names, but Justice had one reason or another that they figured the person had a conflict, but they never really came with anything other than that we should find someone else,â€ Stevens said at the press conference. â€œWe did give them some additional names, but in the meantime they had already taken action on this person. We have to arm wrestle on this one. It is not the thing to do. It has only happened one other time that I can remember. I can remember it happened in Illinois and it caused such an uproar. As a matter of fact, it became a real cause celeb with the Illinois Bar Association.â€
On August 31 â€“ just three days after Senator Stevens’ press conference denouncing the Department of Justice â€“ the FBI raided the offices of a number of state legislators in Juneau including that of Senator Stevens son â€“ Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens.
FBI agents reportedly left Ben Stevens Capitol offices with 12 boxes of documents labeled â€œevidence.â€
Federal officials are reportedly investigating payments from oil service giant VECO to a number of public officials in exchange for their support for a new production tax law and the construction of a natural gas pipeline in Alaska.
The Anchorage Daily News reported last week that â€œin disclosures he was required to file as a legislator, [Ben] Stevens said he was paid $243,000 over the last five years as a â€˜consultant’ to VECO. Whenever he was asked to describe what he did for the money, Stevens refused to answer. The company also refused to say.â€
In addition to computer hard drives and hard paper records linking the legislators to VECO, FBI agents were reportedly seeking hats emblazoned with the logo â€“ â€œCorrupt Bastards Clubâ€ or â€œCorrupt Bastards Caucus.â€
In March, in an op-ed piece run in the state’s major papers, Lori Backes, executive director of the All Alaska Alliance â€“ a group that has supported an alternative gas pipeline route â€“ had charged eleven lawmakers â€“ including Senator Ben Stevens â€“ with taking money from VECO.
The lawmakers reportedly started referring to themselves as the â€œCorrupt Bastards Clubâ€ or the â€œCorrupt Bastards Caucusâ€ â€“ and had hats printed with the CBC logo.
Aaron Saunders, a spokesman for Senator Ted Stevens, would not discuss anything having to do with the FBI raid in Alaska.
Nor would he say why Senator Stevens was â€œfuriousâ€ with Attorney General Gonzales.
Could it be that the Justice Department was not going to give Senator Stevens his choice of a U.S. Attorney when the Stevens family was caught in the middle of a public corruption probe?
No comment, Saunders said.
Corporate Crime Reporter
1209 National Press Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20045
Can ANYONE in this Administration tell the truth about ANYTHING? If a 46 year old gimped woman that sells doors and windows for a living and only has time because I am home on meds can dig this up on a US Attorney with a Pinochio Complex…why isn’t anyone in tne media all over this? “
Robin – Read Cable News Confidential by Jeff Cohen and you’ve got your answer. Oh! That was a rhetorical question.
Then, take action: Media Contacts
Subject: Inhaling Aiborne Enzymes – Destroying Skin and Membranes
Our city is in a crisis. Our police officers will come to my home when I cannot eat any longer.
We have evolved …Thinner Skin – Lower Body Temperature – Intestines Destroyed.
We are TOXIC … We can be burned or thrown in the dump.
We are eating TOXIC food … We have to throw out all the food.
President Bush – Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi – State of the Union – February 3, 2007 – Irritated, Watery Eyes – Blinking Eyes
Cancer – Prominent People – Former Presidnt Reagan, Maureen Reagan, Former President Bill Clinton, Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senator John McCain, First Lady Laura Bush
Cardiac Amyloidosis – Irregular Heart Beat (When Lying Down) –
Vice President Richard Cheney – History of Shorness of Breath, Foot Problem, Cane in 2005
Roseacea – Dry, Irritated Skin
Amyloidosis of the Voice – Horseness of th Voice