At this point, pretty much no one but the most guillable believe that the eight fired U.S. attorneys were let go for performance related reasons. It seems clear that there was some underlying agenda. The question of course is, what was that agenda? What would make it worth the "political upheaval" that Kyle Sampson correctly predicted would follow the news of the firings? Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake has an idea:
Let's all take a peek at the above electoral college map — and contemplate which states are solidly red and blue — and which states are potentially on the verge. And then let's contemplate, of those states on the map, which of them have US Attorneys who were fired or are involved somehow in the current mess with the Department of Justice and "Rove's Shop."You can follow the link, or a view the map here. Why should you? An FDL commentator puts it succinctly:
From Hugh in the comments — this is exactly what I was talking about above:Huh. Fancy that. Sidney Blumenthal pulls back and looks at the forest, fleshing out his own theory for what's going on:Referring to the map above, here is the list of fired attorneys:
David Iglesias (District of New Mexico)
H. E. Cummins III (Eastern District of Arkansas)
Paul K. Charlton (District of Arizona)
John McKay (Western District of Washington)
Daniel Bogden (District of Nevada)
Margaret Chiara (Western District of Michigan)
Carol Lam (Southern District of California)
Kevin V. Ryan (Northern District of California)
6 of the attorneys come from states that are not completely red or blue. The other 2 are from the country’s largest state and a major source of campaign contributions California.
In the U.S. attorneys scandal, Gonzales was an active though second-level perpetrator. While he gave orders, he also took orders. Just as his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has resigned as a fall guy, so Gonzales would be yet another fall guy if he were to resign. He was assigned responsibility for the purge of U.S. attorneys but did not conceive it. The plot to transform the U.S. attorneys and ipso facto the federal criminal justice system into the Republican Holy Office of the Inquisition had its origin in Karl Rove's fertile mind.Blumenthal connects the dots of the various firings to make the case for a considerable amount suspicion regarding what the Bush administration was up to. But let's go back to Smith for some more evidence:
Just after Bush's reelection and before his second inauguration, as his administration's hubris was running at high tide, Rove dropped by the White House legal counsel's office to check on the plan for the purge. An internal e-mail, dated Jan. 6, 2005, and circulated within that office, quoted Rove as asking "how we planned to proceed regarding the U.S. attorneys, whether we are going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace them, etc." Three days later, Sampson, in an e-mail, "Re: Question from Karl Rove," wrote: "As an operational matter we would like to replace 15-20 percent of the current U.S. attorneys -- the underperforming ones ...The vast majority of U.S. attorneys, 80-85 percent I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc., etc."
The disclosure of the e-mails establishing Rove's centrality suggests not only the political chain of command but also the hierarchy of coverup. Bush protects Gonzales in order to protect those who gave Gonzales his marching orders -- Rove and Bush himself.
...just for kicks, take a peek at what Bob Geiger found:Then, there's this from today's Washington Post:Durbin is referring to a study done by Shields and Cragan showing that, under the Ashcroft/Gonzales Justice Departments from 2001 through 2006, a vastly disproportionate number of Democratic officials were scrutinized when total investigations were viewed based on political party affiliation.
"We compare political profiling to racial profiling by presenting the results (January 2001 through December 2006) of the U.S. Attorneys' federal investigation and/or indictment of 375 elected officials," write the authors in their study. "The distribution of party affiliation of the sample is compared to the available normative data (50% Dem, 41% GOP, and 9% Ind.)."
The Shields-Cragan report reveals that, of the 375 investigations of public officials conducted by the Bush Justice Department, 298 — or almost 80 percent — were done against Democratic public officials. Only 67 investigations were performed on Republicans, while 10 probes were done on people affiliated with the Independent, Green or other parties.
"Our ongoing study of the Bush Justice Department (to be published in 2009) investigates the implications of the Bush/Ashcroft/Gonzales Justice Department's blended religious-fundamentalist and neo-conservative rhetorical vision," write Shields and Cragan. "The study views the impact of the Justice Department's vision on the fight against public corruption and reveals the non-proportionate political profiling of elected Democratic officials." (emphasis mine.)
The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.In other words, political operatives of the Bush administration were willing to knee-cap their own attorneys, to serve the interests of Philip Morris, a big-time contributor to the Bush campaign and a natural ally of the corporatist Republican Party, in a purely incidental issue. Now, imagine what they'd be willing to do to Democrats for the purposes of short-term political gain. Do you think there are any lines they wouldn't cross, such as politicizing the Department of Justice? I don't.
Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.
She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.
"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."
UPDATE: Oh by the way, there's a little cronyism involved as well.