Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On "not influencing a particular investigation"

So I just went took a break from work to go into my local Starbucks and order an iced venti soy vanilla latte. While I'm waiting, I pick up a copy of the L.A. Times, where I see an article about Gonzales' impending testimony--which he has pre-released--and in that article, I find the following cited from the testimony in question:

"I know that I did not, and would not, ask for a resignation of any individual in order to interfere with or influence a particular prosecution for partisan political gain. I also have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. attorney for an improper reason."

My first thought was: what a load of crap! But on retrospect, I began to think--hey, wait a minute...the slimy weasel could be telling the truth and not perjuring himself...just, not the whole truth.

See, Gonzales may be telling the truth here: The attorneys weren't fired to influence a particular investigation--but they were fired in retaliation for not fanatically pursuing things the Badministration wanted pursued. But the statement "they weren't fired in retaliation for not applying the scales of justice evenly and engaging in partisan witch-hunts" isn't in Gonzales' testimony, is it?

First off, let's take one of the most egregious cases in the US Attorney firing scandal: David Iglesias, former US Attorney for New Mexico. As I'm sure most of you know, David Iglesias was a loyal Republican. Why was he put on the list by Rove at the behest of Senator Domenici? Because he wouldn't issue indictments of Democrats in time to be able to influence Heather Wilson's election in NM-01.

So he was fired. But was he fired to influence those investigations? NO. He was fired in retaliation for the fact that he refused to comply with previous tampering efforts. So when it comes to David Iglesias, Gonzales' testimony is technically correct.

Next up, we can take the case of John McKay, US Attorney for Western Washington. John McKay was fired because he did not bow to pressure to pursue indictments based on voter fraud claims involving the 2004 gubernatorial race for which there was absolutely no evidence. So, after repeated pressure from Republican operatives, he was fired. But he wasn't fired to influence those investigations--he was fired in retaliation for the fact that he dispensed justice even-handedly rather than pursue a witch-hunt.

Other Attorneys, such as Bud Cummins or Margaret Chiara, were apparently fired simply to make way for Bush or Rove loyalists. That doesn't count as influencing particular investigations either!

It is with Carol Lam, however, that AGAG stands the greatest chance of perjuring himself. After all, given Kyle Sampson's explicit emails about "the problem we have with Carol Lam" and other similar statements regarding an explicit denial of an extension for her specifically to continue in her office, it would seem that her firing was done precisely to impede her corruption investigations into the Dukester, Dusty Foggo and Rep. Jerry Lewis.

Now, given the explicitly political nature of the circumstances surrounding the firing of Carol Lam, there are only a select few ways that AGAG could avoid perjuring himself conclusively:

1) AGAG did not order the firing of Carol Lam; or
2) The discussions around the firing of Carol Lam centered not around removing her to influence a particular investigation, but rather to intimidate anyone who prioritized investigating corrupt politicians (i.e., Republicans) to begin with.

Kyle Sampson's emails make this argument more difficult, but still, most likely, plausible enough to avoid a perjury conviction.

And the other part of Gonzales' testimony: that whole "improper reason" bit? Well, it all depends on who you ask! Jeffrey Dahmer didn't consider skin suits improper, after all. "Improper" is all up to who you ask, especially when you're dealing with people who openly believe that politically-motivated firings are fair game.

Still--it seems that the "not fired to influence a particular investigation" gambit will likely become the new talking point for the right-wing noise machine about the firings. And for the most part, it's actually true. We'll need to fight it with our own talking point--which, in my opinion, is:

Refusal to participate in partisan witch-hunts against Democrats.

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