US Attorney's – We need to investigate

I found this article on my computer. I wrote this article back in May of 2007. Hope that you enjoy it.


Just because something is complex does not mean it’s not understandable. The US Attorney scandal is confusing. The question is, what’s going on? Well, in order to figure out everything that’s going on there must be investigations. Some folks on Capitol Hill are calling the current investigations a witch hunt and “political theater.”

Question B if a policeman sees someone walking down the street with a large plasma TV should he be curious? So he asks the guy, “What are you doing with that TV?” He replies, “I’m fixing it for Ms. Smith.” “Ms. Smith? There’s no Ms. Smith that lives on this street.” “Did I say fixing it? I meant delivering it to Mr. Jones.” I think that everyone would assume that this situation deserves further investigation.

The same type of thing has happened with the Justice Department. Eight US attorneys were fired out of the blue. All of these attorneys were Republicans. The initial explanation was that they were fired for performance reasons. Several reporters were able to obtain performance evaluations on several of these attorneys and they were excellent. The next explanation was that some of the attorneys did not prosecute enough immigration cases. This explanation did not hold up to investigation either. Finally, Alberto Gonzales, the US Attorney General, stated that these US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. Therefore, the president can fire them at any time for any reason. Well, this is sort of true. It is true that the president has the power to hire and fire US attorneys. But, and this is important, the President cannot fire at a US attorney to influence a particular case or to halt a particular investigation or for political reasons.

For the last several months we’ve had several officials from the Justice Department testify on Capitol Hill. Each of these officials from Kyle Sampson to Alberto Gonzales to Monica Goodling have related interesting tales. Many of the witnesses have contradicted one another. There has also been tens of thousands of e-mails that have been released from the Justice Department and they also tell a tale which is partial and incomplete. The question is, what are the facts? H. E. “Bud” Cummins was removed in Arkansas in order to make room for a Karl Rove protégé. It appears that David Iglesias, from New Mexico, was probably removed because he did not pursue a voter fraud investigation in which he thought there was not enough evidence against a Democrat before the 2006 election. His decision angered New Mexico Republican Senator Pete Domenici. There appears to have been a phone call both from Pete Domenici and from New Mexico Republican Representative Heather Wilson. (Calling a US Attorney and inquiring about an ongoing investigation is illegal.) Iglesias testified in front the Senate Judiciary committee that he felt pressured, again it is illegal to influence or pressure a US Attorney.

One of the most egregious firings would probably be that of Carol Lam. Carol Lam is the US attorney who prosecuted Randall Cunningham, former US Representative. He was caught taking over $2.5 million in bribes from a defense contractor. This was clearly a major prosecution. This would have to be considered a feather in anyone’s cap but yet, she was fired. This had to raise red flags everywhere. It appears that her investigation had taken a turn toward Washington. Remember the number three man in the CIA, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, was indicted in connection to this scandal.

Let’s look at one of the US attorneys that was not fired. Stephen Biskupic was on an early version of the firing list and then for no apparent reason he did not show up on the final list. Mr. Biskupic is the US attorney for Wisconsin. Prior to the 2006 election, this US Attorney brought a case against a civil servant and somehow Republicans tried to tie that case to the Democratic governor, Jim Doyle. The civil servant, Georgia Thompson, no relation, was released from jail last month. She spent four months in jail. The seventh circuit court of appeals who ordered her immediate release, called the evidence in the case, “beyond thin.” The purpose of this case, it seems to me, was to tie the Democratic governor to these corruption charges. Republican operatives spent over $4 million in ads against the governor. So, the question that is hanging out there for anyone to ask – Did Biskupic keep his job because to prosecuted this case which ultimately became an attack on a seating Democratic governor?

We could be looking at a new and novel way to win elections. It seems that some high officials in the Bush administration want to use the US attorney’s office to indict prominent Democrats prior to an election in order to sway popular opinion. To be more specific, they want to use the US attorney’s office to influence elections in any way possible. John Ashcroft, former senator from Missouri, lost his 2000 reelection bid to the US Senate by a slim margin. He was convinced that voter fraud was the reason for his loss. He launched a series of investigations as US Attorney General which resulted in four convictions. These convictions led to the state of Missouri enacting voter ID laws. It was clear that these laws would disenfranchise 150,000 of African-American voters in St. Louis and Kansas City. Thankfully, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down this law as unconstitutional. Remember that Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, won her 2006 race by only 50,000 votes.

I do not know where this US Attorney investigation will lead. I can tell you that the more information that is revealed the uglier this scandal looks. It looks like some attorneys were targeted for being too aggressive in investigating Republicans. It also looks like some of the US attorneys were targeted because they lived in “swing” areas or districts. These are districts that would be susceptible to election shenanigans. No matter what the final outcome of these investigations, it is clearly worth the effort to investigate. If we don’t look will never find anything.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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