Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Friday, November 21, 2008
Mukasey's collapse (and America's close call)
I'm with those who are both glad to learn that Attorney General Michael Mukasey is feeling better, but who are also breathing a sigh of relief that we never had to witness this same kind of spectacle with a President John McCain. Mukasey is five years younger than the, it turns out, more profoundly disabled than previously reported McCain. His collapse during a Federalist Society speech yesterday was a sobering reminder of the frailties of age. Watch:



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posted by JReid @ 1:54 PM  
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Return of the Elionistas
The national media may be fixated on would-be U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's role in former President Bill Clinton's Marc Rich pardon, but here in Florida, it's all about Elian. Eight years ago, it was all Elian all the time in Miami, as an adorable, six-year-old Cuban boy named Elian Gonzales survived a deadly flotilla across the Florida Strait, lost his mother on the voyage, arrived on the shores of Miami on Thanksgiving Day, 1999, and touched off a months-long international custody battle between his father back in Cuba, and Miami relatives he barely knew. The ensuing drama turned a small family home into a shrine, turned Elian into a zoo animal, playing in his new front yard, with his politician-issued puppy, in front of crowds of thousands, and launched the phrase: "form the human chain!" (While simultaneously causing actor Andy Garcia to redevelop a strong Cuban accent while arguing that 6-year-olds who are being assailed by ideologues and bribed with Disneyworld and puppies should determine their own futures...)

The Elian mess, which stretched on and on through the spring of 2000, ended the promising political career of then- Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who had been considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, destined for national office. But his veiled threat to federal law enforcement, that they would not receive the assistance or protection of county police if they came to retrieve the boy from his Miami relatives' home, was the first nail in his political coffin. The second came when he continued to hold a grudge after Elian was sent back to Cuba, and turned his back on Al Gore during the recount.

It strained relations between former Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno, the then-U.S. Attorney General, and the Cuban-American community, piling additional strain on her following the previous Waco debacle (and bitter fights over what to do about Whitewater.)

And it launched the hopefully promising writing career of your humble blogger. My first paid writing assignment, from Salon Magazine, came when I submitted a poem called "Green Eggs and Jan":

I am Jan,
Jan I am.
I will not pick up Elian.

I will not put him in a car,
I will not take him near or far,
I will not go inside that house,
That Waco thing still freaks me out.

I will not take him in the rain,
I will not put him on a plane,
I will not pick him up, you see,
The exiles would be mad at me.

I will not take him to his dad,
Would you make Gloria Estefan mad?
I will not send him to Fidel,
Cause Marisleysis says it's hell. ...

Read the whole thing here. Of course, "Jan" (Reno) ultimately did retrieve Elian, and send him back to Cuba, and Cuban exiles have never forgotten it.

Elian is retrieved from a closet in the home of his uncle, Lazaro. He was being hidden
in the closet by a lying, self-serving fisherman, Donato Dalrymple (the progenitor to
"Joe the Fake Plumber") who quickly used up his 15 minutes of fame.


Nor have they forgotten who here deputy was: one Eric Holder.

And now that Holder is apparently on the road to becoming our next A.G., the exile community is all riled up again. From this morning's Miami Herald:

Two veterans of the Elián González saga are expected to be named to top posts in Democrat Barack Obama's administration, infuriating some Cuban-American Republicans who haven't forgotten the 6-year-old boy seized in Miami and sent back to the communist regime.

The Associated Press is reporting that Obama's top choice for U.S. attorney general is Eric Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the 2000 raid in Miami. Greg Craig, who represented González's father in the custody battle, is expected to be named White House counsel.

Both were advisors to Obama during his presidential campaign, prompting a small contingent of Cuban exiles to protest outside of his speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami in June.

President-elect Obama has not made the appointments official, but both the Republican National Committee and some Cuban-American leaders in Miami are already signaling their disapproval.

''This is a clear sign that the Obama administration is diametrically opposed to the concerns and views of the Cuban-American community,'' said state Rep. David Rivera of Miami, who helped organize the June protest. ``It is a blatant and disrespectful slap in the face.''

Two for the Elianistas to hate. Wow. And look for the newly, and unfortunately, re-elected Diaz-Balart brothers to use the Holder and Craig appointments as an opportunity to show out at their anti-Castro, single issue best, which, by the way, will be a very good thing for the Democrats. You see, the Elian circus was just that, and it didn't exactly ingratiate the exile community with the rest of the planet, or to anyone who, I don't know, isn't down with threatening and opposing federal law enforcement for your own ideological ends (or keeping a little boy from his dad and in the arms of strangers for the same reasons.) If the political leadership of the exile right decides to make a similar spectacle of themselves over Holder and Craig, as they did in 2000, just sit back, and watch the Democratic caucus grow in Washington in 2010.

Meanwhile: ABC News has Holder's own recounting of the sad aftermath of the raid on Elian's temporary home in Little Havana:

In April 2000, then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder appeared on "Good Morning America" where he discussed the controversial raid on the home of Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives to seize the child and return him to Cuba.

And he told Diane Sawyer about an unusual behind-the-scenes moment he shared with Attorney General Janet Reno.

"At the conclusion of this, I closed the door, at the time of the raid, and I held the attorney general in my arms, and she wept," Holder said. "She did not want this to happen. She cares a great deal about that community, and hoped and prayed that there was a way in which this thing could have been worked out, short of the enforcement action that she very reluctantly had to order."

And now for "where are they now" -- Elian Gonzalez edition:

CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports Elian has spent the past eight years living in Cuba with his father, now a member of the Cuban National Assembly. His "American" home is a museum today. Relatives have moved on and rarely talk to the media.

Cobiella reports that many in south Florida's exile community see the boy's acceptance into the Communist Party as proof he has grown into Fidel Castro's pawn and propaganda tool.

"He's been using Elian as a needle in the side of free democratic loving Cuban exiles," says Cuban-American Marc Smit, "and he's going to continue using that."

Elian was one of 18-thousand young Cubans officially inducted into the party last weekend. The communist youth newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, quoted the 14-year-old as saying he would never let down ex-President Fidel Castro or his brother, Raul.





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posted by JReid @ 9:49 AM  
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Cheers in Barbados?
Attention all Caribbean massive: Eric Holder could become the first Caribbean-American attorney general (following on the heels of first CaribAm secretary of state, Jamaican-American Collin Powell.) Still, if Holder gets the post (which signs seem to indicate he will,) he would also be yet another Clinton holdover (though in Holder's case, as in Rahm Emanuel's, one who is much more an FOB (friend of Barack) than an FOBB (friend of Big Bill)...

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posted by JReid @ 6:03 PM  
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Operation Ignore Mukasey
Michael Mukasey has proved to be only slightly less detrimental to the Constitution than his idiotic predecessor, Alberto Gonzales. Mukasey's refusal to do his job, when that job would have anything to do with enforcing laws broken by the Bush administration, has so frustrated Congress, that even the Bushwhacked, spineless, impeachment-wary Democrats are ignoring him. I guess they figure that insulating the telcoms and the president from prosecution and impeachment are enough dirty work to keep the anonymous Bush staffers from mailing the contents of the wiretaps on their homes and offices to pre-jail Robert Novak and Matt Drudge...

So what is Mukasey asking for that he ain't getting? Try a declaration of war ... perpetual war ... against al-Qaida ... forever:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congress should explicitly declare a state of armed conflict with al Qaeda to make clear the United States can detain suspected members as long as the war on terrorism lasts, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said on Monday.

Mukasey urged Congress to make the declaration in a package of legislative proposals to establish a legal process for terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo, in response to a Supreme Court ruling last month that detainees had a constitutional right to challenge their detention.

"Any legislation should acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us," Mukasey said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

"Congress should reaffirm that for the duration of the conflict the United States may detain as enemy combatants those who have engaged in hostilities or purposefully supported al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated organizations," he said.

Mukasey was not asking for a formal declaration of war, which would trigger certain emergency powers under the Constitution and international law, a Justice Department spokesman said. U.S. President George W. Bush has on numerous occasions said the United States was "at war" against terrorists and cited that as a basis for his powers.

New legislation should also prohibit courts from ordering a detainee to be released within the United States. It should protect secrets in court hearings, ensure that soldiers are not taken from the battlefield to testify and prevent challenges from delaying detainee trials, he said.
In other words, anyone the president decided was a terrorist could be held by the U.S. in secret detention forever. With no legal recourse. Forever. To Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark "The Mustache" Hosenball:
Mukasey's plea for quick passage of a significant new counterterrorism measure essentially fell on deaf ears—at least from the Democrats who control Congress. "Zero," snapped one key lawmaker, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, when asked the likelihood that Congress will rush to pass the kind of law Mukasey and the Bush administration are seeking. "We don't have to pass anything," said Nadler, who chairs the House subcommittee that has primary jurisdiction over the issue, in a brief hallway interview with NEWSWEEK. "Let the courts deal with it."

The derisive comments from the feisty New York liberal—just moments after Mukasey issued his strong appeal in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee—underscores the huge and poisonous gulf that now exists between the White House and Congress on virtually every issue related to the War on Terror. No Democrats on the judiciary panel endorsed Mukasey's call Wednesday for new counterterrorism legislation. None of them even bothered to ask him any questions about it. Instead, they essentially ignored what the attorney general portrayed as the Justice Department's top priority for his final six months in office.
Not that the Democrats really intend to stand up to Bush ... that's simply not done in the House that Nancy built. In fact, fellow House Diva Jane Harman proposed a law, H.R. 1955, the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007," which would open up all of our Internet communications to administration scrutiny, and it sailed through the House, bringing Traitor Joe Lieberman closer to his dream of excising all Muslim traffic from Youtube. It's just that the Dems have finally figured out that it's summer: they don't have to do the White House's bidding until AFTER the Democratic convention, when the RNC ads about them being "soft on terror" start running.


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posted by JReid @ 12:18 AM  
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Arrest this man

The 110th Congress has already disgraced itself in any number of ways, by bowing and scraping to a lame duck president who nobody but them takes seriously anymore (the latest instance being the FISA bill.) If the Judiciary Committee, led by the incredibly underwhelming John Conyers (who talked tough on impeachment until he got the gavel,) fails to respond to the naked affront to its authority by Karl Rove, who blew off the committee today by refusing to respond to a lawful subpoena regarding his role in the politicization of the Justice Department and the political prosecution of the former governor of Alabama, then they aren't worthy of holding their offices. Either the Judiciary Committee enforces that subpoena, or they admit that, just like Dick Cheney planned it, the Congress is no longer a co-equal branch of the U.S. government, confirming that we are indeed living in a post-Constitutional age.

The outrageous behavior of the arrogant Bushies, including Rove, is made worse by the new attorney general, Michael Mukasey, who replaced the boob from Texas, Alberto Gonzales. Back in May, Joseph Palermo wrote the following about the timid Mr. Mukasey:
Not since the time of Richard Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, who was the only Attorney General in American history to go to prison, has the head of the Justice Department behaved so abominably. Attorney General Michael Mukasey has chosen to obstruct Congress's subpoenas of executive branch employees despite evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Senators Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein were the deciding votes that confirmed Mukasey. What were they thinking? Now Mukasey bucks normal procedure and refuses to begin grand jury investigations of Karl Rove's role in transforming the Justice Department into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican National Committee.

Karl Rove is free to "analyze" American politics for us on Fox News, and in the pages of The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek; he appears on discussion panels and charges $40,000 a pop for speaking gigs; he signed a book deal estimated to be worth $8 to $12 million; and now he thumbs his nose at the Congress, defying its subpoenas. It's as if he thinks he's above the law and above his fellow citizens. And to top it off Rove's enabler and co-conspirator is the Attorney General himself.

Mukasey's refusal to do his job shows he is a willing accomplice in undermining the Constitutional powers of the House of Representatives as a co-equal branch of government. Can anyone think of an action more "un-American" than dismantling the "checks and balances" that James Madison and other founders so carefully put in place in 1787?
Palermo added that:
It is fitting that our current Constitutional crisis finds Karl Rove as its centerpiece. No human being has done more damage to our republic in the last hundred years than Karl Rove. He masterminded three of the slimiest, rottenest, most dishonest and divisive elections in American history; elections that brought to power a craven gang of white collar criminals who proceeded to destroy the ability of the government to function (except as a conveyor belt of cash for cronies), lied us into an illegal war in Iraq, collapsed the economy, and made torture and the suspension of habeas corpus synonymous with American "ideals." Karl Rove thinks he can tell Congress to go fuck itself. He must not be allowed to walk away Scot free from his crimes and misdeeds.
... he then went on to suggest Congress hire Dog the Bounty Hunter. Um ... yeah...

Dog aside, the committee can do a number of things, and should probably do them all, sooner rather than later.
  • They can file a lawsuit against Rove, as was done with Harriet Myers
  • They can find him in contempt of Congress
  • And having found him in contempt, they can have the Sergeant at Amrs arrest his roly-poly behind. 
As an editorial in the Concord Monitor put it:
If lawmakers fail to do so promptly, the law itself will lose its meaning and Congress will lose what little respect the public has for it. ...

...Rove is now a private citizen. In his role as a political wag, he has said that he never discussed the Siegelman matter with the White House. That makes his assertion of executive privilege all the more ludicrous. Rove has offered to testify by e-mail, or if he can do so not under oath and with no recorded transcript. But it is Congress that makes the rules, not Rove, his lawyer or the president.

Many Americans choose which laws to obey and which to flout. When caught, they can claim all they want that the law doesn't apply to them or plead that their boss told them not to talk. Those people generally wind up behind bars. If he continues to thumb his nose at Congress and the rule of law, that's what should happen to Rove.
Amen.

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posted by JReid @ 1:00 PM  
Saturday, November 03, 2007
The Orwellian bargain
If the Bush administration is an Orwellian send-up of the former Soviet Union, complete with domestic spying, secret prisons, disappearing of U.S. citizens into military detention, manipulation and intimidation of the media, wars of aggression, and now apparently, the use of torture, then the Democrats are playing Benjamin to George Bush's Napoleon. In Orwell's "Animal Farm," Benjamin -- a donkey, no less -- is, in the Wikipedic formulation, "as knowledgable as and wiser than the pigs," who are led by the dictatorial Napoleon, "and is the only animal who sees the pigs for the tyrants they are, [but] he never makes an attempt to change anything.

And so it goes. The Democratic Benjamins will not put a stop to the war in Iraq. They will not hold George W. Bush accountable using the Constitutional tool of impeachment, even for his blatant defiance of both the Congress and the laws he is sworn to faithfully execute. They will not fight his vetoes or follow through on opposition to his policies.

And they WILL allow the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey, a man who cannot say that waterboarding -- a crime against humanity for which we prosecuted Japenese soldiers after World War II ... a crime John McCain has called a "horrible torture," and "no different than holding a pistol to [a prisoner's] head and firing a blank" -- is torture, to go to the Senate floor. And they will confirm him. They know that the administration has likely used waterboarding, and probably other torture techniques more suitable for the former U.S.S.R. or 1970s era Panama or Chile. They know that the president authorized it, and that his former attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, greenlighted it. And they know that the administration will not allow Mukasey to respond to the simple question for which he can find clear answers inside the Army Field Manual, which expressly prohibits waterboarding and calls it torture, because as attorney general, he might have to prosecute people inside the Bush administration for ordering the torture of terror detainees.

And yet, Diane Feinstein on Friday joined Chuck Schumer, who suggested his fellow New Yorker Mukasey, in voting to send Mukasey's nomination out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in defiance of the committee's chairman, Pat Leahy, who plans to vote no. (Feinstein attempts to explain herself today in an op-ed to the L.A. Times. Her excuse: Mukasey is all we're going to get from Bush, and if we don't confirm him, he'll just do a recess appointment. In other words, we can't stop George from doing whatever it is he wants to do, so why try?)

A recent column in the Charlotte Observer referenced "a Sept. 5, 2006, letter to Attorney General Gonzales signed by 100 prominent law professors, including John Charles Boger, dean of the University of North Carolina law school." The letter included the following:

"We are particularly concerned about your continuing failure to issue clear statements about illegal interrogation techniques, and especially your failure to state that `waterboarding' -- a technique that induces the effects of being killed by drowning -- constitutes torture, and thus is illegal. We urge you to make such a statement now.

"...If uninterrupted, waterboarding will cause death by suffocation. It is also foreseeable that waterboarding, by producing an experience of drowning, will cause severe mental pain and suffering. The technique is a form of mock execution by suffocation with water. The process incapacitates the victim from drawing breath, and causes panic, distress, and terror of imminent death. Many victims of waterboarding suffer prolonged mental harm for years and even decades afterward."
Surely, the Democrats know about that letter.

Surely by now, they know about the former senior Justice Department official who answered his own questions about waterboarding by trying it himself, as ABC News' Brian Ross reported yesterday:

Daniel Levin, then acting assistant attorney general, went to a military base near Washington and underwent the procedure to inform his analysis of different interrogation techniques.

After the experience, Levin told White House officials that even though he knew he wouldn't die, he found the experience terrifying and thought that it clearly simulated drowning.

Levin, who refused to comment for this story, concluded waterboarding could be illegal torture unless performed in a highly limited way and with close supervision. And, sources told ABC News, he believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines for its use.

The administration at the time was reeling from an August 2002 memo by Jay Bybee, then the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which laid out possible justifications for torture. In June 2004, Levin's predecessor at the office, Jack Goldsmith, officially withdrew the Bybee memo, finding it deeply flawed.

When Levin took over from Goldsmith, he went to work on a memo that would effectively replace the Bybee memo as the administration's legal position on torture. It was during this time that he underwent waterboarding.

In December 2004, Levin released the new memo. He said, "Torture is abhorrent" but he went on to say in a footnote that the memo was not declaring the administration's previous opinions illegal. The White House, with Alberto Gonzales as the White House counsel, insisted that this footnote be included in the memo.

But Levin never finished a second memo imposing tighter controls on the specific interrogation techniques. Sources said he was forced out of the Justice Department when Gonzales became attorney general.

And then there's this, also from Brian Ross: apparent confirmation from within the CIA, that waterboarding has been used by Americans, "but only on three bad-guys..."

For all the debate over waterboarding, it has been used on only three al Qaeda figures, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.

As ABC News first reported in September, waterboarding has not been used since 2003 and has been specifically prohibited since Gen. Michael Hayden took over as CIA director.

Officials told ABC News on Sept. 14 that the controversial interrogation technique, in which a suspect has water poured over his mouth and nose to stimulate a drowning reflex as shown in the above demonstration, had been banned by the CIA director at the recommendation of his deputy, Steve Kappes.

Hayden sought and received approval from the White House to remove waterboarding from the list of approved interrogation techniques first authorized by a presidential finding in 2002.

The officials say the decision was made sometime last year but has never been publicly disclosed by the CIA.
And so, Mr. Mukasey could be face with very real evidence of illegal torture of detainees at the behest of the Bush administration, and he will have to decide whether to enforce the law, or to be Alberto Gonzales -- Bush's Pinkeye, whose position on the Animal Farm was to taste Napoleon's food.

Why the Democrats have entered into this Orwellian bargain with the administration -- he pushes, they appease, even as Bush fades into history, is perhaps the most vexing question facing the country today. The Democrats are so wedded to the appeasement of this president, one almost wonders if they truly oppose his policies at all. They are rudderless, leaderless, and incapable of displaying even minimal unity in opposition to even the most outrageous Bushian assaults on the United States Constitution. They stand for nothihng, and they stand up for nothing.

And I couldn't tell you why.

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posted by JReid @ 10:08 AM  
Friday, November 02, 2007
Mukasey says
By now I'm sure you've figured out the simple reason Michael Mukasey cannot state the obvious fact that waterboarding -- something expressly outlawed under both U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions (we prosecuted foreign troops for doing just that during World War II and the U.S. was crucial to the process that declared waterboarding a crime against humanity) -- is torture.

Mukasey cannot state the obvious because should he do so and then become attorney general, he might have to prosecute members of the Bush administration for ordering the waterboarding torture of terrorism detainees, up to and possibly including the President of the United States. After all, Mukasey has stated during Senate hearings that the torture memo authored by former A.G. Alberto Gonzales authorizng the president to break U.S. law in that regard, was in error, meaning that Bush has no authority to go around the law and order "special detainees" to be treated with that particular kind of specialness.

So let Bushie whinge. Let him moan that the quite simple question put to Mr. Mukasey by his would-be confirmers in the Senate are unfair. Let him threaten to leave the spot vacant. He cannot thread this needle.

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posted by JReid @ 8:00 AM  
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Doubts about Mukasey
From George Will and Prince of Darkness Bob Novak...

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posted by JReid @ 9:55 AM  
Friday, September 07, 2007
Chertoff off the short list?
RawStory and Roll Call report that Michael Chertoff: AKA "the skull", is off the short list for attorney general.

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posted by JReid @ 8:50 AM  
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Update: the case of the Gonzalez Seven Eight
I'm watching the rebroadcast of Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the "Pearl Harbor Day massacre," and the following updates should be noted:

Apparently, the attempted intimidation of U.S. attorneys by members of Congress and the Bush administration went beyond the inappropriate phonecalls made by Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Senator Pete Domenici to then New Mexico U.S. attorney David Iglesias last October, both attempting to dig into sealed indictments against state Democratic officials. In addition to the pressure on Iglesias, who said the Domenici phonecall in particular made him feel "sick," there was also an attempt at direct intimidation of several of the fired prosecutors.

H.E. "Bud" Cummins, the Arkansas prosecutor dismissed to make room for a former Karl Rove deputy, received a phonecall in late February from Mike Elston, the chief of staff to deputy attorney general Paul McNulty. During the call, Elston informed Cummins that his comments to the Washington Post that past Saturday were most unwelcome, having come after Congress had already begun to inquire into the firitngs, forcing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to admit to a Congressional hearing that Cummins had been dismissed purely to help a political flak. Cummins was told that if he and his fellow firees continued to talk to the press, and if any of them began to cooperate with Congress (all had refused requests to testfy before the two judiciary committees) then the administration would consider that an "escalation of the conflict, meriting some unspecified form of retaliation" and that the DOJ might just take off the gloves in defending their actions, by releasing information unfavorable to the prosecutors' performance while in office.

Cummins took the call as a threat, or at least a "message," and sent an email to several of his colleagues, including the other three former U.S. attorneys who testified on Tuesday (Carol Lam, the California prosecutor dismissed after successfully prosecuting Duke Cunningham and indicting deputy CIA director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo for abusing his office, and his defense contractor buddy Brent Wilkes; Mr. Iglesias and John McKay of Washington State, who had received pressure via the chief of staff to GOP Congressman Doc Hastings, to investigate the razor thin margin of victory of the newly minted Democratic governor of that state ... Hastings is the ranking member on the House ethics committee, wouldn't you know...) Cummins submitted the email to the panel, and testified that he didn't feel it was a betrayal of Ellison to pass on the information, since he felt that the purpose of the call was to get him to pass the word to his colleagues, in order to preemptively shut them up. (McKay's response to the email was that it didn't make him feel intimidated, it made him mad, which is why he was sitting before the committee. The only one of the four who seemed intimidated at all, or at least protective of the administration, ws Ms. Lam, for reasons unknown.)

For his part, Cummins testified that he had intended to stay out of the political fray, and only talked to the Washington Post because the admnistration chose to attack his colleagues' performance while in office, and he wanted to defend their work, as well as the work of his former staff.

Further, Mr. Iglesias testified that he was told by a Justice Department official that his firing was determined "from on high."

The dismissals are bad enough. The attempted threats and intimidation may be criminal.

Update: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of RI asked a most pertinent question: what each of the four witnesses would do if a witness in a case they were prosecuting received a phonecall like the one Mr. Cummins got, from a subject in the case. All answered that they would refer the call for investigation for obstruction of justice, or in Ms. Lam's case, for witness tampering. Mr. Ellison should think seriously about that.

It should also be noted that all eight of the dismissed U.S. attorneys were nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate, with the first crop of U.S. attorneys after September 11. They are all either Republicans or Independents, as Iglesias testified, appointed because they were considered political assets, not liabilities. How did they become liabilities five years later? By doing things unpopular with the Republican Congress and with their fellow poliical hacks in the White House. In addition, all had excellent evaluations of their work on record, with no recorded complaints from DOJ.

Update 2: Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was the first Republican on the committee to begin swinging the hatchet on behalf of the Bush administration. True to the form which became familiar during the subservient 109th Congress, Sessions began his questioning by going after Ms. Lam's prosecutorial record with respect to gun cases, suggesting she was not upholding administration policy when compared with U.S. attorneys in other districts.

Likewise, Lindsey Graham is trying to save the administration by suggesting that the three witnesses had served unusually long terms in office.

...proving, once again, that there are no lengths Republican members of Congress won't go to in order to shill for the administration. One day, perhaps we'll discover the reason for this remarkable fealty.

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posted by JReid @ 4:59 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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