Balkinization  

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Misplaced Focus on Gonzales

Marty Lederman

In today's Washington Post, the Attorney General writes:
I know that I did not -- and would not -- ask for the resignation of any U.S. attorney for an improper reason. Furthermore, I have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. attorney for an improper reason.
I believe the first assertion. I don't think that Gonzales himself did recommend the removal of any U.S. Attorney for an improper reason. [UPDATE: Thanks to Paul Kiel for posting Gonzales's forthcoming opening statement.]

I also don't think he acted for any proper reasons, either. It is increasingly plain that he didn't act for much of a reason at all, other than that he was presented with a list of names that had already been cleared with Karl Rove and Harriet Miers. His previous statements that he was more-or-less out of the loop, in other words, are likely to be basically accurate. He didn't fundamentally mislead Congress. His role in this imbroglio was as the rubber-stamper. He writes:
To be clear: I directed my then-deputy chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, to initiate this process; fully knew that it was occurring; and approved the final recommendations. Sampson periodically updated me on the review. As I recall, his updates were brief, relatively few in number and focused primarily on the review process. During those conversations, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign.
That sounds very plausible to me. And in fact, that sort of delegation of responsibility wouldn't have been such an unusual or terrible thing, either, if the process had actually been designed to identify appointees who were doing a less-than-acceptable job and if at the end of the process the Attorney General had carefully reviewed the pros and cons for each removal before making his recommendations to the President.

But it wasn't, and he didn't.

NPR reports that "[a]ccording to someone who's had conversations with White House officials, the plan to fire all 93 U.S. attorneys originated with political adviser Karl Rove. It was seen as a way to get political cover for firing the small number of U.S. attorneys the White House actually wanted to get rid of." (Recall that as early as January 6, 2005, Rove stopped by the White House Counsel's office to ask whether they were going to go with the "ask all to resign and retain some" option. See the Newman e-mail to Leitch.)

In other words, this was a White House -- not a DOJ -- initiative, and its function was to remove U.S. Attorneys who were not acceptable to the President and his advisers. It makes sense, in that light, that Kyle Sampson would work closely with the White House on the process, and that the Attorney General would be inclined to go along with the White House's final decisions if he were satsified that there was a solid basis for them. So far, so good -- and it wouldn't be terribly out of the ordinary, either, except that it's increasingly clear that this was part of a much more extensive Rovian White House operation to use the mechanisms of government to skew elections to Republicans.

(The biggest part of that scandal, by the way, is not the dismissals of the U.S. Attorneys, or the use of RNC accounts for White House e-mails (and the "deletion" thereof), or even the groundless prosecution of Democratic officials on basically no evidence at all, such as Georgia Thompson in Wisconsin (where a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals that included Frank Easterbrook summarily reversed the conviction mere hours after an oral argument in which the government was unable to provide a shred of justification for the prosecution). It is, instead, the elaborate fiction of widespread "voter fraud," which has not only been the predicate for the enactment of numerous disenfranchising voter ID laws, and the pretext for stopping much-needed voter-registration reforms, but has also resulted in in terrorem prosecutions by the Department of Justice on trivial or trumped-up charges. The two NYTimes stories linked above are absolute must reading -- as are Bob Bauer's post here and Hilzoy's series of posts over at Obsidian Wings, such as here, here, and here. See also "publius" here. As Rick Hasen writes, "Together, these two reports show that despite tremendous efforts by the DOJ and others to ferret out instances of voter fraud taking place at polling places (as opposed to, for example, vote buying occurring with absentee ballots), there is very little evidence at this point. It is now incumbent upon those who still believe a great deal of voter fraud is taking place at the polls to come forward with a plan with sound methodology to show that such fraud is occurring on any kind of scale that would justify efforts such as the new recent onerous voter identification laws that have been put in place by some legislatures. But some who raise the fraud arguments do not appear to have an interest in relying on more than anecdote. The stories show the unfortunate politicization of election administration reform efforts in recent years.")

Others (especially the indefatigable Josh Marshall and crew over at TPM) have thoroughly canvassed the evidence of improper motivation in cases such as Carol Lam and David Iglesias. Two other things from Kyle Sampson's testimony, however, have not gotten the attention they deserve.

First was Sampson's suggestion, to Harriet Miers and her Deputy Bill Kelley, that Pat Fitzgerald be added to the list of U.S. Attorneys to be considered for removal. Fitzgerald, of course, is widely viewed as one of the most stellar U.S. Attorneys of his generation. Sampson himself testified that "Pat Fitzgerald is widely viewed within the Department of Justice as being a very strong U.S. attorney. He's a strong manager. He's a skillful lawyer and is, by all accounts, a very strong United States Attorney." So what possibly could have motivated Sampson to suggest to Miers and Kelley that Fitzagerald be removed? That's what Senator Durbin wanted to know:
DURBIN: Why did you say it? Why did you recommend, or at least suggest, that [Fitzgerald] be removed as U.S. attorney?

SAMPSON: I'm not sure. I think -- I don't remember. I think it was, maybe, to get a reaction from them.
"To get a reaction from them." Yeah, right. If that were Sampson's motivation, it would demonstrate that he had the maturity of a 10-year-old. But of course that's hardly a plausible excuse. The only reason it would ever have occurred to Sampson that he could raise with Miers the possibility of removing Fitzgerald was that it was understood in the White House (and by Sampson) that the very nature of the project was to remove those U.S. Attorneys who were proving to be a thorn in the side of the Administration (or who were not playing ball with the trumped-up "voter fraud" initiative). Truthfully, I can think of no other explanation. (It's akin to why Iglesias was magically added to the list hot on the heels of Senator Domenici's phone calls to the White House.)

The second thing that warrants more emphasis is that, unless I missed something in his testimony, it was Sampson's account that the documentation for this process consisted of a fluctuating list of names that he personally kept in his desk drawer. Just a simple list of names. No documentation. No files. No memos from those in the know carefully evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. Attorneys. No statistics. No explanations from the U.S. Attorneys for the conduct that allegedly got them in hot water. Nothing. And if this was so -- if there were no significant files on this matter within the Department of Justice, despite over a year of discussions -- it gets to the real problem with Gonzales's role here: He recommended that the President remove eight high-ranking officials of the Department of Justice without seriously reviewing the evidence, the justifications, for such a serious course of action. Recall Gonzales's previous statement: "[I] was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. . . . Many decisions are delegated. . . . I never saw documents." (Similar is today's Op-Ed: "[Sampson's] updates were brief, relatively few in number and focused primarily on the review process. During those conversations, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign.")

He simply took Sampson's word for it, because he was confident that Sampson's unadorned list reflected Rove's and Miers's wishes. There's possibly some truth to his statement in today's Op-Ed that he has "no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. attorney for an improper reason." And that's because he never insisted upon learning the basis. From what we know thus far -- and perhaps his testimony will fill in the details -- Gonzales didn't know exactly why he was recommending that these U.S. Attorneys be fired -- indeed, he was much better off not knowing. [UPDATE from his written statement: "I did so because I understood that the recommendations represented the consensus of senior Justice Department officials most knowledgeable about the performance of all 93 U.S. Attorneys."] And it's that abdication of oversight and responsibility at the time of the final recommendation -- that willful blindness -- that is most troubling about Gonzales's conduct.

And that's where the focus of Tuesday's hearing ought to be, it seems to me -- on that and on the question of why Gonzales assigned so much important responsibility, throughout the Department, to young attorneys with no experience and even less judgment. As I wrote previously:
[T]he Attorney General delegated this very serious, unusual and sensitive function -- deciding to recommend that the President remove several U.S. Attorneys -- to an aide in his mid-30's who had virtually no experience or knowledge of institutional norms, and even less practical or political judgment, and . . . the Attorney General himself forwarded such recommendations on to the President without even bothering to check the evidence with respect to whether these U.S. Attorneys had done such a bad job in office as to justify the solemn step of firing them in midstream, i.e., without even knowing whether the removals would be justified or wise. If this were the true story, it would demonstrate atrocious judgment on the part of the Attorney General, and would be much more troubling than the fact that he dissembled a bit in a press conference about the level of his own involvement.

Nevertheless, the real action on the "merits" was not at DOJ, but in the White House, where the process was initiated by Karl Rove and where the final decision was made by the President. Thus, the current focus on the Attorney General is something of a distraction, at least insofar as Congress's objective is to determine whether anything unlawful or unconstitutional was involved in the U.S. Attorney dismissals. Congress cannot determine whether the removals were made for improper reasons unless it discovers what Rove and Miers advised the President, and why they did so. But the evidence that would bear on that is precisely the sorts of internal White House deliberations that Fred Fielding would put off-limits to Congress -- or that have magically disappeared from RNC databases.

Comments:

As I read the linked WaPo OpEd by AG Gonzales, I tried to link the words with his voice when he appeared before the Senate Committee. But the words do not seem to be coming from Gonzales' lips. Some may say he writes better than he speaks. In his case that would be easy. But he has had the benefit of time and timeline preparation by a staff of guiders that takes into considereation events documented by Emails and otherwise. So it can be expected that the Committee's staff will examine his words with the timeline developed by the staff, which may differ from Gonzales' guiders. Let the cross examination begin.

The late Kurt Vonnegut's "Mother Night" has this great line:

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."

Gonzales might give this some thought before he testifies.
 

ML --

Question: Can a subsequent administration waive executive privilege as to communications among presidential advisors in the previous administration?
 

Professor Lederman:

The Dems in Congress have no interest in the "merits" of this case. This "investigation" has been political from start to finish.

As your post points out, if the Dems want to investigate the chain of command for the firings, then Gonzales is not a main player. So why are the Dems focusing on Gonzales?

The Dems are concentrating on Gonzales because they think that may be able to "Libby" him into contradictory statements under oath and thus claim their first scalp. In this, they may be successful because Gonzales lies for CYA and is not all that bright about it.

NPR reports that "[a]ccording to someone who's had conversations with White House officials, the plan to fire all 93 U.S. attorneys originated with political adviser Karl Rove. It was seen as a way to get political cover for firing the small number of U.S. attorneys the White House actually wanted to get rid of."

In other words, this was a White House -- not a DOJ -- initiative, and its function was to remove U.S. Attorneys who were not acceptable to the President and his advisers.


The question here is a big "so what?"

The White House cleaned house after it became clear that the 2006 elections were not going their way. The US Attorneys were a small part of this turnover.

As an aside, it is interesting that the Dem press is focusing on the White House's consideration of copying the Clinton plan of firing all the US Attorneys to provide cover for getting rid of a few. Is this now a crime or "improper" because Bush rather than Clinton did it?
 

Bart:

The Dems in Congress have no interest in the "merits" of this case.

And, of course, you know this because the voices in your head told you so.

This "investigation" has been political from start to finish.

Your talent for projection is on clear display here.

It's hilarious the way Bart flails when he tries to claim that firing USA's who wouldn't do the administration's dirty work was a "house cleaning".

I look forward to even more comical excuses as this scandal continues.

It was OK (with Bart) for the WH to fire people for blatantly political reasons. But apparently it's not OK (with Bart) for "Dems" in Congress to investigate this for blatantly political reasons.
 

Bartbot,

So you're saying that because Gonzales may not have been the ultimate author of the firings, it doesn't make sense to investigate his role or, by questioning him, to glean information about the firings? And if he lied under oath in his previous testimony, well, that's no big deal because he wasn't really responsible? Think that through, please.

As for your "Clinton did it too" quasi-defense--don't you ever get tired of being dishonest and/or uninformed? Clinton didn't remove US Attys at the midpoint of his administration, but at the beginning--if you don't know this by now it's because you really haven't bothered to learn even the most basic facts here. If you do know this, you're a dishonest hack for making the claim.

Your choice. And the import of this difference in timing hardly bears explaining.

Buta as Prof. Lederman notes, the most significant problem here is that the WH appears to have tried to deploy US Attys in their ongoing campaign to use bogus charges of voter fraud in order to disenfranchise demographics that generally vote Democratic.

And before you reply by railing against the massive amounts of voter fraud out there--pull some evidence first. Because otherwise you'll just be doing what you always do: repeating unsubstantiated partisan spin you picked up from Rush, O'Reilly, and WSJ editorial page and the Corner.
 

Professor Lederman:

The two NYTimes stories linked above are absolute must reading -- as are Hilzoy's series of posts over at Obsidian Wings, such as here, here, and here. See also "publius" here. As Rick Hasen writes, "Together, these two reports show that despite tremendous efforts by the DOJ and others to ferret out instances of voter fraud taking place at polling places (as opposed to, for example, vote buying occurring with absentee ballots), there is very little evidence at this point.

One has to look for evidence before one can find it.

Let us take just one of the many examples of potential voter fraud which I previously posted here after 10 minutes on Google.

In this case, the GOP found that 5,619 addresses for registered voters in just the city of Milwaukee that did not physically exist on the USPS database.

Here is how I would investigate this case if I were Justice:

1) Obtain copies of all the registrations without proper addresses to identify who was delivering these addresses to the elections offices. Perhaps you might find some common names like the ACORN employees indicted in other parts of the country. Also, I would follow up to determine if any of these registered voters exist.

If large numbers of these registrations have common sources (say ACORN for the purposes of this scenario), then convene a criminal grand jury and get warrants to search ACORN offices and the homes of the ACORN employees identified on the registration forms. If the election and the fraud is still ongoing, you may want to consider getting wiretap warrants.

Without previously notifying the potential targets to tip them off, simultaneously launch the raids to search the offices and homes and interview the potential targets to nail down their stories before they can get lawyered up and invent a common lie.

At the interviews, serve the targets with subpoenas to appear before the grand jury after say a month so you could review the evidence gathered in the searches and interviews.

If the evidence gathered in the searches and interviews provides further leads, rapidly get the warrants necessary for further investigations before the targets can react.

Once you get the targets and potential witnesses under oath before a grand jury, I would start working on flipping the ones against which I had the best evidence to testify against others.

Of course, there is a great deal more to do in such an investigation, but the bottom line is that Justice should be treating this like they did Enron or the tobacco lawsuits.

What did these fired US attorneys actually do?

None of the above so far as I can tell from the NYT articles and blogger posts to which you linked.

Instead, we get such content-less political spin as this:

the Election Assistance Commission, issued a report that said the pervasiveness of fraud was open to debate.

A number of election law experts, based on their own research, have concluded that the accusations regarding widespread fraud are unjustified.

In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud.

In Wisconsin, where prosecutors have lost almost twice as many cases as they won, charges were brought against voters who filled out more than one registration form and felons seemingly unaware that they were barred from voting."


I have yet to see a single fired US Attorney provided us with exactly what investigation they actually performed. Obviously, nothing approaching what I suggested above or they would have proudly disclosed it.

Why is that? Surely they are all not corrupt?

This answer is easy. Prosecutors are extremely reluctant to pursue election fraud cases because their targets may end up running Congress or inhabiting the White House and being put in a position of power over them. If you make too many enemies in Washington, kiss goodbye to your future there. You don't bite the hand that feeds you.
 

While we're attempting to fix the blame, we ought to be trying to fix the problem.

The Bush administration has repeatedly put the best interests of their political party over the best interests of their country. They play dirty, they cheat. They have circumvented any and all of the processes that would prevent this sort of thing.

The problem is Bush/Cheney... impeach them and it all goes away.
 

Bartbot: Here is how I would investigate this case if I were Justice:

Now *that* is the scariest thing I'll read all week.
 

Why doesn't it matter that USAs serve at the discretion of the president? Why is this a scandal? Is it a scandal anytime an employer fires someone without cause?

Who cares if there was voter fraud? Who cares if Patrick Fitzgerald's name was on the list? Who cares that it was during Bush's second term (as opposed to at the beginning of his presidency)?

Does "at will" employment mean nothing?
 

Bartbot, I need to make a slight correction to your post:

"In this case, the GOP [claimed] that 5,619 addresses for registered voters in just the city of Milwaukee [ ] did not [ ] exist on the USPS database."

You're welcome.

Oh, and nice prosecutorial judgment you show in your hypo, instigating a criminal investigation without first discussing the findings of the official Commission that heard the "evidence." If you looked further, you'd find that the Commission tossed the complaint, finding that the erroneous addresses were likely the result of typographical errors and database maintenance.

Guess there must be libruls on the Commission, huh?
 

marc:

No prosecutor who intends on obtaining evidence to support a criminal conviction would conduct an investigation by commission. Commissions are used by the Executive to put off action and not to act on a subject. See the various commissions on Social Security reform and the like. It is easy for a commission to say there is no evidence on a subject if they do not use the tools of law enforcement to find that evidence.

Imagine, if you will, if Justice conducted their investigation of Enron the way they did voter fraud - by committee. The Enron committee would call up Ken Lay and ask him if he did anything wrong. Lay would say no. Then, the committee would issue a report that they have no evidence of substantial wrongdoing at Enron.

Would this be your idea of conducting a criminal investigation? It sure the heck is not what this former prosecutor would consider to be a criminal investigation. I would be ashamed to put my name to such a side step and then claim that I had done my job. Then again, one of the reasons I went into private practice is so I did not have to play the political game at the DA's office.

In short, I see no evidence of an actual criminal investigation of that vast majority of reports of voter fraud which you can find with a simple internet search. You and the other bloggers are free to provide us all with such evidence. Until that happens, please do not claim that an actual criminal investigation took place outside of the hundred or so actual reported cases by Justice.
 

Bart: In this case, the GOP found that 5,619 addresses for registered voters in just the city of Milwaukee that did not physically exist on the USPS database.

Subsequent investigations reduced that number to 1,100 due to errors in the USPS list. Of those, 75% were same-day registration voters.

A newspaper-led investigation found 20% of the 1100 voters to be legal voters whose addresses were screwed up due to clerical error. That leaves approximately 900 ineligible voters out of 277,535 who voted.

That horrible trend continued in the 2007 election, when 82 cases of felony voters were detected in a state of 3 million voters.

It seems to me if anything systematic is occurring here, it isn't election fraud but voter incompetence. My advice to Bart and the GOP would be: leave the wiretaps aside, update your postal database before making accusations, don't wait until the last minute to submit objections if you have them, and go to incompetence before leaping to Democratic conspiracy.

Simply put, managing the lists and calling for federal investigations should be the prerogative of local officials, not Karl Rove.
 

Marty --

I am surprised you place so much weight on the NPR report. The sourcing for that allegation -- "someone who's had conversations with White House officials" -- is laughable, and amounts to little more than speculation. There is much to criticize in this affair -- as the balance of your post makes clear -- but I think it's important to focus on what we actually know transpired.

JHA
 

I agree that it was a White House not a DOJ operation but you have infantilized Gonzales. Surely, as a Harvard lawyer, he was msart enough to know what was up.
 

Marc [to "Bart"]:

Because otherwise you'll just be doing what you always do: repeating unsubstantiated partisan spin you picked up from Rush, O'Reilly, and WSJ editorial page and the Corner....

Don't leave out Freeperville, WhirledNutzDaily, ClownHall, and LittleGreenSnotballs.

But it's all part and parcel of the RW Mighty Wurlitzer. It's their job to get lies and "spin" around the world (and echoed enough to become 'conventional' wisdom) before truth even starts getting its pants on....

Cheers,
 

Jonathan: It is what it is. I didn't meant to suggest anything more than what it says. Ari Shapiro, generally reliable, was willing to rely on a source who has spoken to folks in the White House. Perhaps it's inaccurate, but I have no special reason to doubt it. It wouldn't surprise you if it were true, would it? After all, as early as January 6, 2005, Rove stops by the Counsel's office to ask whether they were going to go with the "ask all to resign and retain some" option. See the Newman e-mail to Leitch here: http://news.findlaw.com/nytimes/docs/doj/smpsnwh105emails.html.-mail .
 

"Bart" DePalma:

Let us take just one of the many examples of potential voter fraud which I previously posted here after 10 minutes on Google.

Of course, "Bart" might be advised to look at what someone else did with his ten minute Googling. Of course he won't, because he ignores anything that gets in the way of The Proper Thinking For A Cranio-Rectally Inverted DBS.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma has delusions of grandeur:

In this case, the GOP found that 5,619 addresses for registered voters in just the city of Milwaukee that did not physically exist on the USPS database.

Here is how I would investigate this case if I were Justice:

1) Obtain copies of all the registrations without proper addresses to identify who was delivering these addresses to the elections offices. Perhaps you might find some common names like the ACORN employees indicted in other parts of the country. Also, I would follow up to determine if any of these registered voters exist.

If large numbers of these registrations have common sources (say ACORN for the purposes of this scenario), then convene a criminal grand jury and get warrants to search ACORN offices and the homes of the ACORN employees identified on the registration forms. If the election and the fraud is still ongoing, you may want to consider getting wiretap warrants.

Without previously notifying the potential targets to tip them off, simultaneously launch the raids to search the offices and homes and interview the potential targets to nail down their stories before they can get lawyered up and invent a common lie.

At the interviews, serve the targets with subpoenas to appear before the grand jury after say a month so you could review the evidence gathered in the searches and interviews.

If the evidence gathered in the searches and interviews provides further leads, rapidly get the warrants necessary for further investigations before the targets can react.

Once you get the targets and potential witnesses under oath before a grand jury, I would start working on flipping the ones against which I had the best evidence to testify against others.


Slight problem here, "Bart": Someone has already pointed out what happened with the Wisconsin 'election fraud':

"(The biggest part of that scandal, by the way, is not the dismissals of the U.S. Attorneys, or the use of RNC accounts for White House e-mails (and the "deletion" thereof), or even the groundless prosecution of Democratic officials on basically no evidence at all, such as Georgia Thompson in Wisconsin (where a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals that included Frank Easterbrook summarily reversed the conviction mere hours after an oral argument in which the government was unable to provide a shred of justification for the prosecution)." -- Prof. Lederman from the post

But while we're at it, "Bart", given your attitude towards rigourous investigation, I assume you approve fully of getting to the bottom of the USA scandal, the impeding of criminal investigations, etc., and support putting all the maladministration crooks and thugs in front of a gradn jury? Right?

As for "Bart"'s little ejaculation: "Perhaps you might find some common names like the ACORN employees...." Sounds like Bart's idea of "prosecution" is not to find a crime and then try to find out who did it, but rather to find someone he doesn't like and try and find a "crime" to pin on them....

Cheers,
 

PMS_Chicago:

A newspaper-led investigation found 20% of the 1100 voters to be legal voters whose addresses were screwed up due to clerical error. That leaves approximately 900 ineligible voters out of 277,535 who voted.

Ummm, are you sure these people even voted. IIRC this was just the voter registration rolls.

Cheers,
 

Great post Mr Lederman. I enjoy your writing.

One question: is there any prescient on issues such as the attorney firings?

http://cafzal.blogspot.com/
 

To change the subject a bit, I think that Gonzalez's statement illustrates a way in which things went horribly wrong in the day to day decisionmaking process at the DOJ. It is easy to think of consensus as a positive thing but, that is not necesarily the case. Juxtapose this passage from Gonzalez's statement:

"I did so because I understood that the recommendations represented the consensus of senior Justice Department officials most knowledgeable about the performance of all 93 U.S. Attorneys."

With these responses from the interview of Daniel Metcalfe from law.com:

"But the process of agency functioning, however, became dramatically different almost immediately after Gonzales arrived. No longer was emphasis placed on accomplishing something with the highest-quality product in a timely fashion; rather, it became a matter of making sure that a "consensus" was achieved, regardless of how long that might take and with little or no concern that quality would suffer in such a "lowest common denominator" environment. And heaven help anyone, career or noncareer employee, if that "consensus" did not include whatever someone in the White House might think about something, be it large, small or medium-sized.

In short, the culture markedly shifted to one in which avoiding any possibility of disagreement anywhere was the overriding concern, as if "consensus" were an end unto itself. Undergirding this, what's more, was the sad fact that so many political appointees in 2005 and 2006 were so obviously thinking not much further than their next (i.e., higher-level) position, in some place where they could "max out" by the end of Bush's second term."

And

"Yes, but they accrue only to the participants in the process. Indeed, by operating in this way, they manage to avoid any singular responsibility for the result, or any part of it, which is another way of saying that they see themselves as running no risk of blame if anyone beyond the group has any problem with what they've done at any point.

After all, it was "the group" that did it (whatever that might be), and they achieved presumptively benign "consensus" (at all costs) before moving forward. You can imagine how important this is to someone whose primary interest in most any government action is to make sure that it doesn't somehow get in the way of securing that next (but not necessarily last) position before the end of a presidential administration. And remember that there's little downside to operating in this way if your basic view of government (in line with your inexperience) holds little respect for it in the first place. In other words, if it doesn't really matter so much to you how well or efficiently a government activity is handled, just so long as it eventually is handled, then the thinking is: Why not handle it in the way that most effectively minimizes personal risk? What this breeds, of course, is an utter lack of individual responsibility -- the very antithesis of good government."
 

Marty -- It may well be true. I have no idea. My point is that this is awfully thin sourcing, even by contemporary standards -- a single source who merely had "conversations" with officials who may or may not have been in a position to know what actually occurred. There may be no reason to doubt the claim, but the sourcing does not provide any reason to believe it either. As I noted before, there is plenty to criticize in what we know occurred without relying on broader speculation.

JHA
 

Hey Bart -- why don't you give some of us down here in Florida an answer why U.S. Attorney for Tampa are, Paul Perez, suddenly resigned, so conveniently, as all this U.S. Attornye firing stuff and the Gonzalez-Rove-Miers role in it began to heat up in Congress?

I can give you some possible reasons:

1. Disabled person files Americans With Disabilities Act civil rights case to enforce need for reasonable accommodations. Disabled people pursuing civil rights become targets of the Bush administration enemy list.

2. In response to disabled person bringing ADA civil rights cases, foreign Vessel gets recklessly tied to ensure vessel would break loose at height of 2004 Hurricane Jeanne and harm or kill the civil rights litigants.

3. Vessel never reported in to port of Tampa as of 2006 on a May 2000 U.S. Customs Permit to proceed to port of Tampa issued by U.S. Customs at O'Hare (Chicago), could never produce vessel's purported Cayman Island vessel registration, had no insurance (required for CI registration), lacked FCC License, and last listed owner was Enron's foremer bankruptcy attorney. WHO REALLY OWNS THIS MYSTERIOUS VESSEL?

4. Upon arrest of the vessel in admiralty in the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division federal court, a willful, material, admitted, and confessed perjurer, Theron Hutto, was brought forth to falsely testify and masquerdae as an Ocean Unlimited Master who could captain any ship of the United States fleet on any seas. APPARENTLY PERJURY WAS THE ONLY WAY TO GET RID OF THE VESSEL -- I.E., SPOLIATE THE EVIDENCE.

5. The perjurer is still walking free brazenly mocking us that he will never be prosecuted for his perjury in open court, despite such perjury and vessel circumstances posing an obvious threat to America's National ports security and numerous criminal shipping and other federal law violations. Neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice will prosecute Mr Hutto, or those involved with the numerous criminal shipping (46 USC), U.S. Customs, and other federal law violations. WHY?????

6. The perjurer admitted under Rule 11 in a Case Management Report the vessel was operating as a surveillance platform on my husband and I, while lacking an FCC license. WHO WAS REALLY BEHIND SURVEILLING INNOCENT AMERICANS CIVIL RIGHTS LITIGANTS?

7. During a hearing last May, the courtroom of Federal Judge James D. Whittemore looked like it might have been Judge Sirica's from the Watergate era,
with appx. 25-35 people showing up to lsiten to the argument in the case, with a "fed-look." WHO WERE ALL THESE PEOPLE AND WHY WERE THEY THERE????? May 24, 2006 ....

8. In another case of my husband's, the U.S. Attorney's Office under Paul Perez presented a written medical report by a U.S. Attorney's Office Expert to try to defeat my husband's claim, which report was falsified in violation of Florida law by basing the medical opinion on a video deposition of myself that never occured because I filed a motion to quash the deposition subpoena. WHY WOULD THE TAMPA U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE UNDER PAUL PEREZ USE A FALSIFIED MEDICAL REPORT OF A VIDEO DEPOSITION THAT NEVER OCCURRED TO OBSTRUCT RECOVERY ON A CLAIM OF A DISABLED PERSON?

9. I was then solicited by Bradley Boyce Bowen and his associate to move my equine disability service horse to a horse facility that turns out to have been run by the convicted cocaine trafficker who cooperated with the giovernment (i.e., a confidential informant), Bradley Boyce Bowen, who was starving and killing horses at the place in what could only be characterized as a little equine Auschwitz. Mr. Bowen induced me to train a number of his horses, and then refused to pay me, offering instead to pay with ilegal marijuana, which my husband and I refused and moved out. WAS THIS A TAMPA U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE PAUL PEREZ ENTRAPMENT ATTEMPT ON A DISABLED PERSON THAT COULD HAVE KILLED A DISABLED PERSON'S SERVICE ANIMAL? HOW LOW CAN THEY GO.

10. The case my husband and I brought against the perjurer, Theron Hutto, was abruptly dismissed by Federal Judge Whittemore almost immediately after we began discovery of Mr. Hutto's employment records with Jack Abramoff's SunCruz Casinos bankruptcy and the United States Trustee, which we sought because Mr. Hutto sent an email we obtained admitting he worked for SunCruz when it purchased Empress. WAS THERE A JACK ABRAMOFF INVOLVEMENT WITH THE TAMPA U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE UNDER PAUL PEREZ IN THE FOREGOING INQUIRED ACTIVITIES INVOLVING TWO DISABLED PEOPLE TO OBSTRUCT ENFORCEMENT OF THEIR DISABILITY CIVIL RIGHTS? IF SO, IS THE PRESIDENT FAILING TO CARRY OUT HIS DUTIES TO ENFORCE THE LAW? (IT SHOUULD BE NOTED, MR. GONZALEZ' DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DENIED TO RESOLVE SOME TITLE II ADA DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS AGAINST GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES BY DENYING THEM AS MERITLESS UNDER TITLE III OF THE ADA, APPLICABLE TO BUSINESSES).

11. I get blogged on the Volokh.com by an ananymous blog ID named "whit" with use of the English language appearing very much like that used in several Orders in our vessel case involving Judge
Whittemore. "Whit" admits he assisted law enforcement (I.E., is a confidential informant?). When I confronted "whit" with a request to know if he was the honorable James D. Whittemore, "whit" refused to respond despite it being a criminal violation to attack others on a blog under an ananymous blog ID without disclosing true identity. IS ANYONE EVER ALLOWED TO KNOW IF A FEDERAL JUDGE WAS SERVING AS A CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT FOR THE TAMPA U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE UNDER PAUL PEREZ IN CASES HE WAS ADJUDICATING AS A FEDERAL JUDGE?

So -- a BIG QUESTION -- why is Congress not asking Mr. Gonzalez what the real reason is Tampa United States Attorney Paul Perez resigned? WHY DID TAMPA U.S. ATTORNEY PAUL PEREZ REALLY RESIGN????????????

Was it to conceal the Justice Department's involvement in obstructing disability civil rights cases in Tampa?

Was Paul Perez under the direction of Alberto Gonzalez irreparably prejudicing the independence of the Federal Judiciary and violating Separation of Powers by using a federal judge as a confidential informant to assist law enforcement while the judge was adjudicating a case involving the same matters? AND IF SO -- IS THIS A PRACTICE THAT OCCURRED ACROSS THE COUNTRY????????

Is this appearance of impropriety involving the Tampa U.S. Attorney's Office now spilling over into a case in the Florida Thirteenth Judicial Circuit involving removing Bradley Boyce Bowen from the horse facilty and preventing a damage recovery against the several attorneys and state Court Judge who financed Mr. Bowen's scam by illegally excluding a known disabled person in violation of Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act? QUESTION -- IS VIOLATING THE TITLE II ADA RIGHTS OF A DISABLED PERSON A METHOD TO PROTECT LAWYERS AND A JUDGE WHO MIGHT HAVE SPONSORED A CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT IN A HORSE FACILITY TO HARM DISABLED PEOPLE AND A DISABILITY SERVICE ANIMAL???? HOW LOW. AND MAYBE EXCEEDED CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT GUIDELINES BY STARVING NUMEROUS HELPLESS INNOCENT HORSES?????

Was the Tampa U.S. Attorney's Office under Paul Perez involved in the reckless tie-up of the vessel to try to harm disabled civil rights litigants in Federal Court? IF SO, WHY???????? IS THIS TAKING THE NSA SPYING ON AMERICANS TO ANOTHER LOW??????

Was the Tampa U.S. Attorney's Office under Paul Perez protecting Theron Hutto's perjury and association with Jack Abramoff's SunCruz Casinos to obstruct a remedy for the reckless tie-up of the vessel, and Hutto's admission the vessel was conducting surveillance? IF SO, IS THIS OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE??????????

Was the Tampa U.S. Attorney's Office under Paul Perez involved in Bradley Boyce Bowen working with several attorneys and a Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida Judge as a confidential informant to try to hurt and starve a known disabled person's equine disability service horse?

WHY ISN'T CONGRESS ASKING ABOUT THE RESIGNATION OF TAMPA UNITED STATES ATTORNEY PAUL PEREZ AND WHETHER HE RESIGNED TO AVOID INQUIRY IF HE WAS CARRYING OUT A REPUBLICAN AGENDA UNDER ALBERTO GONZALEZ AND THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE -- AND HOW JACK ABRAMOFF'S SUNCRUZ CASINOS MIGHT HAVE PLAYED A PART IN THIS?

Now there's a loose thread Congress should investigate!!

DID ANY OF THE MISSING ROVE E-MAILS DISCUSS ANY OF THIS??????? THAT WOUDL BE A CONVENIENT REASON THEY MIGHT HAVE GONE MISSING ....

AFFECTED AMERICANS WANT TO KNOW IF THEY HAVE BEEN ABUSED AND PUT ON ENEMY LISTS BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE DISABLED AND ASSERT THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT!!!!!!

THIS WOULD BE A REAL LOW.

WHY WON'T ANYONE INVESTIGATE THIS??????????????
 

Arne re: bart... Don't leave out Freeperville, WhirledNutzDaily, ClownHall, and LittleGreenSnotballs.

Or Robert Bork. Bart's "criticisms" of Janet Reno in previous threads read like they were written by Judge Bork himself. In fact, I think they were written by Bork.
 

Jonathan H. Adler said...

May I suggest that you follow this at TPM. Josh Marshall has been doing a fine job and all the docs are there online to read through. Look for them.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

And that has now been confirmed.

Bush pulled the trigger on Iglesias.
 

Ummm, are you sure these people even voted. IIRC this was just the voter registration rolls.

The initial GOP complaint was indeed about registration rolls, and was submitted as close to the election as possible, thereby preventing (intentionally or not) adequate time for challenge or proper investigation.

The numbers I gave above were taken from
a post-election investigation by the Journal-Sentinel.
They refer to actual ballots cast, not registration rolls. In any case, a fraction of the accusation, and small enough to be explained better by senescence and carelessness than a great conspiracy.
 

PMS_Chicago:

Thanks for the link and the clarification.

FWIW, the JS is the more conservative-leaning newspaper in Wisconsin (and this is a by-lined article).

But, to clarify further, the article says this:

That means there are potentially hundreds of cases in which a vote was counted for someone whose existence could not be confirmed, at an address that does not exist.

That's still a bit different than your statement, PMS, that "[t]hat leaves approximately 900 ineligible voters out of 277,535 who voted."

The discrepancies are unresolved, but by no means proven to show "ineligible voters". And to show fraud in addition would probably require some scienter. Not saying there was no such cases, but there's harldy proof of any significant number. While they did some tests for transpositions and clerical errors in addresses, did they do the same for such in names? How about changed names (which also tend to go with changed addresses, and possibly with mistakes in recording the proper address)?

Cheers,
 

Marty,

You refrained from commenting on the most revealing sentence in Mr. Gonzales's op-ed: "During those conversations, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign." "To my knowledge"? Didn't he know whether he was making decisions or not? That phrase, "to my knowledge", would be innocuous in a spoken response - it would simply be a politician's precautionary verbal reflex. But in a written article, it suggests that he (or his ghost-writer) means it: The attorney-general couldn't tell whether he was making a decision or not. In other words, he was, in a very literal way, acting as a rubber stamp if not a marionette.
 

David Luban:

This "TTBOMK" is sprinkled all the way through everything he's been saying lately, near as I can tell. It's a variant of "I don't remember..." and "I was out of the loop"; a GOOJF card, inoculation against a perjury rap in case something comes up that proves him to be a liar.

Cheers,
 

That's still a bit different than your statement, PMS, that "[t]hat leaves approximately 900 ineligible voters out of 277,535 who voted."

The discrepancies are unresolved, but by no means proven to show "ineligible voters".


Right, and I should have put quote marks around the words "ineligible" and "horrible" in that post for the sarcasm-impaired. The overall point I was trying to make is that the number of questionable votes was unbelievably low. 900, incidentally, is the same number that the city attorney thought worthy of investigation, but only 14 people were charged by the USA, and of those only 5 were convicted.

5 out of 277,535 ballots cast, that's .002%.

Kind of funny to return to Bart's hypothetical:
If large numbers of these registrations have common sources (say ACORN for the purposes of this scenario), then convene a criminal grand jury and get warrants to search ACORN offices and the homes of the ACORN employees identified on the registration forms. If the election and the fraud is still ongoing, you may want to consider getting wiretap warrants.

Without previously notifying the potential targets to tip them off, simultaneously launch the raids to search the offices and homes and interview the potential targets to nail down their stories before they can get lawyered up and invent a common lie.

...

I have yet to see a single fired US Attorney provide us with exactly what investigation they actually performed. Obviously, nothing approaching what I suggested above or they would have proudly disclosed it.


Obviously, they can't detail their methods because it would endanger electoral security. If fraudulent voters (voterrorists) were to know the government's system for investigating fraud, they would be able to carry out more effective attacks on our elections. ;)
 

PMS_Chicago:

Right, and I should have put quote marks around the words "ineligible" and "horrible" in that post for the sarcasm-impaired....

... and I guess for people slow on the uptake like me (believe me, I'm not 'sarcasm-impaired', ask "Bart"...)

... The overall point I was trying to make is that the number of questionable votes was unbelievably low. 900, incidentally, is the same number that the city attorney thought worthy of investigation, but only 14 people were charged by the USA, and of those only 5 were convicted.

And they were convicted. As I've pointed out, this needs emphasis: Misbehaviour can be dealt with after-the-fact if and when it does occur (which, FWIW, is the way we've always dealt with criminal behaviour). There is no "problem"; what we have works.

Cheers,
 

I am coming to this discussion late but would love some clarification:

First, Pat Fitzgerald? The same Patrick Fitzgerald who was in charge of the Libby investigations? Is this correct?

My first response was this can't be right. It would be political suicide to go after the Prosecutor investigating your administration on such a high-profile case.

And if these allegations are true, and these comments were made:

DURBIN: Why did you say it? Why did you recommend, or at least suggest, that [Fitzgerald] be removed as U.S. attorney?

SAMPSON: I'm not sure. I think -- I don't remember. I think it was, maybe, to get a reaction from them.

what does Sampson mean by 'reaction?'

I probably haven't been keeping up with this story like I should. Are there allegations that the Bush administration was trying to strong-arm Fitzgerald into backing off the Libby investigations?
 

First, Pat Fitzgerald? The same Patrick Fitzgerald who was in charge of the Libby investigations? Is this correct?

Yes, him. Really.

what does Sampson mean by 'reaction?'

I don't think anyone (other than Sampson) knows.
 

OK. Suppose, as many of us suspect, that there was tons of evading, distorting, half-truths and lies that came out after the fact. Reasons for outrage, I agree.

But what's seemingly ignored, and should be the source of HUGE outrage, is how this got snuck into law in the first place. Either The Mayberry Machiavellians asked Spector's aide to sneak this in, attempting to make sure that NOBODY (no elected legislators, not even Spector) knew what they were voting on (which makes me wonder how it could be said to be really a law...)or Spector is either a) lying about never knowing or b) once knew but is so forgetful that this slipped his mind...

Any of these is an outrage, in my opinion, even worse that what everybody's screaming about now-- the lies and coverups of the resignations & bad appointments. WHY AREN'T WE SCREAMING ABOUT THIS?
 

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