Sunday, April 15, 2007

More Background On US Attorney Iglesias' Firing

Thanks to Josh Marshall for another link to another story on the developing US Attorney firings. He and his reporters have been all over this and they are providing excellent analysis the gives a lot of background that you wouldn't necessarily know just by reading the story. Here is a new story from the Albuquerque Journal. From the story:

At some point after the election last Nov. 6, Domenici called Bush's senior political adviser, Karl Rove, and told him he wanted Iglesias out and asked Rove to take his request directly to the president.

Domenici and Bush subsequently had a telephone conversation about the issue.

The conversation between Bush and Domenici occurred sometime after the election but before the firings of Iglesias and six other U.S. attorneys were announced on Dec. 7.

Iglesias' name first showed up on a Nov. 15 list of federal prosecutors who would be asked to resign. It was not on a similar list prepared in October.

The Journal confirmed the sequence of events through a variety of sources familiar with the firing of Iglesias, including sources close to Domenici. The senator's office declined comment.

...

In September 2005, Iglesias announced the arrests of state Treasurer Robert Vigil and his predecessor, Michael Montoya, on extortion charges. Both are Democrats in a state where Democrats control the Legislature and most statewide offices.

Republicans who had complained about political corruption in the state for years saw an opportunity to do more than complain. And this was an issue with political traction.

The point man would be Iglesias.

During one of his few news conferences while U.S. attorney, Iglesias called political corruption "endemic" in New Mexico.

The FBI also put a high priority on public corruption, naming it its top priority behind terrorism.

According to Justice Department memos turned over to congressional investigators, Domenici approached Iglesias in late 2005 and asked if he needed additional prosecutors for corruption cases.

Iglesias, according to the memo, told Domenici he didn't need white-collar crime prosecutors. He needed prosecutors for immigration cases.

Domenici was disappointed in the response. After that conversation, Domenici decided he would try to get Iglesias help, whether Iglesias wanted it or not.

In 2006, Domenici asked Gonzales if he could find additional experienced white-collar crime prosecutors to send to New Mexico. Gonzales had a number of prosecutors who were finishing the ENRON prosecutions and were quite experienced at complex white-collar crime cases.

None [were] sent [to New Mexico].


Now, on its face, you would think that "white collar crime" meant simply Enron-type corporate crime. But that is not the case. According to Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker:

The Journal story refers to Domenici's concern over Iglesias' performance prosecuting "white-collar crime." Was Domenici overwrought about corporate malfeasance? No -- it's a way of referring to public corruption cases, specifically two high-profile corruption cases Iglesias handled against New Mexico Democrats.

After Iglesias didn't jump fast enough with regard to the first case, an investigation into the Democratic state treasurer that dated back to 2005, Domenici's patience was apparently far too thin for the slow pace of the second investigation -- a kickback probe into New Mexico Democrat Manny Aragon.

Then this sequence of events happened (From the Albuquerque Journal story):

At some point after the election last Nov. 6, Domenici called Bush's senior political adviser, Karl Rove, and told him he wanted Iglesias out and asked Rove to take his request directly to the president.

Domenici and Bush subsequently had a telephone conversation about the issue.

The conversation between Bush and Domenici occurred sometime after the election but before the firings of Iglesias and six other U.S. attorneys were announced on Dec. 7.

Iglesias' name first showed up on a Nov. 15 list of federal prosecutors who would be asked to resign. It was not on a similar list prepared in October.

The Journal confirmed the sequence of events through a variety of sources familiar with the firing of Iglesias, including sources close to Domenici. The senator's office declined comment.


The Paul Kiel goes back to a previous entry he wrote at TPM Muckraker:

Now, there's another level to this. According to earlier statements from the White House and Kyle Sampson's testimony, Bush and Rove had already complained to Gonzales about Iglesias when Domenici called in November. Those complaints had to do with Iglesias' insufficiently aggressive pursuit of (Democratic) voter fraud, and they were made -- by President Bush and Karl Rove -- in mid-October.

So we have two different streams of complaints from the White House -- the first in October about voter fraud and then another in November, stemming from Domenici's concern at Iglesias' failure to move certain cases. Of course, both of them at their base were about Iglesias' failure to prosecute enough Democrats.

A motif is definitely developing here regarding the use of the Justice Department to prosecute Democratic candidates as a way to undermine their ability to run an effective campaign. It is a form of ad hominem attack. Now, such methods would always have been effective. There is a reason why political science, philosophy and law students study such arguments based on "fallacies of weak induction." They work.

It is even more true now. As our country grows in population, and political districts become more populous, and political campaigns become more about marketing a Cult of Personality around a single person rather than a set of ideas, these kinds of personal attacks will become more effective.

Look, I am all for honest government, and wrongdoers need to be punished; but the rules have to applied equally to those in both political parties, regardless of who is in power. Justice requires it. But the Bush Administration's actions are clearly revealing a disdain for career professionals who are trying to enforce rules based on the facts and law in a fair and impartial manner. We used to call what the Bush Administration increasingly appears to have done an "Abuse of Power." I don't know what they call it now -- "Smart Politics?"

Whatever it is, it needs to stop. And it needs to be more than just the Democrats in Congress that tells the President, his Administration and anyone else who enabled this perversion of justice to stop. What the Bush Administration has done with the Justice Department in this regard is an outrage. All Americans should be against the use of federal prosecutors to advance one political party's candidate's chance of winning.

There are certain innate and constant criteria that should transcend changes in policies and politics. The administration of justice should be one of them.

Also, the fact that none of the so-called "Christian" lawyers that the Bush Administration hired spoke out against such a plan is an outrage. I wish I could ask them: "What Would Jesus Do?"

The question "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" comes to my mind as I think what they have done to the Justice Department and the fact that it appears like no one spoke up and said "You can't do that."

I don't know if this same sentiment resonates throughout the rest of the voting public. I hope it does. On one level, I know that such outrage is one that is kind of an academic one for lawyers and political activists. But I wish I could make Joe Six Pack understand that the unequal application of justice in political cases will have an effect eventually on his ability to get a fair trial if he or anyone in his family ever gets charged with a crime. Even his personal injury case or his ability to dispute a debt that he is sued on can be affected.

We cannot allow any Administration to put their finger down on the Scales of Justice. Our whole system is based on equality before the law. To allow any Administration to get away with tilting those Scales threatens the very foundation and Constitution that this country is based on.

2 Comments:

P M Prescott said...

Thanks for coming by and posting on my site.
Manny Aragon has been accused of being involved in 4.5 mil dollar kick back scheme. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Of the twenty something charges against Robert Vigil he was only convicted on one. If Bush had not stacked the appellate courts with so many toadies it would have been overturned by now on appeal, it may still be.
When the Republican Governor Gary Johnson was in power he awarded a highway contract to a Kansas contractor under indictment for fraud, then agreed to a 50 million dollar "Warranty" that if the road needed to be repaired in the next twenty years they would fix it for free. The difference seems to be that Republican have a different name for kickback -- they call it a warranty.
BTW check out the link to my brother Bruce who heads Oklahoma's Mainstream Baptists

OkieLawyer said...

Mr. Prescott:

Glad you could come by and fill us in. As a resident of New Mexico, you have more information than most outsiders.

Regarding "kickback" vs. "warranty," I guess instead of "whose ox is getting gored" it's "whose pockets are getting lined."

I'll check out your brother's site and I still need to send you some money to get that autographed copy of your new book "Optimus: Praetorian Guard."