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Tilting at Windmills

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June 30, 2007

AND THEN THERE WERE SEVEN....For an "overblown personnel matter," the U.S. Attorney scandal sure has produced a lot of Justice Department resignations.

A Justice Department official who was considered as a possible replacement for one of several fired United States attorneys has resigned. The official, Rachel L. Brand, the assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, will step down July 9, the department said. The statement did not give a reason for her departure, but Ms. Brand is expecting a baby soon. She was a member of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's leadership team.

When officials were planning to fire prosecutors in San Diego, San Francisco, Michigan and Arkansas, Ms. Brand was named as a possible replacement for Margaret Chiari in Michigan, according to documents released as part of a Congressional inquiry.

Brand is the seventh senior aide to Gonzales to resign in the past few months.

She's also the latest to depart late on a Friday afternoon, a time the White House routinely uses (abuses) to hide embarrassing news. For those keeping score at home, Brand joins William Mercer, the former Acting Associate Attorney General; Michael Elston, former chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty; and Monica Goodling, Gonzales' former White House liaison, as top DoJ officials who stepped down by way of The Late-Friday-Media Trick.

Steve Benen 9:33 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Posted by: Joe Bob Briggs on June 30, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK


I finally got around to seeing a few minutes of the PBS debate from the other day. I thought the comments here about it the other day were not representative of what I saw. I'll try to post some general reflections today, hopefully after seeing a little more of it, and post link here later today.

Posted by: Swan on June 30, 2007 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Those religious folks from Regent etc., both the women and the "quiver-full" males, have lots of babies because "be fruitful and multiply." Then many of them get that $1,000/year child tax credit (yes credit, on top of the deduction) in which singles earning 30k pay to subsidize the kids of those making 80k, then conservative recipients complain about "welfare" which hardly exists anymore as such.
A bit OT but needs saying, but back on track: What's the stat on the lost and misrouted email scandal?

Posted by: Neil B. on June 30, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

There sure aren't a lot of comments here today. Is there a good game on or something?

Posted by: Swan on June 30, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

It must be Solstice. With all the lefties visiting this site, you have to figure a bunch of them are some kind of bizarre neo-pagans. /snark

Posted by: Swan on June 30, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

I liked this from this wonderful economist a few months ago:

"Overblown Personnel Matters, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: "Nobody is surprised to learn that the Justice Department was lying when it claimed that recently fired federal prosecutors were dismissed for poor performance. Nor is anyone surprised to learn that White House political operatives were pulling the strings.

What is surprising is how fast the truth is emerging about what Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, dismissed just five days ago as an “overblown personnel matter.”

Sources told Newsweek that the list of prosecutors to be fired was drawn up by Mr. Gonzales’s chief of staff, “with input from the White House.” And Allen Weh, the chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, told McClatchy News that he twice sought Karl Rove’s help ... in getting David Iglesias, the state’s U.S. attorney, fired for failing to indict Democrats. “He’s gone,” he claims Mr. Rove said.

After that story hit the wires, Mr. Weh claimed that his conversation ... took place after the decision to fire Mr. Iglesias had already been taken. Even if that’s true, Mr. Rove should have told Mr. Weh that political interference in matters of justice is out of bounds...

And the thuggishness seems to have gone beyond firing prosecutors who didn’t deliver the goods for the G.O.P. One of the fired prosecutors was — as he saw it — threatened with retaliation by a senior Justice Department official if he discussed his dismissal in public. Another was rejected for a federal judgeship after administration officials, including then-White House counsel Harriet Miers, informed him that he had “mishandled” the 2004 governor’s race in Washington, won by a Democrat, by failing to pursue vote-fraud charges.

As I said, none of this is surprising. The Bush administration has been purging, politicizing and de-professionalizing federal agencies since the day it came to power. But in the past it was able to do its business with impunity; this time Democrats have subpoena power, and the old slime-and-defend strategy isn’t working. ...

Still, a lot of loose ends have yet to be pulled. We now know exactly why Mr. Iglesias was fired, but still have to speculate about some of the other cases — in particular, that of Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney for Southern California.

Ms. Lam had already successfully prosecuted Representative Randy Cunningham, a Republican. Just two days before leaving office she got a grand jury to indict Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor, and Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the former third-ranking official at the C.I.A. ... And she was investigating Jerry Lewis, Republican of California, the former head of the House Appropriations Committee.

Was Ms. Lam dumped to protect corrupt Republicans? The administration says no, a denial that, in light of past experience, is worth precisely nothing. ...

What we really need — and it will take a lot of legwork — is a portrait of the actual behavior of prosecutors across the country. Did they launch spurious investigations of Democrats, as I suggested last week may have happened in New Jersey? Did they slow-walk investigations of Republican scandals, like the phone-jamming case in New Hampshire?

In other words, the truth about that “overblown personnel matter” has only begun to be told. The good news is that for the first time in six years, it’s possible to hope that all the facts about a Bush administration scandal will come out in Congressional hearings — or, if necessary, in the impeachment trial of Alberto Gonzales."

Posted by: consider wisely always on June 30, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, Solstice already passed. I wonder what it could be?

Maybe all the commenters fell into the Bermuda Triangle?

Posted by: Swan on June 30, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Weekend posts are always commented less heavily than weekday posts. I think a lot of posting happens while people are at work, when they're not really giving up their own time to do it. When a topic heats up a fair bit, the rigorous commenting extends well into the evening and next day, but the other posts' comments peter out significantly after work hours.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on June 30, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

This is creepy...

Posted by: Swan on June 30, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Ms. Brand is expecting a baby soon."

For a lot of people, that would be explanation enough. The kind of people who would never understand that motive have to invent something sinister.

Posted by: lamina on June 30, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting comment from Nina Totenburg on NPR yesterday. Evidently all the resignations are seriously affecting the Justice Department. Bush isn’t nominating any replacements because he knows the Senate won’t confirm them with Fredo still in charge. Meanwhile the management ranks at Justice are getting seriously thin.

Posted by: fafner1 on June 30, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Since he hasn't the decency to resign, and congress hasn't the stones to impeach him, the department is being neutered by attrition it would seem.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 30, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans worship a moron who said "government is the problem" and they are hell bent, apparently, to prove it.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 30, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

"It must be Solstice."

Oh. Was traffic really slow a week ago yesterday?

Because THAT was Solstice.

Kind of tells you how much Swan really knows about "leftists."

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 30, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

I should have added "and neo-pagans."

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 30, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

The weather in the Midwest is gorgeous today. so I'll bet people are reveling in the weather, as I am, sitting outside the local coffee house enjoying the sun and the glories of wireless Internet access.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 30, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

So why shouldn't this guy resign? Wouldn't you?

Posted by: slanted tom on June 30, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

the only thing creepy is Swan seriously wondering why a lot of people weren't sitting in front of their computers on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

You have to wonder what kind of person would ever consider that odd.

Posted by: haha on June 30, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

"the only thing creepy is Swan seriously wondering why a lot of people weren't sitting in front of their computers on a beautiful Saturday afternoon."

What a dumb statement. Is it a beautiful Saturday afternoon EVERYWHERE? It's cold and foggy where I live, and I bet it's hot and humid a whole lot of places, and just plain hot other places.

Sheesh. What do you not get about the Internets?

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 1, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK



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