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U.S. Attorney Expose Released; Mukasey Appoints Special Prosector

This can’t help Alberto Gonzales with his continued job search.

After 18 months of investigation, the Justice Dept. Inspector General, along with the Office of Personal Responsibility, has released a damning 13-chapter, 356-page on the politically motivated dismissal of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006, including seven in one day. Attorney General Michael Mukasey has subsequently announced a special prosecutor to investigate if criminal charges should be brought against Gonzales.

As for the content of the report it may be more about what isn’t contained and merits further investigation: no smoking gun that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress and no cooperation and interviews with White House officials, including Karl Rove. The IG lacked subpoena power and is limited in what it can investigate outside the Justice Dept.

That said the report appears (I’ve only read the intro so far) to be perhaps the most damning indictment yet of the Gonzales Justice Dept. Gonzales is slammed as being “remarkably unengaged” in the process of firing the Attorneys. Instead, the former AG delegated responsibilities to his Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson (this management pattern was also laid bare in an IG/OPR report this summer that Sampson illegally used political considerations to hire new Justice civil servants).

Sampson, for his part, based his dismissal decisions largely on whether the U.S. Attorney lacked support from his state Republican party. The IG/OPR report goes into each of Sampson’s politically motivated decisions. But the intro makes special mention of former New Mexico federal prosecutor David Iglesias, who was fired after not pursuing the public corruption cases that Rep. Heather Wilson, Sen. Pete Domenici, both Republicans, as well as the New Mexico Republican Party wanted him to. (Domenici is retiring from the Sentate this year, and Wilson, retiring from the House, lost a primary bid to take Donenici’s seat).

The report says:

Gonzales failed to take action even in the case of Iglesias when he had notice that partisan politics might be involved in the demand for Iglesias’s removal. We believe that Attorney General Gonzales abdicated his responsibility to safeguard the integrity and independence of the Department by failing to ensure that the removal of the U.S. Attorneys was not based on improper political considerations.

Stick with the Independent as we untangle this report and figure out what’s next for Gonzales and the Justice Dept. he left a year ago.

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