Patterico's Pontifications

3/24/2007

Kevin Drum Strikes Out

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:38 pm



Kevin Drum has a “list of reasons” that the U.S. Attorney firings were supposedly fishy. (H/t Andrew J. Lazarus.) Some of Drum’s reasons are simply misleading, but others are just flatly wrong. For example:

On a similar note, the day after Carol Lam notified DOJ that she was planning to expand the Duke Cunningham investigation, Kyle Sampson emailed the White House and told William Kelly to call him so he could explain the “real reason” he wanted to get rid of Lam. What was the real reason that he didn’t want to put in email?

This is not true. Sampson’s e-mail says in relevant part:

Please call me at your convenience to discuss the following:

* [Redacted]

* Tim Griffin for E.D. Ark; and

* The real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.

Nowhere does Sampson tell Kelley (not “Kelly”) to call him so he could explain the “real reason” he wanted to get rid of Lam.

Strike one.

Drum also says:

When DOJ released thousands of pages of emails last week, there was a mysterious 18-day gap from a period shortly before the firings were announced. This seems like precisely the period during which there would have been the greatest amount of email traffic. Where are the emails?

This is not true. There was no 18-day gap. Talking Points Memo initially claimed that there was a gap between November 15 and December 4. But several e-mails were subsequently located within the alleged gap, including on November 16, an exchange between November 20 through 22, an e-mail from November 29, and another from December 1. There is no gap longer than a week.

Strike two.

They fired eight USAs at once. This is wildly unprecedented. Why did they feel the need for such an extensive sweep?

Clinton fired 93 U.S. Attorneys all at once. I think I know what Kevin is trying to say, but he put it very poorly, and his statement as written is flatly false.

Strike three.

There are other points cited by Drum that are misleading and inaccurate, but don’t fall into the “flatly false” category like the three mentioned above. For example, Drum says: “The email dump contained virtually nothing from before the firings discussing the reasons for targeting the eight USAs who were eventually fired.” I’m not citing this as a factual error, because you could quibble over the meaning of the word “virtually.” But it is totally misleading, given the plethora of pre-firing material (some of which is discussed here) available in the e-mails.

I think Kevin is an honest guy. It’s my belief that he simply has a poor grasp of some of the details of this controversy — and has perhaps gotten snookered by the L.A. Times on a few points as well.

Hey, that’s OK. It happens to a lot of people.

UPDATE: Drum has corrected his post in response to this one, and says:

I think even Patrick realizes this is pretty desperate quibbling. If that’s the defense’s idea of a defense, the Justice Department is in big trouble.

Well, my intent was not to provide a full defense of the Administration in one post, but to point out several clear and unmistakable errors in Kevin’s post. It’s wrong for Kevin to assume that my post is a full defense, when I explicitly say in the post: “There are other points cited by Drum that are misleading and inaccurate, but don’t fall into the ‘flatly false’ category like the three mentioned above.”

As to a more general “defense,” while I am not in the business of defending the Administration as such, I am in the business of seeking the truth. Relevant to that issue, for several days now, I have been pointing out things overlooked by Big Media on this scandal. I’m not repeating them all in this post. If you want to get to the meat of it — were genuine performance issues flagged before the fact? — I have provided quite a bit of evidence that they were. Much of it is listed in the link cited three paragraphs up. Just because I don’t repeat all of that in this post doesn’t mean that I haven’t said it.

By the way, the reason I noted Drum’s misspelling of “Kelley” was not to be pedantic, but to reinforce the conclusion that he wasn’t actually looking at the e-mail itself at the moment he so badly (and materially) misquoted it.

UPDATE x2: Look: I’m not going to write a book on this issue every time it comes up. In the post, I have a link to a post which, in turn, links three other posts that extensively discuss the issue of whether legitimate reasons existed to fire these people. If I cared to pull out all the arguments from those posts, and set them all out here, it would read like a devastasting response to Drum’s misleading argument that “The email dump contained virtually nothing from before the firings discussing the reasons for targeting the eight USAs who were eventually fired. It’s just not so. There are reams of documentation on issues like Lam’s failure to prosecute immigration cases; Charlton’s overly restrictive immigration guidelines; Ryan’s management issues; McKay’s public complaints about resources and revealing internal guidelines; Bogden’s and Charlton’s neglect of obscenity cases (which I agree with, but which was an Administration priority); Iglesias and McKay’s neglect of voter fraud; and the list goes on and on and on. I’m not going to repeat all of this stuff in every post I write. If you are all too lazy to follow the links, that’s your problem, not mine.

You can argue that there are potential responses to some of the voluminous documentation of these reasons, and it’s a debate that we’ve been having here for days. But to say that there is “virtually nothing” there — I’m sorry, Kevin, but that is just not true, at all. And, like your more blatant errors, it reveals that you fundamentally don’t grasp the details of this subject.

UPDATE x3: Drum’s correction on Lam is still misleading. It now reads:

On a similar note, the day after Carol Lam notified DOJ that she was planning to expand the Duke Cunningham investigation, Kyle Sampson emailed the White House and told William Kelley to call him so he could explain the “real problem” he had with Lam. What was the real problem that he didn’t feel comfortable putting in email?

This is still wrong. Sampson didn’t say he wanted to “explain” the “real problem” with Lam on the phone. He said he wanted to “discuss” it.

These are not minor issues. The issue of immigration had come up repeatedly in previous e-mails. Assume you have been discussing an issue with someone, and have extensively set forth reasons for a proposed action. If you subsequently say, “Call me so I can explain the real reason” or even “Call me so I can explain the real problem we have,” that implies that the problem is different from the one you have been discussing. If you say, “Call me to discuss the real problem we have,” that is consistent with the notion that the problem you have been discussing constitutes a real problem — i.e., a major one that needs to be addressed.

Drum’s mischaracterization of the e-mail, even now, makes it seem inconsistent with the notion that immigration was really the issue with Lam. But the actual e-mail is quite consistent with that notion.

39 Responses to “Kevin Drum Strikes Out”

  1. If everything is so honest and above board, why does Bush not want his aides testifying under oath and why has a new document emerged contradicting the Attorney General who said he was not involved in the firings? Given Bush track record, who can believe him or any of his cronies.

    Smells like Watergate part Two to me..

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  2. Hmm. Think you’re over-reaching a bit on the first one Rico.

    Drum:

    Kyle Sampson emailed the White House and told William Kelly to call him so he could explain the “real reason” he wanted to get rid of Lam.”

    The e-mail:

    “Please call me at your convenience to discuss…The real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.”

    You aren’t pointing at the “reason” vs “problem” language are you? If its not that, is it that he wanted to have someone ready to nominate at the end of the term, and your argument is that isn’t “get(ting) rid” of her?

    It seems to me like he’s fairly represented what’s in the e-mail, tho it is in error in insignificant ways.

    Dwilkers (4f4ebf)

  3. I have to agree with Kevin Drum that your post sounds like “pretty desperate quibbling.”

    Do you really think that the spelling of “Kelley” changes the substance of the case? Do you really think it’s any less suspicious that Sampson wrote about “the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam”? Please.

    The very fact that you can’t find any significant problems with Drum’s list suggests that there really is something wrong with these firings. I think you’d be better off to stick with your earlier plan to stop being the defense attorney for a bad client.

    Oregonian (34653a)

  4. clinton fired 93 u.s. attorneys at the beginning of his term. since these are political appointees, a housecleaning at the beginning of a new administration doesn’t excite nearly the same kind of suspicion as the firing of eight non-loyal-bushies does at this time, and it is fundamentally misleading to compare the two.

    assistant devil's advocate (dec7e7)

  5. I do not understand why “we” (I exclude myself) so constantly need to defer to the rabid, vile, destructive left with such nicities as “I think Kevin is an honest guy.” His entire political belief structure is built on lies and a broken ideology, towhich he swears completely. Would he– or any other lefty blog– EVER give you, Patterico, such respect? Look at the proceeding comments.
    This entire AG “scandal” is in and of itself utter nonsense and utterly dangerous, both in practice and precedent. No dimocratic really cares about these matters, they just want to “get Bush.” Period. The fact that we are at war, that the Iranians are acting in alarming fashion, that we as a country need more than ever to unite? Who cares. GET BUSH.
    No, Clinton’s firing of all the AGs, and particulary those who truly were actively investigating both him and his people, the fact that Drum et al can simply ignore that proves their radical, partisan roots and makes the entirety of their “arguments” moot and asinine.

    Vetter (ceb759)

  6. See the update, folks. If I had intended this post as a full response to all his points, I wouldn’t have explicitly said it’s not.

    ada,

    I’m not comparing the two, my friend, and I said that I think I understand what Kevin is trying to say. I was just noting that his claim was flatly wrong as written.

    Look: I’m not going to write a book on this issue every time it comes up. In the post, I have a link to a post which, in turn, links three other posts that extensively discuss the issue of whether legitimate reasons existed to fire these people. If I cared to pull out all the arguments from those posts, and set them all out here, it would read like a devastasting response to Drum’s misleading argument that “The email dump contained virtually nothing from before the firings discussing the reasons for targeting the eight USAs who were eventually fired.” But I’m not going to repeat all of this stuff in every post I write. If you are all too lazy to follow the links, that’s your problem, not mine.

    I will update the post again to set forth what I just said in the body of the post.

    Patterico (04465c)

  7. Vetter,

    I think Drum is an honest guy. But I am annoyed at the assumption that my post was a full defense of the Administration on every point he made — when I made it clear it wasn’t. I am tired of having debates with partisans like his commenters, who simply use debating tricks and don’t really have an open mind to facts. That’s why I’m not wasting my time re-writing the book on this whole issue.

    I normally would let something like his post go entirely — but he said some things that were such whoppers (albeit unintentionally, I believe) that they *had* to be corrected.

    Like that bit about Sampson.

    Patterico (04465c)

  8. DWilkers, what Drum said is totally, 100%, meaningfully different from what was actually said.

    In the phrase “real reason” the word “real” necessarily implies “a different reason from the one we have been discussing in e-mails.” In the phrase “real problem” the word “real” is fairly interpreted as meaning “the very serious problem we have” — which is consistent with its being the same problem previously discussed in the e-mails.

    Drum’s characterization of the e-mail makes it inconsistent with the notion that immigration was really the issue with Lam. But the actual e-mail is quite consistent with that notion.

    And for Drum to get that central fact that badly wrong is the thing that, more than anything else, tells me that he really hasn’t been following this closely. He’s just been bamboozled by the misleading LAT coverage. I bet he hasn’t even read through the e-mails.

    Patterico (04465c)

  9. I live in the CA-50. Carol Lam had already closed on the highest-profile corruption case in my memory, and was closing in on more interrelated cases. To dismiss her at that point due to something like insufficient zeal in pursuing illegal immigration is like canning Eliot Ness right before the Capone trial because of lack of attention to prostitution or some other thing. It’s ridiculous on its face. She was going after bigger fish, and everybody knows that’s why she was fired.

    PseudoNoise (3f2e98)

  10. Carol Lam had already closed on the highest-profile corruption case in my memory, and was closing in on more interrelated cases.

    Which ones were those, and has anything come of them since? Does this corruption go higher than the U.S. Congressman (Cunningham) who is already behind bars? If not, isn’t it reasonable to assume that whomever replaces Ms. Lam can take over?

    JVW (63f266)

  11. PseudoNoise,

    Whatever happened to the investigations that you seem to assume were derailed when Lam was fired?

    Do you have the slightest degree of evidence that they were affected in any way?

    I’ll bet you don’t.

    Patterico (04465c)

  12. Patterico (& JVW),

    Can you show me the “slightest degree of evidence” that the USA who replaced Lam was going to pursue the offshoots of the Cunningham investigation–the CIA and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)–with as much vigor as Lam? Isn’t that maybe, just maybe, what Gonzales and Co. were planning on when they fired her?

    Rich (1ba3c2)

  13. Rich,

    Were you not aware that Lam was not the one investigating Lewis?

    Patterico (2d7474)

  14. Absolutely, Rich, I can prove mathematically that the atty. who replaces Lam will pursue it with 2% more vigor than Lam. This is based upon the amount of time he/she plans to devote to the case (a range of 5-7%), along with an increase in word processing skills (+3.4%). This will be offset by Lam’s greater degree of experience with the case (in this case a delta somewhere in the range of -4%), but the net effect will be an increase of vigor.

    [insert stupid sarcasm emoticon here]

    I think the way it works is that if you are making the allegation — in this case that some related investigation that PseudoNoise knows about which will apparently lead to the indictment of important people is now threatened by the replacement of Lam — you need to provide the proof for it. You can’t, my dear Rich, turn around and say “prove that it won’t.”

    JVW (63f266)

  15. #12 As has been stated here many times any investigation and prosecution of Lewis would have been done in the CDCA (Los Angeles) not in San Diego.

    Assuming your reference to the CIA refers to Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, he has been indicted by Lam’s successor.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  16. In regards to strike one–I don’t think Drum’s error makes much of a difference. I have the basic quote in this post and it does not indicate that the “problem” was the need for a replacement, but rather than whatever the problem was led to the need for a replacement:

    “Please call me at your convenience to discuss the following,” Sampson wrote, referring to “[t]he real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.”

    Note that the reference to the “problem” led Sampson to conclude that they needed a replacement.

    I can’t speak directly to strike two. I have read that there was a gap, but have not investigated said gap myself.

    “Strike three” is simply not a strike. There is a substantial and historically significant difference in cleaning house at the start of a new administration of 93 USAs whose terms had expired and were going to be leaving anyway, and firing 8 USAs in the mid-point of a second term. In the past 25 years prior to this point in time there had been 10 mid-term firings, almost all for malfeasance (and I think all in first terms). As such, these are simply different types of actions.

    Of course, “three strikes” is an arbitrary number to assert that someone is out when there are 9 items on the table or differing weight and that have a cumulative effect and can therefore not be treated as discrete units.

    Steven Taylor (ae5a4c)

  17. Steven Taylor,

    The real issue on the table is whether the Administration had a valid justification for the firings before the fact. I direct you to the updates for numerous links on this issue, which your comment ignores entirely, in favor of the misleading Drum spin that my isolated corrections were intended as a full defense of the Administration on the entire range of complaints raised in this area.

    Patterico (04465c)

  18. A point of correction: Lam’s term was expiring, so she would not be a mid-term replacement, per se. As such I actually find her replacement less problematic than those of several of the other ousted USAs, most specifically Iglesias and McKay. The Cummins ousted is distasteful as it appears to have been nothing other than cronyism.

    Steven Taylor (ae5a4c)

  19. Patterico,

    I could ask you to go read all my posts, for that matter. (And I have, btw, read a number of your posts on this subject).

    I am not stating, btw, that your post is a full defense of the admin. Rather I do think that you failed to call three strikes on his list.

    Steven Taylor (ae5a4c)

  20. And I remain unconvinced as I research this issue that the administration did, in fact, have justifications for the firings or that they were, in fact, just business as usual.

    I remain open to the possibility that, in fact, this was the case, but the information that is currently on the table coupled with the administration’s behavior makes it very, very difficult to simply see this as a nothing story.

    Steven Taylor (ae5a4c)

  21. In regards to strike one–I don’t think Drum’s error makes much of a difference. I have the basic quote in this post and it does not indicate that the “problem” was the need for a replacement, but rather than whatever the problem was led to the need for a replacement:

    I responded to this in comment #8, but it appears I have to repeat myself again and again:

    In the phrase “real reason” the word “real” necessarily implies “a different reason from the one we have been discussing in e-mails.” In the phrase “real problem” the word “real” is fairly interpreted as meaning “the very serious problem we have” — which is consistent with its being the same problem previously discussed in the e-mails.

    I can’t speak directly to strike two. I have read that there was a gap, but have not investigated said gap myself.

    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing. I can speak to it directly. Drum was wrong. Follow my link and you’ll see that the “investigation” is already done for you.

    “Strike three” is simply not a strike.

    Strike three is simply a strike. Steven Taylor, do you want to put your credibility behind the following assertion?

    They fired eight USAs at once. This is wildly unprecedented.

    Sorry, my friend, but it most certainly is not.

    You have this infuriating habit of seeming not to read things I have already said, so let me repeat myself yet yet yet again:

    I think I know what Kevin is trying to say, but he put it very poorly, and his statement as written is flatly false.

    And that is 100% true.

    Patterico (04465c)

  22. Steven Taylor,

    You say:

    I am not stating, btw, that your post is a full defense of the admin.

    That’s how I took it. You said:

    Of course, “three strikes” is an arbitrary number to assert that someone is out when there are 9 items on the table or differing weight and that have a cumulative effect and can therefore not be treated as discrete units.

    I took that as an assertion that he had nine points, and I only even tried to refute three.

    I could ask you to go read all my posts, for that matter.

    Well, if I said something that could be interpreted as an accusation that you hadn’t made your case, in a single post where you explicitly said you weren’t trying to make your full case (and linked other posts that did more fully and explicitly make the case), I would expect you to point out the fact that you had other posts on the issue.

    Patterico (04465c)

  23. I am not in the business of defending the Adminisration as such

    One could say that your inability to spell “administration” reinforces the conclusion that you shouldn’t be throwing rocks at Kevin. But that would be snarky.

    Oregonian (cc4c17)

  24. Occam’s Razor. Shadows On Cave Wall. Both concepts seem to support the idea that Gonzo lied, Bush lied, and everyone is hiding something.

    I noticed the Doc dumps don’t help Bush/DOJ settle anything; Only makes it worse.

    I’d think I’d make a bet in Vegas that Bush and Gonzo screwed up something and are trying real hard, (too hard), to hide it.

    And other folks are trying, (too hard as well), to say nothings wrong here.

    James (704e93)

  25. Posted on 3/25/2007 @ 11:04 am?

    Someone’s computer clock is off.

    James (704e93)

  26. psuedonoise —

    A few points in general and in response to you comment:

    1. Outsiders do not appreciate how much her lack of gun-crime prosecutions — rather than her lack of immigration prosecutions — contributed to her firing.

    Immigration has a constituency in the public and a constituency in Congress, and the SDCA is given a huge amount of resources to use in prosecuting immigration crimes. Further, her prosecutions were far behind the numbers of other SouthWest Border US Attorneys. A lot of the money comes from the budget of Imm.Cust.Enforcment (ICE) — it funds “Special Assis.US Attorney” slots — SAUSA’s. Those people in those slots bring immigration cases, and nothing else. What Lam did was focus their efforts on immigrant trafficking organizations, and left the issue of handling illegal immigration cases largely to the deportation (administrative) process. This hurts ICE because they have to justify their funding to Congress every year, including showing that the money they give to the SDCA to fund SAUSA positions is being productive. It also hurt the BP in its efforts to get more money and manpower authorized by Congress.

    But, because the administration/GOP is divided over what approach to use on the border, her problems in this regard make her more of a management challenge — defending her from ICE/BP complaints and complaints from the border constituency demanding greater immigration prosecutions (including Congressmen) — than incompetent.

    On the other hand, the only constituency likely to be dismayed by her gun crime stats are her bosses inside DOJ. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) does not have the same kind of political constituency supporting it as does immigration crimes, but within DOJ it does not suffer from a difference of opinion on how it should be handled.

    If you think back to the 2000 election, PSN was a campaign issue — PSN was the conservatives’ response to calls for more gun control measures like the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban. The conservatives’ response was that we didn’t need more laws that restrict gun ownership among the population at large, we simply needed more enforcement of the laws on the books. Prosecuting gun crimes was not a priority in the Clinton Admin — passing more restrictive gun laws was the priority.

    PSN grew out of a pilot program in the Richmond Virginia office of the US Attorney where they started the “Use a Gun, Go To Jail” campaign. The feds grabbed every drug case or robbery case where a gun was involved, and prosecuted it in federal court rather than leave it in state court. This meant the defendant got a mandatory minimum of 5 years in jail if convicted.

    AG Ashcroft took that pilot program and made it a nationwide initiative, and made it an AG Priority where it has remained ever since. Every district has a PSN program which involves a big public information campaign, partnerships with state and local law enforcement and prosecution agencies, and a PSN Coordinator for every district.

    My district — one of the 10 smallest in the country — filed 125 gun crime cases in 2005.

    Carol Lam’s district — on of the 10 largest in the country — filed 12 such cases in 2005 out of 155 that were referred to the SDCA by ATF. And that represented a 50% decline over the 24 that were filed by her office in her first year as USAttorney in 2002.

    This isn’t a matter of focusing efforts on large organizations rather than individual illegals like she did with immigration. This is nothing more than simply ignoring almost completely what the AG has said for years will be a DOJ priority.

    More than the immigration issue, this is the kind of insubordination to DOJ policy that gets you put on a list and called a “real problem.”

    Replacing her with a US Attorney committed to pursuing Dept. priorities rather than her own personal priorities solves that kind of problem.

    And, more importantly, replacing her does NOTHING to prevent her successor from continuing on with the political corruption cases the office was pursuing under her guidance. There is NO EVIDENCE that any such thing has happened — not only is there no evidence, there is not even a rumor or allegation that any such thing has happened.

    And, one issue I haven’t seen addressed is the question of why — if her pursuit of Cunningham et al., was the “real problem” referred to in Sampson’s email — did DOJ wait from May 11 to Dec. 7 to replace her?

    And, if short-circuiting investigations against Republicans was such a critical task leading up to the 2006 election, why weren’t the US Attorneys pursuing the Abramoff investigation similarly targeted by DOJ? If anything, that investigation has had much more impact on the GOP than the Cunningham investigation, including bringing the investigation inside the WH.

    WLS (b67953)

  27. One could say that your inability to spell “administration” reinforces the conclusion that you shouldn’t be throwing rocks at Kevin. But that would be snarky.

    Then forget that I mentioned the typo, and concentrate on the way he totally screwed up quoting the e-mail. One could say that you desperately searched for a typo in my post because you have no response to the substantive issue — that Drum badly and materially misquoted the most famous e-mail in this whole controversy.

    But that would be snarky.

    Patterico (04465c)

  28. WLS,

    I am afraid you may be arguing facts at a group (Drum commenters) that is more interested in making content-free debating points.

    UPDATE: I have corrected my spelling of the word “commenters” in response to a scolding from Oregonian, who took my brief reference to Drum’s misspelling and has decided to seek out every typo he/she can find and throw it in my face, as if it proves something. If I had made a huge deal out of the typo, that would be an effective argument. But I didn’t, so this merely gives Oregonian a chance to ignore my actual substantive points, and try to use the typos as a diversion.

    What was I saying about these people being interested only in scoring content-free debate points?

    Patterico (04465c)

  29. Steven Taylor — the terms of the 93 US Attorneys fired by Clinton (actually only 92) had not all expired. The terms run four years from the date of confirmation by the Senate. Many of the 92 had time left on their term since Bush 41 was a one term President.

    And, as others have pointed out, replacing a US Attorney in “holdover” status — after expiration of the 4 year term, as was the case with all 8 here — is different from “firing” a US Attorney with time left in the 4 year term, even though the Pres. has equal authority to do both and needs no greater justification for one than the other.

    Further, the 10 who were “fired” were done so overtly, so the public knows they were fired. There’s no way to know how many firings of US Attorneys still in their term has been down “covertly”, through a phone call telling them to step down or be fired.

    That is how it was supposed to happen here. The plan was for the “firings” to be covert here, so they would not have been added to the historical record as having been “fired” had this “scandal” not arisen.

    Do you really suspect that out of the thousands of US Attorneys nominated by Presidents over the last couple centuries, none has ever been quietly been pushed out beyond the view of the public?

    So, enough already with this “only 10 have ever been fired” nonsense.

    WLS (b67953)

  30. Steven Taylor — most US Attorneys get their positions in the first instance out of “cronyism”. Bud Cummins certainly understood that — he got the job because he as a politically connected loser of a race for Congress as the GOP candidate in 1998, and worked for the GOP Bush campaign in 2000.

    WLS (b67953)

  31. The border fence company was the only case against a company using illegal labor brought by the Lam office. For that alone she should be tarred, feathered, and run out of the country on a rail. If she wants to be an attorney for the Republic of Mexico, she should have applied at an office down south of the border.

    And Kevin Drum is a partican hack. If an illegal alien had raped his grandma in San Diego without Lam bringing a case, he would still be calling this a “suspicious firing”.

    papertiger (fb6ec3)

  32. One more point on the PSN angle to the Lam firing.

    If you follow these kinds of things, you might have seen press over the last two weeks of DOJ’s nationwide rollout of its newest initiative — called Project Safe Childhood (PSC). It is built on the foundation established by the passage last summer of the “Adam Walsh Act” (I think that’s what its called, in memory of the slain child of the guy who created America’s Most Wanted).

    PSC is spearheaded by the “Child Exploitation and Obscenity” Section of DOJ, but most of its assets will be in the US Attorneys’ Offices nationwide.

    The primary focus of PSC is online child pornagraphy and predators. I attended a in-service training two weeks ago as part of this roll-out, and one of the statistics that came out of it was that fully 80% of defendants arrested and convicted for possession of child pornography, and who are willing to undergo psychological treatment while in custody (not all are willing), eventually admit to having molested a child at some point in their past.

    This problem is mushrooming because the existence of innumerable social networking sites on the internet is giving these pedophiles a sense of “community” with others having the same perverse interests.

    Which leads me to this point:

    Do you think it is legitimate — when the Admin. devises a program, devotes resources and manpower to nationwide enforcement in all 93 US Attorney districts, with the goal of having equal application of the laws across that spectrum — to expect the individual US Attorneys in those districts to pursue the stated Administration policy goals, or should they be allowed to essentially opt out as Carol Lam did in SDCA with respect to PSN?

    If they can opt out without being disciplined for it, how does that impact the viability of nationwide initiatives which are designed to bring uniform enforcement efforts in all districts?

    WLS (b67953)

  33. WLS keeps playing the role of defense attorney, but his argument gets more convoluted with every post. Some samples:

    [R]eplacing her [Carol Lam] does NOTHING to prevent her successor from continuing on with the political corruption cases the office was pursuing under her guidance.

    True. And putting the fox in charge of the henhouse does NOTHING to prevent that fox from keeping the chickens safe. But we all know that it ain’t gonna happen.

    The available evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the administration was looking for – in their own words – “loyal Bushies” who would pursue bogus charges of voter fraud to harass Democrats while letting Republican corruption slide by. Lam didn’t follow that playbook and so she got fired.

    [O]ne issue I haven’t seen addressed is the question of why — if her pursuit of Cunningham et al., was the “real problem” referred to in Sampson’s email — did DOJ wait from May 11 to Dec. 7 to replace her?

    Calling it the “pursuit of Cunningham et al” blurs the issue. Randy Cunningham was a fool who buried himself beyond any rescue under a mountain of evidence. (Living on a yacht named the “Duke stir” that was provided by a defense contractor? Gimme a break.) Any U.S. Attorney would have pursued the case and I haven’t seen many people suggest that doing so cost Lam her job.

    What clearly got Lam in trouble (raising what Sampson called a “real problem”) was her pursuit of the case beyond that one high-profile idiot.

    On May 5, 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that Lam’s office was investigating the CIA Executive Director, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo. On May 8, Foggo resigned from the CIA. On May 10, Ms. Lam informed the Justice Department that she intended to serve search warrants to Foggo. And on May 11, Sampson wrote his now infamous email to deputy White House counsel William Kelley asking to discuss “[t]he real problem we have right now with Carol Lam.”

    That’s a pretty direct chain of events.

    Why didn’t Sampson et al fire Ms Lam in mid-May? Probably because even this incompetent crew knew that the media coverage of such an obvious obstruction of justice would be devastating in the middle of a congressional election. But that didn’t stop them from immediately beginning the campaign to get rid of Ms Lam as soon as possible. All the documents and emails we’ve seen so far make it plain that mid-May was the point where the White House and the Justice Department intensified their criticism of Ms. Lam’s approach to immigration cases. And they fired her and seven other attorneys as soon as the elections were out of the way.

    Oregonian (cc4c17)

  34. you desperately searched for a typo in my post

    Crikey, Patterico, do you really think someone has to search to find typos in the stuff you write? (Hell, you invented the word “comenters” two minutes after you responded to my post.)

    I’ve been reading your blog for about two weeks now, and you’ve had grammar and spelling problems in just about everything you’ve posted. Maybe you’re a lousy typist. Maybe you’re dyslexic. Who cares? I didn’t say a word about it until you made yourself an umpire and shouted “Strike One!” when Kevin Drum left out a letter in “Kelley.”

    If you go around throwing stones, Patterico, you really shouldn’t be surprised when a few of them come right back.

    Oregonian (cc4c17)

  35. Crikey, Patterico, do you really think someone has to search to find typos in the stuff you write? (Hell, you invented the word “comenters” two minutes after you responded to my post.)

    I don’t claim to be a perfect typist or proofreader, but the problem is primarily my laptop. It has a sticky keyboard.

    I’ve been reading your blog for about two weeks now, and you’ve had grammar and spelling problems in just about everything you’ve posted. Maybe you’re a lousy typist. Maybe you’re dyslexic. Who cares? I didn’t say a word about it until you made yourself an umpire and shouted “Strike One!” when Kevin Drum left out a letter in “Kelley.”

    What a pile of crap that is. That proves exactly what I said: you’re interested in scoring contentless debating points. As if my real point with “Strike one!” was the typo.

    Pathetic.

    Patterico (04465c)

  36. WLS, a number of commenters have claimed that only 10 US Attorneys have been sacked in the last 25 years at a point other than change of Administration. You claim that

    Do you really suspect that out of the thousands of US Attorneys nominated by Presidents over the last couple centuries, none has ever been quietly been pushed out beyond the view of the public?

    Well, as far as I can tell, if the list of the 10 attorneys is complete, then (within the 25-year time limit), the answer to your rhetorical question is No. If you have named of USAs who were quietly forced out—or whose date of departure suggests that they may have been forced out—and who aren’t accounted for by the liberals’ tally, then by all means, provide them.

    It’s worth repeating that neither WLS nor the original post have much to say about the presence of five of the fired attorneys in the top third of USAs by rating. Presumably if we looked at the records of other USAs, there would be even better reason to sack them, except, I suppose, for those “loyal Bushies” who were participating in groundless smears of Democratic candidates in the vicinity of the elections.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (c39ba9)

  37. Patterico, believe me, my comment in no way was meant as a dis to you. I have nothing but total respect for you, your writing and your thorough intellectual honesty. My point was really just a venting of my frustration at the consistent civility we show versus the complete and near total lack of it from the loyal(?) opposition.

    I presume your writing pre-dates his update wherein he makes the “quibble” comment. Would it have killed the guy to have made an in-kind assesment of your merits, i.e: “While Patterico is a very smart fellow, blah blah blah…” No. But of course no such reciprocal respect is in evidence. I’ve never known you to be a shot-from-the-hip type, so I am sure the honest comment about Mr. Drum is an honest assessment of him on your part, it just annoys me that WE are so gracious and they are so obnoxious!

    Vetter (ceb759)

  38. “The political decision-making process that led to the dismissal of eight United States attorneys was standard practice in the Civil Rights Division years before these revelations,” Joseph D. Rich, recently retired head of the division’s voting rights section, said in a sparsely attended House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing last week.
    “This connection should not be minimized,” he said. . . .

    Rich, a 37-year department veteran, said a partisan litmus test in hiring and decision-making has undermined a tradition of nonpartisan professionalism in the division.

    “Unfortunately, since this administration took office, that professionalism and nonpartisan commitment to the historic mission of the division has been replaced by unprecedented political decision-making,” he told the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties on Thursday.

    One of the eight former U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration said yesterday that White House officials questioned his performance in highly partisan political terms at a meeting in Washington in September, three months before his dismissal.

    John McKay of Washington state, who had decided two years earlier not to bring voter fraud charges that could have undermined a Democratic victory in a closely fought gubernatorial race, said White House counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy, William Kelley, “asked me why Republicans in the state of Washington would be angry with me.”

    AF (c319c8)

  39. WLS’s explanation of the PSN background is interesting. It is yet another federal power grab–taking over criminal cases that are properly in the sphere of the states. If her low prosecution rate on gun crimes was the result of a principled refusal to take federal control of what is properly a state matter, then bravo to her. (Obviously, I have no idea if that is the case.) It would certainly explain why the Bush cadre was unhappy with her.

    I find Gonzales’ behavior the most damning evidence. If he told the truth last week, then he allowed himself to be kept out of the loop on some of the most important personnel decisions the AG can make–which suggests he is a more incompetent manager than any of the fired USAs. If he didn’t tell the truth, then why is he not telling the truth? If the termination decisions had solid reasons behind them, then he would have no need to say anything other than the truth. He need only say “there were solid reasons for these terminations; whatever ongoing investigations and prosecutions there were had nothing to do with these terminations.” If the terminations were above the board, then Gonzales had no need to be anything than above the board himself. If he is being sleazy about the terminations, then the obvious conclusion is that there was something sleazy about the terminations that he doesn’t want to become known.

    kishnevi (2dbd61)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3844 secs.