Patterico's Pontifications

4/19/2007

Gonzales: Complaints About Lam Had Nothing to Do with an Evaluation of Her Performance

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:09 pm



I’m watching Gonzales tell Arlen Specter that DoJ had received numerous complaints about Carol Lam — but, he says, he viewed those complaints as simply something to deal with as part of his supervisory responsibilities. Bizarrely, he did not view it as part of the project of evaluating U.S. Attorneys.

In other words, he didn’t think complaints about the performance of the U.S. Attorneys were relevant to a review of their performance.

Huh?

GONZALES: The discussion about Ms. Lam never, in my mind, was about this review process. And I indicated so in my conversation with Pete Williams, I believe on March 26th, is that we were doing this process.

Of course there were other discussions outside of the review process about the performance of United States attorneys.

I can’t simply stop doing my supervisory responsibilities over United States attorneys because this review process is going.

. . . .

I don’t recall — here’s what — Senator, what I recall is, of course, we had received — the department had received numerous complaints about Carol Lam’s performance with respect to gun prosecutions and immigration prosecutions. I directed that we take a look at those numbers because I wanted to know. And I don’t recall whether it was Mr. Mercer who presented me the numbers, but I recall being very concerned.

SPECTER: But you were involved in evaluating U.S. Attorney Lam’s record, weren’t you?

GONZALES: Senator, I did not view that, and I — this was my — I did not view that as part of Mr. Sampson’s project of trying to analyze and understand the performance of United States attorneys for possible removal.

Sen. Specter seemed flummoxed by this answer, and so am I. When you’re in charge, and people bring issues to your attention regarding your employees, that should be part of your review of their performance. Isn’t that sort of obvious?

What a nincompoop. Resign, already.

3 Responses to “Gonzales: Complaints About Lam Had Nothing to Do with an Evaluation of Her Performance”

  1. Statement from Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino …

    President Bush was pleased with the Attorney General’s testimony today. After hours of testimony in which he answered all of the Senators’ questions and provided thousands of pages of documents, he again showed that nothing improper occurred. He admitted the matter could have been handled much better, and he apologized for the disruption to the lives of the U.S. Attorneys involved, as well as for the lack of clarity in his initial responses. The Attorney General has the full confidence of the President, and he appreciates the work he is doing at the Department of Justice to help keep our citizens safe from terrorists, our children safe from predators, our government safe from corruption, and our streets free from gang violence.

    Honestly, does it get more ludricous than this? Gonzo came across as a pathetic, lying idiot — the best Specter could say in his defense was that he’s grossly incompetent — and yet he enjoys the continued “full confidence of the President.”

    Absolutely unbelievable. Bush is apparently too stupid to grasp how poorly his continued “full confidence” reflects on his own competence, or else he’s too arrogant to care.

    I used to think Jimmy Carter was the most inept president in my lifetime. Not any more.

    Redhand (e283e5)

  2. Patterico — look, I’m not defending his performance today. I wouldn’t hire him to argue an appeal on my behalf considering his inability to make himself understood, and to answer questions in a direct and precise manner.

    But, your complaint here is nitpicking. The problem with the hearing is that neither side was speaking the language of the other, but the questioners have the benefit under the format.

    Simply stated, here is what I understand Gonzales to have been trying to say, and I think he was correct:

    First, the “project” undertaken by Sampson was to be a comprehensive look at the performance over the entire first term of all 93 US Attorneys — at least those US Attorneys who remained in their positions (many had already resigned for their own reasons to move on to other jobs) over a substantial period of the first term. What I heard Sampson say as it was really nothing more than a question of whether the Department could do better in a given district than the incumbent US Attorney.

    This “project” really amounted to nothing more than gathering information about the “performance” in broad terms of each US Attorney from various sources — frankly I continue to believe the biggest sources of info in this project was EOUSA, the AG Advisory Committee, and other US Attorneys — especially Mercer and McNulty. Look at how they have risen from the ranks of US Attorneys to be the No. 2 and No. 3 officials in DOJ. They clearly have been “first among equals” among the group of 93 US Attorneys.

    Gonzales was not involved in the aggregating of info, and he was periodically briefed on the progress of the project.

    Separate and apart from this “project” by Sampson would be the need of the AG to respond to specific inquiries/complaints from politicians about individual US Attorneys — such as Domenici’s complaints about Iglesias or Feinstein’s complaints about Lam.

    Responding to these complaints doesn’t necessarily inform his later decision-making on the info that Sampson brings him. The first category of info — from Sampson — is “insider” info that is going to be pretty much adopted as fact. The people expressing the opinions are in a position to know, and have had a chance to evaluate the performance of each US Attorney over an extended period of time from a first hand perspective. Gonzales is going to have no reason to find fault with that info when its presented to him.

    But complaints from politicians is “outsider info — which might be infected with uninformed inaccuracies. I don’t think the AG is likely to adopt those complaints as facts, and to the extent them come from the opposition party, those complaints are more likely to be discounted.

    But, more important than either of these questions, is the FACT that management of US Attorneys and evaluation of their work is WAY LOW on the list of things the AG himself is going to spend his time on.

    That’s what he’s got EOUSA for, and a DAG and staff for.

    DOJ has more than 100,000 employees and a couple dozen different units, bureaus, administrations, etc. This chart

    http://www.usdoj.gov/dojorg.htm

    represents the organizational structure of the entire Department, with the AG on top.

    On top of being responsible for the totality of this bureaucracy, the AG’s primary duty is on matters of policy, not matters of management. The DAG manages the Department.

    So, yes, Gonzales’ answers were inartful and lended themselves to being misunderstood.

    But, the formulation of reasons for replacing US Attorneys is not something that I would expect the AG himself to spend much time thinking about.

    wls (859dc4)

  3. Bye Bye ‘Berto?…

    I didn’t try to keep up with the Gonzales hearing but Patterico did and he says he’s toast. Click here, here, here and here. Captain Ed wasn’t too impressed either. Adios, muchacho….

    Bill's Bites (72c8fd)


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