More Purgegate

Or Attorneygate, or whatever the fuck we're calling it. My earlier post is here.

In that post, I blockquoted an excerpt that includes some discussion about one of the dismissed prosecutors, Carol Lam. Lam was tasked with the corruption investigation of the Republican former Congressman from California, Randy "Duke" Cunningham (who's now serving an eight-year prison sentence), and her probe had expanded to include Congressman Jerry Lewis, also a Republican from California. With regard to Lam, and why her "dismissal should have sounded alarm bells for everyone on day one," I want to share this post by Josh Marshall, who, with his TPM team owns this story big time, as Jon Swift so ably recounts below. The bold-faced emphasis is mine.

Lam's firing has always been at the heart of this. I've had a lot of people ask me why we devoted so much virtual ink to this story so early. But the truth is that by rights Lam's dismissal should have sounded alarm bells for everyone on day one.

What people tend to overlook is that for most White Houses, a US attorney involved in such a politically charged and ground-breaking corruption probe would have been untouchable, even if she'd run her office like a madhouse and was offering free twinkies to every illegal who made it across the border. Indeed, when you view the whole context you see that the idea she was fired for immigration enforcement is just laughable on its face. No decision about her tenure could be made without the main issue being that investigation. It's like hearing that Pat Fitzgerald was fired as Plamegate prosecutor for poor deportment or because he was running up too many air miles flying back and forth from Chicago.

Lam's investigation (and allied ones her probe spawned) were uncovering a) serious criminal wrongdoing by major Republican power players on Capitol Hill, b) corruption at the CIA—which reached back to the Hill, c) and as yet still largely hidden corrupt dealings at the heart of the intelligence operations in the Rumsfeld Pentagon.

Nothing matters unless the investigation gets to the heart of what happened there.
What we have here is an administration whose same-party majority in Congress was running hogwild with unmitigated corruption. Criminal corruption. (See also: DeLay, Tom.) And they were pressing US attorneys to pursue voter fraud cases against Democrats for which there was no evidence, then forcing into resignation or firing US attorneys who were pursuing legitimate cases against Republicans. And, meanwhile, we can't forget that the administration intended to exploit a new Patriot Act provision that allowed them to appoint interim US attorneys for an indefinite period without Senate approval—thereby staffing the positions ad infinitum with "team players" who would, presumably, go after political opponents on the thinnest of facts and not touch political allies even in the presence of overwhelming evidence.

And they busily orchestrated this plan without the merest hint of compunction. Check out the recently-resigned AG chief of staff Kyle Sampson's email to the White House and others at the Justice Department regarding the replacement of one of the ousted prosecutors with Karl Rove's buddy J. Timothy Griffin:

"I think we should gum this to death," Mr. Sampson wrote. "Ask the [two Democratic Arkansas Senators] to give Tim a chance, meet with him, give him some time in office to see how he performs, etc. If they ultimately say 'no never' (and the longer we can forestall that the better), then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All this should be done in 'good faith' of course."
Of course. Of course it should be done in "good faith"—quotes original, wink wink, nudge nudge. That's how the Bush administration operates, don'tcha know, in "good faith." Knowhatimean, knowhatimean? Wink wink, nudge nudge.

It's despicable. And more than that, it's indefensible. Republicans should be horrified by the behavior of this administration, their contempt for the law. Ignoring for a moment how not cool this shit is ethically no matter who's doing it, ignoring for a moment that it's bad for the entire country, at minimum Republicans should be well and truly tired of the Bush administration making their party look like the shady, unprincipled, unethical, scumbag criminals that the Democrats are always asserting them to be. I honestly can't for a moment imagine how or why at this point there is left a single person in all of America not inescapably compelled to raise a stink from here to high heaven and back again about the Bush administration.

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