Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Reason for Suspicion

By Paul Kiel
TPM Muckraker

Having spent some time digging into the administration's stated reason for U.S. Attorney Carol Lam's firing, it's time to cleanse the palate with the reasons why we're so suspicious.
So here we go.

-- Lam was never confronted over her approach to immigration prosecutions, the given reason for her dismissal.

-- In November, shortly before Lam was fired, a Justice Department official brainstormed about how to explain firing several U.S. attorneys: "The one common link here is that three of them are along the southern border so you could make the connection that DoJ is unhappy with the immigration prosecution numbers in those districts."

-- Lam was fired midway into a historic, wide-reaching public corruption investigation that targeted a number of Republican members of Congress and the executive director of the CIA. Even Karl Rove has acknowledged the reasonableness of not dismissing U.S. attorneys who are leading "high profile cases, important investigations" -- though for some reason, this one didn't qualify.

-- Despite the fact that it was one of the highest profile federal investigations being undertaken at the Department, Lam's investigation into Duke Cunningham and others is never mentioned in the Justice Department emails that have been released. Not once. This must have been discussed at the highest levels, but we've seen no record of those communications.

-- The FBI's bureau chief in San Diego has said, "I guarantee politics is involved" in Lam's firing. When asked about the given rationales for her ouster (that she pursued corruption cases to the detriment of gun and border prosecutions), he responded “What do you expect her to do? Let corruption exist?”

-- May 11, 2006, the day after Lam informed the Justice Department that she planned to execute a search warrant on CIA Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and the same day that it was reported that her investigation had spread to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson wrote to a White House official: "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."

-- On January 5th, 2007, less than a month after Lam had been told she was fired, but before it had been made public, Sampson wrote to his Justice Department colleagues, "... we granted 1-month extensions for [U.S. Attorney for Nevada Daniel Bogden] and [Western Michigan's Margaret Chiara], but not Carol -- right?" Lam was widely known to be leading a grand jury investigation into Foggo and others. Ultimately, she was granted a fifteen day extension, from January 31 until February 15; she ordered her office to bring the indictment against Foggo before she stepped down, and she succeeded.

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