Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Bush administration on the U.S. Attorneys Case: Fact vs. Fiction

Time and again, members of the Bush administration have failed to level with the American people on the events surrounding the dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys. Here are the facts.


FICTION: The Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General both claimed that the eight United States Attorneys were dismissed for "performance" related reasons.

Attorney General Gonzales made that claim under oath. "What we do is we make an evaluation about the performance of individuals, and I have a responsibility to the people in your district that we have the best possible people in these positions. And that's the reason why changes sometimes have to be made, although there are a number of reasons why changes get made and why people leave on their own." (Testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee, 1/18/07)

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty repeated that claim under oath. "As the attorney general said at his oversight hearing last month, the phone calls that were made back in December were performance related." (Testimony of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty to the Senate Judiciary Committee, 2/6/07)

FACT: Justice Department performance evaluations of these U.S. Attorneys were overwhelmingly positive.


FICTION: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claimed that no United States Attorney would be replaced for political reasons - or to stop a growing corruption probe. "I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons or if it would in any way jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it." (Testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee, 1/18/07)

FACT: The Justice Department graded prosecutors on whether they were "loyal bushies". "As an operational matter, we would like to replace 15-20 percent of the current US Attorneys ... The vast majority of US Attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal bushies, etc." (Email from Kyl Sampson, Dept. of Justice, to Deputy White House Counsel David Leitch, as reported by ABC News, 3/15/07)


FICTION: Attorney General Gonzales claimed the White House had no intention of subverting the Senate's constitutional "advice and consent" role. "Third, I believe fundamentally in the constitutional role of the Senate in advice and consent with respect to U.S. attorneys, and would in no way support an effort to circumvent that constitutional role." (Press Conference by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, 3/13/07)

FACT: Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Gonzales's Chief of Staff, and Chris Oprison, of the Office of White House Counsel, openly talked about using their new authority to go around the Senate on the nomination of J. Timothy Griffin in Arkansas.



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