Monday, March 26, 2007

It's the hirings

And not the firings we should be focusing on, according to Dan Froomkin's White House Watch.

Eric Lipton writes in the New York Times: "The ousted United States attorney in western Michigan said Thursday that she was told last November that she was being forced out to make way for another lawyer the Bush administration wanted to groom, not because of management problems.

"The federal prosecutor, Margaret M. Chiara, 63, speaking publicly for the first time since leaving office last Friday, said in an interview that a senior Justice Department official had told her that her resignation was necessary to create a slot for 'an individual they wanted to advance.' The identity of the likely replacement was not disclosed, she said.

"'Only after Justice Department officials attributed her firing to poor performance as a manager -- even though her 2005 evaluation praised her management skills -- did she decide to speak out, Ms. Chiara said.'"

Revolving Door Watch

Jennifer Talhelm writes for the Associated Press: "Two of the major players in the ouster of federal prosecutors last year were themselves considered for U.S. attorney jobs, according to documents and interviews.

"Kyle Sampson, who helped orchestrate the firing of eight prosecutors as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, was the Bush administration's pick to fill Utah's vacant U.S. attorney post last spring.

"Pat Rogers, an Albuquerque, N.M., attorney who has represented the state Republican Party and party officials for several years, raised his concerns about his state's U.S. attorney, David Iglesias, with high-level Justice Department officials, among others.

"After Iglesias was fired late last year, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., recommended Rogers for the job, along with three others, in January. . . .

"Rogers said he didn't ask to be nominated for U.S. attorney, and he took himself out of the running after the Justice Department contacted him to set up an interview earlier this winter. . . .

"Sampson was the Bush administration's choice for Warner's replacement. But Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett backed former Senate Judiciary Committee staffer Brett Tolman.

"The contest resulted in a standoff of sorts. Bush ultimately picked Tolman last summer."

And who is Brett Tolman? None other than the staffer for Senator Arlen Specter who snuck that provision into the Patriot Act that allows Bush to appoint interim U.S. attorneys indefinitely -- thereby allowing him to circumvent the traditional process that calls for approval by home-state senators and requires Senate confirmation.

Shocking, no?


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