The best bunch of prosecutors you'd ever want to fire.
I've said it before here, and I'll say it again. One of the remarkable aspects of the U.S. attorney firings is that the Justice Department didn't select a group of mediocre prosecutors and then try to smear them as underperforming -- oh, no. They chose from among the most distinguished U.S. attorneys in the country (by the DoJ's own admission), and then announced to the world that they'd canned them for "performance related" issues.
Let's go down the list, shall we?
New Mexico's David Iglesias, we pointed out yesterday, was considered for a promotion in 2004 to head up the office that oversees all U.S. attorneys. And that wasn't the only promotion for which he was considered. As The Washington Post points out
this morning, he was also considered for the position of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia (the crown jewel of the U.S. attorney offices) and U.S. Attorney for Manhattan (another very high profile office -- just ask Rudy Giuliani). And just to clinch it, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey (he left in August of 2005), has called
Iglesias "one of our finest and someone I had a lot of confidence in as deputy attorney general."
And then there's Arizona's Paul Charlton. Here's what Comey to say about him (from The Los Angeles Times
"I considered you a star among U.S. attorneys," Comey told Charlton in [a Feb. 9 e-mail]. "You ran an office with a staggering caseload, in both numbers and variety, and did it beautifully."
Comey added that he knew of "no performance issues" with Charlton. "In fact, quite the contrary, because you were at the top of your class."
And Seattle's John McKay. Here's Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales' right hand and the point man for the purge, writing about McKay
in August, 2006: "re John, it's highly unlikely we could do better in Seattle." (Update
: as a reader points out below, this was written in the context of considering McKay for a position as a federal judge in Seattle, but I think it's fair to say the point still applies.)
And then there's the case of Daniel Bogden of Nevada, the one Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty got cold feet about just two days before he was fired ("I'm a little skittish about Bogden"). Even though he was supposedly derelict
in his prosecution of obscenity cases, the Justice Department is currently helping him
get another position at the DoJ.
Of course, everyone knows how Carol Lam distinguished herself, but despite bringing the highest profile case in the Justice Department's recent history (with the exception of the Abramoff investigation), she doesn't seem to have had any champions inside the Gonzales Justice Department. Funny.Ed. Note
: Thanks to TPM Reader RK
for catching the McKay email.Update
: The AP adds more
: "Six of the eight U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department ranked in the top third among their peers for the number of prosecutions filed last year, according to an analysis of federal records."