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A big new bundle of documents just got dumped by the Department of Justice. Here's a link to the documents in PDF form at the House Judiciary Committee website. As per our routine in recent document dumps, if you'd like to help us cull through the mails and reports, use this thread to share your findings with us and other TPMm Readers.

Identify the items you find by document dump set number and page number.

After his controversial tenure at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, Bradley Schlozman was rewarded by being installed as the U.S. attorney for Kansas City. His time as U.S.A. there, which ended only a week ago, is notable mostly for his decision to bring four "voter fraud" indictments shortly before the election last year. (We'll have more on that later.)

But Schlozman isn't done at the Justice Department. In fact, he's headed back to Washington to work at the office that supervises U.S. attorneys all over the country. A Justice Department spokesman told CBS Investigative Producer Laura Strickler that Schlozman will be "an attorney in the Counsel to the Director staff at the Executive Office for United States Attorneys." It's not clear exactly what that means, and the spokesman did not indicate precisely what Schlozman's duties would be. The EOUSA serves as the liaison beween U.S. attorneys all over the country and DoJ leadership in Washington.

Schlozman certainly has friends in high places. Salon has quoted a former senior Justice Department official as saying that Schlozman was "one of Gonzales' guys," and that "several of us were scratching our heads when we heard about [his appointment as U.S. attorney in Kansas City] because he was not a very well-regarded trial attorney."

The official also told Salon that Schlozman likely would have remained as U.S. attorney there indefinitely if the administration's firing of eight U.S.A.s had not become controversial: "They weren't going to replace him."

Schlozman, it's fair to say, would have stood little chance at being confirmed by the Senate. Instead, the president nominated John Wood to replace Schlozman in the middle of January, just as the controversy of the fired U.S. attorneys was beginning to simmer. Wood was confirmed by the Senate and took office last week.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) wants former CIA chief George Tenet to testify to the House oversight committee.

Think of it as part of the book tour.

The Jack Abramoff investigation continues to burst with renewed vigor. Now, it's ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) -- who was defeated back in November due in large part to his ties to Abramoff -- who might be in trouble.

In the current issue of the National Journal (not available online), Peter Stone reports that "two sources say that the Justice Department is making new inquiries into Hayworth’s past links to Abramoff."

Put Hayworth together with Reps. John Doolittle (R-CA) and Tom Feeney (R-FL), ex-Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), and ex-Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), and you have five current and former members of Congress who are reportedly under scrutiny by investigators.

From Roll Call:

Despite rumors to the contrary, embattled Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) issued two statements Friday insisting that he has no intention of resigning....

“For several weeks, I have been the subject of leaked stories, conjecture, and false attacks about a land exchange,” the three-term Congressman said. “None of them bear any resemblance to the truth, including the rumor that I am planning on resigning.”

Last night, the Justice Department provided Congress with a list of documents related to the U.S. attorneys firings that it was withholding -- all of them either documents or emails sent to or received by Kyle Sampson. You can see the list here.

The reason Congress won't be seeing these, Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling wrote in a letter to the House and Senate judiciary committees, is because the Department has "substantial concerns about the disclosure of documents that were generated after December 7, 2006 for the purpose of responding to congressional and media inquiries about the resignations of the U.S. Attorneys."

All of the withheld documents disclosed today supposedly meet that description -- but then, so do a number of the documents the Department has already released. So what makes these different? It's not clear.

And some of these documents do sound very interesting. Take, for example, Sampson's email to White House counsel Harriet Miers on January 7th. It's described as "Discussion, re: processes for filling USA vacancies, including appointment of acting/interim USAs." In other words, it sounds like Sampson was conferring with Miers over how the fired U.S. attorneys should be replaced -- and possibly who they might be replaced with. And it seems like it was a spirited discussion. Sampson sent two more two page emails to Miers that day, which are only described as "further discussion" of the issue. Over the next couple days, Sampson forwarded that discussion to a number of senior Justice Department officials.

Marcy Wheeler has a rundown of other withheld documents of note.

The judiciary committees are in talks with the Justice Department over the withtheld documents, which are, after all, under subpoena.

Note: Along with the list of withheld documents, the Justice Department also turned over a couple of emails that have DoJ officials reacting to stories about the firings in the Post and the Times. You can see them here.

House Committee Asks for More Records of Political Briefings Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif) of the House Oversight and Government reform Committee “asked 27 federal departments and agencies yesterday to turn over information related to White House briefings about elections or political candidates, substantially widening the scope of a congressional investigation into the administration's compliance with the law that restricts partisan political activity by government employees. (Washington Post)

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George Bush insulates himself from reality! The administration didn't seriously entertain the notion that Iraq didn't have WMD's! Dick Cheney is an asshole!

OK, so the revelations in George Tenet's new book aren't going to shock anyone, but they are notable considering the source.

Tenet will appear on 60 Minutes this Sunday to roll out his new memoir, which will be released next week. The New York Times got a copy. And, well, are you shocked by this?

“There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat,” Mr. Tenet writes in a devastating judgment that is likely to be debated for many years. Nor, he adds, “was there ever a significant discussion” about the possibility of containing Iraq without an invasion.


I didn't think so.

Most talk about the book so far has centered on Tenet's head-scratching explanation for his "slam dunk" comment. It took place in a private 2002 White House meeting:

During the meeting, the deputy C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, unveiled a draft of a proposed public presentation [on Iraq's possession of WMDs] that left the group unimpressed. Mr. Tenet recalls that Mr. Bush suggested that they could “add punch” by bringing in lawyers trained to argue cases before a jury.

“I told the president that strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’ a phrase that was later taken completely out of context,” Mr. Tenet writes. “If I had simply said, ‘I’m sure we can do better,’ I wouldn’t be writing this chapter — or maybe even this book.”


I'm not sure that the distinction between Tenet's intended meaning and the administration's interpretation of the comment is quite as glaring as he wants it to be. But his broader point -- that the "slam dunk" comment was far from the watershed moment it's been made out to be because Bush's and Cheney's minds were already made up -- is a solid one. But then, we already knew that.

Among other unsurprising revelations, the book portrays the president as slow to accept the reality in Iraq. This description comes from The Los Angeles Times, which got details of the book from two former CIA officials who've read it:

...[T]he book describes warnings from the CIA station in Baghdad that were greeted with dismay and mounting suspicion within the White House, including a November 2003 assessment that described the situation as an insurgency.

After that assessment was leaked to the press, Bush summoned Tenet and other CIA officials to the White House and warned that he didn't want anyone in his administration to use the term "insurgency," according to the officials.

"There's a lot of stuff in the book that paints a picture of an administration wrapped in its own beliefs, not being able to handle information that was contrary to those beliefs," said the former official who commented about Tenet's view of Cheney.


Shocked?

According to Dana Perino, there's not a thing wrong with the presentations given by Karl Rove and his deputies to agencies throughout the federal government.

Perino was in full spin mode during the White House briefing today, at one point calling a reporter's question about the presentations "ridiculous." As we detailed earlier, the presentations detailed the electoral prospects for Republicans, giving employees the "not-so-subtle" suggestion that they should do what they could to help. It's against the Hatch Act to use government resources for poltical ends, and Rove and his aides seem to have gambled that dropping such hints went right up to the line without crossing it.

According to Perino, the briefings just provided information. And what could be wrong with that?

Q: But why? Why do they [the federal employees] need this information?

Perino: Why are you asking these questions? You’re asking for information as well. I mean, it’s the same thing.


For a fun drinking game, try taking a swig every time Perino says "poltical" or "information" or "landscape" during this Q&A:



Here are all the buzz words tied up into one neat quote:

"There’s nothing wrong with political appointees providing other political appointees with an informational briefing about the political landscape in which they are working.”

So far, Bradley Schlozman has been a minor character in the U.S. attorneys scandal. He ought to be a major one.

To put the case succinctly: Schlozman was the most aggressively political of the political appointees in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. And the administration installed him as the U.S. attorney in a key swing state in an election year. And to clinch it all, as we'll see in our next post, he delivered.

Schlozman was appointed to be the interim U.S. attorney in western Missouri on March 23, 2006 -- just two weeks after the president had signed the USA Patriot Act into law; the bill contained a provision that allowed interim U.S. attorneys to serve indefinitely.

There are indications that Schlozman's predecessor, Todd Graves, was forced out. He resigned suddenly, and local news reports noted in passing that he quit without having his next job lined up. And there is strong circumstantial evidence that his name appeared on one of Kyle Sampson's list of U.S. attorneys to fire shortly before he resigned.

By the time Schlozman arrived in Missouri, he'd already left a strong imprint at the Justice Department. The career attorneys and analysts who worked under him in the Civil Rights Division's voting section describe what can fairly be described as a reign of terror.

Bob Kengle, formerly the deputy chief for the voting section, told me that Schlozman "led by power":

"What he sought to inculcate into people was a fear that if you disagreed, if you asked for reconsideration on something, if you pointed out something that was not correct in a decision that had been made, then you’d pay for it."


Kengle, who joined the division in 1984, said that Schlozman would change performance evaluations for lawyers and analysts who disagreed with him. Two weeks ago, we reported on the experience of Toby Moore, a geographical analyst with the section who quit after invoking Schlozman's ire. Moore's sin, among others, was objecting to a Georgia voter I.D. law that would later be compared to a Jim Crow-era poll tax by a federal appeals judge.

Joe Rich, the former chief of the voting section, had a similar experience with Schlozman. "He was universally despised by career people. He was the most disdainful and vitriolic guy I've ever dealt with, and he had it in for everybody." Rich described Schlozman as "very central" in the department's hiring. As I reported earlier this week, Schlozman apparently gauged potential recruits by whether they were active Republicans.

Rich and Kengle left the division together in 2005. "I reached my personal breaking point," Kengle said.

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