Thursday, August 02, 2007

Has Gonzales Stopped Beating His Wife?

Obviously, the Attorney General of the United States isn't a wife-beater. But he may be something worse.

A New Yorker piece by Jeffrey Toobin details the murder of Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Wales in Seattle, and the subsequent investigation -- which some of Wales' colleagues considered strangely inadequate, and which to this day has resulted in no arrests.

It then describes the firing of U.S. Attorney John McKay, who is part of a family so prominent in Republican circles that they are sometimes compared to the Kennedys. Despite his obvious partisan commitment, and despite pressure from within his party, McKay declined to prosecute any Democrats for fraud after the 2004 election. Apparently he didn't see sufficient evidence.

You might naturally assume that when McKay was fired, it was for this insistence that criminal prosecution be accompanied by evidence of crime. Call it an unwilingness to prostitute himself for the sake of "loyalty," which in the Rove Administration is a firing offfense, if not a capital one. (This seems to be the rule that kept Colin Powell in line).

Apparently, you'de be wrong. According to AG Gonzales' testimony before Congress, McKay wasn't sacked for lack of zeal in lynching Dems. He was sacked because he was too zealous in his advocacy of an information-sharing system among federal prosecutors -- an idea so obviously good that it has since been adopted despite McKay's support.

This would be typical Bush-era craziness -- good prosecutor fired for supporting good idea. Except that, also in typical Bush-era fashion, Gonzales is lying.

More than a year before McKay came out in favor of information-sharing, Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, had put his name in the infamous email to Harriet Miers. And why? Well, in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Sampson suggested that "McKay might have been fired because he had been too aggressive in his investigation of Tom Wales' murder."

That's right. We are living through an era in which a "good prosecutor" is one who goes after his masters' political enemies, but doesn't support programs that help his colleagues work effectively -- or show any interest in learning who killed one of his own team. And, by the way, up is down, war is peace, and Bush is in in charge.

As McKay says himself, "The idea that I was pushing too hard to investigate the murder of a federal prosecutor -- it's mind-numbing. If it's true, it's just immoral, and if it's false, then the idea that they would use the death of Tom Wales to cover up what they did is just unconscionable."

So that's the question for Gonzales: On your watch, has the conduct of the Department of Justice been immoral or has it been unconscionable? And, as a follow-up: Have you stopped beating your wife?

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