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Sittin’ Purty In The Catbird Seat


Well, well, well.  Look who was on the list for potential firing as a US Attorney:  (H/T to Peterr for sending me the link on this)

The latest revelations came amid reports that the White House has already launched a search for Gonzales's replacement and that support for the attorney general among Republicans in Congress is fading fast. One GOP strategist with close ties to the White House said last night that it is likely Gonzales will leave and that White House counsel Fred F. Fielding already has potential replacements in mind.

White House press secretary Tony Snow offered tepid support for Gonzales, saying President Bush still has full confidence in his longtime friend and ally. "We hope he stays," Snow said.

The March 2005 chart ranking Fitzgerald and other prosecutors was drawn up by Gonzales aide D. Kyle Sampson and sent to then-White House counsel Harriet Miers. The reference to Fitzgerald is in a portion of the memo that Justice has refused to turn over to Congress, officials told The Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity because Fitzgerald's ranking has not been made public.

Mary Jo White, who supervised Fitzgerald when she served as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and who has criticized the firings, said ranking him as a middling prosecutor "lacks total credibility across the board."

"He is probably the best prosecutor in the nation — certainly one of them," said White, who worked in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "It casts total doubt on the whole process. It's kind of the icing on the cake."

Fitzgerald has been widely recognized for his pursuit of criminal cases against al-Qaeda's terrorist network before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and he drew up the official U.S. indictment against Osama bin Laden. He was named as special counsel in the CIA leak case in December 2003 by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who had recused himself.

Fitzgerald also won the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in 2002 under Ashcroft.  (emphasis mine)

Do the words Saturday Night Massacre under cover of other firings have meaning for anyone else?  And why the refusal to turn this portion of the memo over to Congress?  Because the placement of Patrick Fitzgerald on that list — a man who has secured a conviction for Osama Bin Laden, among many, many others, show it to be the ludicrous political hack job that it was in firing these USAs?  Because, Rove and company would not have had any reason to want Fitzgerald out of the way back in 2005, now would they?  Jeebus, these people never, ever learn, do they?

There were over 3,000 pages of e-mails dumped late yesterday, and The Muck has readers sifting through them as I type.  I know that a number of our readers were also talking about reading through them yesterday, so feel free to leave information on what you've been finding in the comments below as well.  There is so much information out there, that it will take a collective effort to dig through it all — any help on this is much appreciated.

It seems AG Gonzales is not so happy with his deputy, McNulty, according to this from The Muck, and this from the NYTimes — apparently being honest with Congress that the USA in Arkansas had been fired to clear the way for Rove's crony selection was frowned upon by the AG.  (Shocking, I know.)  When you add in the increased tension from potential voluntary Sampson testimony, the DoJ is becoming quite the Peyton Place and, vis a vis the White House political operations (read:  Rove and his minions), the tension is mounting. 

Via the Nitpicker, I find this gem:

Republican officials operating at the behest of the White House have begun seeking a possible successor to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whose support among GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill has collapsed, according to party sources familiar with the discussions.


"We have a crisis where there doesn't need to be one, and now Democrats have an issue where they can open up the subpoena floodgates," said an exasperated Republican aide. "Once these investigations start, there always ends up being a lot of messy collateral damage." (Emphasis Nitpicker's)

Interesting, no? Especially when you peek back at this quote from yesterday's LATimes:

"This is one more chapter in the defense of Karl Rove," said one leading GOP figure who insisted on anonymity because he was speaking ill of the president's most powerful aide. "This isn't accountability, it's damage control, and it's protection for Karl."

You would think after a while, that the Republicans about town in DC would get tired of their party being used as the Rove's dirty laundromat, but maybe that's just me and my scruples talking.  

I do like that "collateral damage" phrasing though.  It has a certain air of much more dirt to come out, doesn't it?  Although, as TPM catches in the NYDailyNews, "some top White House officials" are saying not so fast to the exit for Gonzales.  (And that would be which WH officials, exactly?  Let's contemplate who wants Rove and/or the DoJ to squirm a little more at the moment, shall we?  Or the fact that every time this White House says someone is doing an excellent job, they mysteriously turn in their resignation within 72 hours.)

Spent some time yesterday evening coming up with some alternate AG names to vet, in no particular order: Ted Olson, Francis Fragos Townsend, Michael Chertoff, Miguel Estrada, Lawrence Silberman.  I have no idea whether President Bush is going to ask Gonzales to step down or not — but I think the responsible thing to do is to start the vetting process now just in case.  I have by no means come up with a comprehensive listing of possibilities — and none of these folks particularly makes me tap dance with glee, although some are much better than others as possibilities.   And then there is this alternate list from the WSJ.  It includes a number of names that I'm almost positive wouldn't make the short list for George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in a bazillion years.

So, what do you think, observers of the Beltway machinations?  There are a lot of new e-mails to sift through — but, in the meantime, Rove is still sittin' purty in the catbird seat, with the rest of the media contemplating a replacement for Gonzales.  Diversionary tactics, anyone?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com