Update: Eureka Spring got this posted in Arkansas Blog, where it got this response:

Sen. Mark Pryor's office says that the Justice Department has represented consistently that Griffin was being appointed under provisions of the Patriot Act and thus is a full U.S. attorney and not an "interim" serving under a time limit. Gonzales did represent (dishonestly by all appearances) that it was his intention to seek Senate confirmation for Griffin. The matter has been settled in court, by Judge G. Thomas Eisele's rejection of a challenge of Griffin's appointment by defense lawyer John Wesley Hall. Eisele explicitly held that Griffin held the position under the Patriot Act provision that allow unlimited appointments.

Apparently, the Justice Department doesn't know that it has "represented consistently" that Griffin was appointed under the Patriot Act, because they won't say so on the record. Perhaps Pryor should tell them as much?

Update 2: Amanda Terkel at ThinkProgress got John Boozman to confirm that he sent the names of three candidates to replace Griffin to the White House on March 30. Surprise! He hasn't heard anything more about it. She also links to Gonzales' testimony where he assured Congress he wanted Senate-approved USAs. So what's the hold-up, Gonzales?   

It's been almost five months since Kyle Sampson advocated "gumming to death" the Tim Griffin nomination as USA for Eastern Arkansas. Since that time, the Administration has repeatedly claimed that it never had any intention of appointing Tim Griffin using the PATRIOT Act provision giving the AG authority to appoint USAs directly. Most recently, designated firewall defense lawyer Brad Berenson stated that Griffin was not, in fact, appointed using the PATRIOT Act provision.

Berenson said that the letter was technically accurate because Sampson and Oprison never ultimately implemented the plan to install Griffin as U.S. attorney through the PATRIOT Act provision. "The principals never adopted it, and it was never done," Berenson said. "The statement in the letter is accurate."

But if I'm doing the math correctly and if Griffin really was appointed as a normal interim USA, his appointment would have expired on April 20.

I can only think of two possibilities. First, that Rove lackey Tim Griffin is serving as USA in Arkansas despite having no legal basis to do so.  Or, that Griffin actually was appointed using the PATRIOT Act provision despite repeated Administration assurances to the contrary. And that we are now in the official "gumming it to death" stage of Griffin's illustrious career.

Now, I'm not a lawyer so perhaps I'm missing other possibilities. I've made five calls to DOJ's Public Affairs Office (if you're wondering, their phone numbers are (202) 616-2777 and (202) 514-2007), yet DOJ has been unable to provide any clarification regarding the legal status of Griffin's appointment as USA. I also twice called Senator Pryor's office (whose number is (202) 224-2353), figuring that, since Pryor met with Attorney General Gonzales on April 23–the first business day after Griffin's appointment should have expired–Senator Pryor might be able to explain Griffin's status. Perhaps Senator Pryor is embarrassed that his lax attitude toward advice and consent was abused so badly, because his staffers haven't returned my call either. If I were a suspicious person (oh, I am, I am) I would assume these people aren't returning my call because they're trying to avoid telling the truth about Tim Griffin's employment status.

Maybe you all can help me clarify this issue. Can anyone find a definitive answer as to whether there is any legal basis for Tim Griffin to continue to serve as the top law enforcement official in Eastern Arkansas? 



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.