Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I've been through about 200 pages of the celebrated Document Dump of 2007. That's a larger subset of the total dump than it seems, due to the frequent repetitions. Some observations:
The sequence should be stated more plainly: even the outstanding Josh Marshall misses some points and gets one just wrong. The plan to fire the attorneys was set out in a memo from Elston to McNulty on November 7 (not 15, as Josh incorrectly said). At that point the plan was to make the calls very soon - the same week. Note that the date was election day - at the time the plans were drawn up, it wasn't clear that the new Senate would be Democratic. And the original plans don't envision using the Patriot Act - they intended to "have president make nominations and work to secure confirmation". (doc set 2-1, pp 10 - 11) The same plan, with the dates pushed out a week, is discussed between Meirs and Sampson on 11/15. This message, which also discusses whether Bush should be briefed on the plan, looks to be the last one before an 18 day gap in which only two messages, of limited relevance, have been found in the dump.
It is clear that during the gap, the plan is under discussion in the White House. In the last exchange before the gap, Sampson say "We'll stand by for a green light from you." In the first after, William Kelley says that "WH leg[al], political, and communications have signed off". (ibid, pp 14, 18)
Worth noting: Kelley is the Deputy Assistant to the President and was the recipient of Sampson's infamous email complaining about "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam". Also interesting is that that original email refers specifically to 11/18/06, the date that Lam's original four year appointment expired, and right in line with the time Lam would have left if the original plan to do the firings on November 8th - 9th had been carried out.
Some other points of interest here: the plan of 11/7 and 11/15 lists 6 prosecutors to be dropped. Not listed: Ryan (SF) and Cummins (AR). Ryan has been added to the list in the post-gap messages. But Cummins isn't discussed in any of these plans.
The plans also specify that, along with the firing calls, calls are to go out the Republican Senators from the Attorneys' states asking for names of replacements. (In states represented by Democrats, the calls are to go to "Bush political leaders".) One Republican Senator is always left off the list, which appears in multiple places: McCain.
Although there is subsequent discussion of alleged performance shortcoming of the fired USAs, that doesn't seem to be at all a factor in the actual decision. DAG McNulty says of Bogden (NV), "I'll admit have not looked at his district's performance". (ibid p. 23)
In the mass of material we do have, it should be noted what we still don't. Nothing in the docs that I have read or seen discussed by others explains how the original list of targets was reached, or how Ryan and Cummins were added. (There's little doubt, although no proof, that the latter was Rove's initiative.) It isn't at all clear who gave the final go-ahead. Not coincidentally, we have no discussion from the White House, which seems to be where the decisions were made.
Update: We now know more about how Ryan made the list. As usual, this is too rich to make up: the attorney who was added at the last minute apparently was a Bush loyalist who DoJ wanted to protect but had to drop because his incompetence was about to be publicized.