Monday, September 29, 2008

Will Special Prosecutor Get to the Bottom of Bush DOJ Sewer?

Is Nora Dannehy the woman to unearth all the sludge that has collected in the cesspool of the Bush Justice Department?

Her appointment today as special prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges in the controversial firings of nine U.S. attorneys appears to be a step in the right direction. And a look at her background gives us reason to be hopeful.

Dannehy is a career prosecutor from Connecticut, and her appointment comes after today's release of the U.S. Inspector General's report on the U.S. attorneys firings. Dannehy has a history of going after wrongdoers on both sides of the political aisle.

Glynn Wilson, of Locust Fork World News & Journal, has an excellent overview of today's events.

Wilson includes this nugget about the role of Karl Rove in the U.S. attorneys purge:

According to the report, and in contrast to what Karl Rove told has said in public while defying a Congressional subpoena to testify under oath, he and other White House officials were involved with the Justice Department investigations and played an active role in crafting the release of information on the firings to the public.

In a March 2007 meeting mentioned on page 84 of the report, called by Deputy White House Counsel William Kelley and attended by Karl Rove, Sampson, Paul McNulty, and others:

According to several witnesses, Rove came in to the meeting for only a few minutes and then left. Battle said Rove spoke at the meeting but he could not recall what he said. McNulty said that he could not specifically recall either, but thought Rove said something to the effect that Moschella’s testimony should explain why the U.S. Attorneys were removed. None of the witnesses said they could recall specifically what Rove said at the meeting, although all agree that the discussion generally centered on what Moschella should say about the reasons for each U.S. Attorney’s removal.

This clearly shows involvement by the Rove in crafting public relations messages at the Justice Department in direct contradiction to what he has said in public for the past year since he abruptly resigned his White House position last August.

Particularly interesting is this section about Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat, responded to the report by repeating a warning he has been making publicly since last summer.

“Since last summer, my committee has warned that the Bush administration fired US attorneys for political reasons and tried to cover it up by misleading Congress, and today’s report confirms our very worst suspicions,” Conyers said. “This scheme — which the report makes clear was hatched in the White House — was a fundamental betrayal of the American people and the men and women of the Department of Justice and it will be a long time before we can fully repair the damage.”

The report also makes clear, he said, that a number of central questions remain unanswered, “largely because of White House stonewalling.”

“So it is all the more important that we continue our effort to obtain White House documents and testimony,” he said.

As for Dannehy, she was appointed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a Bush appointee who has mostly stonewalled the Justice Department investigation. That might lead one to conclude that Dannehy will be a political puppet, more interested in covering up than exposing wrongdoing.

But an article in the Waterbury (CT) Observer indicates it might be too soon to come to that conclusion. Dannehy led the prosecution of former Connecticut Governor John Rowland, whom George W. Bush once called "the future of the Republican Party."

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