Part IV: The Case for Attorney General Patrick Fitzgerald

If the first three parts of this series have made a reasonable if not airtight case for the resignation or firing of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, and with his legal and political failings becoming clearer by the day, it seems only fitting that this final part make the case for a particular successor.

Clearly, the next head of the Department of Justice must be many of the things that Gonzales is not. The new chief must be strong and independent -- and with a long history of being a successful federal prosecutor. He or she must not be beholden to the White House or be an ideologue. He or she must possess the respect of the foot soldiers within the Department of Justice and thus be able to restore some of the lost credibility, confidence and morale that marks the current regime. And, of course, he or she must be a Republican (or at least an existing Republican-appointee, thanks commenters for pointing this out).

The Justice Department "needs a swing" says Phillip B. Heymann, Harvard Law professor and former deputy attorney general during the Clinton presidency. "It needs someone who will concentrate on institution building. On restoring credibility -- very much a rule of law type." Heymann told me Thursday that he believes that the current Attorney General and his political allies in the White House have taken the Department "further into a political institution and undermined its attractiveness to young lawyers as well as America's faith in its neutrality, its nonpartisanship." Gonzales' successor, Heymann says, "needs to be scrupulous about neutrality of prosecutors" and must re-establish old-guard rules that "protected the independence of federal prosecutors."

On the Republican side, another former high-ranking official, Bruce Fein, who was associate deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration, echoed Heymann's views and then took them one step further. We need an attorney general, Fein told me, who has the "moral and emotional and psychological strength to resist predictable efforts to manipulate the Department of Justice for political purposes." Gonzales, Fein says, is "a total creature of the White House" who is "unable to have the ability to resist" his benefactor the President whom, Fein alleges, is trying to "cripple" the notion of checks and balances.

The next attorney general, Fein said Thursday, should immediately "issue a memorandum to the Congress and to the White House" informing both "that any gripes about prosecutors they may have should be funneled through the Attorney General and not through the prosecutors themselves." Another memo Fein would write, he told me, would be to remind U.S. Attorneys that they must immediately report any improper conduct or pressure--of the sort that occurred here with at least one federal prosecutor--brought by members of Congress or executive branch officials. And, for good measure, Fein would want the next Attorney General to get a public commitment from the President to abide by those rules.

In my humble opinion, and recognizing that there may be a few other worthy candidates, there is only one person who perfectly currently fits the bill. He is a Bush-appointee, either an independent or a Republican, but not a partisan or a crony or a hack like so many other current appointees. He has a sterling record of integrity and doggedness. He is obviously his own man and has shown a remarkable tendency during his career as a prosecutor for rankling partisans on both sides of the aisle. He is beholden to no one. His nomination to head the Justice Department by President Bush, and his ratification by the Congress, would send a clear message to the country that our government is willing to turn the page on the sordid recent history of the Office of Attorney General. His name? Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Can you think of a better candidate to restore honor and integrity to the Justice Department than the man who just took on the White House, and won, with the perjury and obstruction trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby? Can you think of a person more likely to erase the standing charge of cronyism that seeps through the current administration like a stink bomb? Can you think of someone whose political and legal reputation throughout the country is as high right now, among Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike? Can you think of a better choice than a Washington outsider who made his bones as an Elliot Ness-like figure long before he won his latest case?

Fitzgerald has a sterling record as a line prosecutor. When he was in New York at the U.S. Attorney's office, he participated in the African Embassy bombings trial as well as the terror trials of Omar Abdel Rahman and Ramzi Yousef. He also has prosecuted organized crime cases and has anti-terror experienced since 9/11 as well. His undergraduate degrees are in mathematics and economics, he graduated from Harvard Law School, and I daresay that in a Jeopardy competition with the current Attorney General he would probably win before the bonus round. Oh, and he has few political skills -- but wouldn't that be refreshing for the fellow who would be the nation's top lawyer?

He has no experience in academia, but that shouldn't count against him. And he proved during the Libby trial, and the seemingly endless litigation that preceded it, that he could master intricate legal policy and then communicate it effectively to the court and the court of public opinion. My media friends won't like the choice because Fitzgerald put such a squeeze on the first amendment by subpoenaing reporters. But so what? A federal shield law, which ought to be passed by Congress no matter what happens with Gonzales, would help protect journalists while still allowing aggressive prosecutors like Fitzgerald to do their jobs.

Of course, Fitzgerald's investigation into White House wrongdoing over the Valerie Plame Wilson affair all but dooms as a practical matter his chances to become the next Attorney General. Can you imagine the installation ceremony with Fitzgerald thanking President Bush for giving him the job? Can you imagine what the cabinet meetings might feel like? But just because the White House is unfriendly territory for Fitzgerald doesn't mean his selection isn't the best thing for the nation and the Justice Department. If Nixon could go to China, and if Reagan could make peace with the Soviets, our current president surely could embrace his former nemesis for the sake of harmony.

"I don't know [Fitzgerald] well," Heymann said of Fitzgerald. "But, yes, he would be a good choice. He was careful with the Libby case. He was under a lot of pressure to bring charges on the leak itself--but he didn't do that. He was under pressure to bring charges against Rove--but he didn't do that. Instead, he put together a very strong factual case [against Libby]." Indeed, as someone who covered the Libby trial, I can attest to the fact that Fitzgerald infuriated Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, alike, a trait which alone ought to make him a candidate for the office. "Only Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney could oppose him," added John Dean, former White House counsel.

Fein disagrees. He is promoting D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Laurence H. Silberman to replace Gonzales. He says that Judge Silberman has the "philosophical understanding of checks and balances" that Fitzgerald may lack. The prosecutor, says Fein, "hasn't sat around like Larry and thought about separation of power, and the philosophies of the Founding Fathers and the place (at the Justice Department) is no place for on the job training."

Now, I don't know how Fein knows what Fitzgerald sits around and thinks about. But Silberman has a reputation for being a sharp legal ideologue--not exactly the type likely to bring together the disparate factions within the Department left in the rubble of Hurricane Gonzales. And, anyway, if I had to go to a Plan B, my choice would be James B. Comey, who almost alone among current high-ranking Justice Department officials had the courage to reject on legal grounds the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. Comey, in fact, led an ill-fated rebellion within the Justice Department to block approval for the plan, a high-minded revolt that was quashed by, among others, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales.

But let's stick for now with Plan A. I tried to contact Fitzgerald for this column. Not surprisingly, I could not get past his spokesman, who assured me that it wasn't worth my time or his to put the questions I had to his boss. "No comment whatsoever" is what I got for my effort and I'm not sure that I blame Fitzgerald. The more distant he stays from the current controversy surrounding the Justice Department, the better chance he'll have of emerging from the rubble in good shape to begin the next phase of his career, whatever that turns out to be. Never mind the late, great Eliot Richardson, who in the end stood up to President Nixon. We need the Eliot Ness.

Gonzales has got to go, for the good of his party, his president, and the nation. And in his place the White House ought to bite the bullet and embrace the tough love that Patrick Fitzgerald represents. For the Justice Department, the Age of Cronies is over and the Age of the Professionals ought to begin (again). It won't happen. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't.

By Andrew Cohen |  March 16, 2007; 10:14 AM ET agag
Previous: Part III: Alberto Gonzales: The "Empty Suit" AG | Next: Gonzales Series: Vox Pop Postscript


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Fitzgerald would make a great AG. But this is an automatic disqualifier in the Bush administration, where no political appointee shall be competent at the job to which they are nominally assigned. Not to mention the fact that such an appointment would hasten the impeachment of Bush and the indictments of his cronies.

Posted by: | March 16, 2007 10:25 AM

Well put Mr. Cohen, and Brilliant series overall. Until the bush administration faces some serious scrutiny at the top levels such as that generated by this scandal we will never be able to fully appreciate how Bush-Cheney Inc. and its cronies have robbed America and its people of their government and legal rights.

Posted by: Paul S. Boudreau | March 16, 2007 10:30 AM

If there was a shred of decency in this administration, AT ALL, it must fire this
politicized, crony AG now. Can the Bush White House really be this shameless? If so, then impeachment is the only option.

Posted by: mike | March 16, 2007 10:42 AM

Bush appoint someone who is competent! Nah, studies show that the boss only hires people who are like the boss, so while Patrick is an excellent selection, I must agree with the first post at the top of the page.

Posted by: katman | March 16, 2007 11:09 AM

I think this is a great idea for all the reasons you stated above. Of coures, this just means the Bush Administration won't do it...but they should.

Posted by: Tracy | March 16, 2007 11:10 AM

Mr. Cohen has certainly outdone himself here. A series that is basically drivel, his opinion based on other people's derivative work has now turned to fantasy.

He ignores one of the key roles and key requirements of a good Attorney General. No matter how independent he is not an independent prosecutor nor is his office divorced from the executive. An Attorney General needs to have the confidence, trust and ear of the President to do his job, and Fitrzgerald would never have that. Nor would anyone else whom Mr. Cohen and his fantasy group might suggest.

Beyond that Fitzgerald has already proved himself over zealous and essentially unethical as a prosecutor. He basically executed an irresponsible perjury trap to get one man. He granted broad amnesty to others clearly responsible or self-motivated in order to get it. According to today's Post old Fitzy boy won't even say who leaked Plame's name or whether there really was a crime committed at all.

I would nominate Ken Starr, at least he exposed a real perjuror. Or are you saving him for the next Democratic administration, to prove how important an independent AG really is.

Posted by: Constitutionalist | March 16, 2007 11:11 AM

I agree Bush would never put someone in place that might have even the slightest inclination to oppose him. But even if I'm wrong, please, please don't take Fitzgerald away from me yet. He's not done cleaning up Chicago or Illinois yet!

Posted by: Eric S | March 16, 2007 11:22 AM

Thank you for a great idea. I don't believe the Bush administration would agree with you, but I do. Fitzgerald would make a great AG. Why, because he is smart, apolitical, fair, and relentless in trying to get at the truth. And he would have immediate credibility.

Posted by: JWC | March 16, 2007 11:26 AM

Fitzgerald would definitely make an interesting storyline. I have a hard time seeing it happening though for political reasons.

James Comey sounds like a good alternate.

I've enjoyed reading the series.

Posted by: JP2 | March 16, 2007 11:34 AM

Most excellent series of columns, Mr. Cohen, superlative and stellar. This is why I read the Washington Post.

Of course Bush will not appoint Fitzgerald as AG, and the the very reasons mentioned in the article that he should. Fitz is independent and believes in the rule of law while the only imperative in the Bush Administration is loyalty to the cult of personality. What has Bush ever done as President for the good of the nation? Nothing I can think of.

Posted by: Chris Fox | March 16, 2007 11:42 AM

How about other lawyers in the government who have taken some very principled stands - like Lieutenant Commander Charles D. Swift (of Gitmo fame)?

Posted by: houston | March 16, 2007 11:45 AM

Overheard by a fly on the wall...


Here is today's security briefing. Hugo Chavez has completed construction of his new AK-47 factory. Current output is 1,000,000 AK-47's a year.

Najaf plutoniam construction has reached the point that we estimate that Iran has 13 high grade devices. The Najaf five multi-stage delivery system is opearational. The new Russian anti-aircraft system is in place.

Three Anerican GI's were killed in Anbar province last night. DOD states the IED was manufactured in the Qom Semtex facility.

Your Gonzales hearing is at 1:00 Senator, and the reporter is here from the Washington Post. The New York Times correspondent will be here at 2:00. The phone number for CBS news is 212-510819.

You have a three o'clock photo op with Cindy Sheehan. Your friendship tour to Havana is scheduled for April 23rd.

I have informed staff that your calendar has been cleared for Gonzales for the next three weeks.

Anything else Senator?

Posted by: Tom King | March 16, 2007 11:46 AM

Hey Tom, need hanky?

Posted by: Chris Fox | March 16, 2007 11:53 AM

Nice series. But, we all know it will never-ever happen. The AG is exactly the right person for this president and the Republican party. Neither the Consitution, nor the rule of law are high on their priority list.

Posted by: bill liedel | March 16, 2007 11:59 AM

Republican Senator, circa 1998:

"Senator, I'd like to give you a full briefing on this terrorist group called Al Queda that seems to be growing - can you give me some time on that?"

"Boy - I've got a meeting with some K-Street lobbyists today, followed by a meeting with big Pharma, followed by a government committee meeting, cuz you know we must demand accountability and demand answers to tough questions from this administration - why exactly would I care about some two bit Terrorist organization based out fo Afghanistan?"

Posted by: Robert | March 16, 2007 12:04 PM

Patrick Fitzgerald would be a wonderful choice, but for all the reasons you enumerated in his favor, George Bush wouldn't touch him with a 10 foot pole. What he wants is exactly what he's got.

Posted by: | March 16, 2007 12:06 PM

"I would nominate Ken Starr, at least he exposed a real perjuror."

It is too funny ("funny odd" not "funny ha ha") that "Constitutionalist" (a misnomer if ever there was one) considers a lie about a private matter "real" perjury, while a lie that obstructs a governmental investigation into the apparent violation of CIA cover is presumably anything but "real". This administration has tried to make the law a weapon to be used for political, partisan purposes. Fitzgerald would respect the separation of powers in a way that Starr has already shown he is more than happy to disregard.

Posted by: Mark In Irvine | March 16, 2007 12:11 PM

I didn't think that Fitzgerald was a Republican.

From a Washington Post article:
"Fitzgerald is careful to be apolitical in his targets and his public life alike. He registered to vote as an Independent in New York, only to discover, when he began receiving fundraising calls, that Independent was a political party. He re-registered with no affiliation, as he did later in Chicago."

Posted by: modthinglet | March 16, 2007 12:15 PM

Constitutionalist wins today's Unitentional Irony Award, for first criticizing Fitzgerald as having "executed an irresponsible perjury trap to get one man" and then nominating Ken Starr for AG. Congratulations, Con. It's hard to fit so much moral confusion into a few sentences.

Posted by: DrDan | March 16, 2007 12:23 PM

Tom King,

Do you know for a fact that Chavez has a plant that even makes 1,000 AK-47's a year?

Najaf is in Iraq, not Iran. Besides what info do you have that Iran has the ability to make even 1--not 13--nuclear devices earlier than the 5 to 10 year period intelligence sources indicate?

As far as 3 GI's being killed in Anbar province. As long as they are deployed as sitting ducks for the Sunni separatists to shoot at that is old news. A horrible reality that only a change in policy will solve.

You have a problem with a Senator doing their job and going to a hearing?

You have a problem with an elected representative giving an interview with the press? If you look at the Post in any given day you will see quotes from 20 to 30 different Senators covering a broad aray of issues. I thought that was one of the few ways they can communicate their positions on issues. I would be more concerned with the representative who didn't communicate with the press.

What is a Havana friendship tour? Do you know any Senators who have gone on a friendship tour to Havana? Besides don't you think it is about time we opened relations with Cuba? I mean Nixon went to China. In order to pander to some voters in Dade County we continue an insane policy towards Cuba.

I love posts like yours. I know that you tried to use sarcastic comedy to portray a point but the tallkingpoints you used were so ridiculous.

Unless your goal was to prove how out of touch some rightwing nutjobs are. In which case---YOU DID A GREAT JOB.

Posted by: jp | March 16, 2007 12:30 PM

I take great comfort in seeing how little the remaining Bush supporters have in their arsenal of arguments. A few bitter jabs at icons of neocon rage like Cindy Sheehan, a load of bitterness and rage. Better face the facts, guys: your side lost. Deservedly.

We can thank Bush for doing to conservatism what the Scopes trial did for the religious right: a setback that'll last two generations easily. When people think "conservative" now they will think Katrina and Iraq.

On behalf of progressives everywhere, thanks loads for shooting off your own feet.

Posted by: Chris Fox | March 16, 2007 12:32 PM

What a great idea. I wish it wasn't a pipe dream.

Posted by: JoyousMN | March 16, 2007 12:35 PM

Patrick Fitzgerald is not a Republican. He is registered to vote as an independent. I would love for him to be AG, but he doesn't even meet your own criteria.

Posted by: jimmyd | March 16, 2007 12:41 PM

Fitzpatrick is a great choice, but if the Bush administration really wanted to unify the country and silence its critics, Bush would choose Elliott Spitzer, former NY state AG and its new governor. He was a strong prosecutor and picked up for the DOJ's lack of oversight of Wall Street.

I doubt Bush would ever choose him, and Spitzer just started governing NY, but he would be a great choice for a Democratic adminstration in 2009.

Posted by: AxelDC | March 16, 2007 12:54 PM

Fitzgerald will be a great Attorney General starting in 2009, for a Democratic President.

Posted by: digbydolben | March 16, 2007 12:58 PM

Love the Fitzgerald idea/ideal, but really, You wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn? Sell it to you cheap!

Posted by: spectator | March 16, 2007 01:02 PM

"progressives"? what a laugh. Its funny that what progressive really used to mean was government for the general welfare, which is exactly the opposite of the individual rights obsessed liberal wing of the democratic party.

anyway, the fact that democrats think this replacing of U.S. attorneys is a big scandal that will sink the republican party just shows that the time spent out of power has conditioned democrats to over reach whenever the slightest bit of news breaks that can be tortured and twsited to their advantage. The oft-praised republican PR machine isnt run by geniuses, its imply run by people that know the damaged you do to your cause by crying wolf.

Im an independent, but its hard to respect the democrats when they are so BAD at what is purported to be their profession.

Posted by: Marc | March 16, 2007 01:09 PM

In yesterday's comments and today's, people made the point that the AG is supposed to be a political appointment, and the AG should be in sync with his/her boss. In general, a correct statement. In the ideal world, the political and the public service arenas wouldn't be a problem - AG could fulfill his public service obligations and not run afoul of his political loyalty to his president. The agenda that the President would be expecting his AG to follow would be to tighten up enforcement of laws, or pursue certain types of crime - things that benefit all the people, not just one political party.

But the AG is, first and foremost, the Nation's law enforcement leader. That means that if the President is planning to do something illegal, the AG stands up against him. That's why the AG is not the same as the White House counsel. The AG is NOT the President's lawyer. Of course, in an ideal world, the President would not polticize his own position, much less expect one of his subordinates to politicize the Justice department . . . .

Posted by: Ruth in SC | March 16, 2007 01:13 PM

Aren't we just going around the real problem -- Bush? He installed Gonzales and gave him his marching orders. He would never nominate Fitzgerald because it goes against his goals: to increase the power of the executive and leverage that power against enemies abroad and at home (which would be Democrats, as defined by the not-so-subtle VP). The more I think about it, the notion of impeaching Bush needs to be taken seriously, particularly considering our present standing internationally, and our inability to forge diplomatic alliances at this most crucial point in history. The high crimes and misdemeanors of the Justice Department, at the behest of this administration, would certainly be a good starting point for such proceedings.

Posted by: Indiana | March 16, 2007 01:29 PM

DrDan what makes you think the irony was unintentional? Are you so dense and partisan that you cannot see irony for what it is?

As for Mark In Irvine's claim that Clinton's perjury should not count because he was covering up a personal indiscretion, my understanding is that perjury is a lie told under oath. It is the violation of the oath, not the motivation that determines perjury and makes it so evil.

President Clinton lied under oath. The next time you are in an automobile accident and a witness lies to cover up the fact he was having an affaire, I think you will understand.

Not to get to Libby's personal motivations, we can certaily judge Fitzgerald's zeal based on his behavior and that fact that it was never shown that there was a crime or that the perjury actually prevented the exposure of that non-crime. (DrDan: This statement and the term "non-crime" is meant to be sarcastic.) Even with the "truth" discovered and Libby's perjury exposed, there has been no claim of a crime, and Fizgerald knew who did it before he even took office.

Sorry, that is just investigation for the exercise. It is common among prosecutors.

Posted by: Constitutionalist | March 16, 2007 01:44 PM

My great uncle James Speed, was attorney general under Lincoln and this dismal situation with the Justice Department requires prompt action to restore the confidence of the citizens that the impartial rule of law still is supremely important. When thinking of who best to restore the credibility with the limited time left to the Bush Administration before a new President is sworn needs to be someone who had no other career designs beyond restoring the Justice Department credibility. I would hope that it would be Sandra Day O'Connor who could fill this role and then retire once again.

Posted by: Kathy | March 16, 2007 01:48 PM

Constitutionalist, DrDan actually raised an interesting point.

Out of curiosity, what section of the Constitution says that laws should be selectively enforced? Which part of our legal code says: If a Republican does it, it's not a crime, if a Democratic does, it is?

I don't remember James Madison or Alexander Hamilton arguing the merits of selective enforcement, but perhaps you know different. Perhaps you are not a U.S. Constitutionalist, but an expert in some other nation's Constitution? That would explain DrDan's confusion. Although, the truth is it would just add another layer of irony.

Posted by: JP2 | March 16, 2007 01:56 PM

In an ideal world the president would not politicize his own position? The same can be said of the congress now controlled by the democrats.

The people who accuse Gonzales of serving the president and not the people need to be reminded of a basic principle of American law. What is key to keep in mind here is the idea of prosecutorial discretion. Blue laws are the most obvious example that illustrate this concept. While a state may have a law against adultery, the AG's office can, and thankfully, usually will defer prosecutions even when they are presnted with clear evidence that the crime has been committed.

I don't mean to suggest that a blue law is the same as the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches or the prnciples of seperation of powers and co-equal branches of government. But, on the other hand, the costs of a expansive interpretation of the Fourth, a strict enforcrment of the Fourth and a narrow interpretation of presidential power during a time of war--not the war in Iraq, but the larger war of terror that has been ongoing for 25 years--are much greater than the costs of enforcing blue laws. Moreover, the principle of prosecutorial discretion is the same. Many environmental laws, specifically the Clean Water Act, rely heavily on the principle of prosecutorial discretion.

So what has been at work during the duration of Gonzalez's tenure is not an AG who doesnt correctly understand his job discription. Rather, its an AG who has a certain understanding of the predicament the United States finds itself visa-vie terrorism in the age of loose nukes and gloablization and exercises his discretion accordingly.

Posted by: schultz | March 16, 2007 01:57 PM

Do you have any ideal how much Fitzgerald is needed in Illinois. Daley and his cronies has turned this city into a legalized mob city COME BACK TO ILLINOIS FITZY WE NEED YOU

Posted by: darson1 | March 16, 2007 02:04 PM

Is Fitzgerald a Republican? I never saw anything saying what his political affiliation is one way or another. Sure, he was appointed by Bush, but it was on the recommendation of former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, whose office Obama now holds. That does confirm or deny the claim that Fitzgerald is a Republican though.

Posted by: Dan | March 16, 2007 02:06 PM

Constitutionalist- Actually, Fitzgerald did show that Libby committed crimes. The names of those crimes are perjury and obstruction of justice. Why do you blame Fitzgerald for prosecuting Libby on charges that a jury unanimously found convincing?

Posted by: copyed | March 16, 2007 02:07 PM

Fitzgerald must be a descendant of the Wicked Witch of the North, considering all the "hunts" - fictitious and otherwise - he's ridden onto the national sceme. Impartial rule of law under this Mick? Fogeddaboutit! Let St. Pat lead this two-faced lemming over the cliff into oblivion.

Posted by: Jerry Cosby | March 16, 2007 02:30 PM

Shultz, when is it ever appropriate for a political director to evaluate the merits of prosecutors as part of an ongoing review process? When is it ever appropriate for congressmen and women to try to influence ongoing prosecutions?

These questions fundamentally should NOT be political.

In what kind of upside down universe is a prosecutor fired for successfully prosecuting a case like the Randy Duke Cunnigham, MZM situation. Carol Lam should have received a citation of merit; not because she prosecuted a Republican, but because she made sure that a corrupt politician was sent to the pen. Instead she gets fired. In my view that's just bizarre; moves along those lines undermine our security and the strength of our democracy. All Americans should be outraged.

Posted by: JP2 | March 16, 2007 02:32 PM

If Gonzales does go, then Dubbya's choice for Attorney General is obvious --

Victoria Toensing.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein | March 16, 2007 02:42 PM

Well, limiting ourselves to the realm of the possible, senior GOP Senators ought to start lobbying for AG John Danforth today (or Sunday morning).

Posted by: Jim | March 16, 2007 02:42 PM

Lawrence Silberman? Is Mr. Fein serious? Silberman, sitting as a senior judge on the DC Circuit, just authored the controversial decision which held that the Second Amendment grants an individual right to keep and bear arms, thus invalidating the DC law barring possession of firearms. Silberman was the moving force behind the refusal of the intelligence commission appointed by President Bush to go beyond the skewed intelligence itself and look for the reasons the intelligence was so inaccurate, thus delaying, even to this day, complete exposure of official misconduct to take us to war in Iraq, which was finally revealed to some degree by the recent report of the DOD Inspector General. Silberman, like Gonzales, has proven himself to be an errand boy for Bush and the PNAC, AEI, neo-con Right. He's much more dangerous than Gonzales: he's extremely smart, sophisticated, politically savvy, and, in the position of attorney general, would probably pick up the slack in gravitas left by the diminishing luster and deteriorating health of Vice President Cheney. NO THANK YOU, MR. FEIN.

Posted by: KBloom | March 16, 2007 02:44 PM

Comey is a non-starter. He appointed Fitzgerald to the Plame case.He wont be forgiven for that.

Posted by: | March 16, 2007 03:04 PM

Frankly I don't think much of Mr. Fitzgerald. He allowed himself to go after a fall guy while the real culprits are still in place. Karl Rove did essentially the same thing as Libbey, but no indictments for him? Please.

Posted by: Peggy | March 16, 2007 03:05 PM

Re: "As for Mark In Irvine's claim that Clinton's perjury should not count" -

There you go again "UnConstitutionalist": twisting the facts, hoping that nobody's paying attention: I never said that "Clinton's perjury should not count". I just suggested that lying about one's sex life doesn't rise to the same level of national interest as lying to obstruct a criminal investigation into a matter of national and international security. If you can't see the difference, then you should do more reading than typing ...

Kudos to "Ruth in SC" who has hit the nail right on the head: "... the AG is, first and foremost, the Nation's law enforcement leader. That means that if the President is planning to do something illegal, the AG stands up against him. That's why the AG is not the same as the White House counsel. The AG is NOT the President's lawyer."

We've got news for you "UnConstitutionalist": it's despots and tyrants who exploit "the law" for their personal political purposes. If you don't know that, then you should do more reading than typing ...

Posted by: | March 16, 2007 03:13 PM

Is Harriet Miers available?

I was going to say Vickie Toensing, but I see she's already been spoken for/to. I guess Joseph DiGenova, then. Or Barbara Comstock.

Or David Addington.

Posted by: Sparkles the Iguana | March 16, 2007 03:16 PM

Sorry "UnConstitutionalist" - that was me above who charged you with "twisting the facts, hoping that nobody's paying attention" - I wouldn't want you to think you were being challenged by anonymous.


Posted by: Mark In Irvine | March 16, 2007 03:18 PM

I suppose Patrick Fitzgerald or Elliot Cohen would be good choices if you favor prosecutorial zealotry. Perhaps, if these are the qualities we favor, we should look at a Kenneth Starr as a possibility.

But then bipartisan zealotry is not what we're looking for, is it?

Posted by: Ben Sutherland | March 16, 2007 03:19 PM

Comey will never be forgiven!

For there is no higher law than that which waxes and wanes in the mind of our Dear Leader Dick Cheney!

Are we not a nation of men, not laws?

Or as Thomas Paine said: "the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE KING IS LAW. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the KING OUGHT to be law; and there ought to be no other."

Actually Paine said something different. My recollection is getting hazy. Must. stop. thinking. for. myself. Must. stop. appealing. to. the outdated wisdom. of our Founders. Dear Leader is never wrong.

Comey sinned against Dear Leader. He must never be forgiven.

Posted by: JP2 | March 16, 2007 03:21 PM

Fitzgerald or nailed it dude!
Thank you so much for this.
The real test will come when Bush nominates someone other than these two excellent choices and how the confirmation hearings go. Seems pretty obvious now that the Senate bears a great deal of responsibility for Hurricane Gonzales. The Dems/Pathetics as much as the Rubber Stamps.

Posted by: unmask911 | March 16, 2007 03:49 PM

Boy. First time visiting the WaPo's comment site and shocked, but surprised how overwhelmingly slanted to the left your readership is.

Just a reminder regarding the ultimate in crony(nepo)tism. Bobby Kennedy. Do you think he ever acted independently of JFK?

Bottom line. Gonzalez IS in over his head. That's a given. So was Janet Reno and 75% of the previous AG's. But it is mostly a political position - hence the need for congress to appoint special (independent) prosecutors in the event there is misconduct in the executive branch. What is your alternative? Requiring that the AG be appointed by Congress? The constitution works because the president nominates the AG and the Senate approves him. Checks and balances. If you libs don't like it, then lobby your Senators to filibuster the nomination. You'll probably try to establish the precedent when it comes to the next Supreme Court nomination.

Posted by: Steve (voice or reason in liberal country) | March 16, 2007 04:31 PM

Fitzgerald is honest and trusting he up hold the oath of the US Justice System. He would make an excellent Attorney General but not with this corrupt Administration. Taking the AG job now would destroy his resume. What lawyer would want to have their name linked to the most corrupt Administration in the History of America. Honesty is not honored in the Bush Administration only lies and crimes honored with them. Fitzgerald will be looked as part of the criminal team and would be a let down to the millions of Americans and overseas people that believe in him. It's nice to put a honest person in to cover up the White House continued criminal acts. Patrick J. Fitzgerald can't help or save the Justice System under this Bush Administration. Look for another patsy.

Posted by: Jackie Rawlings | March 16, 2007 04:45 PM

Fitzgerald is honest and trusting he up hold the oath of the US Justice System. He would make an excellent Attorney General but not with this corrupt Administration. Taking the AG job now would destroy his resume. What lawyer would want to have their name linked to the most corrupt Administration in the History of America. Honesty is not honored in the Bush Administration only lies and crimes honored with them. Fitzgerald will be looked as part of the criminal team and would be a let down to the millions of Americans and overseas people that believe in him. It's nice to put a honest person in to cover up the White House continued criminal acts. Patrick J. Fitzgerald can't help or save the Justice System under this Bush Administration. Look for another patsy.

Posted by: Jackie Rawlings | March 16, 2007 04:47 PM


Posted by: Long Beach, CA | March 16, 2007 05:03 PM

Steve, what does any of this have to do with the nomination process? Who is saying that we should revise the nomination process for high level White House staff?

It is a worthwhile question to ask why the Republican Rubberstamps and 5 Dems gave Bush extreme deference in approving the Gonzales nomination (contrast that with the strong bipartisan support for qualified nominees like Petraeus and Gates).

But no has even suggested that the nomination process as being fundamentally flawed.

Oddly enough this White House DOES seem to have a problem with a 200 year tradition of advise AND consent. The provision foisted into the Patriot Act to circumvent the nomination process for U.S. attorneys is just another one of the very odd and unprecedented deviations that this administration has undertaken in its attempt to alter our system of checks and balances.

Madison, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and a host of others are spinning in their graves right now.

Posted by: JP2 | March 16, 2007 05:48 PM

That sounds about right. I knew that the Bushies had offered something to Fitzgerald so that he wouldn't indict anyone in the administration for outing an under cover CIA agent. I always wondered why Fitzgerald totally ignored the outing of Brewster Jennings (the cover company Valerie and other agents worked under). That was also an act of treason. Outing Valerie only put her at risk, outing the cover company put a lot of CIA agents at risk. For all we know people are dead because Rove, Armatiage and Novack outed a CIA agent and that CIA agent's cover company.

Many people don't realize that Fitzgerald is a Bush appointee. Many thought that he was going against the administration. I firmly believe that the Bush administration realized that someone had to be served up, otherwise people would start investigating and the whole story would blow up around them. So, they sacrificed Scooter and Fitzgerald went along with them.

Time for his reward!

Posted by: Katie | March 16, 2007 07:37 PM

*An Attorney General needs to have the confidence, trust and ear of the President to do his job...* That's funny, I thought that the Attorney general worked for us (the American public) not for the President. I thought that the Attorney General was supposed to act independently and do what he needs to do to protect the constitution. All this AG has done is carry water for George Bush.

Posted by: | March 16, 2007 07:39 PM

JP2 and Mark in Irvine are both obviously idiots, who have little or no first hand knowledge of our constitution or political processes. The ignorance is dishartening. As an independent I'm looking forward to Bush leaving office so liberals can regain their sanity.

Posted by: | March 16, 2007 07:49 PM

A brilliant series, Mr. Cohen--the kind of incisive treatment of an important issue that we'd all like to see more of!

Posted by: Martin Nagle | March 16, 2007 08:00 PM

Shultz-Wow, lets give unlimited power to the Executive branch to keep us safe from terrorists! Boy I wish we would have thought of that when Hitler was running amok? Or how about during the height of the cold war when kids practiced hiding under their desks for protection from nukes? Or how about when our own countrymen blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City? Why didn't we step on the Constitution and go door to door in the middle of the night during those times? So AG was just doing what he needed to do because of the predicament the country is in today. It is the fault of 9/11. Bush, Cheney, Rove and AG had some great things planned to enhance liberty until the towers fell and then they were forced to seek the power that would keep us all safe. Thanks for enlightening me, I feel much better about things now.

Posted by: | March 16, 2007 08:49 PM

Anon 7:42 PM/Constitutionalist, in other words you had some difficulty finding the part of our legal code that says "selective partisan enforcement is best"? Keep looking.

Actually better yet, pick up a copy of James Madison's Notes on the Constitutional Convention. It's a lengthy and difficult read, but you'll be a better citizen for having taken the time to understand the debates behind the ongoing debate.

Posted by: JP2 | March 16, 2007 09:03 PM

Obviously Fitzgerald made some sort of a deal with Bush/Rove/Cheney.Rove lied to the grand jury same as Scooter.However he was allowed to change his story.Fitzgerald is a snake in the grass and has pulled the wool over rhe American public's eyes.The bought man is just as bad as the byer.

Posted by: cincigal74 | March 16, 2007 10:18 PM

Re: "JP2 and Mark in Irvine are both obviously idiots, who have little or no first hand knowledge of our constitution or political processes. The ignorance is dishartening. As an independent I'm looking forward to Bush leaving office so liberals can regain their sanity."

When you're right on the law, argue the law; when you're wrong on the law, argue the facts; when you're wrong on the facts, attack your opponent personally. Too bad some of these readers aren't honest enough with themselves to realize we see their ad hominem attacks for what they are: the last resort of fools and losers. [oh - did I just make an ad hominem attack? my bad]

Posted by: Mark In Irvine | March 16, 2007 10:24 PM

Mark, I wouldn't go as far as you did. Fools and losers in one context, might not be fools and losers in another.

On this issue though there really is no good defense for this administration's actions. If people are content with centralizing power into one branch of government and putting their faith in men beyond all reason, it's best to understand what that means in all its glory.

Posted by: JP2 | March 16, 2007 11:17 PM


It was sarcastic humor.

But have a conversation with anyone in ICE or DOJ or Customs in San Diego and you will see how they absolutley seethed under the obstruction of Ms. Lam, the US Attorney who left.

Now, I know you guys like to call everyone a jerk or an idiot when someone disagrees with you. But the fact is that her subordinates did not support her, and openly complained to local community leaders about her failure to support their mission.

Community leaders in Southern California have a big Navy Base and worry about security. In case you haven't heard, millions of people have swarmed the border and overwhelmed California schools, welfare offices and emergency rooms. Try taking your daughter to an emergency room when she is in a major traffic accident. You will find 100 illegal (political correctness) undocumented aliens with little ones having tooth aches and sore throats. Thats because they know they will not be turned away.

Medical insurance in California costs many families ten thousand dollars a year. My car insurance is eight thousand dollars a year. I have not had an accident in 34 years except for the four, undocumented, unlicensed aliens who ran into me.

Ms. Lam is not an idiot, or misinformed, or a left wing nut. She just did not support the mission in the manner that she was expected. By the way, most of these AUSA's terms were either up or coming up.

Senator Leahy is politicising this. I have lost all respect for him, Not Gonzales. He and his compadres out to be worring about the real issues facing this country.

It is not erosion of rights. It is Iranian nuclear capability. It is the IED's THEY used against our troops in Iraq.

And Hugo wants to be more than a tin pot dictator who led a coup. He dreams of being Boulivar who fought the Spaniards. He has bought an AK-47 factory lock stock and barrel, and has imported 100,000 AK-47's that he dreams of using against Gringo's

By the way, I love to bring up former President Clinton. I suggest you research the statements of the former head of the FBI Louis Freed concerning his obstruction of the arrest of the Iranians who bombed Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 US Servicemen.

The problem with you folks, is that you really don't have a historical perspective on what is going on in this world.

The guys who are trying to protect you are taking hits from the folks who they protect.

And this post is not exagerating. It is getting that bad. And the folks who are getting pissed are not right wing nuts.

Posted by: Tom King | March 17, 2007 12:55 AM

Tom, I've read complaints about Kevin Ryan's management in San Fransico, but not about Lam. Lam rec'd high performance marks and prosecuted an important case with the MZM scandal. For her good work, she got canned. Nice reward for doing the people's business. Pretty disturbing actually.

Curious also what you mean by: "The guys who are trying to protect you are taking hits from the folks who they protect."

In a Constitutional Republic "the protected" and "the protectors" are supposed to be one in the same.

Remember: We the People?

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Maybe you think the President deserve special treatment? Rule of men, not laws? I don't think that's where you really want to go.

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

-Teddy Roosevelt

Posted by: JP2 | March 17, 2007 05:29 AM

Bush only surrounds himself with pitbulls or poodles. Fitzgerald is neither.

Posted by: gliving | March 17, 2007 05:49 AM

I enjoyed reading your pieces, Mr. Cohen.

I find it a bit sad that so many on the right are opposed to the idea of a truly independent DOJ just as they are opposed in general to an independent judiciary. It goes to show, I'm afraid, that many of the Republicans today are no conservatives but rather authoritarians, consumed more with controlling all of the levers of power than with any particular notion of what these levers should be used for (save accumulating more power).

Posted by: TomT | March 17, 2007 07:54 AM


Please don't think that because Ms. Lam was not attacked in a newspaper that some folks did not care for her filing policies or case guidlines.

Newspapers are the last place you find factual analysis of anything today.

The issue with her was not that she was incompetent, or had a bad managerial style.

Good prosecutions occur because airtight cases are put together by qualified agents. The cases are prosecuted by assistant USA's.

The boss gets the credit....

What I meant is that painting all federal agents with a broad brush that they torture people and somehow conspire to violate the constitutional rights of others is hog wash.

There are some major issues in her district with immigration, drug cartels and even public corruption. Many people felt she was not agressive enough.

Big cases are fine. But small cases are necessary to win the battle against crime.

Posted by: Tom King | March 17, 2007 11:43 AM

I do not waste all of my time on Washington Post blogs. However, since I have been much maligned here, I felt I should clarify the content for those (JP2 / MII) who simply cannot read.

In responding to MII's excuse for Bill Clinton's perjury -- that lying under oath for personal reasons is somehow qualitatively different from other motivations of perjury -- I stood firm against perjury. The point of my post was to refute Andrew Cohen's lame claims, much here endorsed, that Fitzgerald is a qualified prosecutor and candidate for Attorney General.

I will stand by the statement that Fitzgerald is an overzealous prosecutor who investigated a non-crime by granting immunity to protect his chosen while pointlessly jailing a journalist for months. That the entire investigation came down to a single individual's perjury. And that individual was not responsible for the original leak. It is a fact that no underlying crime was ever discovered or charged. The original leaker, the cause of the investigation, revealed himself months before the investigation began. The entire point of the investigation was to expose petty political behavior, common in American history. Or more pointedly petty human behavior, such as motivated President Clinton's perjury. Hence my ironic suggestion that Ken Starr's turn as special prosecutor qualifies him for Attorney General.

Now, I hope that is clear to you pettifoggers. I oppose perjury. I happen to endorse applying the law. This is probably something the majority writing here do not believe. For example is there one of you here who actually believes we should enforce laws against illegal immigrants and companies and persons who employ them? I sincerely doubt it. I do, because it is the law. I also happen to believe in enforcing laws against speeding, running red lights and failing properly to secure small children in car seats, strictly and expensively. I am certainly for jailing those who lie under oath.


Now I really don't know why people question my consitutational positions when this particular thread addresses only the application of the law and qualifications for the office of Attorney General -- neither questions of constitutional law.

The only reason I used this moniker is that I had used it earlier in other threads of this blog and I have been told that proper etiquette requires continuing using the same alias once selected. Frankly it has its advantages in provoking those who are easily provoked and disadvantages -- it is hard to type quickly and I often drop the "u" or transpose it with one "i" or the other.

Posted by: Constitutionalist | March 17, 2007 04:10 PM


Logically I'm having a hard time following your argument.

You're saying:
1. Just because there wasn't any sensible explanation for Lam's firing in the papers, that there is one.

2. "The issue with her was not that she was incompetent, or had a bad managerial style." flat out contradicts your previous statement:

"But have a conversation with anyone in ICE or DOJ or Customs in San Diego and you will see how they absolutley seethed under the obstruction of Ms. Lam, the US Attorney who left."

"Obstruction" of investigations cannot be reconciled with a good managerial style.

3. "Good prosecutions occur because airtight cases are put together by qualified agents. The cases are prosecuted by assistant USA's.

The boss gets the credit...."

In this case the boss didn't get much credit, she got fired. It makes no sense.

4. "What I meant is that painting all federal agents with a broad brush that they torture people and somehow conspire to violate the constitutional rights of others is hog wash."

A non sequitor. What does this have to do with the firing of federal prosecutors? No one is accusing any U.S. attorneys of torture or conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of others.

5. "There are some major issues in her district with immigration, drug cartels and even public corruption. Many people felt she was not agressive enough.

Big cases are fine. But small cases are necessary to win the battle against crime."

Clearly illegal immigration is the overriding issue for you (based on this and the previous comment). And clearly if a person tells you "X" didn't prosecute illegal immigrants, you will immediately rush to the support of punishing of "X".

If you think this U.S. attorneys issue is primarily about some prosecutors who were not sufficiently vigilant in prosecuting "illegal immigrants" I can tell you that you should be cautious before jumping. I wouldn't be surprised to see the White House pull out that defense to win a P.R. battle, but these firings seem to target the U.S. attorneys who were:

A. Just coincidentally prosecuting, or had prosecuted some relatively high profile GOPers and their financial supporters. (Lam, Cummins, there is one other who finished her job this past week)

B. Attorneys who did not sufficiently push voter fraud cases, because they were unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing (McKay).

C. An Attorney who did not bring a prosecution case of a Democrat before an election (Iglesias).

D. A White House that has given shifting explanations that have been contradicted by their own emails; and has now invoked an across the board case of "amnesia" and haziness about what the facts of the case really are.

It's just weird in my view.

Posted by: JP2 | March 17, 2007 04:39 PM

The comments critical of Fitzgerald on this blog have been remarkably few, but they are worth addressing.

Constitutionalist, your constant references to Clinton's perjury reveal your true colors. Clinton's perjury teaches us nothing about whether Fitzgerald's conduct of the leak investigation was overzealous or unethical. It was neither, so please stop libeling the man.

Judith Miller had needed evidence and refused to give it because she was a reporter. Subpoenaing her was the only way to get it. Fitzgerald's subpoenas of reporters were challenged in the federal courts and upheld as thoroughly lawful. She was compelled to testify.

Ari Fleischer had needed evidence and refused to give it without a grant of immunity. There was not a sufficient basis upon which to file criminal charges against him to get him to flip. This is why prosecutors use immunity. I do not know why you think Fleischer was Fitzgerald's "chosen" but there is no evidence of that. Several other persons, including government officials and reporters, gave testimony without any grant of immunity.

Your suggestion that the prosecutor's subpoena powers or the power to grant immunity were somehow abused in this case demonstrates that you really do not know what you are talking about. You see, these are the tools prosecutors use to win cases. Criminal cases are wars, in the truest sense of the word. Fitzgerald correctly resorted to every legal and factual arrow in his quiver.

Fitzgerald has said that Libby's perjury obstructed the investigation. You can disagree with that if you want. You don't seem to disagree that Libby did commit perjury. You just want to devalue it as a "noncrime," for reasons that you failed to justify but that are obvious from your obsession with irrelevancies like Bill Clinton.

Fitzgerald did not ask Libby to lie. Libby's lies were something Fitzgerald encountered during the investigation. It was an unfortunate thing that should not have happened, but it did happen. Meanwhile, the statute covering the intentional outing of secret agents is a difficult violation to prove. Fitzgerald could not make that case, and so he did not overreach by trying. He made the case he could make -- the one before his very eyes, against the subject who lied to his face in the grand jury. His other choice was to turn a blind eye to those lies.

He made the only ethical choice he could in bringing the case against Libby. Along the way, he made a lot of enemies on the Left and the Right. And do you know what? He didn't care, and he doesn't care, to this day. As a career prosecutor, and including his prosecution of the New York crime bosses, the 1993 WTC bombers, the blind sheikh, Chicago insurance magnate and political power broker Michael Segal, and former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, he has shown as much or more courage in his public career as anyone on the national scene. He is not the ambitious politician and headline-grabber that Spitzer is. All this is why he would be the greatest Attorney General never appointed.

So please, spare us the nonsense about how he was overzealous and unethical, because you just don't know what you are talking about. I'm sure there is room for you somewhere on a Fox News panel, if anyone is still watching that network.

Posted by: ExAUSA | March 17, 2007 04:53 PM


This is the disqualifying statement:

"The point of my post was to refute Andrew Cohen's lame claims, much here endorsed, that Fitzgerald is a qualified prosecutor and candidate for Attorney General."

This is a little bit like saying that a neurosurgeon who is widely respected by members of his profession, and who has a long record of successful work with difficult cases is disqualified to operate on brains, because a guy who took biology once in high school simply says he is not qualified.

Not persuasive.

Posted by: JP2 | March 17, 2007 04:53 PM

JP2 - You rock. Greate riposte to constitutionalist.

Posted by: elf | March 17, 2007 06:13 PM

Perhaps Bush should renominate the excellent Janet Reno for Attorney General. Or Lani Guanier.

Posted by: TP | March 18, 2007 11:52 AM

Fitz would make a great AG and a great president too, after some cabinet experience. But Fitz as Bush's AG is a non-starter. Not going to happen. What we should do though is to put pressure on 08 Dem candidates to take Fitz as their AG.
I think that has a 90% chance of happening, while Bush's nominating Fitz has 0% chance.

Posted by: ecoast | March 18, 2007 08:24 PM

Who would confirm an attorney general that is the personal friend of the President.

If thats not a conflict of interest what is.

Republicans will do anything Bush asks them.

Hitler would have loved these wingnuts.

Posted by: Langx | March 19, 2007 01:32 AM

The one thing taht has come out of the Bush admin is this.

Clinton has not been in office for 6 years yet the Repugs always say clinton did it.

How many years do you think the Dems will get out of this Bush admin.

Bush did it or FUBAR and we are trying to fix it can be used for the next 40 years.

Thanks repugs. It may take that long before you are trusted with any power in this country again.

Posted by: | March 19, 2007 01:57 AM

An excellent question to ask each presidential candidate: Who would you appoint as Attorney General?

Posted by: LRP | March 19, 2007 02:34 AM

I wonder if prosecutorial discretion means itself a disregard for the law. Is PD a type of license which one may carry to circumvent ethical concerns? Or should the Attorney General owe his loyalty, his over-riding allegiance to a policy rather than the Constitution which he has sworn to uphold? By even a serious discussion of these questions in the midst of how the AG has performed in itself, has disqualified him from further service. One cannot function with the nature of these questions having a need to be resolved. In general, it seems to me that with so few areas this administration can point to as examples of success it goes without saying that Bush-Cheney have succeeded in lowering our expectations in the faith and trust, character and integrity we envision from our highest elected leaders. Unquestionably succeded even beyond our wildest imaginations to demonstrate the highest level of incompetence previously held by number of men much greater than two. Success much be measured in terms of an overall ability to create neo-dysfunctionalism.

Posted by: Robert Machado | March 19, 2007 03:16 AM

Tom King cut and ran from the discussion in Part 1 of this series after his untruths were revealed. Here's part of what he has failed to answer:

Tom King: "Why do liberals always say this country is in the crapper?"

1) Tom King, are you unaware that conservatives also complain about the direction of the country? (Consider the endless far-right complaints about so-called culture wars, gays having actual rights, women having actual reproductive freedom, etc.)

2) Are you aware that your entire post does nothing to defend your errors here, like the way you think that Opinion columns are supposed to be objective?

Tom King: "Why do they always call anyone who does not support their philosophy, ignorant."

3) Karen accused Andrew Cohen of not being "objective" in writing this article, and you accused Andrew Cohen of "bias." A mere glance at the page header shows that it is "Opinions > Columns & Blogs." How else do you explain your error other than the fact that you were ignorant of the fact that this column is an opinion, and is SUPPOSED TO BE an opinion?

Tom King: "Liberals always seem to say those who disagree with their pessimistic outlook are wrapping themselves in the flag."

4) Who here has said anything like that?

5) Do you realize that you are again FAILING to actually address the real comments of your opponents?

6) Do you realize that you are again attempting to put words in the mouths of your opponents? (This is known as making a straw man argument.)

7) Do you realize that resorting to straw man arguments and failing to address your errors after getting caught means you lose the debate?

8) Do you realize that you have still offered no defense for Gonzales making a mockery of justice?

9) There is ample evidence that Gonzalez has been using firings to force US attorneys to prosecute Democrats and to force them to stop prosecuting Republicans. If this turns out to be true, do you condemn it?

10) If Bush and Cheney were involved, do you condemn them?

11) What punishment would fit such a crime?

12) Are you too afraid to answer?


Tom King again pulls back the curtain and reveals how much Fox News has damaged the thinking of 30% of the nation by decimating their ability to think and analyze. Tom King, if you think I am wrong, you can answer. If you are afraid I am right, by all means continue to cut-and-run away from answering.

Posted by: Captain Jack | March 19, 2007 10:36 AM

Does anyone know what nickname Bush has bestowed on Gonzales?

Posted by: Dave | March 19, 2007 03:28 PM

The greatest concern of this country should be what have the 85 AGs who earned the title "loyal bushies" been doing to garner that title?

Posted by: ob | March 20, 2007 10:44 AM

W Bush's nickname for Gonzales is "Fredo." That's right. Fredo. Just like in the Godfather- the feckless little brother. Watch out, Gonzales, if Bush kisses you or wants to take you fishing.

The likes of Tom King continue to cut and run from answering to their many errors and incorrect statements.

Catch them in their lockstep servitude to Fox News and how do they respond?


Posted by: | March 20, 2007 08:17 PM

I don't understand how Bill Clinton keeps coming up with respect to Scooter's convictions for lying to the FBI, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

Clinton was never indicted, nor would he have been. Quite frankly, he did not commit perjury. That's right. He did not commit perjury.

The legal definition of perjury is a false statement made under oath that is MATERIAL to the issue in question. Clinton lied. Under oath. But his statement was not material. The testimony of numerous former U.S. Attorneys in the impeachment hearings clearly established that.

But I'm way off topic now.

Who should replace Gonzales? There is no one palatable to this administration that would restore honor and integrity to the office. Only sycophants need apply.

Posted by: Nellie | March 21, 2007 12:00 PM

"Clinton was never indicted, nor would he have been. Quite frankly, he did not commit perjury. That's right. He did not commit perjury."

Great point, Nellie. These hypocritical conservatives once got off on wailing that Clinton's NON-PURJURY lie under oath was SOOO horrible. But now they are tying themselves in logical knots trying to explain how Scooter's actual PURJURY lies are just fine and should be pardoned.

Blatant far-right hypocrisy. I note that all the ditto-heads have fled from here rather than have to answer these questions. Catch them lying and their response?


Posted by: Captain Jack | March 21, 2007 02:07 PM

How about a tough prosecutor that stood up against the one of the Masters of Cronyism, Mayor Richard Daley I? Jim Thompson fought corruption in the Cook County machine and later ran for governor against Daley's hand picked candidate Howlett, who's main qualification was he would do whatever Daley wanted. (Sound familiar?)

I've only voted for a handful of Republicans, usually as a last resort, but I was proud to vote for Jim Thompson as I knew he was a man of integrity. As a member of the 9/11 commission, he's well known to Congress as well as the nation. And he won't back down in the face of politcal pressure from the White House, Cheney, or GeorgeIII. We need someone like Eliot Richardson.

Now can someone help Alberto pack up his office?

Posted by: B Squared | March 23, 2007 12:49 PM

What is this garbage that the next AG must be Republican? That means that the next AG may not be the best possible candidate, just the best possible Republican candidate, which goes well beyound pathetic.

Posted by: farmasea | March 24, 2007 09:19 PM

Remarkable how few defenders of Golzales choose to say anything about his record on the death penalty, Guantanamo or legalized torture.

The irony, of course, is that the Republicans are the party of Kissinger, and the people who understand 'the real world'.

I'm not sure who, in the real world, can see the 'War on Terror' as something that can be conducted in isolation - especially when the 9/11 Commission, like the MI5 before it, concluded that information sharing is essential to fighting terrorism.

A 'law' that, by legalizing torture, triggers provisions in the legal codes of our allies that prevent them from fully cooperating with the US represents a dramatic reduction to our nation's security, not an imporvement. This is something our AG should understand before the fact, not when his career is in freefall.

Isolation is rightly considered both a form of punishment, as well as a practical method for undermining the strength and freedom of its targets. It's what we do to our enemies.

Under Bush, it's also what we do to ourselves.

Thanks, guys, for everything.

Posted by: Lexington | March 26, 2007 02:54 PM

Death penalty? Guantanamo?, Legalized torture?

Job Title: AG (aka Accommodator General)

Job Description:
To take orders from the master and to come up with ideas to bend the law as needed.

Posted by: | March 27, 2007 02:09 PM

The more the truth comes out, the more the Fox-news faithful head back into their spider holes to hide.

Ask a few simple questions about their evident untruths and how do they respond?


Posted by: Captain Jack | March 28, 2007 05:09 PM

Patrick J Fitzgerald!!!! His performance as Special Prosecutor was without question the worst in American history. He was hired find out who "outed" Valerie Plame. He was told who did it on virtually his first day on the job. Did he prosecute Richard Armitrage? Nah. He spent the next year plus $50,000,000 trying to lure senior Bush adminstration officials into perjury traps. He finally got Libby who had nothing to do with outing anybody. Just pathetic Andrew Cohen, just pathetic.

Posted by: Erick Blair | March 31, 2007 02:30 PM

Marc--Find out what that mad cow Thatcher did for the Conservatives in Britain.

Posted by: Bill MacLeod | April 9, 2007 05:35 AM

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