Gonzales Abandoned, From Within and Without
You don't have to believe me when I tell you, as I have for the past few months, that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has made trying times at the Justice Department measurably worse with his failed leadership and intellectual rigor and fairness. You now can also believe Daniel Metcalfe, a former Justice Department official who began his career there during the Nixon Administration. Metcalfe this week tells the Legal Times' Tony Mauro that Team Gonzales "shattered" the independence of the Justice Department with short-sighted political policies. "It becamse quite clear that under Gonzales, the department placed no more than secondary value on the standards that I and my office had valued so heavily for the preceding 25 years -- accuracy, integrity, responsibility and quality of decision-making being chief among them," Metcalfe told Mauro. Do yourself a favor and read the entire interview. It is a fascinating indictment of the Gonzales tenure and ought to put to rest the straw man argument that the Attorney General's critics are only weak-kneed Democrats out for political blood.
Meanwhile, even as the Attorney General endured a body blow from a well-respected career attorney, he learned this morning from The Wall Street Journal that his deputy, Paul McNulty, is "quietly" looking to leave public service and join a private law firm or corporation. McNulty, too, is heavily implicated in the scandal to fire the U.S. Attorneys-- he's been blamed for, among other things, failing to properly prepare Gonzales for testimony a few months ago on the subject-- and he has long been considered to be a candidate to be another likely "fall guy" for the Attorney General. The fact that he is looking to jump before he is pushed is just another side that the fallout from this controversy is still perhaps closer to the beginning than to the end.
These niggling news items come 24 hours or so before Gonzales is scheduled to undertake the performance of his life, a professional make-or-break appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee that wil either result in his departure from the Justice Department or his resurrection as an effective law enforcement official. They both undercut the Department's carefully choreographed charm offensive designed to give Gonzales a smidge of momentum coming into the hearing. Metcalfe and McNulty, one out and one in, both doing their part to ensure that the beleagured Attorney General stays on the ropes.
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