Monday, March 19, 2007

U.S. Attorney Explanations Continue

I explained yesterday that whether the U.S. Attorney scandal is really a scandal turns on the reason for the firings -- some potential reasons are perfectly legitimate; others would be scandalous. Today's news -- that fired U.S. Attorney Carol Lam notified the White House of a major step in her investigation of well-connected defense contractors one day before Alberto Gonzales's chief of staff Kyle Sampson wrote an e-mail saying there was a "real problem" with her -- hints at the sinister explanation, although frankly, it's not as probative as one might think. I expect that there were so many steps involved in these firings, and U.S. Attorneys always have so much going on, that some temporal connection between something a U.S. Attorney did and a step in a firing would be expected by coincidence.

More probative, to me, is the fact that the White House keeps changing its story about what happened. If there was a legitimate reason for these firings, it shouldn't be that hard to state it. Continually changing explanations suggest a cover-up.

They also suggest, to me at least, that this isn't a Karl Rove operation. If Rove were in charge, you know he would have knocked this out of the park right away. He would have said something like, "the fired U.S. Attorneys weren't cooperating with our immigration enforcement policy. Do they really suppor the war on terrorism? We can't afford to have U.S. Attorneys who are squishy on terrorism. 9/11 changed everything, you know."

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