Thursday, March 1, 2007

Independence of U.S. Attorneys and the Politics of Replacing Them At Will: The New Mexico Version?

There is a new story and details this morning in the New York Times related to the recent replacement of several U.S. Attorneys, apparently not always "for cause."  This one concerns a New Mexico prosecutor, David Iglesias, who claims he resisted pressure to target (or hurry up and try, 251604_shiprock before the mid-terms) a Democratic defendant.  The story is Ex-Prosecutor Says Politics Was Motive For Dismissal

The previous WSJ Law Blog post (Feb. 7) is linked here.  It portrays the larger trend of such replacements, Paul McNulty's testimony that most firings were for cause, and his emphasis (like the AG's) that U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President.  In the Washington Post story that day, Deputy Attorney General Defends Prosecutor Firings, New Mexico's Iglesias was specifically named as one of the six or seven supposedly fired for "performance-related" issues.  McNulty had acknowledged, by contrast, that one of the firings, in Arkansas, was not for cause.  [Alan Childress]

UPDATE:  New WSJ post, specifically on Iglesias, here.

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The problem with the theory that the US Attorney in New Mexico was fired for not prosecuting Democratic politicians, is that the Justice Department seems to have a moratorium on bringing cases against Democratic politicians. Witness the fact that the CIA requested 4 years ago that the Justice Department investigate Jay Rockefeller, Dick Durbin, and Ron Wyden for illegal leaks of a highly classified CIA satellite surveillance program (Rockefeller and Durbin got the information due to their positions on the Senate Intelligence Committee), but the Justice Department has doen nothing. This administration has made a fetish of NOT investigating or prosecuting wrong doing by Democratic Politicians, only prosecuting its own.

Posted by: Kent J. Lyon | Mar 1, 2007 4:13:25 PM

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