Bush Administration Puts Skids on Corruption Investigations -- UPDATED
The Bush administration knows how to treat those who would impinge on their right to secrecy and mendacity: publicly take them out. First it was Joseph Wilson who embarrassed the administration by telling the country that they had lied about the threat of Saddam getting nuclear material from Africa. The hit on Joe Wilson was to out his wife and destroy her career. The message: don't mess with us, bud.
This week, the person who has displeased the administration is Carol Lam, the Federal Prosecutor who had successfully prosecuted Duke Cunningham and was still on the path to uncover the dealings of Brent Wilkes with his connections to Dusty Foggo and the CIA. Evidently this was too much for the Justice Department, because she's been asked to resign.
Speculation that the Bush administration allegedly has asked San Diego-based U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, the region's chief federal prosecutor, to step down was met with disbelief and dropped jaws by legal community members with ties to federal court.
"I was in a state of shock," said Peter Nunez, who served as the U.S. attorney in charge of the San Diego offices from 1982 to 1988. "It's just like nothing I've ever seen before in 35-plus years. To be asked to resign and to be publicly humiliated by leaking this to the press is beyond any bounds of decency and behavior. It shocks me. It really is outrageous."
What was the reason she was asked to resign? According to the San Diego Tribune, she hadn't made smuggling and gun cases her top priority. What happens to the corruption cases if she steps down? According to Dan Dzwilewski, head of the FBI office in San Diego, the currently cases she's currently handling cannot be successful without her leading them.
And as the always excellent TPMMuckraker says, there are rumors that she is not the only US Attorney who is being pushed out.
Update: Laura Rozen has a piece that speculates Lam's troubles stem from the investigation into Representative Jerry Lewis who as head of the Appropriations Committee in the last Congress knows too much about Bush's covert budget.