By Tony Russell|
... Read more at tonyrussell.blogspot.com
"Okay, let's review the performance of these U.S. attorneys so we can fire them."
"If you don't mind my asking, sir, why are we doing this? I thought U.S. attorneys normally served until the next administration came into office."
"That's been the tradition. But do I have to spell it out? Since Democrats took over Congress at midterm, the new committee chairmen have been screaming about issuing subpoenas for all the stuff we've kept buried the past six years. If you can't squelch investigations in Congress, you'd better make sure you have friendly prosecutors in your pocket."
"I see. Well, I have their personnel files right here."
"Good. Who's your first one?"
"Paul Charlton, sir. He's the U.S. attorney in Arizona."
"What's his record like?"
[Opens file, flips through pages] "Umm, basically his review says he's highly respected by judges, federal investigators, Native American leaders, and everyone on his staff for 'his integrity, professionalism, and competence.'"
[Growls] "Jesus Christ! Who let a dingbat like that slip through? You can't count on a guy like that when he has to choose between following the law and playing 'Follow the Leader.' Make him number one on the priority firing list."
[Nods and makes a mark]
"That would be John McKay, sir. He's the U.S. attorney based in Seattle."
"What's the skivvy on him?"
[Hastily skims through summary] "His performance was audited just last fall. Reviews are positively glowing, sir. Nothing but praise for the diligence of McKay and his staff, and their evenhanded pursuit of justice."
"Holy hell! Why do they clutter these reviews with things that are irrelevant? I thought it was understood that the first qualification for these positions is toeing the mark when the Decider barks. Jump him ahead of Charlton on the purge list."
[Makes another mark] "This next one's a little ticklish, sir. It's Bud Cummins in Little Rock."
"Why's it ticklish?"
"You remember Bud Cummins, sir. He's been a faithful Republican and a staunch supporter of President Bush. He was even one of Arkansas's electors committed to the President in 2000."
"Oh, sure, I remember Bud. Why do we have his file? He's just the kind of guy we're looking for."
[Hesitantly] "The thing is, sir, Karl Rove asked that we give Mr. Cummins's job to a protégé of his—J. Timothy Griffin."
"What are Griffin's qualifications?"
"He's been doing 'opposition research' for the Republican National Committee for the past few years, digging up dirt on Democratic candidates that Mr. Rove wanted to target."
"You mean Karl wants to dump a guy who's been a team player just to put one of his personal favorites in that slot?"
[Philosophically] "Well, politics is a contact sport. And J. Timothy's got the right contacts. Put a pink slip in with Bud's paycheck. Next."
"Kevin Ryan, sir."
"The guy in San Francisco who's been investigating corporate executives for backdating their stock options?"
"Doesn't he realize that corporate executives are the backbone of the Republican Party? What the hell was he thinking of? If we don't cut executives some slack, they don't cut us a check come campaign time. Dump him."
"Yes sir. That brings us to Carol Lam."
"Lam, Lam. That name rings a bell. Where do I know that name from?"
"The Duke Cunningham case, sir. She was the prosecutor who oversaw that huge bribery scandal. She eventually got him convicted and forced him to resign from Congress."
"And hammered another nail in our coffin for the last election. Why are we even talking about her? Why does she still have a job?"
"Actually, it's worse than that, sir. Her investigation of the Kyle Foggo—Brent Wilkes—Mitchell Wade influence peddling and bribery scandal is still ongoing. It looks as if it will scorch some more members of Congress and people in the administration."
"We'll pull the plug on her right now. Give her the old heave-ho."
"Won't people be upset? She's had that high-profile success, and people see her as an emblem for honesty in government."
"That's just the kind of emblem we want to destroy. Find some area where her numbers tailed off while she was focusing on these corruption investigations, and then cite her 'poor performance' as a reason for dumping her."
[Troubled] "May I ask a serious question, sir?"
[Impatiently, glancing at his watch] "As long as a short answer will do."
"This work we're doing, sir—are our immortal souls in danger?"
[Caught off guard] "I'm afraid the Department of Justice has no standing in that jurisdiction. My concerns right now are more short term—our jobs, career prospects, and clean rap sheets. You must be from our megachurch 'base.' How did you happen to land a job in this office?"
"Prayer and fasting, sir. Volunteering for voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. And your affirmative action hiring plan for evangelicals."
© Tony Russell, 2007