Friday, March 30, 2007

Callow, Shallow Sampson

Watching, listening, and reading what Kyle Sampson had to say to the Senate Justice Committee one can't help but be struck by how callow, fatuous and jejune he is.
So. Attorney General Roberto Gonzales lied, according to an early news report about the testimony of his own (former) Chief of Staff. As a later update of the same report describes--
The former aide, D. Kyle Sampson, who resigned two weeks ago, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mr. Gonzales’s statements about the prosecutors’ dismissals were inaccurate and that the attorney general had been repeatedly advised of the planning for them.

The two men talked about the dismissal plans over a two-year period, Mr. Sampson said, beginning in early 2005 when Mr. Gonzales was still the White House counsel. Mr. Sampson said he had briefed his boss at least five times before December 2006, when seven of the eight prosecutors were ousted.

We more or less learned all of this from news leaks over the past ten days. In fact, yesterday's hearings didn't bring out much we didn't already know or suspect; but it did drive more nails in Gonzales' coffin and lengthen the list of miscreants:
Under questioning near the end of the day from Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sampson said [New Mexico U.S Attorney David] Iglesias should not have been fired.
* * *
In dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, D. Kyle Sampson also revealed that New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias was not added to the dismissal list until just before the Nov. 7 elections, after presidential adviser Karl Rove complained that Iglesias had not been aggressive enough in pursuing cases of voter fraud. Previously, Rove had not been tied so directly to the removal of the prosecutors.
* * *
Sampson said he was aware of repeated complaints about Iglesias by Domenici, who called Gonzales and McNulty four times from late 2005 to 2006.
* * *
Sampson said Iglesias's name remained on the list after [Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty] told a group of Justice officials that Domenici would be pleased by the firing.
Although he was ramrodding the project to replace U.S. attorney with "loyal Bushies," Sampson kept no notes to speak of, conducted no performance reviews even remotely worthy of the name, and maintained only what he called a "drop" file consisting of little more than a hit list. The list, "he drew up ... adding and subtracting names, [was] based on a 'not scientific' accumulation of opinions...."

In other words, he relied primarily on the opinions and stated desires of Republican politicians, lobbyists, suspected criminals who made heavy contributions to the Republican cause, and Karl Rove.

Watching, listening, and reading what Kyle Sampson had to say to the Senate Justice Committee yesterday, one can't help but be struck by how callow, fatuous and jejune he is. Here is a lawyer in mid-career and he's prosecuted exactly one low-level "possession of a firearm" case in his life (in South Florida, no less). He doesn't have a clue what U.S. attorneys do or how vital it is that they discharge their very great investigative and prosecutorial powers independent of partisan political influence. Indeed, when as Gonzales' chief of staff he went begging to be named a U.S. attorney himself, his own mentor, Orrin Hatch, had to tell him no.

We can't be sure if others Gonzales brought into the Justice Department mirror the same deplorable qualities Sampson put on display yesterday, but you have to wonder, given Sampson's once-exalted status as "gate-keeper" for Gonzales.

Certainly, another Justice Department employee at the center of the scandal, White House liaison Monica Gooding, has worse than no experience. She's a 1999 graduate of Pat Robertson's obscure Regent University law school and has less than six months actual work experience outside the political realm. No wonder she's taking the Fifth Amendment -- some senator might ask about her LSAT scores.

Sampson's friend and fellow Mormon, Taylor Oldroyd, whom Sampson himself plucked from obscurity as deputy mayor of Provo to plop down into a new obscurity as lobbyist for the U.S. Agriculture Department's rural development agency, may think Sampson is "smart." But after hour upon hour of confessional testimony, we have concluded that you're likely to find more brains and acumen in the Provo city council than on Gonzales' staff.

And that's no compliment to Sampson, Gonzales, Bush's Justice Department, or the Provo city council.

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