No Comment — June 7, 2007, 9:59 am

The Federalist Society, the U.S. Attorneys Scandal, and Mary Walker

The Federalist Society bills itself as “a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order.” It sponsors debates and public information functions at law schools around the country. I have participated in Federalist Society functions for more than a decade myself, and I always enjoy them. But there is another, darker side of the Federalist Society which doesn’t show up on its website, but it making increasing appearances on documents turnover in the current probe of the U.S. Attorneys scandal. It serves as a means by which “loyal Bushies” identify themselves to one another, prove their absolute ideological loyalty, and it operates as an express elevator to high government office. Recall, for instance, that in the list of qualifications that Kyle Sampson prepared, one column was headed “Federalist Society?”

Now evidence has surfaced suggesting that the Federalist Society was deeply enmeshed in the plot to purge the Justice Department of those who were unwilling to fulfill Karl Rove’s political plans, and in identifying new candidates who would. McClatchy reports:

A leader of an influential conservative legal group recommended a replacement candidate for the U.S. attorney in San Diego just days after the sitting prosecutor’s name was secretly placed on a Justice Department firing list, according to a document released Wednesday. The recommendation by the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, Leonard Leo, came before anyone outside of a tight group in the White House and Justice Department knew about a nascent strategy that ultimately led to the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

It could not be determined whether a short e-mail, sent on March 7, 2005, making the recommendation meant that Leo knew of the plan to fire Carol Lam or whether his message was unsolicited and coincidental. The subject line of Leo’s e-mail to Mary Beth Buchanan, then-director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, says, “USA San Diego,” indicating the top prosecutor job for the Southern District of California. Lam was on the job at the time and had no plans to step down.

What is most revealing here is both that Leo knew that Lam was being fired before she did, and that he was busy identifying replacements. And the candidate he suggested is telling:

The text of the note reads, “You guys need a good candidate?” Leo goes on to say he would “strongly recommend” the Air Force’s general counsel, Mary Walker. Walker led a Pentagon working group in 2003, which critics said helped provide the administration with a rationale to circumvent the international Geneva Conventions banning torture in the interrogations of terrorism suspects.

Mary Walker, who is close to a number of Religious Right groups, was a principal architect of legal efforts to justify torture and other war crimes. She also played a suspicious role, apparently attempting to suppress an independent investigation of misconduct by religious evangelical groups at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Walker is also widely believed to be involved in efforts to harass and intimidate Air Force JAGs she considered to be politically disloyal. She appears to have launched a vendetta against the Air Force’s Judge Advocate General, who had, together with his deputy, opposed her torture initiatives. She has been one of the most widely disliked figures in the Rumsfeld Pentagon.

On its website, the Federalist Society claims that it was “founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom [and] that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution.” It would apparently be incorrect to suppose that the “separation of powers” they have in mind here would in any way limit political control over the prosecutorial functions.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Measure for Measure

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Israel

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“The campaign music stopped. Hundreds of people, their faces now warped by the dread of a third bomb, began running for cover.”
Photograph © Guy Martin/Panos.
Article
Part Neither, Part Both·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Eight months pregnant I told an old woman sitting beside me on the bus that the egg that hatched my baby came from my wife’s ovaries. I didn’t know how the old woman would take it; one can never know. She was delighted: That’s like a fairy tale!”
Mother with Children, by Gustav Klimt © akg-images
Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer

Percentage change since 1990 in serious golf-cart-related injuries:

+132

Vegetarians are more intelligent than normal people.

A leopard gained access to a private school in India.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today