No Comment — June 5, 2007, 7:57 am

U.S. Attorneys Scandal—San Diego

The San Diego Union-Tribune has secured a thirteen-page document in which former U.S. Attorney Carol Lam answers follow up questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lam lost her job after successfully prosecuting Rep. “Duke” Cunningham, now widely viewed as the single most corrupt political figure in the history of the U.S. Congress – and a Republican. Her inquiries also led to the indictment of “Dusty” Foggo, the right-hand man of short-term CIA Director Porter Goss, and of a contractor at the heart of a corruption scandal focusing on the intelligence and defense contracts. Internal email traffic points to her being dismissed for reasons which could “not be discussed” in email – just as her office started an inquiry in corruption surrounding contracts in which the office of Vice President Dick Cheney was involved. It’s abundantly clear at this point that her dismissal was part of a crude effort to shut down an expanding corruption investigation that involved no less than three Republican office holders, and potentially also the White House.

The Union-Tribune describes the brusque manner in which she was dismissed:

A few days after learning last December that she was to submit her resignation effective Jan. 31, Lam asked Michael Battle, then the head of the U.S. attorney executive office, for extra time to ensure “an orderly transition” especially regarding pending investigations and several significant cases that were set to begin trial in the next few months, Lam wrote in her answers.

At the time, Lam was investigating corruption cases stemming from her successful prosecution of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the Rancho Santa Fe Republican who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges after admitting to taking more than $2.4 million in bribes. Cunningham was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison. Besides Lam, four other prosecutors were presiding over corruption investigations when they were dismissed. About a month passed when Lam got a call from Michael Elston.. telling her that her request for extra time was “not being received positively” and that she “should stop thinking in terms of the cases in the office.”

“He insisted that I had to depart in a matter of weeks, not months, and that these instructions were ‘coming from the very highest level of the government,’” Lam wrote. To add insult, Battle later accused Lam of prematurely leaking her departure to the press, Lam wrote, then criticized her for speaking with other dismissed U.S. attorneys about their firings.

Elston (who was the chief of staff to Paul J. McNulty, the Deputy Attorney General) apparently called several dismissed U.S. attorneys warning them that bad things would happen if they talked about what was done to them. He counseled them to be silent and to evade Congressional inquiries – upholding the honor code of omertà that is now the hallmark of the Gonzales Justice Department.

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

July 2015

Dressed to Kill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wrong Prescription?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Travel Day

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fugue State

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One Day Less

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Avian Voices·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The mockingbird’s bath is an orgy of thrashing and writhing about. When he has finished, one of the innocents alights on the rim of the basin and looks with disbelief at the thimble of water remaining.”
Illustration by Eric Hanson
[Browsings]
Before the War·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I’m worried that what the Houthis did to push Yemen into a civil conflict in September 2014, the Saudis may end up doing again when they end their campaign by eliminating the Houthis.”
Photograph by Alex Potter
Article
The Speakeasy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In order to understand how Marty’s could survive as an institution, I returned a year after my first visit to spend a week at what was sure to be the world’s bleakest comedy club.”
Photograph by Mike Slack
Post
The Lost Land·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I had first encountered some of these volumes—A Swiftly Tilting Planet, The Giver—as a child, and during adolescence, they registered as postcards from a homeland recently abandoned.”
Photograph by the author
Article
Wrong Prescription?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whatever the slogans suggested, the A.C.A. was never meant to include everyone.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery

Date on which a U.S. patent was issued for a phone with which pets can call their owners:

2/1/11

Bees can count to four.

Washington University researchers found that obese Americans outnumber overweight Americans.

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