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Today the Los Angeles Times takes a look at the decision of U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien to dissolve his public integrity unit and notes a great deal of discord. The official explanation was that the unit was being integrated into a larger one, leaving more resources to be devoted to public integrity matters. Few are buying that explanation, and some of O’Brien’s own staffers defied his gag order to challenge it in discussions with the L.A. Times:
several members of the disbanded unit challenged that explanation, saying the move was intended to punish lawyers for a perceived failure to produce and for bad-mouthing their boss, U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien.
The lawyers described a meeting last week in which an angry O’Brien derided attorneys in the office for working too few hours, filing too few cases and for speaking ill of him to subordinates.
They said O’Brien also threatened to tarnish their reputations if they challenged the official explanation for the unit’s dismantling in conversations with reporters. Members of the unit contacted by The Times either spoke on the condition that they not be named or declined to comment. Several said they wanted to talk about the situation but feared reprisals if they did so.
Critics of the move said they were concerned that it would severely limit the office’s ability to file long-term, complex corruption cases involving elected officials and other high-profile figures.
The office had one major investigation pending, looking into corruption allegations focusing on Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis of Redlands. O’Brien took a series of decisions immediately on his arrival to slow, and then stop that investigation. His decision to disband the unit that was handling it was the last in a series of maneuvers.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Number of mine-detecting monkeys erroneously reported to have been given to the United States by Morocco in March:
The Pacific trade winds are weakening as a result of global warming.
In the United States, legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act was advanced by the House Ways and Means Committee after 18 hours of deliberation, during which time the Republican members of Congress passed around candy.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."