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U.S. Attorneys Scandal—Seattle

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Last week, I reported here and again here on the interview run in a local Seattle public affairs broadcaster concerning the murder of a young AUSA named Thomas Wales and the role it played in the decision to fire Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay.

Today The Atlantic’s James Fallows writes that he knew Wales. He offers this commentary on the sickening developments coming out of the Gonzales Department of Justice:

the heartbreak of the Tom Wales case, and the Washington-vs-Washington disagreement over how intensively the search for his killer was being pursued, had seemed entirely separate from Seattle’s involvement in the eight-fired-attorneys matter. John McKay, the U.S. attorney in Seattle who was among the eight dismissed, appeared to have earned the Bush Administration’s hostility in the old-fashioned way: by not filing charges of voter fraud after an extremely close election that went the Democrats’ way. But this weekend’s story in the Washington Post, based on testimony by Alberto Gonzales’s former deputy Kyle Sampson, suggests that McKay’s problems may have begun with his determination to keep on pushing to find Tom Wales’s killer.

If this is so, it is obscene. Tom Wales represented everything the American public can hope for from its public servants. He made less money than he might have, in order to enforce the rules that made Americans’ lives in general safer, more predictable, and more honorable. He showed that people with many options in life could choose a career in public service. He was a wonderful man. For his commitment, he was murdered, which was in a deep sense a crime against the entire public. The public in general has no way to punish or avenge that crime, but the law enforcement system does. If an administration has chosen to neglect that effort because – as has now been suggested – it didn’t want to ruffle feathers in the pro-gun camp, that is as low an act as any we have heard of in modern politics. It would take us back to, say, the murders in Philadelphia, Mississippi more than 40 years ago — but with the local officials trying their best to find the truth and the federal government covering up a crime.

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