by Greg Palast
Wednesday, May 16, 2006
“The wheels have come off, the engine is on fire and no one is driving,” Captain David Iglesias told me yesterday. I’d asked the Naval Reserve officer, heading off to duty in Norfolk, why he didn’t want his old job back, United States Attorney for New Mexico.
The busted, burning, ghost-mobile he described is the Department of Justice, driven by Alberto Gonzales. Or is Karl Rove at the wheel? Or no one? Whomever, he didn’t want to jump back into Bush’s Justice Jalopy.
Today, Iglesias is in Washington to pull the junker off the road, meeting with the Office of Special Counsel where Obstruction of Justice may be swirling around in the old oil pan laying on the garage floor.
The ex-prosecutor and I, long, long ago, had both worked for the Attorney General of New Mexico, a state where the snakes have less venom than the politicians.
First, there’s Senator Pete Domenici, whose hiss is as smooth as his bite is deadly.
Domenici, softball interviewer Chris Matthews notes, is a nice guy. On TV. However, the Republican Senator’s call to Iglesias at his home, just before the 2006 midterm election, asking the prosecutor about filing charges against Democrats in the week before the vote, was downright rude. When the prosecutor replied in the negative, the Senator hung up.
And apparently, the Senator contacted one Monica Goodling who, scribbled on a notepad: “Iglesias - Domenici says he doesn’t move cases.” Oops. Goodling, a political stooge working for Gonzales, was listing the reasons for firing US attorneys. Now, rudeness was no longer the issue. Firing a prosecutor for failing to “move cases” — handcuff citizens at the request of a Senator — is Obstruction of Justice.
No wonder Monica took The Fifth.
Of course, the Rove dogsbodies at Justice couldn’t tell Congress they fired Iglesias because he wouldn’t jump at the Senator’s rattle. They reached for another complaint on Monica’s list: “absentee landlord.” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Paul McNulty used absenteeism as the official reason for dismissal. McNulty’s resigned.
He should have taken The Fifth….
The problem is that the US Attorney from New Mexico was missing for 40 days because he was on active duty. I guess the White House gang doesn’t go to the movies. Iglesias is a celebrity Navy lawyer, the role model for Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men.
“Our ‘Mission Accomplished’ President attacked you for spending time in the US Naval Reserve?” I asked Iglesias…
“Appalling,” he said. And illegal. Firing a reserve officer for missing work for active duty violates the Uniform Services Employment Rights and Reemployment Act (USERRA).
Pressuring a prosecutor to bust Democrats and punishing a soldier for deploying are the little felonies, the warm-up crimes, in this caper.
The real crime is the one they are about to commit: The Theft of 2008.