We know already that she was consulted about which US Attorneys were to be fired. Now we know she gave positive feedback to at least two of the fired attorneys.
The relationship between at least some of the eight fired U.S. attorneys and officials at the Department of Justice continued to be cordial almost to the day those attorneys received a phone call dismissing them.
Two of the terminated prosecutors said they had received positive feedback from their superiors as well as from Mary Beth Buchanan, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the former director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, which helps put together teams that review U.S. attorneys.
Ward has some details on how one attorney was canned:
Lies. It all began with lies. You'd think these Republicans would at least be honest with their own appointees.
"I was told the administration only had a short, two-year window of opportunity to put someone [new] in there. They wanted to take advantage of it," he said. The message, delivered by Michael Battle, who replaced Ms. Buchanan as director of the Executive Office, was: " 'You serve at the pleasure of the president. Your time is up, and you need to resign.' "
When he asked if his job performance had anything to do with his termination, Mr. Bogden said he was told that it never even entered into the equation.
When Mr. Cummins got the phone call from Mr. Battle notifying him of his termination, "I asked him if I did something wrong, and he said I hadn't."
That's why, when Justice Department officials started releasing information to the media that the firings were performance related, Mr. Cummins and Mr. Bogden were shocked and disappointed.
Over at the Trib, Jason Cato describes the rise of Buchanan's career. He points to her prosecutions of Tommy Chong (for selling bongs) and Extreme Associates (on obscenity charges). Both times, he adds, critics complained about wasted government resources and "government fiddling with constitutinal freedoms." At that point, Cato writes:
The Justice Department and Ashcroft praised both cases. Buchanan was rewarded with a string of lofty posts, one of which -- director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys -- has landed her at the forefront of a congressional investigation into a group firing of fellow Republican prosecutors.Interesting how prosecuting bongs and porn curried favor with the Bush Administration. This dovetails nicely with something Ward's got. H. E. Cummings was one of the fired US Attorneys.
So after snagging the EOUSA, the ever-loyal, "inner circle" Mary Beth Buchanan gives positive feedback to at least two US Attorneys while being consulted on their politically motivated dismissals. Nice.
During her tenure as a U.S. attorney, she has been appointed to national positions three times and is currently serving as the acting director of the Office on Violence Against Women.
To get into those administrative roles, Mr. Cummins said, a person either had to be from a prominent district or put a lot of effort into being asked.
"There was definitely an inner circle of U.S. attorneys," Mr. Cummins said. "I don't think I ever was in it. Some people are more active in seeking out those opportunities."
But she's also pissed of a couple of "blindsided" Alaskan Senators. This from the Anchorage Daily News:
The state’s chief federal prosecutor, Pittsburgh native Nelson Cohen, owes his job to the U.S. attorney in his hometown, who succeeded in getting him the Anchorage post over Alaskans nominated by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens.The way things normally go, when a US Attorney position opens up in a given state, the Senators from that state submit names to the Justice Department for consideration. This time? Uh-uh, nope. Wasn't handled that way. Cohen's one of the people whose "interim" job as a US Attorney was extended by that provision of the USPatriot Act. And while he says he wasn't aware of all the political forces that got him the gig,
...knew his boss, Buchanan, was well-connected, and it was she who told him about the opening in Alaska.
And it looks like her pulling some strings annoyed some people up there:
Stevens, himself a former federal prosecutor in Alaska, was enraged. “I am justHowever the Anchorage Daily News is careful to add:
furious at the way the attorney general handled this,” he said at the time.
There are no claims that Cohen got his job here to help or hinder political prosecutions in Alaska, as is alleged in New Mexico, San Diego and other areas where U.S. attorneys were replaced. Pittsburgh Democrats who worked with him and defended clients against him described Cohen, a registered Republican, as a skilled career prosecutor who distanced himself from the Bush administration’s agenda.Looks like it's the same MO for those loyal bushies. Little respect for honesty, Little respect for decency, and little respect even for Senators from their own party.
UPDATE: An astute reader puts things this way:
[Mary Beth Buchanan] is trapped in this situation: either she defends the competence of the fired USAttys, thereby undermining the Attorney General’s position, or she contradicts what she wrote as EOUSA director, or she concedes they were competent but politically incorrect.Wise words.