The mouse that roared.

The law, lawyers, and the court.
May 23 2007 9:29 PM

The Mouse That Roared

Monica Goodling was at the center of the prosecutor purge and still has no clue.

(Continued from Page 1)

Chalk up another one to the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Goodling's candor, in the end, doesn't go all that far. She doesn't know how New Mexico's David Iglesias made it onto the purge list. She has "no knowledge" of whether anyone was added to the list to gain partisan advantage. She says, "I can't give you the whole White House story" about Tim Griffin's appointment to replace U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins in Arkansas. She offers an almost cabalistic explanation for Gonzales' secret order transferring broad hiring and firing authority to Kyle Sampson and herself. (It was formalizing an arrangement that existed informally and actually giving new authority to the deputy attorney general, and thus needed to be kept secret from him.) Throughout, she paints this sort of sweet picture of herself as the Justice Department's Julie McCoy—arranging "morale boosting" field trips and worrying about averting badmouthing of the fired U.S. attorneys. In her opening statement, Goodling describes the DoJ as "family," and she seems weirdly proud of her prom-committee outlook, wherein promoting those who are "enthusiastic about priorities" and creating a "leadership team" that's "on the same page in terms of philosophy" is just the natural thing to do in federal law enforcement.

Advertisement

Goodling tells Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., that the reason former Deputy Attorney General James Comey could rave about the same prosecutors fired for incompetence by Sampson was that it wasn't unusual "for one person to have one experience of one U.S. attorney and for someone else to have another." And isn't that the point? Get enough of that anonymous "senior leadership" together and someone can supply a convincing pretext to fire someone who was on the hit list? Indeed, Goodling herself added to the list. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., accidentally gets her to admit that she may have supplied some excuses for getting rid of Nevada's Dan Bogden (a Patriot Act case "got messy").

At the very end of the afternoon, as Goodling looks like she may actually skate right past the committee, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., launches a brutal line of questions about whether it might be grounds for firing a U.S. attorney if he, say, was an absentee landlord, who, say, removed someone during a corruption investigation, who, say, decreased office morale and, um, showed an excess of fealty. It dawns on Goodling what's coming: Schiff has the attorney general in mind. "That wouldn't be my decision to make," she says of Gonzales. "He was a good man. I thought he tried hard." He tried hard? Well, that's what counts.

Artur Davis, D-Ala., gets Goodling to dredge up at least one bad memory about Gonzales. On her last full week on the job, Goodling went to the AG "paralyzed, distraught, and wanting a transfer." He wanted to compare memories of how the purge list was compiled. This made Goodling "uncomfortable" because it seemed "inappropriate" to talk about. He didn't feel all that bad about it, but she did. But then she goes back to explaining that whether the U.S. attorneys were fired to "allow others to serve" or for performance-based reasons, or for anything else, it just doesn't matter, because they all serve at the pleasure of the president. Indeed, since no two advisers can agree on who's doing a good job and who's doing a bad one, anyone's post-hoc excuse for a firing becomes equally valid. No wrong done. No wrong really can be done. It's a pretty story, really; and today Goodling tells it, well, almost prettily.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 6:30 PM The Tragedies That Have Shaped Canada's Gun Politics
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.