Special Prosecutor Named in Attorney Firings Case

Mukasey’s appointment of Nora Dannehy, a career prosecutor,
follows the recommendation of a Justice Department investigation that harshly
criticized Bush administration officials, members of Congress and their aides
for the ousters, many of which were seen as politically motivated.

The Justice Department on Monday also released an inspector
general’s report that found former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had
“abdicated” his responsibility in the matter. Gonzales resigned in
September 2007.

“At a minimum, the process by which nine U.S. Attorneys
were removed in 2006 was haphazard, arbitrary and unprofessional, and that the
way in which the Justice Department handled those removals and the resulting
public controversy was profoundly lacking,” Mukasey said in a statement.

The report also said several White House officials,
including President Bush’s former top political aide Karl Rove, were unwilling
to be interviewed by investigators about the firings.

Dannehy would have to power to subpoena witnesses such as
Rove who did not cooperate with inspector general’s probe.

The report singled out the removal of U.S. Attorney David
Iglesias of New Mexico as the most troubling.

Republican political figures in New Mexico, including Sen.
Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson, had complained about Iglesias’ handling
of voter fraud and public corruption cases, and that led to his firing, the
report said.

The report concludes that Gonzales’ chief of staff, Kyle
Sampson, was the person most responsible for coming up with the plan to fire
the prosecutors and said that Sampson’s comments to Congress, the White House
and others were misleading.

The report also found that Bud Cummins, the U.S. Attorney in
Arkansas, was forced out to make way for Timothy Griffin, who had served as
Rove’s deputy in the White House political office.

It also said that the dismissal of Todd Graves, the U.S.
Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, probably resulted from pressure
from the office of Republican Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond.