Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Monday, May 14, 2007

  Deputy AG McNulty resigns to spend more time with his conscience

The shameless Paul McNulty, Alberto Gonzales' right-hand man in the firing of the US Attorneys, finally announced his resignation today. But rather than just going, he's hanging on to his job at DoJ all summer. And rather than coming clean about his activities—beginning with the lies he told Congress in February—McNulty let on that he's leaving public service because he can't afford to live within his considerable salary ("financial realities of college-age children and two decades of public service lead me to a long overdue transition in my career.").

Some commentators, have tried to pretend that McNulty is a victim of the dishonorable behavior of Gonzales and the rest of that scrappy gang of White House plumbers exposed in this scandal. His old pal, Sen. Schumer, has been most aggressive in peddling that line.

[McNulty's] ultimate decision to step down, the [DoJ] aides said, was hastened by anger at being linked to the prosecutors' purge that Congress is investigating to determine if eight U.S. attorneys were fired for political reasons.

But in fact McNulty was a willing participant in his own debasement. Why judge Paul McNulty harshly? Because we know enough of his career under Bush & Co. to confirm that he's lacking in real principle.


Take his recent behavior, which is sufficiently well documented.

As details of the firing of the 8 US Attorneys began to dribble out, McNulty's chief of staff called some of the attorneys and pressured them not to testify to Congress. As the House Judiciary Committee said in a letter to White House counsel Fred Fielding:

On its face, this testimony raises the possibility that the Department may have sought to obstruct Congress' efforts to ascertain the truth concerning these firings.

Then on Feb. 6, McNulty testified to Congress that the recent firing of the eight US Attorneys had been for poor performance of their duties. He later admitted to Sen. Schumer that that was false, however, claiming improbably enough that his subordinates had kept the truth from him.

You'd have thought that any official with integrity who'd lied to Congress would resign, at a minimum, but McNulty actually dug in to hang onto to his job.

Furthermore, this hypocrite is the same man who, last year in an address to the National Association of Attorneys General, waxed eloquently about the need to uphold the highest standards of integrity.

So today I challenge us all to rededicate ourselves to serving the public with integrity and to ensuring that others do so as well. Together, we can shore up the foundations of our republic and restore, in the words of Ben Franklin, "the general opinion of the goodness of the Government."

My own reading in Franklin's writings would not have prepared me for the entirely surprising view that the creator of Poor Richard favored perjury, stonewalling, and partisan conspiracies as the best mode for augmenting "the general opinion of the goodness of the Government."


Paul McNulty had an ugly record even before he went to work for Gonzales. He served from 2001 to 2006 as the US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. In those years, he treated his office in the most outlandishly partisan fashion.

Virginia's Eastern District had a well-established reputation as the most political U.S. attorney's office in the country. Among McNulty's key cases had been the “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh and the mentally unhinged Moroccan “twentieth hijacker” from 9/11, Zararias Moussaoui. Both cases had been sensationalized in the media. Less well known were the dozen odd cases of contractor abuse emerging from the Abu Ghraib scandal, investigated by the Pentagon's CID, and referred to McNulty. Nothing ever came of those cases; indeed, McNulty made sure of that.

As Billmon once remarked (link is to an archived digest):

McNulty has shown a certain willingness to, shall we say, narrow the scope of cases that might prove embarrassing for the cabal and its various tentacles.

McNulty specialized in prosecuting with severity those cases that might appear to give the Bush administration much needed "victories" in the "War on Terror". So what if there was virtually no evidence to prove that the alleged "paint-ball terrorists" had planned to commit any actual crimes? Nothing stood in the way of pursuing draconian sentences. And if the only real "evidence" against Ahmed Abu Ali was a confession extracted under torture in Egypt, and the allegations preposterous? McNulty wasn't going to allow that to stand in the way of hounding the man until he was salted away for 30 years.

Disingenuous, ruthless, shameless; and for the last six years, devoted to glorifying the name of George W. Bush while silencing his detractors. Those were the hallmarks of McNulty's career as US Attorney, which he has described as...

one of the greatest jobs you can ever have.

It must have been a very splendid job, the sort a partisan hack could turn to great advantage. Which is why you've got to be pleased McNulty now has more time to spend with his conscience.

crossposted at Unbossed

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