Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spot comments on congressional draftsmanship

Word has reached Spot, via Firedoglake, that the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena duces tecum to the Justice Department for documents that refer or relate to the US Attorney terminations (duces tecum being roughly translated as bring that stuff over here so we can look at it). The link is to the subpoena itself and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers' cover letter.

Regrettably, there is a potentially significant gap between what the Chairman described as the scope of the inquiry in the transmittal letter and the documents and things actually demanded.

First, from the cover letter:

The [Justice] Department is currently withholding significant information concerning U.S. Attorneys who were considered for termination but were ultimately retained, and individuals who were considered as replacement candidates. This information is clearly relevant to our inquiry into indications that U.S. Attorneys and candidates may have been evaluated based on improper considerations, including their willingness to make decisions as to prosecution of public corruption cases based on whether it helped, or hurt, partisan political objectives.

So far, so good. In other words, it's not just the eight terminated U.S. Attorneys that we're concerned about, but it is also USAs who may also have been "considered for termination" but ultimately retained (and why?)

The subpoena itself refers only to categories of documents that refer or relate to the "terminated U.S. Attorneys." That term is defined at the eight USAs who have been identified. No mention is made of the other category of U.S. Attorneys referred to in Conyers' letter of transmittal.

Any documents that refer to Wisconsin's Steve Biskupic or Minnesota's Tom Heffelfinger, for example, are not within the scope of the subpoena.

In Spot's opinion, the Judiciary Committee staff ought to take another swing at the ball and improve the scope of the subpoena.

Tags: ,

No comments: