Waas: Alberto Gonzales' Secret Firing Order
Update: Think Progress has Sen. Patrick Leahy's response to Murray's disclosure.
Murray Waas breaks new ground in the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, by unconvering a secret, March 2006 order signed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales broadly delegating hiring and firing of non-civil service Justice Department officials, including high-level staff at the Criminal Division, to his then Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson and to Monica Goodling who became his White House liason a month after the order was signed.
In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison "the authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration" of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department's political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. Monica Goodling became White House liaison in April 2006, the month after Gonzales signed the order.
The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed.
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