The "real problem" with one fired U.S. attorney?

Carol Lam tells Justice that she plans to seek search warrants for a top CIA official. The next day, Gonzales' chief of staff says she has to go.

Published March 19, 2007 12:45PM (EDT)

Here's more reason -- as if you needed another -- to wonder whether the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year was as "performance related" as the Justice Department has claimed:

As McClatchy Newspapers reports, San Diego-based U.S. Attorney Carol Lam notified main Justice on May 10, 2006, that she intended to serve a search warrants in places controlled by Dusty Foggo, who had just resigned as executive director of the CIA.

On May 11, 2006 -- that would be one day later to you and me -- Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, sent an e-mail message to the White House counsel's office in which he said he wanted to discuss -- and not by e-mail, please -- "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires."

The Justice Department told Lam on Dec. 7 that she would be leaving. She finally left in February, two days after she indicted Foggo.

On the one hand, the fact that the White House and the Justice Department let Lam stick around until February suggests that concern for Foggo himself might not have been the "real problem" to which Sampson was referring. On the other, it could mean that the"real problem" wasn't so much Foggo himself but rather wherever it was that the Bush administration thought an investigation into his activities might lead.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Department Of Justice War Room