5 comments May 7th, 2007at 02:47pm Posted by Eli

One of the most disturbing stories to come out of the slow-motion train wreck of the US Attorneys scandal is that of Tom Wales, an Assistant US Attorney and gun control advocate in Washington state, who was shot to death a month after 9/11. John McKay, one of the recently fired US Attorneys, who took that position a few weeks after the murder, pushed aggressively for more resources to catch Wales’ killer. Not only was he rebuffed, but the House Judiciary Committee suspects that the DOJ was so irritated by McKay’s insistence that it may have been one of the reasons he was added to the firing list (the fact that he was asking for those resources in early ’05, when the DOJ/WH wanted him to be trumping up pursuing investigations of fraud in the 2004 election probably didn’t help his cause).

Personally, I’m not convinced that this was why he was fired, except in the sense that he was focused on something other than advancing Karl Rove’s bogus voter fraud narrative. But the fact that the Bush DOJ did not want to be bothered with chasing the first-ever killer of an Assistant US Attorney? Unless there’s more to the story, that’s just mind-boggling, and more than a little suspicious.

Much more on the subject from Wales’ brother-in-law, and James Fallows in the Atlantic.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans


  • 1. Kvatch  |  May 7th, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Your’s is an interesting twist of the USAG story(ies). But, up until last week, it seemed that there was no real “smoking gun” here. Of course, now we know that the Goodling was probably acting illegally to vet appointees using political litmus tests. I think that McKay’s firing and his push to agressively pursue the Wales case may just have been an unfortunate coincidence in the broader picture.

    But…perhaps not…as you suggest.

  • 2. Eli  |  May 7th, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    The thing that bugs me about this is that DoJ was apparently dragging its feet on this investigation all along. So I think McKay had been pestering them about that for quite some time. So I’m not sure if the suspicious timing of when he complained and when he went on the list is really as suspicious as it looks.

    But it all still begs the question, WHY didn’t DoJ want to catch the killer??? When was the last time you *ever* heard of anything less than a maximum, full-court press effort to find the killer when the victim was in law enforcement? That just does not compute.

  • 3. PoliShifter  |  May 7th, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    I could be very wrong but I thought I read somewhere that since Thomas Wales was a member of Washington Ceasefire advocating for stricter gun control and closing the loopholes for purchasing fireams at gun shows, that the powers at be sort of snubbed the case…sort of like how the day after Virginia Tech the Republicans, Bush, and wingnuts made sure their “right to bear arms” wasn’t going to be infringed.

    I can’t seem to remember or find where I read this so I could be wrong but it would not surprise me. It seems BushCo has the dossier on everyone in the Administration and being for gun control would likely get a check mark on your report card.

  • 4. Eli  |  May 7th, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    It wouldn’t surprise me either. But he was a fucking FEDERAL PROSECUTOR. And even if he weren’t, it’s a pretty disgusting thought that murders aren’t being investigated aggressively if the victim doesn’t have the right political affiliation.

    And pretty sad that we would even have reason to think that plausible.

    I’m a little mystified about the fact that the FBI had a suspect from the beginning, and never did anything with him. I guess they never accumulated enough evidence to go to trial.

  • 5. shoephone  |  May 10th, 2007 at 5:45 am

    PoliShifter — Wales was the President of Washington Cease Fire.

    Considering that McKay was hired in 2001 (just after Wales was killed) and was clamoring for lots of resources for 5 years before he was fired, I doubt hightly that this is the reason for his ouster. It doesn’t excuse the DOJ’s laxness about providing those resources. But this story is a little more complex than has been presented in the press in the last few days and frankly, I think it sounds non-sensical.

    Law enforcement has been very discreet on the pilot’s possible involvement, so to assume they had the goods on him and just didn’t do anything with it is not proveable. Even though the FBI has focused on the pilot almost from the beginning, there were at least two other “people of interest” along the way. One of those was someone who sent a letter from Vegas last year claiming to be Wales’ “hit man”.

    The big bummer is that the Seattle office of the FBI either didn’t have the right leadership or just plain wasn’t getting what it asked for from the DOJ. But lack of resources is something that McKay complained about with regard to LinX, his info-sharing program, as well. The Seattle investigating office was closed down last year and a new office opened in Portland with a more experienced investigator. Hopefully, something will happen. But I wouldn’t put too much stock into what national writers have to say about this. Not to be snobbish, but this is a story those of us in Seattle know intimately, and really care about, and have been following long before the “national” bloggers. So, while I dig James Fallows, his conjecture about the motives for firing McKay may be just that. Who knows, it could be more. But for now, it seems a pretty out-of-left-field excuse for the firing. I, personally, think it has a LOT more to do with McKay’s refusal to file charges of voter fraud against Dems in the WA State 2004 governor’s race. The state GOP was complaining loud and long about McKay to Rove’s assistant. Her name is Glynda Becker and I think there’s a lot more “there” there with regard to this. The governor’s race was not decided until late January, if I recall. The state GOP imediately started lobbying for McKay’s ouster, and what a coincidence, now we find out that McKay’s name first appeared on a firings list in March 2005.

    As an aside, I used to live in Wales’ neighborhood, and would see him around occasionally. One of my best friends (also a lawyer) knew him quite well. He was universally liked and respected.

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