House subpeona’s Justice Dept Documents

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WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed new documents Tuesday from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as part of its investigation into the firings of federal prosecutors, with the panel chairman saying he had run out of patience.

“We have been patient in allowing the department to work through its concerns regarding the sensitive nature of some of these materials,” Rep. John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., wrote Gonzales in a letter accompanying the subpoena. “Unfortunately, the department has not indicated any meaningful willingness to find a way to meet our legitimate needs.,”

“At this point further delay in receiving these materials will not serve any constructive purpose,” Conyers said. He characterized the subpoena as a last resort after weeks of negotiations with Justice over documents and e-mails the committee wants.

The Justice Department did not have an immediate comment.

But one Justice official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the House request included the full text of all documents that had been partially or completely blacked out in the Justice Department’s initial release of more than 3,000 pages last month. The Justice official said some U.S. attorney evaluations were included in these documents.

The official said the request also included an unredacted list ranking the performance and standing of each of the 93 U.S. attorneys. Government officials have previously confirmed that Chicago-based prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, one of the Justice Department’s premier U.S. attorneys, was ranked as “not distinguished.”

Democrats who control Congress say statements by Gonzales and his lieutenants, three of whom have resigned in the aftermath of the dismissals, have raised questions over whether the ousters were politically motivated.

The Justice Department denies that and

President Bush has stood behind Gonzales, but calls for a new attorney general have continued. Gonzales, Bush’s longtime friend, is scheduled before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.

Along with the subpoenas, Conyers released letters of negotiation between his committee and the Justice Department dating to March 8, when the panel’s Democrats requested follow-up interviews with Gonzales’ top aides and any documents between the agency and the White House about the firings.

The Justice Department responded by releasing more than 3,000 documents, including internal communications between agency officials, White House aides and some of the fired prosecutors. But substantial portions of the documents released were blacked out, or redacted.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling wrote that the agency blocked information that raised privacy concerns, including the names of prosecutors who were considered for removal but ultimately retained, as well as candidates for judicial appointments.

“We are seeking to preserve the privacy and professional viability of those who are continuing to serve,” Hertling wrote.

Al Roker on Imus and his suspension

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(By Al Roker)

I cannot tell you how many people have asked me about my thoughts on Don Imus. As a student of broadcasting, I know Don Imus was one of the original “shock jocks.” I listened to him growing up in New York City in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

He is a radio icon.

That said, it is time for him to go.

I, for one, am really tired of the diatribes, the “humor” at others’ expense, the cruelty that passes for “funny”. Don Imus isn’t the only one doing this, but today he’s the one in the hot seat.

What he said was vile and disgusting. It denigrated an entire team and by extension, a community and its pride in a group that had excelled.

This controversy started and grew during the week. At first under the radar, we even had Don’s wife, Deidre, on the program, talking about “green” cleaning. I thought she was so good I wanted to talk to her about a television program for my production company.

Don and his wife have done a lot of good things—raising money for charity, including a ranch for children suffering from cancer and blood disorders.

Yet, Don Imus needs to be fired for what he said. And while we’re at it, his producer, Bernard McGuirk, needs to be canned as well. McGuirk is just as guilty, often egging Imus on.

The “I’m a good person who said a bad thing” apology doesn’t cut it. At least he didn’t try to weasel out of this by hiding behind alcohol or drug abuse. Still, he said it and a two-week suspension doesn’t cut it. It is, at best, a slap on the wrist. A vacation. Nothing.

The general manager of Cartoon Network resigned after a publicity stunt went wrong and caused a panic in Boston. He did the right thing. Don Imus should do the right thing and resign. Not talk about taking a two-week suspension with dignity. I don’t think Don Imus gets it.

After watching and listening to him this morning during an interview with Matt Lauer (video), Don Imus doesn’t get it. Maybe it’s being stuck in a studio for 35 years or being stuck in the 1980s. Either way, it’s obvious that he needs to move on. Citing “context within a comedy show” is not an excuse.

He has to take his punishment and start over. Guess what? He’ll get re-hired and we’ll go on like nothing happened. CBS Radio and NBC News needs to remove Don Imus from the airwaves. That is what needs to happen. Otherwise, it just looks like profits and ratings rule over decency and justice.

 

Brotha Al said what I was incapable of saying and without the profanity. My hat is off to him.