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Ari Berman

Ari Berman

Posted: March 29, 2007 10:09 AM

Attorneygate, Abramoff & Guam


Before Attorneygate, there was Guam. Back in the spring of 2002, when Guam's then-Governor, Carl Gutierrez, found himself in the cross-hairs of a federal corruption probe, he hired disgraced über-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to force out the US territory's longtime acting US Attorney, Frederick Black. "I don't care if they appoint bozo the clown, we need to get rid of Fred Black," Abramoff wrote to colleagues in March 2002.

Eventually Black, a well-regarded prosecutor who'd held the position since 1991, began investigating Abramoff for a $324,000 contract the lobbyist had received from Guam's highest court--and asked for Washington's assistance. The Justice Department forwarded the information to then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. Instead of receiving help, Black was pushed out of his job [see "Can Justice Be Trusted?" February 20, 2006].

The same fate would later befall eight other US Attorneys, dislodged from their posts this past December. But it's not only the pattern that's similar. Many of the Administration officials playing starring roles in Attorneygate--including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson--also had a hand in the dismissal of the US Attorney in Guam.

For the full story, read my new Nation magazine article "Attorneygate in Guam."