After hearing Kyle Sampson, who was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's chief of staff, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, it is clear that top officials of the Justice Department obstructed justice. Carol Lam, the Yale and Stanford educated former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, was abruptly given the axe because she had stumbled upon the old boys' network, and began prosecuting people George W. Bush didn't want to see prosecuted.
First, Ms. Lam, a Republican, secured a conviction against former California Representative, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the high-flying and completely corrupt defense contract profiteer. The "Duke" was handed an eight-year, four-month prison sentence, the longest one ever meted out to a former member of Congress.
Then Ms. Lam caught the trail of two well-connected associates of Cunningham's, Brent Wilkes and his old high-school buddy, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo. Wilkes had been the Bush/Cheney finance co-chairman for California, and was also involved in the Arnold Schwarzenegger campaign. Wilkes paid off Cunningham with $2.4 million to help his company secure over $80 million in Pentagon contracts. "Dusty" Foggo was the third-ranking official of the CIA under the directorship of Porter Goss, who also abruptly resigned his post when Cunningham got in trouble. Dusty Foggo helped Wilkes score lucrative contracts for the CIA, and he was charged with fraud in the Cunningham case.
As soon as U.S. Attorney Lam began to secure search warrants against Wilkes and Foggo, Gonzales had her fired. The Attorney General's office initially claimed Ms. Lam was terminated for "performance" reasons, but that was dismissed as ludicrous by anyone remotely familiar with her superlative work. Then the DOJ said she was axed because she didn't pursue immigration cases vigorously, which also proved to be false.
Attorney General Gonzales said he had no role in discussing the firings of the eight U.S. attorneys, but today his former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, told the Senate that Gonzales had signed off on them. At the time of her ouster, Lam had initiated an investigation of corruption allegations against California Representative Jerry Lewis, who ran in the same crowd as Cunningham and doled out millions of dollars in contracts from his perch on the Appropriations Committee.
Another reason for this blatant obstruction of justice in the Wilkes-Foggo case might be related to the activities of Wilkes' company, the Shirlington Limousine and Transportation Service of Virginia. This limousine service was providing more than just transportation for Dusty, Duke, and their buddies. It has been alleged that Wilkes' company provided high-priced prostitutes to satisfy the carnal pleasures of Cunningham and his well-connected defense and CIA-contractor pals on the taxpayer's dime. The boys at Justice might have fired Lam, not only to protect their colleagues' kickbacks, but to block the exposure of a full-throttle sex scandal.
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