COMMENTS: Poor Performance

To lead off CBS' newscast, Jim Axelrod's headline, from unnamed sources, was that "it is now inevitable" that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be fired. But he offered little more detail and the bulk of his story reverted to the details of the firing of the eight US Attorneys. Axelrod obtained Justice Department performance reviews for some of them: "effective and well regarded""very competent and highly regarded""effective manager and respected leader." CBS anchor Katie Couric (no link) interviewed David Iglesias from New Mexico, who revealed that he asked the Justice Department for job references even after he had been let go: if his dismissal had really been based on performance "they would have not agreed to write a letter on my behalf."

NBC's Pete Williams listed the three main lines of inquiry that Congress will pursue when it holds hearings on the firings. Does it matter who first suggested that the prosecutors should be fired? The Bush Administration says No--"because US Attorneys are political employees." Has Congress been misled? "Even President George Bush says the answer to that is Yes." Were the firings political interference in the judicial process? Gonzales says No--they were "bad administrators or failed to follow objectives." ABC offered no update on the story.


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