Typically, US Attorneys change with a change in the White House, not in the middle of a presidential term. McKay was asked to resign on December 7th, 2006 and announced his resignation effective January 26th, 2007. "I have nothing but respect and pride in having worked for President Bush," he said. He will be joining the faculty of Seattle University Law School.
So why was McKay asked to resign?
On January 16th 2007, Kevin Ryan, US Attorney for California's Northern District, announced his resignation. Mr. Ryan, who had served Northern California for the last 4 1/2 years, is one of the victims of the "Pearl Harbor Day Massacre" of US Attorneys (6-7 were asked to step down on December 7th 2006).
The Curious Tale of Paul Charlton
While serving the state of Arizona as US Attorney, Paul Charlton garnered a good reputation with many organizations, from the local to the national level. Nominated by George W. Bush and approved by the Senate in 2001, Charlton spent five years creating a reputation that had the FBI calling him supportive and proactive, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) calling him outstanding and dedicated, and local officials said he was responsive and diplomatic.
During his tenure as the Arizona U.S. Attorney, Charlton established the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC), a program that has improved communication and coordination between law enforcement agencies; a National Security Division within the U.S. Attorney' s Office to actively work with law enforcement agencies on terrorism related criminal cases, and expanded the Victim Advocate staff in his office to better serve crime victims. In 2002, the U.S. Attorney' s Office Victim Witness Program was awarded the Federal Service Award, and this December the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office would serve as a national "Model Program."1
Not bad work for a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Attorney's office, and clearly not the kind of person you'd expect to make waves or cause trouble for his superiors. So it's surprising to discover that Charlton was one of seven US Attorneys that were asked to resign by the Administration on December 7th, 2006.
Previous articles in our continuing series on the US Attorneys: The Gonzales Seven; The Alberto Gonzales Appointments: How the Process Has Changed and Why this is so Important; Alberto Gonzales: Gaming the System Again in Arizona?
Long before the public was familiar with Kyle Sampson and his role in the firing of U.S. Attorneys Ryan, Lam, Charlton, Cummins, Iglesias, McKay, Bogden or Chiara by the Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department, his name surfaces in the shakeup that brewed thousands of miles away in the Territory of Guam. In light of what has surfaced with the recent U.S. Attorney firings, was the Bush administration testing the waters on that tiny island four years ago and pushing the envelope to see just how far it could go injecting politics into the U.S. justice system?
In 2002, President G.W. Bush's Administration abruptly removed the Acting U.S. Attorney in Guam, U.S. Attorney Frederick A. Black from his post. Black had been the Acting U.S. Attorney for Guam since 1991 when he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, the current President's father.
Recently, an eighth name was added to the list of the Gonzales Seven, the U.S. Attorneys forced to resign since the reauthorization of the Patriot Act in March of 2006. It now appears Margaret Chiara can also be added to the list of attorneys receiving their phone calls on December 7th, 2006 -- Pearl Harbor Day. In his opening remarks to the House committee hearings, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella stated that there are 18 who have resigned since March 2006.
The U.S. Attorney story to date:
On Tuesday March 6th, 2007, under oath in front of Congress, six recently fired US Attorneys gave testimony compelled by subpoenas issued on Friday, March 2nd. H.E. "Bud" Cummins, Paul Charlton, Daniel Bogden, David Iglesias, Carol Lam and John McKay testified in front of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, with Lam, McKay, Iglesias and Cummins also testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier the same day.
Although never confirmed by the U.S. Senate, William W. Mercer serves as the Acting Associate Attorney General of the United States, the third highest-ranking official in the Justice Department, and a member of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' inner circle.
ePluribus Media's on-going series on US Attorneys will bring background stories on many US Attorneys ... we started with US Attorneys: Kevin Ryan, Carol Lam, Paul Charlton, HE Cummins, David Iglesias, John McKay and Daniel Bogden. With the exception of Bud Cummins, these attorneys were all "resigned" on December 7, 2006.
What I am not saying, politely ...
I am not arguing that all faculty members must commit themselves to my politics or my style of public political engagement.
I am not bitter. Given the contemporary political landscape, I do not expect support from faculty members for my political activities.
Faculty responses to the watch list: Chicken Little
Threats to academic freedom -- direct and indirect, subtle and not so subtle -- come from a variety of sources: Politicians, the general public, news media, administrators, corporations, and students. In my academic career, I have been criticized from all of those quarters. Though these attacks have been relatively easy to fend off in my particular case, the threats are real and should trouble us; they require of us sharper analysis and a strategic plan to fend off attempts to constrain inquiry. But, even with that understanding of the seriousness of these external threats, I will argue that the most important aspect of the current controversies is how they mark the complacency and timidity of faculty members themselves. I will focus on two specific incidents in my career -- one involving administrators and the other students -- that illustrate these threats. Then, I will examine the responses of faculty members on my campus to the events, and offer suggestions for analysis and action. Throughout I will remain rooted in my own experience at the University of Texas at Austin. While Texas may in some ways be idiosyncratic, I do not believe my experience at that university is radically different from others around the United States. My concern with this issue is not rooted in optimism for the short term. While I would like to see U.S. academics, as a class, take a leading role in movements to assert radical humanistic values that have the possibility of transforming society; I don't believe it is likely, or even possible, in the near future. In fact, I assume that in the short term there is very little progressive political change likely in the United States, with or without the assistance of university-based academics. Instead, I will argue we should work to hold onto what protections for academic freedom exist to provide some space for critical thinking in an otherwise paved-over intellectual culture, with an eye on the long term. Toward that goal, I will suggest ways to approach these threats to academic freedom and attempt to assess realistically the conditions under which such defenses go forward.