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SANTA FE – The Bush administration leaves office in January and former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias is urging prosecutors to continue investigating senior officials for possible links to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in 2007.
“The Constitution demands that after these guys are out of office they continue to be investigated,” Iglesias said during a June 9 talk at the Lensic about his new book “In Justice: Inside the Scandal that Rocked the Bush Administration.”
Iglesias mentioned Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., during his talk and the inappropriate calls he received from them prior to the 2006 general election.
Domenici is retiring Dec. 31 because of a brain disease.
“I suspect that disease may have led to his highly improper phone call to me but I also believe that had he not been ensnared in the scandal, he would have found a way to stay in office despite his health concerns,” Iglesias said.
The Senate Ethics Committee officially admonished Domenici for making the improper phone call. Iglesias said time will tell whether Wilson faces formal ethics charges.
Outed CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, joined Iglesias onstage for a question and answer period following his talk.
“We decided to reach out to David and Cyndy (Iglesias’ wife) because we know a little of what something like this was like,” Plame said. “They came to our house for dinner and while we have different political views, we all agree on the Constitution.”
Iglesias made three main points during his talk.
First, “this is not over,” he said. “There are still five cases pending. No president ever fired eight of his own people during his own administration.”
Point two, Iglesias said, was the fact that it’s not about getting his job back but about the importance of separation of powers and the crucial point of having an independent prosecutor.
Point three is that it’s not a partisan issue.
“Twenty-five of us filed a brief – working attorneys, retired attorneys, Republicans and Democrats – saying this case has got to be heard,” Iglesias said. “This is a matter of right and wrong, not a matter of right or left.”
Iglesias told the packed theater that he has a chapter in his book called “All roads lead to Karl Rove.”
Rove, a former top advisor to President Bush, left the White House several months ago.
“I think by the time this is over and the Plame Wilson case is over, Rove may end up doing some time,” he said.
During the height of the firing scandal, Iglesias said he was interviewed by Danish and Swedish TV. He asked them why they were interested in the firings.
“They said, ‘You don’t understand. The world is watching what happens in America – whether you like it or not, the world is watching.’”
With precedent from the Nixon administration, the Bush administration is invoking executive privilege in the case and even going outside the administration with executive privilege, which Iglesias said is unheard of.
“Politics should never play a part in the Department of Defense,” he said. “Politics should never play a part in the Department of State. Politics should never play a part in the Department of Justice. Politics should never play a part in the FBI. Politics should never play a part in the CIA.”
Plame told the audience that every American wants to believe the intelligence on the president’s desk is free from ideological taint – just the facts.
“About 60-70 percent of our intelligence functions are outsourced,” she said. “It destroys morals; it undermines product. The institutional knowledge is fading away to nothing. I’m deeply troubled by this and I know my former colleagues are as well and I hope the next administration will set it right.”
Wilson was outspoken in his anger and disgust with the Bush administration and the fact that his wife was outed. He called Vice President Dick Cheney and Rove “lying traitors” and quoted the Dixie Chicks in saying, “I’m not ready to make nice.”
“Why would I reach across the aisle to a bunch of thugs that have criminalize my country?” he asked.
Wilson and Plame indicated that the media fell down on the job in allowing themselves to be “spoon fed” information leading up to the war in Iraq, on her case and many others.
An audience member said the media is attacking former White House press secretary Scott McClellan who wrote a tell-all book and rewarding Rove.
“Fox News putting this lying traitor Karl Rove on the payroll is beyond me,” Wilson said. “The mainstream media has utterly failed in their responsibility to the public ... They were high-paid stenographers in the rush to war. We’re not served by what is essentially yellow journalism.”
“A fair and impartial court system is about what America stands for and let’s never change that,” Iglesias said.
A man in the audience asked him how the current Republican mindset of “grabbing power” can be redirected back to a principled party mindset. Iglesias described himself as a disillusioned Republican but said he probably wouldn’t change party affiliations. He told the man, “We don’t stand for that. We apply the rule of law and we don’t condone winning at all costs.”
Iglesias served as U.S. attorney from New Mexico from 2001 to 2007. He was a White House Fellow and is a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Iglesias led a panel that advised former Attorney General John Ashcroft on border security issues and now works as an adviser on homeland security and border issues for a global consulting firm.