The Skinny: Heat Over Prosecutor Firings

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales APTN

The Skinny is Joel Roberts' take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.



The furor over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year is heating up, with the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times all reporting Tuesday on new revelations that the White House may have been more closely involved in the controversial dismissals than it has previously acknowledged.

The Washington Post was the first to report that the idea of the dismissals had its origin in the White House more than two years ago, when former White House counsel Harriet Miers suggested replacing all 93 U.S. attorneys.

That idea was rejected by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, but he did approve the firing of a smaller group of U.S. attorneys. A White House spokeswoman said those dismissals took place after President Bush told Gonzales that he had received complaints from Republicans that some of the prosecutors were not aggressively pursuing voter-fraud cases.

The spokeswoman said the president did not urge the removal of any specific prosecutors.

The New York Times calls it "the worst crisis of Mr. Gonzales's tenure" and said it has "provoked charges that the dismissals were a political purge threatening the historical independence of the Justice Department."

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports a top aide to Gonzales became the first victim of the fallout from the growing scandal. D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzalez's chief of staff, who reportedly played a key role in devising the list of prosecutors to be dismissed, resigned Monday.

The New York Times offers a profile of Sampson, describing him as a young, fast-rising lawyer "with a passion for politics," who hoped to use his position as Gonzales' top aide as a springboard to a job as U.S. attorney in his home state of Utah.

This story is bound to get even hotter, with both the Senate and House holding investigations and reports that top Bush political strategist Karl Rove, among others, will be called to testify about his role in the firings.

More Walter Reed Fallout

The Army's top doctor is the latest casualty in the scandal over the poor conditions for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

The Washington Post reports Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the Army's surgeon general, resigned his position after weeks of intense public criticism.

The Post says Kiley had "refused to step aside even as he was grilled" during congressional hearings "about horrid living conditions and a tangled bureaucracy at the Army's flagship hospital."

He had "at first played down reports of problems at Walter Reed … but later was far more contrite," the Post said.

Kiley finally submitted his resignation under pressure from Pete Geren, the acting secretary of the Army, defense officials said.

Will There Will Always Be An England?

Looking to take a break from all these scandals? Well, the British are making a fresh bid for Americans' vacation dollars.

According to USA Today, British tourism officials, alarmed by a decrease in visitors from the U.S., are ordering a changing of the guard. The new pitch touts adventure travel – like snorkeling in a bog or motorcycling the Scottish Highlands – over such historic favorites as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Stonehenge.

VisitBritain spokesman Elliott Frisby said "we're not abandoning our heritage and its appeal." But he said they need to add "a kind of unexpected experience, such as jousting at a castle, kiteboarding in Wales or riding down a river in a wet suit."

The idea, he said, is to "reinvigorate Britain in Americans' minds."

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