I grabbed the Sunday paper on my way out of Albuquerque this morning. Two articles caught my eye.
The first, titled "Iglesias’ Tenure a Low-Key Affair," offered an extensive account of David Iglesias’ career as a federal prosecutor. It cites a memo prepared for A.G. Gonzales in 2005:
The 2005 memo provides a biography of Iglesias, a demographic breakdown of New Mexico and a list of significant pending cases. Gonzales was attending a conference in New Mexico on border issues but had to leave because of terrorist bombings in London. He returned in the summer of 2006.
Cases listed as "significant" include:
A firearm case that resulted in a 30-year prison sentence for a felon possessing a gun during a robbery. The memo doesn’t mention similar cases the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to prosecute.
An investigation into an immigrant smuggling organization that included federal wiretaps that resulted in a 30-month sentence for the ringleader and even less time for his co-defendants.
A federal tax evasion case involving attorneys and accountants in which no one so far has received any jail time.
A fraud and conspiracy case involving Los Alamos National Laboratory that resulted in sentences of six months and one year for the two defendants.
An anti-heroin initiative in the Española area that began in the late 1990s under then-U.S. Attorney John Kelly and was continuing under Iglesias.
I may be mistaken, but this doesn’t sound like a record assembled by a go-getter prosecutor. Here’s more along those lines:
But the memo provided to Gonzales gives only partial insight into how the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico operated under Iglesias.
Some insiders said they considered the office "risk averse"; in other words, extremely cautious about taking on high- visibility criminal cases.
A letter addressed to Gonzales was being circulated among some federal prosecutors here last week. Some had signed it but were undecided whether to send it because of speculation Gonzales might lose his job. Others didn’t share the views expressed.
The letter address[es] the recent controversy, describing Iglesias as an absentee boss who was more interested in travel than in running the office.
It said he "abdicated his responsibility as United States Attorney, turning over virtually every important decision to his subordinates."
The letter also said that Iglesias’ "lack of leadership" resulted in a decline in the quality of work produced by his office and that the reputation of the office had suffered during his tenure.
Apparently, Iglesias’ office had increased signficantly the number of immigration cases it handled (but most involved merely pushing paper and deporting the illegal immigrant), but hadn’t really increased its workload in other respects. (I’m summarizing and quoting extensively because the article is available only by means of a "premium" trial pass.)
was excessive delay in pursuing the public’s business. It is erroneous to assume that Iglesias was being asked to rush anything. He was simply being called upon to fulfill his duties to the country in a timely fashion. Congressional delegations from any state routinely check on the performance of federal prosecutors in their districts and try to help that U.S. attorney to obtain additional resources if needed.
After noting that Senate Democrats on more than one occasion inquired about prosecutors’ investigation of "Plame-gate," he continues:
The truth will out. Iglesias was fired for not doing his job.
I am sure that the theatrical and politically ambitious Iglesias "felt pressured," because his terrible performance in office was, yet again, being called to account. The facts will show that Iglesias was often missing in action as a U.S. attorney. He was often not in his office, misused senior assistant U.S. attorneys’ time and talents and failed to move prosecutions for political corruption in New Mexico in a timely fashion.
His failures of management are well known in the New Mexico legal community. He was repeatedly asked by Domenici if his office needed more resources, and didn’t respond, although he now claims otherwise. The Senate Ethics Committee will discover that calls for his removal for failure of performance began as early as 2003.
And, lest you think that this is mere partisan hackery, consider this concluding paragraph:
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in keeping with the Bush administration’s chronic ineptitude, finally fired eight U.S. attorneys in a fashion guaranteed to create a political firestorm.
Yup, Albuquerque is one interesting place.