Archive for March, 2008

In a nutshell, tonight was a perfect way for the Twins to start the season. As near as I could tell, nobody was thinking about Johan not being the opening night pitcher. Livan Hernandez pitched a strong game, giving up 7 hits & 2 earned runs in 7 nearly effortless innings.

Torii Hunter got greeted with a hearty ovation, then disappeared until newly re-signed Joe Nathan struck him out with a high fastball in the ninth.

Most importantly, Twins fans got to see what a disruptive force Carlos Gomez can be. They didn’t have to wait long, with Gomez leading off the Twins’ with a double down the third base line. He scored when Joe Mauer singled one hitter later.

In his next at-bat, Gomez pushed a bunt down the first baseline. Angels’ first baseman Casey Kotchman fielded the ball, making a quick toss to second baseman Howie Kendrick. It wasn’t close. When Mauer fell behind in the count, Angels manager Mike Scioscia called a pitchout. Gomez, though, had gotten a great jump & was in safely easily. Unfortunately, the Twins stranded him at third this time.

By the time of Go-Go’s third at-bat, the Angels had tied the game at 2. When Go-Go walked, the fans knew what was coming next, as did the entire Angels team, the vendors & quite possibly even little babies who had fallen asleep. It didn’t matter. Go-Go was in easily with his second stolen base. Shortly thereafter, he scored to untie the game for good.

After that, Livan settled into a nice groove, only throwing 7 pitches in his seventh & final inning. Pat Neshek struck out the side in the eighth before handing the ball off to Nathan for his first save of the season.

It’s hard not to love young Mr. Gomez. Twins beat writers Joe Christensen & LaVelle E. Neal III have repeatedly said that it’s a feast or famine thing with Go-Go. If this is what the feasts are like, he’ll instantly become a fan favorite. I’ll repeat what I[‘ve said elsewhere: If he hits .260-.275, he’ll steal 75 bases without breaking a sweat.

I still expect the Twins to struggle with consistency this season because they are so inexperienced. That said, this is a more talented Twins batting order than they’ve had in ages. It’ll be interesting to see how everything plays out but tonight was a great glimpse into how potent this lineup can be.

UPDATE: I’m not the only one who thought Monday night’s opener was perfect:

After the game, Twins closer Joe Nathan raved about what Hunter did for the Twins, then about what Gomez promises to do. “He was outstanding,” Nathan said. “That’s pretty much as perfect a game as you could write up for the guy.

“When he gets his wheels going, it doesn’t look like he’s running, it looks like he’s floating across the field. He’s a special talent.”

Don’t expect me to argue, Joe.

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Here’s why the morale in the AGO is in the dumps:

The February 13, 2008 Letter
On February 13, 2008, Susan Damon, Daniel Goldberg, and I sent a letter to Attorney General Swanson asking her to voluntarily recognize a union in the office. I am attaching this as Attachment C. In this letter, we outlined our concerns about the extraordinary turnover in the office during the past year, as well as the working conditions that contributed to the turnover. The letter was mailed to Attorney General Swanson on February 13 and a copy of the letter was hand delivered to her office on February 14. The letter was not immediately publicized elsewhere.

The February 19, 2008 Letter
On the morning of February 19, 2008, the attorney general sent an email to the entire office berating the three of us who had sent the letter asking her to recognize the union. She indicated that she had not received the letter, which was both mailed and hand delivered to her office at the State Capitol, because she was out sick with the flu. She did not acknowledge her presence at the social committee lunch, which would contradict her claims of poor health. I am attaching her email as Attachment D.

The Attorney General said that our letter “undermined the work of this office” and was “embarrassing to the institution of the office.” The letter stated that the attorney general would have deputies meet with the three letter signers, and that she would also take measures to get her own “sense of the staff.” That morning, you, Solicitor General Al Gilbert, and retired Judge Larry Cohen met with Daniel Goldberg and me. You and Gilbert questioned Goldberg and me for approximately an hour, and particularly wanted to know why we thought a union was necessary, since the attorney general has held “quality circle” meetings, at which attorneys are allowed to express their concerns. At this meeting, I raised the ethical concern I mentioned above. At the meeting, you gave no indication that you wanted to work with us to address any of the concerns we had about the office.

Later that afternoon, I learned that my Complex Litigation colleagues were being summoned to a “quality circle” meetings the next morning. What we pieced together later was that the vast majority of attorneys summoned to these meetings were signatories of Chuck Roehrdanz’s anti-union petitions.

Imagine how intimidating that period must’ve been for Amy Lawler and her pro-union group.

Let’s look at it from another perspective, that of how to motivate people to do their best work. An tyrant-run office is run on threats and intimidation. That’s how they get people to do what they want them to do. It’s inevitable that the employees aren’t productive because they’re constantly walking on eggshells. That’s because they fear the tyrant’s retribution. That isn’t the way to create a productive team.

The best work teams are the ones that have a leader with a commonsense vision and a common goal. Leaders are different from tyrants because leaders listen, then chart a course. Tyrants don’t listen because they’ve already charted a course, which may or may not be practical.

It’s obvious that Lori Swanson isn’t a leader. It’s equally obvious that she’s cut from her predecessor’s cloth, that is, she’s cut from a dictator’s cloth.

As long as Lori Swanson is the AG, the culture established by Mr. Hatch will continue. That isn’t a culture that Minnesotans will embrace.

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Tonight at the Metrodome, a new era of Twins baseball will be introduced. As a fan, I can’t wait to see the new & improved Twins. Yes, I intenttionally said new & improved because I believe that will be better. That begs several questions. Here’s the first one on Twins fans’ minds:

How will the Twins replace Johan Santana?
A: Simply put, they won’t. You don’t just replace the second best pitcher in baseball. (Sorry Twins fans but I’ll take Mr. Beckett from Boston in October.)

For years, the Twins have relied on their pitching & defense far too much. We’ve gotten spoiled with Torii’s range & strong arm. Now he’s gone, replaced by Mr. Gomez, who appears to be faster than a speeding locomotive, though the arm is pretty erratic.

You can’t say that Delmon Young’s & Michael Cuddyer’s arms are erratic, though. There won’t be many players taking an extra base on those arms. Most of the ones that tempt fate will get thrown out. Michael Cuddyer’s power arm more than compensates for his range. As strong & accurate as Cuddy’s arm is, it’s my opinion that DY’s arm is even stronger & more accurate than Cuddy’s.

The place that worries me most defenively is third base, with second base another trouble spot. As often as not, Mike Lamb’s throws are in the dirt, which isn’t a good habit for a third baseman to get into. At second, Brendan Harris doesn’t have the range Twins fans have gotten accustome to. If too many balls make it through those sections of the infield, don’t be surprised if they shift Harris to third & start Matt Tolbert at second.

The weakness of the team is its starting pitching. That isn’t to say that they don’t have some talented pitchers. Clearly, Francisco Liriano has electric stuff if he returns to 2006 form. Many is the time I watched hitters like Jim Thome all but give up when he’d throw his slider. He’s starting his season with a minor league rehab assignment but Gardy’s already said that he’ll return after two minor league starts to build up his pitch count.

Based on his performance last year, I think that Scott Baker has top of the rotation stuff. His flirtation with a perfect game last year showed me that he’s got the stuff & the right makeup to win.

The sleeper in the rotation, in my opinion, is Nick Blackburn. He’s got good stuff. Most importantly, though, is that he gets it. He’ll only get better at setting hitters up as he gains more experience.

The three X factors in the rotation are Livan Hernandez, Boof Bonser & Kevin Slowey.

When he was younger, Livan was a dominant pitcher. He isn’t dominant anymore. When he keeps the ball down, he’ll do well. When he doesn’t, he’ll have a difficult time. The good news is that he’s a dogged competitor.

Boof dropped alot of weight this offseason. There was no question that he has quality pitches, with his curve being his out pitch. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any question that he wore down too quickly. Hopefully, that’s in the past. When he wore down, his pitches flattened out. That isn’t a good thing for a pitcher who relies alot on breaking pitches.

As for Slowey, I’m still waiting for him to develop an out pitch. He’s got nice control of his pitches but they’re all very hittable. Good hitters foul off alot of pitches until they get a pitch to their liking. If he gets off to a slow start, expect Philip Humber to get an early call from Rochester.

I got a chance to watch Philip Humber (the H is silent) pitch a bit this spring & was impressed. He’s got a good fastball that tops out in the 93-95 mph range & good command of his breaking pitches. Best of all, he didn’t appear to be afraid to throw any of his pitches at any time in the count.

The good news is that the bullpen is loaded, with Joe Nathan signed for the next 4 years (three years with a club option for the fourth year.) Pat Neshek is strong setup man, as good as there is in the game really. Matt Guerrier is invaluable in his long relief role. The bullpen should be stronger with the return of Jesse Crain, though I suspect that it’ll take time for him to trust his arm after undergoing season-ending surgery last season. Dennys Reyes had a great season two years ago but came back to earth last year, mostly because of injuries. We’ll see how Crain & Reyes rebound from injury-laden seasons.

Now for the good news. The Twins lineup is the best it’s been in ages.

Carlos Gomez, aka Go-Go, isn’t a classic leadoff hitter. He isn’t terribly patient in working the count. He more than makes up for it with his speed. What little I saw of him, I’d say he’s the fastest runner in baseball, including Ichiro & Jose Reyes. Dan Gladden said that Gomez hit a routine two-hopper to short & beat it out by a step. That’s pretty impressive.

The old baseball maxim is that you can’t steal first, which I can’t argue with. The good news is that Gomez is an excellent bunter. Barring the third baseman playing half the way between third & home, though, they won’t have a chance of throwing him out.

Hitting in the second slot is Joe Mauer, who is healthy to start the season for the first time in a couple years. If Go-Go hits .260 or better, Mr. Mauer will see alot of early in the count fastballs. If that happens, expect him to return to his 2006 form.

Cuddy moves into the third slot after hitting cleanup off & on. He’ll have lots of chances to drive in runs this season. He now has a longterm contract so he’ll be able to focus solely on baseball. He’s quietly become the clubhouse leader, especially taking Delmon Young under his wing. That’s something that’s sure to yield immediate benefits.

Justin Morneau also has a new contract that will keep him in a Twins uniform well into the next decade. In 2006, he started off poorly, then was the most dangerous hitter in baseball the last 4 months of the season. Last year, that pattern flipped. He started off strong before struggling the last 2 months of the season. Alot of that had to do with pitchers pitching around him. They’ll pay for it this year if they try that.

Which leads to our fifth hitter, Delmon Young. Patrick Reusse likes to say that Torii Hunter his .251 for New Britain when he was 22. Then he mentions that Delmon Young hit .288 with 13 HR’s & 93 RBI’s in the American League as a 22-year-old. After watching him with Tampa last year, it’s obvious that the sky’s the limit with DY. With a little experience, there’s no reason why he can’t be a consistent .320, 30 HR, 120 RBI guy for a decade.

Earlier I said that Cuddy has mentored him by just helping him feel comfortable in the clubhouse. The other good news from Spring Training is that he was mentored by Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva & Rod Carew. With that type of annual mentoring, there’s no reason why he can’t develop into a dominant hitter.

After that, the Twins’ DH will actually be productive. Platooning there will be former Twin-killer Craig Monroe & Jason Kubel. Kubel came on strong last year, hitting .364 for August & .325 in September. His post-All Star game batting average was .303, giving the Twins solid production.

After that, though, things get a bit dicy. Mike Lamb is decent enough with a career .281 average. After that, Brendan Harris has some pop in his bat. Still, he’s nothing more than a decent hitter. Rounding out the batting order is Adam Everett. Everett is your typical no-hit, good-field shortstop.

I don’t expect the team to contend this year but I don’t buy into the notion that they’ll fight to stay out of last place this year, either. If the starting pitching is better than expected, it’ll be because Liriano regains alot of his 2006 form, Baker continues the strong progress we saw last year & someone like a Philip Humber or a Nick Blackburn comes out of nowhere to surprise. I’m not counting on that not because they aren’t talented but because they’re inexperienced.

The good news is that tonight in the Metrodome, a new, & hopefully better, era of Twins baseball begins. The components are in place. All it’ll take is time for all the pieces to fit together. The faster that happens, the better off they’ll be.

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That’s the title of Phil Brennan’s Newsmax article. It’s the perfect title for the article because Murtha and Time have gotten precious little right about the insurgents’ November 19 attack in Haditha. Let’s start with what they got right since that won’t take much time:

There was an insurgent attack in Haditha on November 19, 2005. The 3/1 Marines were involved. After that, you’ve got to do alot of searching for anything else that they got right. Let’s get to Phil Brennan’s article because, unlike Tim McGirk’s article, it’s got alot of important information.

On Nov. 19, 2005, during an insurgent ambush of the Marines of Kilo Company 3rd battalion 1st Marines, 15 Iraqi civilians and nine suspected insurgent ambushers were killed. One Marine was killed in an IED explosion and two others seriously wounded.

Thanks to the battalion intelligence officer, Lt. Jeff Dinsmore, who monitored the daylong engagement, the entire Marine chain of command were given the full story of the engagement that very night and it was agreed that no further action in connection with the civilian casualties was needed.

Phil Brennan has been one of the people who’s actually disseminated Article 32 testimony. His reporting hasn’t been perfect in terms of timeliness but it’s been solid. Here’s another important bit of information:

Typical of Murtha’s rantings were his comments on a May 28, 2006, ABC News broadcast. In response to George Stephanopolis’ comment that he claimed to have been briefed several times since Nov. 19 and said that that the evidence showed that the Marines had committed cold-blooded murder, Murtha said:

“Well there’s no question in my mind, what happened was an IED exploded. It killed one Marine. And then a taxi drives up. When the taxi comes up there’s four of five people in it. And they shoot … shoot those four or five people unarmed.

“And then they go on a rampage throughout the houses and kill people. One woman, as I understand it, in talking to officials in the Marine Corps, was kneeling over a child pleading for mercy and they shot her in cold blood. That’s the thing that’s so disturbing. And even more disturbing is the fact that we know that the Iraqis knew about it because they made payments to the Iraqis for accidental deaths or salacious deaths whatever you want to call it. And in addition to that, they had … there has to have been a cover-up of this thing.”

That interview won’t reflect kindly on Rep. Murtha. As I posted here, there’s a YouTubed Hardball interview that totally contradicts Murtha’s statements on Stephanopoulos’ show. Here’s the YouTube video:

Here’s the transcript of that interview:

Matthews: Let me ask you something, Mr. Murtha, to give us some details, to tell us what happened at Haditha.
Murtha: Well, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. One Marine was killed and the Marines just said “We’re gonna take care of this.” They don’t know who the enemy is, the presure was too much on them so they went into houses and they actually killed civilians. And you know that I…
Matthews: Was this Mi Lai? Was this…When you say cold blood, Congressman, alot of people think you’re basically saying that you’ve got some civilians sitting in a room or out in a field and they’re executed.
Murtha: That’s exactly what happened.
Matthews: Not because the Marines are scared…
Murtha: This was not an action. This was not…First they tried to say that it was an
IED. There was no IED involved in this. Those troops that went in, they were so stressed out, they went into houses and killed children…women and children, 24 people they killed. Now this is the kind of stuff…That’s the kind of stress they’re under. I understand this. I don’t excuse it but I understand what’s happening. And the responsibility for this goes straight to the top. This is something that should not have happened. It should have been investigated. As I understand it, they’ve already relieved three commanding officers. But this is the kind of stuff that stress is gonna cause these sorts of things. That’s why I’m so upset about it.

My question to Rep. Murtha is quite simple. Do you want to stick with your statement to George Stephanopoulos where you said that an IED went off or do you want to stick with your statement to Chris Matthews where you said that there wasn’t an IED explosion? It doesn’t matter which choice Murtha makes. Either way, he’s discredited because he’s caught in a ‘Heads, you win, tails, I lose’ situation.

Personally, I agree with what Michelle Malkin said about Murtha:

Murtha indicts himself every time he opens his mouth.

Michelle, I couldn’t agree more. My only question is whether Murtha is somehow related to Joe Wilson…

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Cross-posted at Murtha Must Go

On January 3, 2008, I learned that an investigator who had been with the office for over 23 years had been abruptly terminated the day before. She was told that her position had been “eliminated”, and was immediately escorted out of the building. This investigator had been active in the union organizing effort, and had been a mentor to me during my time in the office. She was a hard worker and a source of knowledge to all the young attorneys in the division, and a good person. You did not announce the “elimination” of the seasoned veteran, so the next day we were forced to whisper to one another to piece together what had happened.

On January 24, 2008, I was sitting in my office with another attorney, who was close to tears and worried that she would be fired. Your secretary, Angela Brindamour, came into my office, closed the door, and attempted to reassure the attorney that her job was safe. The attorney stated that she had seen two people terminated in her time at the office, and that she thought she was next. Brindamour told the attorney not to worry; Brindamour explained that she knew what had happened to the investigator, and that her situation was different. The attorney then exclaimed “I know, she got fired for union sh*t.” Brindamour confirmed, “Yes, she did”, and assured the attorney that the investigator was a different situation, and the attorney did not need to worry.

While I understand that this isn’t what Jim Nobles is commissioned to dig into, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get scrutinized by John Q. Public. That’s why I’m going through the entire letter. Amy Lawler’s side of the story must come out. I’m not saying that the media has been totally silent on this saga. I am saying, though, that few people have listed specific parts of Ms. Lawler’s letter in bite-sized chunks.

The significance of this section can’t be diminished. If it’s true that Ms. Brindamour admitted that this investigator was terminated for union-related activities, then Lori Swanson’s troubles ar just beginning. Forget Jim Nobles’ investigation.

This won’t play well with AFSCME or the AFL-CIO. They’d likely find a pimary challenger to run against Swanson. If a high profile DFL candidate or incumbent doesn’t have near-unanimous union support, that cripples their fundraising and GOTV efforts. If that happens, it’s difficult to picture a promising campaign for Ms. Swanson.

The other positive derivative of this would be Ms. Lawler’s vindication. That’s the perfect way to pay Lori Swanson back.

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Here’s the most substantive counterattack to Attorney General Swanson’s accusations against Amy Lawler:

You have been quoted in the press that I was put on leave because I didn’t follow the proper channels in reporting my “ethical concerns.” Your statement ignores the point that I have repeatedly raised with you: there are currently no channels in the office by which an attorney can raise concerns, ethical or otherwise, about issues they have on the job. My numerous attempts to raise this issue internally, through “proper channels”, were met with silence and retribution.

All of this is, of course, a red herring that arose in the context of the union organizing effort at the office. The issue is not, and never has been, about my concern over how cases are selected at the office, but rather ensuring that professional staffers in the office can do their jobs and serve the people of Minnesota in a healthy and productive workplace. It appears that I have been singled out for attention because of my active and open role in the union organizing effort, which I describe further below.

This is gigantic. Ms. Lawler just told us that the Swanson OAG doesn’t have anything in place to deal with ethical questions.

Most importantly, she’s accused Ms. Swanson of targeting Ms. Lawler with retribution for attempting to organize a union in the AG’s office. (I wonder what the average rank-and-file union member would do if they learned that the chief law enforcement officer in the state was undercutting attempts to establish a union.)

This raises another question for me. Why would Ms. Lawler’s superiors cite her not using proper channels? Certainly, they had to know that Ms. Lawler could quickly reply that proper channels didn’t exist in the Swanson OAG. Are they that arrogant that they think nobody would notice? Did they think that they’d intimidated Ms. Lawler so much that she wouldn’t retaliate by mentioning this office ‘defect’?

Any sane-minded jury knows that supervisors often avoid firing an employee by assigning them to undesirable projects in the hopes of getting them to quit. This highlights the fact that Ms. Swanson used supervisory retribution to chastize Ms. Lawler for organizing a union. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that.

The next logical question is this: What will Jim Nobles’ reaction be to the AG’s retributive behavior? Actually, there’s another couple questions that dovetails off that, too, namely (a) why didn’t Ms. Swanson establish an ethics inquiry panel and (b) did Mike Hatch have an an ethics inquiry panel during his time in office?

We’ll know alot more when those questions, and others, are answered by Jim Nobles.

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Please indulge me for trotting out a reminder of Murtha’s disgusting tactics in smearing the Haditha Marines. Here’s a YouTube video that should be a wake-up call for people:

Here’s the transcript of the Matthews-Murtha interview:

Matthews: Let me ask you something, Mr. Murtha, to give us some details, to tell us what happened at Haditha.
Murtha: Well, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. One Marine was killed and the Marines just said “We’re gonna take care of this.” They don’t know who the enemy is, the presure was too much on them so they went into houses and they actually killed civilians. And you know that I…
Matthews: Was this Mi Lai? Was this…When you say cold blood, Congressman, alot of people think you’re basically saying that you’ve got some civilians sitting in a room or out in a field and they’re executed.
Murtha: That’s exactly what happened.
Matthews: Not because the Marines are scared…
Murtha: This was not an action. This was not…First they tried to say that it was an IED. There was no IED involved in this. Those troops that went in, they were so stressed out, they went into houses and killed children…women and children, 24 people they killed. Now this is the kind of stuff…That’s the kind of stress they’re under. I understand this. I don’t excuse it but I understand what’s happening. And the responsibility for this goes straight to the top. This is something that should not have happened. It should have been investigated. As I understand it, they’ve already relieved three commanding officers. But this is the kind of stuff that stress is gonna cause these sorts of things. That’s why I’m so upset about it.

Let’s look at what John Murtha said happened vs. what actually happened.

John Murtha said that “There was no IED involved in this.” At the same time, he admits that a Marine was killed, which caused the Marines to snap before they went on their murderous tirade.

Question for Mr. Murtha: If there wasn’t an IED explosion, how did LCpl. Miguel Terrazas get killed? The Time Magazine article Rep. Murtha is so fond of citing says that a roadside bomb killed LCpl. Terrazas:

The incident seemed like so many others from this war, the kind of tragedy that has become numbingly routine amid the daily reports of violence in Iraq. On the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, a roadside bomb struck a humvee carrying Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, on a road near Haditha, a restive town in western Iraq. The bomb killed Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.) Terrazas, 20, from El Paso, Texas. The next day a Marine communique from Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi reported that Terrazas and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast and that “gunmen attacked the convoy with small-arms fire,” prompting the Marines to return fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding one other.

That’s the only accurate part of the infamous McGirk article. Here’s another Murtha fabrication:

Those troops that went in, they were so stressed out, they went into houses and killed children…

Whether they were stressed out or not, I can’t say with total certainty. What I can say is that they followed their rules of engagement flawlessly during the firefight. That suggests to me that these Marines weren’t stressed, that they didn’t crack.

Here’s the most flagrant lie Murtha tells in this exchange:

They don’t know who the enemy is.

That’s a bunch of crap. Their S2 intelligence officer told them to expect a white taxi to be part of the insurgents’ ambush. It was part of the insurgents’ ambush. The S2 told them that “that some 20 insurgents would take part” in the ambush. That’s what happened.

A total of 24 Iraqis died that day in Haditha. Eight of those Iraqis were identified later as known insurgents. Five of those eight insurgents were shot immediately after they jumped out of the white taxi.

To summarize, the Haditha Marines knew alot of details about the insurgents’ ambush, especially considering the fact that they “don’t know who the enemy is.”

That’s why Murtha Must Go.

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Cross-posted at Murtha Must Go

Internal Channels
The first time I broached the issue, in the November 20 meeting, you brushed aside my concern by telling me that we would make the lawsuits “survive a Rule 11.” The second time I raised the issue was in a meeting on February 20, 2008, when you asked me for an example of when an attorney did not feel they could speak up to their manager without fear of retribution. I described this November case assignment meeting, and reminded you of how you had ignored my concern by telling me that you would make my complaints survive a Rule 11. At the February 20 meeting, you again aside my concern, saying that this was simply a misunderstanding.”

On March 3, 2008, you came into my office and told me that in light of my concern, my entire caseload was being transferred to another attorney. I emailed you, reiterating that the issue was not that I filed frivolous lawsuits, but rather that the process I have described above is troubling, as attorneys within the office have no outlet through which they can raise ethical concerns. You ignored this email, which was my third attempt to bring your attention to this situation. I am attaching this email as Attachment B. I was subsequently assigned a number of projects that seemed punitive in nature, including an “emergency” one-day project that required me to summarize 50 years’ worth of airline merger history history by 5:00 p.m.

This is a perfect illustration of the old punchline “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” There’s been reports filtering out about low morale and managerial chaos ever since Lori Swanson took the oath of office. This isn’t surprising. It’s just confirmation of the things we’ve heard all along.

Ms. Lawler is exactly right. Getting assigned that type of a project is punitive in nature. It had to be embarassing to have her cases transferred to another attorney.

The fact that her immediate supervisor told her that he’d help her avoid Rule 11 sanctions tells us that the Swanson AGO doesn’t put a high priority on maintaining a high ethical standard. Instead, this suggests that she’s borrowing from the Hatch playbook of using photo-ops filled with sympathetic figures to pressure companies into out of court settlements.

I’m not a lawyer but it doesn’t sound like they’re that concerned about winning in court. This question keeps popping into my head: Why would they emphasize the press conference but put little priority on the trial?

I hope this information on AG Swanson’s tactics makes its way into the right attorneys hands so they can prepare themselves to withstand the media onslaught. Let’s be clear about this. I’m all for punishing companies who break the law. I’m just not for punishing companies who are the target of a malicious attorney general who doesn’t put a priority on conducting herself within ethical boundaries.

Ms. Lawler deserves our gratitude for standing up against this legal bully and for fighting the good fight against a morally deficient AG.

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I just received an email from a dedicated LFR reader. The email contained a letter that was supposedly sent by Amy Lawler to Minnesota Deputy Attorney General Olson. (While I haven’t been able to independently verify the letter’s origin, the letter’s content is consistent with the accusations made against General Swanson. What I do know is that the person sending me this information has been totally reliable. I’ve never had reason to doubt the validity of this person’s information.) In the letter portion of the pdf file, Ms. Lawler made the following disturbing statement:

I understand that 52 attorneys have left over the last year in an office staffed by approximately 126 attorneys. That is a staggering turnover rate and it is doubtful that a private firm could survive such attrition. Many have wanted to speak up but have been afraid to do so. Those who have advocated for unionization after having been at the office for years are told that they have a political vendetta or were predisposed to attack your tenure as attorney general; those who are new have been told that we have not been in the office long enough to form an opinion, or that our relative youth robs us of the credibility needed to suggest reforms for the office.

Ms. Lawler is right. losing 52 of 126 attorneys is astonishingly high. It isn’t possible to operate a business with that attrition rate. (Yes, I meant attrition rate because it’s far higher than a turnover rate.)

As distressing as that portion of the letter is, it pales in comparison with this portion of the letter:

The attorney general informed me that she had read newspaper articles about attorneys general in other states filing lawsuits against mortgage foreclosure consultants. She handed me those articles and told me to find some defendants and file a similar lawsuit the following week. Your March 10 letter placing me on leave falsely states that at that time, Attorney General Swanson also provided me with copies of consumer complaints and complaints by other attorneys general. This is simply untrue. In fact, at the time of the meeting, no one in the room knew of any consumer complaints on the issue. I was instructed at the time to procure copies of the other states’ complaints on my own. During the meeting, I asked you and the attorney general about how a case could be built so quickly, and you brushed aside my concerns, telling me simply “Don’t worry, we’ll make it survive a Rule 11.” Rule 11, as you know, is the rule of civil procedure allowing for sanctions against attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits. It seemed clear to me from your comment that you understood that it might be difficult to ethically file lawsuits within the proscribed amount of time, and that it was questionable to decide to file a lawsuit before even locating a defendant, but were determined to file it nonetheless.

This is incredibly damning information. If the OLA finds that these charges are legitimate, then Ms. Swanson is in trouble.

I’ll make this prediction: once this information gets into Jim Noble’s hands, it’s safe to say that things will get much worse for Ms. Swanson before things get better.

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Charges were dropped against LCpl. Stephen Tatum on Friday, leaving Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, Sgt. Frank Wuterich and Cpl. Andrew Grayson as the remaining three Marines who haven’t had their cases resolved. Eventually, John Murtha will be exposed as a corrupt man who used the Haditha Marines in his attempt to become the House Majority Leader.

What We Know As Fact

We know that John Murtha accused the Haditha Marines of “killing innocent civilians in cold blood” before the investigation on Haditha had been completed.

We know that Rep. Murtha’s story has changed several times. When reporters initially asked him about his sourcing on May 18, 2006, Rep. Murtha said this:

“All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they’re talking about.”

That didn’t last long. On May 30, 2006, he made this contradictory statement:

The Commandant of the Marine Corps was in my office just last week, so you know, I know there was a cover-up someplace.

He later offered another statement. This time, the spokesman for Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee had to correct Rep. Murtha:

He had told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gen. Michael Hagee had given him the information on which he based his charge that Marines killed innocent civilians. But a spokesman for the Marine Corps said Hagee briefed Murtha on May 24 about Haditha.

Let’s highlight that conflict between rep. Murtha and the Marine Corps spokesman because it highlights extremely important information.

If Gen. Hagee did indeed brief Rep. Murtha on May 24, 2006, that means that Rep. Murtha couldn’t make these accusations based on irrefutable facts; at least he couldn’t do that on May 17, 2006.

That brings us to our first ‘counts’ against Rep. Murtha: Violating the Haditha Marines’ constitutional protection of (a) being presumed innocent until provent guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and (b) violating their due process rights.

Another accusation Rep. Murtha made was that the officers in charge of the 3/1 Marines covered up their findings of what happened on November 19, 2005 in the city of Haditha. That’s absurd because we know that Captain Jeffrey Dinsmore put together a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation, which was sent up the chain of command. That isn’t speculation; that’s his sworn testimony. The fact that the people further up the chain of command said that there isn’t anything to investigate says it all.

Rep. Murtha told ABCNews’ Charlie Gibson that he knew there was a cover-up “someplace.” As I’ve said before, if you think something is true but can’t prove it, then you should say that “I believe that there is a coverup someplace.” You don’t say that you know there’s a coverup.

That’s the second count in the indictment. Rep. Murtha made false accusations against the Haditha Marines. What’s worse is that he made those accusations without verifiable proof of wrongdoing. Knowingly filing false charges against someone is a crime.

The third count in the indictment is possibly the weightiest of charges. Murtha’s connections within the Pentagon are deep. He’s built a mini-empire by acting as a ‘recruiter’ for companies in the military industrial complex. When they want a new hardware, Rep. Murtha gets it for them. As a result, they paid particularly close attention when Rep. Murtha made an accusation against the Haditha Marines.

With his clout, Rep. Murtha did everything except play the role of judge, jury and executioner. In civilian court, he would’ve been accused of poisoning the jury pool, which is another violation of the Haditha Marines’ due process rights.


I can only speculate that Rep. Murtha also knew about the “shadow body” within the Pentagon established to monitor the proceedings against the Haditha Marines. In the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib and Pat Tillman investigations, it’s perfectly reasonable to think that there was a strong political component to these investigations. Here’s what Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said on that matter:

“The hysteria and media firestorm over Abu Ghraib and the Pat Tillman investigations led to fear of a similar media reaction to the Haditha incident, causing the military’s civilian bosses to set up this shadow oversight body,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

“This extraordinary action politicized the military justice system and was a clear signal to top generals that they were expected to hold individuals criminally responsible. The investigation turned into a quest for a prosecution, not justice,” Thompson said.

If there was a political component to these investigations, then it’s equally reasonable to think that John Murtha’s fingerprints are all over that portion of the witch hunt.

Based on the known facts alone, Rep. Murtha would have a fight if he found himself in a court of law.

That’s why it’s time to turn up the heat on the House Democratic leadership to open a thorough ethics investigation into the role John Murtha played in the smearing of the American heroes we know as the Haditha Marines.

It should insult everyone’s sensibilities when people’s constitutional protections are ignored. That should go double when the people whose rights were violated are military heroes.

In the end, that’s the most damning indictment against Rep. Murtha of them all.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers. I’ve been chronicling Mr. Murtha’s accusations and ‘revisions’ since he first made the accusations against the Haditha Marines on May 17, 2006. Follow this link if you want a timeline of Murtha’s ‘revisions’. Also check out Murtha Must Go for more outstanding chronicling of Murtha’s shifting story. You’ll want to check out this post. This one, too.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative