Archive for the ‘Iglesias’ Category

The Pasty Little Putz, Dowd and Bruni

August 18, 2013

The Moustache of Wisdom and Mr. Kristof are off today.  In “Let Our Client Go” The Pasty Little Putz has a question:  If we don’t cut off our aid to Egypt now, when would we?  MoDo is whaling away on one of her little tin drums.  Obama gets a week off, since it’s the Clintons this week.  In “Money, Money, Money, Money, MONEY!” she also hisses a question:  Why don’t the Clintons ever have enough cash?  Mr. Bruni has decided to take a look at “The Past’s Future Republican.”  He says, FSM help us all, that Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul may be grabbing headlines, but Jeb Bush shouldn’t be forgotten, least of all by Republicans concerned about the party’s health.  Frank, honey, we barely survived the first two.  We need another Bush like a fish needs a bicycle.  Here’s The Putz:

In a simpler, more reasonable world, the government of the United States would have enough leverage in Cairo to put an end to the Egyptian military’s brutal crackdown on its Muslim Brotherhood opponents. We are, after all, the longstanding patron of Egypt’s generals; they are among our best-financed clients. We are the world’s sole superpower; their country is a needy basket case. We’re supplying them with $1.5 billion in aid this year; they can certainly use the money.

Instead, our impotence as Egypt burns is the latest case study in a reality that American statesmen should always keep in mind: Client governments are never as tractable as their patrons in far-off capitals expect, and a great power that thinks it’s buying influence is often buying its way into trouble instead.

This trouble can take a variety of forms. The most destructive is the longstanding tendency of client states to pull their patrons into needless wars. Sometimes the patron’s promise of support persuades the client to act recklessly, and then the patron ends up backing the recklessness because its own credibility is at stake. Sometimes the patron-client relationship just creates a closed circle of bellicose misjudgment. And sometimes the relationship inspires the patron to overestimate its client’s strategic importance and engage in an unwise or futile intervention.

Many of the 20th century’s crises were touched off or worsened by these kinds of great-power/client-state dynamics — between Russia and Serbia in 1914; between Stalin and Kim Il Sung in 1950 and Khrushchev and Castro in 1962; and between the U.S. and various South Vietnamese governments across our long Indochina debacle.

The problem is still with us today. The brush-fire war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, for instance, probably wouldn’t have happened if America’s patronage hadn’t made our Georgian allies overestimate their ability to engage in brinkmanship with Vladimir Putin. (Happily, John McCain’s half-cocked declaration that “we are all Georgians” was the closest we came to starting World War III on Tbilisi’s behalf.) And the 2003 Iraq invasion was shaped, in part, by perverse patron-client dynamics as well: it was both a continuation of Gulf War I, which was fought on behalf of our gulf-state clients, and an attempt to effectively replace those (highly problematic) allies with what various Bush-administration optimists hoped would be a new and very grateful client in the heart of the Middle East.

In Egypt today, the stakes are lower for the U.S., since we are unlikely to be dragged into a shooting war on the Egyptian military’s behalf. But that’s partially because we’ve given them enough weapons to do all the shooting for themselves. Which means our patronage has created a different kind of problem: Even absent an actual military footprint, we’ve been dragged permanently into Egypt’s domestic politics, where we’re seen — for understandable reasons as well as conspiratorial ones — as the real power behind whatever the state decides to do.

In the 1980s and 1990s, that seemed a price worth paying, since a bought-and-paid-for (and Israel-friendly) Egypt was preferable to either a hostile secular dictatorship in the style of Nasser’s regime or a hostile religious dictatorship in the style of postrevolutionary Iran. (Prerevolutionary Iran being another case, of course, where an American patron-client relationship ended badly for all concerned.)

The events of Sept. 11 made the price seem considerably steeper, since the terrorist attacks were, in part, a case of client-state blowback. Al Qaeda’s mission and worldview were forged in Egypt’s prisons, and the 9/11 plot itself was spearheaded by a young Egyptian, Mohamed Atta, who made no distinction between his country’s rulers and their American patrons.

Still, given the post-9/11 situation, it was understandable that our aid kept flowing and our close relationship endured. And it was understandable, too, that the Obama White House would hesitate to upset the relationship in the last few years, with Egypt in the throes of what seemed as if it might be a democratic revolution.

Now, though, the calculus has to change. Egypt is rolling back into authoritarianism along a track that’s soaked in blood. The cycle of crackdown-radicalization, crackdown-radicalization is likely to get worse, the cost of being intimately tied to the military regime is getting higher, and the window for demonstrating that America’s favor really is conditional is closing fast.

Right now, the Obama administration is trapped by its client state the way that great-power patrons often are. Because our aid to Egypt is our most obvious leverage over its military, and because we can really only pull that lever once, Washington is afraid to follow through and do it.

But leverage can be lost through inaction as well. If we can’t cut the Egyptian military off amid this blood bath, we’re basically proving that we never, ever will.

Far better to act like the superpower we are, and make an end. It’s time, and past time, to let this client go.

And now here’s MoDo’s latest rant (and she does love her little alliterations and plays on words, doesn’t she…):

Clinton nostalgia is being replaced by Clinton neuralgia.

Why is it that America’s roil family always seems better in abstract than in concrete? The closer it gets to running the world once more, the more you are reminded of all the things that bugged you the last time around.

The Clintons’ neediness, their sense of what they are owed in material terms for their public service, their assumption that they’re entitled to everyone’s money.

Are we about to put the “For Rent” sign back on the Lincoln Bedroom?

If Americans are worried about money in politics, there is no larger concern than the Clintons, who are cosseted in a world where rich people endlessly scratch the backs of rich people.

They have a Wile E. Coyote problem; something is always blowing up. Just when the Clintons are supposed to be floating above it all, on a dignified cloud of do-gooding leading into 2016, pop-pop-pop, little explosions go off everywhere, reminding us of the troubling connections and values they drag around.

There’s the continuing grotesque spectacle of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin. And there’s the sketchy involvement of the Clintons’ most prolific fund-raiser, Terry McAuliffe, and Hillary’s brother Tony Rodham in a venture, GreenTech Automotive; it’s under federal investigation and causing fireworks in Virginia, where McAuliffe is running for governor.

Many Israelis were disgusted to learn that Bill Clinton was originally scheduled to scarf up $500,000 to speak at the Israeli president Shimon Peres’s 90th birthday festivities in June. I guess being good friends with Peres and brokering the accord that won Peres the Nobel Peace Prize were not reasons enough for Bill to celebrate. The Israeli branch of the Jewish National Fund had agreed to donate half a mil to the Clinton foundation. Isn’t the J.N.F. “supposed to plant trees with donor cash?” Haaretz chided before the fund pulled back. “I guess money does grow on trees.”

I never thought I’d have to read the words Ira Magaziner again. But the man who helped Hillary torpedo her own health care plan is back.

In a Times article last week headlined “Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions,” Nicholas Confessore and Amy Chozick offered a compelling chronicle about an internal review of the rechristened Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation that illuminated the fungible finances and tensions between Clinton loyalists and the foundation architects Magaziner and Doug Band, former bag carrier for President Clinton.

You never hear about problems with Jimmy Carter’s foundation; he just quietly goes around the world eradicating Guinea worm disease. But Magaziner continues to be a Gyro Gearloose, the inept inventor of Donald Duck’s Duckburg.

“On one occasion, Mr. Magaziner dispatched a team of employees to fly around the world for months gathering ideas for a climate change proposal that never got off the ground,” Confessore and Chozick said.

We are supposed to believe that every dollar given to a Clinton is a dollar that improves the world. But is it? Clintonworld is a galaxy where personal enrichment and political advancement blend seamlessly, and where a cast of jarringly familiar characters pad their pockets every which way to Sunday.

“Efforts to insulate the foundation from potential conflicts have highlighted just how difficult it can be to disentangle the Clintons’ charity work from Mr. Clinton’s moneymaking ventures and Mrs. Clinton’s political future,” Confessore and Chozick wrote.

The most egregious nest of conflicts was a firm founded by Doug Band called Teneo, a scammy blend of corporate consulting, public relations and merchant banking. Band, a surrogate son to Bill, put Huma, a surrogate daughter to Hillary, on the payroll. Even Big Daddy Bill was a paid adviser.

As The Times reported, Teneo worked on retainer, charging monthly fees up to $250,000 and recruiting clients from among Clinton Foundation donors, while encouraging others to become foundation donors. The Clintons distanced themselves from Teneo when they got scorched with bad publicity after the collapse of its client MF Global, the international brokerage firm led by the former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine.

And Chelsea is now shaping the foundation’s future, and her political future. So there may not be as much oxygen for her troublesome surrogate siblings.

As George Packer wrote in The New Yorker, Bill Clinton earned $17 million last year giving speeches, including one to a Lagos company for $700,000. Hillary gets $200,000 a speech.

Until Harry Truman wrote his memoirs, the ex-president struggled on an Army pension of $112.56 a month. “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable,” he said, “that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.”

So quaint, Packer wrote, observing, “The top of American life has become a very cozy and lucrative place, where the social capital of who you are and who you know brings unimaginable returns.”

The Clintons want to do big worthy things, but they also want to squeeze money from rich people wherever they live on planet Earth, insatiably gobbling up cash for politics and charity and themselves from the same incestuous swirl.

And now here’s Mr. Bruni’s thinking on yet another Bush:

Let Rand Paul have his epic filibuster and Ted Cruz his scowling threats to shut down the government. Let Chris Christie thunder to a second term as the governor of New Jersey, his hubris flowering as his ultimate designs on the White House take shape.

Jeb Bush, lying low in the subtropics of Florida, has something they don’t: the unalloyed affection of many of the Republican Party’s most influential moneymen, who are waiting for word on what he’ll do, hoping that he’ll seek the 2016 presidential nomination and noting with amusement how far he has drifted off fickle pundits’ radar, at least for the moment.

Politics today has a shorter memory than ever. It also has a more furious metabolism, which Bush hasn’t fed much since March, when he was promoting a new book on immigration and created enormous confusion about whether he does or doesn’t support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who came here illegally. (He later clarified that he does, with caveats, and even later praised immigrants for being “more fertile.”) That awkwardness gave some of his supporters pause, as they wondered whether he’d been too long out of the fray and was too clumsy for the split-second hyperscrutiny of the Twitter era. He hasn’t run for anything since 2002, when he was re-elected as the governor of Florida, an office he left in early 2007. A whole lot has changed since.

But with the exception of that immigration mess, Bush has been a more articulate advocate of a new tone and direction for the Republican Party than have Paul, Cruz, Christie or others currently in the foreground of the 2016 race, which has already begun, on both sides of the aisle. (Hillary Clinton gave a big policy speech last week and has another already announced.)

He has signaled more willingness for fiscal compromise with Democrats than Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, for example, have. He has rightly emphasized the importance of social mobility to America’s fortunes and has rightly sounded an alarm that such mobility is on the wane.

At 60, he’s older than any of the five potential Republican presidential candidates I’ve already mentioned or than Scott Walker (don’t forget him), Bobby Jindal or Rick Santorum. His face is less fresh, thanks largely to a surname shared with the party’s last two presidents.

But here’s the first great irony, oddity, oxymoron or whatever you want to call it of the 2016 race: if Republicans care about safeguarding their future, their wisest and best bet may be to reach back into their past. In a pack not exactly brimming with moderate, sensitive voices, Bush’s stands out as less strident, more reasonable and more forward-looking than his potential rivals’.

Lately the news media’s attention has focused on Paul, Cruz and especially Christie, who was just on the cover of New York magazine and has drawn headlines with veiled and unveiled swipes at fellow Republicans. He’s serving notice, as he did with his embrace of President Obama during Hurricane Sandy, that he puts less stock in party etiquette or ideological purity than in the practicalities of governing and the necessities of winning.

But he’s also scaring some Republican power brokers, and not solely or even mainly because he’s iconoclastic. It’s because he’s so very loud, so very proud, a ticking time bomb of self-congratulatory bellicosity and gratuitous insult. Would he really be the best nominee?

In a meeting with Republicans in Boston last week, he prematurely lashed out at several possible competitors, including Jindal, whom he no doubt had in mind when he reportedly said, “I’m not going to be one of these people who’s going to come and call our party stupid.” No, Christie’s much, much too tactful for that.

Bush has registered concern with the way the party can come across as “anti-science.” He has also referred to it as “the party of no,” correctly noting that Republicans right now are defined negatively, by all they’re against.

So what is he for? He talks extensively about educational opportunity, grounded in school choice. He has called for a “patriotic energy security strategy” that diminishes our reliance on foreign oil by more thoroughly tapping domestic sources of oil and natural gas. He’ll need a broader agenda than that, a longer list of affirmatives in order to turn Republicans into the Party of Yes. But he’s seemingly aware of the challenge and hasn’t sprinted away from the autopsy that the party performed on itself after Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 presidential election.

Bush may lack Christie’s verve, but he’s shown some of Christie’s nerve. Last year he said that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have a difficult time fitting into the intensely partisan Republican Party of today and “an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”

“We’ve lost our way,” he said earlier this year.

The party needs to do better with Hispanic voters, and Bush isn’t just bilingual but also, in a sense, bicultural, with a Mexican-born wife. The state he governed and still lives in, Florida, has a large Hispanic population.

Swing voters looking for a Republican who supports abortion rights or gay marriage aren’t going to find one in him. But then they’re not going to find one in Christie or Ryan, either.

I’m told by people in the know that while Bush is definitely mulling a candidacy, there’s only a 20 to 30 percent chance that he’ll press the button. Many factors play into that decision: his family’s privacy; the reality that he and Rubio, his onetime political mentee, can’t both run; the nascent political career of his son George P. Bush, who might be better served by a longer Bush lull.

And then there’s the question that every presidential contender about to submit to a brutal and brutalizing process must ask: is a burning desire for the White House really present? The fabled fire in the belly? It certainly seems to rage inside Paul, Cruz, Christie. They’re infernos of untempered ambition.

Bush has a cooler temperature. But for the party’s prospects in 2016 and its image beyond then, that could be good. Just as Republicans can’t be the Party of Stupid or the Party of No, they can’t be the Party of Perpetual Ire, and Bush isn’t great at irate.

He’s better positioned for 2016 than he was for 2012, when the bitter disappointments of his older brother’s presidency were more keenly remembered and frequently invoked. Besides, if Hillary Clinton indeed rolls to the Democratic nomination, Republicans needn’t be so concerned about a nominee of their own with a dynastic aura. Clinton versus Bush would be political royalty versus political royalty.

Just imagine Barbara Bush’s muttered asides. That alone is almost reason to wish for the matchup, or cause for her second-born son to take a pass.

Dear God, spare us another Bush…


Fish, Friedman and Iglesias

March 21, 2007

This morning in the NYT we have Stanley Fish, guest columnist this month, on whether Georgia should apologize for slavery, followed by Thomas Friedman on the “Bush-Pelosi-Petraeus troika.”  I’ve also added a column by David Iglesias titled “Why I Was Fired.”  It’s not behind the firewall, but I wanted folks to see it.  Here’s Mr. Fish:

Emboldened by the State of Virginia’s apology for slavery — the measure passed both houses unanimously — some Georgia lawmakers are in the process of introducing a similar resolution in their legislature. The reasoning behind the apology movement is straightforward: a great wrong was done for centuries to men and women who contributed in many ways to the prosperity of their country and were willing to die for it in battle; it’s long past time to say we’re sorry.

Resistance to the apology movement is also straightforward. There is the fear that because an apology is an admission of responsibility for a prior bad act, apologizing might establish a legal or quasi-legal basis for reparations. And there is also the objection that after so many years an apology would be merely ceremonial and would therefore be nothing more than a “feel good” gesture.

But the objection most often voiced is that the wrong people would be apologizing to the wrong people. That was the point made by Tommie Williams, the Georgia Senate majority leader, when he said: “I personally believe apologies need to come from feelings that I’ve done wrong,” and “I just don’t feel like I did something wrong.”

Williams’s counterpart in the house, Speaker Glenn Richardson, made the same claim of innocence on behalf of his colleagues. “I’m not sure what we ought to be apologizing for,” given that “nobody here was in office.”

Mr. Richardson’s statement at least has the merit of recognizing that an apology would not be made by an individual — the idea isn’t to go to some slave cemetery and speak to a gravestone — but by an institution. He just thinks that because no present member of the institution was around at the time of the injury, an apology would make no sense.

But this is very bad reasoning, and you can see why if you read just a few recent Supreme Court cases on any subject. Invariably, the justice delivering the court’s opinion will cite a precedent from a case decided 50 or 100 years ago, and say something like, “In Smith v. Jones, we ruled that …” But of course he or she didn’t actually — that is, personally — rule on anything in 1940 or 1840, so what’s with the “we”?

The answer is that by using “we” to refer to an action taken before any present member of the court had reached the age of reason or was even alive, the justices acknowledge that they are part of an ongoing enterprise, and as such are responsible for its history; not as individuals, but as persons charged with the duty of carrying on a project that precedes them and will survive them.

At times “carrying on” includes revising and even repudiating earlier stages in that project. By overruling a precedent — a rare occurrence, to be sure — the justices say, collectively and on behalf of everyone who has ever donned the robe, “Oops, we got that one wrong; sorry, here’s another try.”

Legislatures do not overrule; they repeal, but the principle is the same. Legislators meeting on the first day of a new term don’t say, “O.K., let’s start all over again and figure out what laws we would like to have on the books.” Instead, they regard themselves as picking up a baton passed to them by their predecessors whose actions they now “own,” even in those instances when no legislator now sitting performed them. The vast majority of those actions will continue in force, but a few will be revisited, and of those, a smaller number will be modified or even reversed.

Sometimes a mistake now acknowledged can be remedied by changing the law. Sometimes that remedy would come too late, and another form of response is called for, as when the United States passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, deploring the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and authorizing payments of $20,000 to each surviving internee.

Ronald Reagan signed that act into law, and two years later President George H. W. Bush formally apologized for “the wrongs of the past.”

Does that mean that Georgia should apologize, too? Not necessarily. The question is a political as well as a moral one, and it is not my intention here to answer it. All I am saying is that while there may be good reasons to resist apologizing, the “we didn’t personally do it and those it was done to are dead” reason isn’t one of them.

Stanley Fish, the Davidson-Kahn professor of law at Florida International University, is a guest columnist this month.

Next up, Mr. Friedman:

President Bush’s Iraq surge policy is about a month old now, and there is only one thing you can say about it for certain: no matter what anyone in Congress, the military or the public has to say, it’s going ahead. The president has the authority to do it and the veto power to prevent anyone from stopping him. Therefore, there’s only one position to have on the surge anymore: hope that it works.

Does this mean that Democrats in Congress who are trying to shut down the war and force a deadline should take the advice of critics and shut up and let the surge play out?

No, just the opposite. I would argue that for the first time we have — by accident — the sort of balanced policy trio that had we had it in place four years go might have spared us the mess of today. It’s the Pelosi-Petraeus-Bush troika.

I hope the Democrats, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, keep pushing to set a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq, because they are providing two patriotic services that the Republicans failed to offer in the previous four years: The first is policy discipline. Had Republicans spent the previous four years regularly questioning Don Rumsfeld’s ignorant bromides and demanding that the White House account for failures in Iraq, we might have had the surge in 2003 — when it was obvious we did not have enough troops on the ground — rather than in 2007, when the chances of success are much diminished.

Because the Republicans controlled the House and Senate, and because many conservatives sat in mute silence the last four years, the administration could too easily ignore its critics and drag out policies in Iraq that were not working. With the Democrats back in Congressional control, that is no longer possible.

The other useful function Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues are performing is to give the president and Gen. David Petraeus, our commander in Iraq, the leverage of a deadline without a formal deadline. How so? The surge can’t work without political reconciliation among Iraqi factions, which means Sunni-Shiite negotiations — and such negotiations are unlikely to work without America having the “leverage” of telling the parties that if they don’t compromise, we will leave. (Deadlines matter. At some point, Iraqis have to figure this out themselves.)

Since Mr. Bush refuses to set a deadline, Speaker Pelosi is the next best thing. Do not underestimate how useful it is for General Petraeus to be able to say to Iraqi politicians: “Look guys, Pelosi’s mad as hell — and she has a big following! I don’t want to quit, but Americans won’t stick with this forever. I only have a few months.”

Speaker Pelosi: Keep the heat on.

As for General Petraeus, I have no idea whether his military strategy is right, but at least he has one — and he has stated that by “late summer” we should know if it’s working. As General Petraeus told the BBC last week, “I have an obligation to the young men and women in uniform out here, that if I think it’s not going to happen, to tell them that it’s not going to happen, and there needs to be a change.”

We need to root for General Petraeus to succeed, and hold him to those words if he doesn’t — not only for the sake of the soldiers on the ground, but also so that Mr. Bush is not allowed to drag the war out until the end of his term, and then leave it for his successor to unwind.

But how will General Petraeus or Congress judge if the surge is working? It may be obvious, but it may not be. It will likely require looking beneath the surface calm of any Iraqi neighborhood — where violence has been smothered by the surge of U.S. troops — and trying to figure out: what will happen here when those U.S. troops leave? Remember, enough U.S. troops can quiet any neighborhood for a while. The real test is whether a self-sustaining Iraqi army and political consensus are being put in place that can hold after we leave.

It will also likely require asking: Are the Shiite neighborhoods quieting down as a result of reconciliation or because their forces are just lying low so the U.S. will focus on whacking the Sunnis — in effect, carrying out the civil war on the Shiites’ behalf, so that when we leave they can dominate more easily?

When you’re sitting on a volcano, it is never easy to tell exactly what is happening underneath — or what will happen if you move. But those are the judgments we may soon have to make. In the meantime, since Bush is going to be Bush, let Pelosi be Pelosi and Petraeus be Petraeus — and hope for the best. For now, we don’t have much choice.

And here’s Mr. Iglesias:

With this week’s release of more than 3,000 Justice Department e-mail messages about the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, it seems clear that politics played a role in the ousters.

Of course, as one of the eight, I’ve felt this way for some time. But now that the record is out there in black and white for the rest of the country to see, the argument that we were fired for “performance related” reasons (in the words of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty) is starting to look more than a little wobbly.

United States attorneys have a long history of being insulated from politics. Although we receive our appointments through the political process (I am a Republican who was recommended by Senator Pete Domenici), we are expected to be apolitical once we are in office. I will never forget John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, telling me during the summer of 2001 that politics should play no role during my tenure. I took that message to heart. Little did I know that I could be fired for not being political.

Politics entered my life with two phone calls that I received last fall, just before the November election. One came from Representative Heather Wilson and the other from Senator Domenici, both Republicans from my state, New Mexico.

Ms. Wilson asked me about sealed indictments pertaining to a politically charged corruption case widely reported in the news media involving local Democrats. Her question instantly put me on guard. Prosecutors may not legally talk about indictments, so I was evasive. Shortly after speaking to Ms. Wilson, I received a call from Senator Domenici at my home. The senator wanted to know whether I was going to file corruption charges — the cases Ms. Wilson had been asking about — before November. When I told him that I didn’t think so, he said, “I am very sorry to hear that,” and the line went dead.

A few weeks after those phone calls, my name was added to a list of United States attorneys who would be asked to resign — even though I had excellent office evaluations, the biggest political corruption prosecutions in New Mexico history, a record number of overall prosecutions and a 95 percent conviction rate. (In one of the documents released this week, I was deemed a “diverse up and comer” in 2004. Two years later I was asked to resign with no reasons given.)

When some of my fired colleagues — Daniel Bogden of Las Vegas; Paul Charlton of Phoenix; H. E. Cummins III of Little Rock, Ark.; Carol Lam of San Diego; and John McKay of Seattle — and I testified before Congress on March 6, a disturbing pattern began to emerge. Not only had we not been insulated from politics, we had apparently been singled out for political reasons. (Among the Justice Department’s released documents is one describing the office of Senator Domenici as being “happy as a clam” that I was fired.)

As this story has unfolded these last few weeks, much has been made of my decision to not prosecute alleged voter fraud in New Mexico. Without the benefit of reviewing evidence gleaned from F.B.I. investigative reports, party officials in my state have said that I should have begun a prosecution. What the critics, who don’t have any experience as prosecutors, have asserted is reprehensible — namely that I should have proceeded without having proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The public has a right to believe that prosecution decisions are made on legal, not political, grounds.

What’s more, their narrative has largely ignored that I was one of just two United States attorneys in the country to create a voter-fraud task force in 2004. Mine was bipartisan, and it included state and local law enforcement and election officials.

After reviewing more than 100 complaints of voter fraud, I felt there was one possible case that should be prosecuted federally. I worked with the F.B.I. and the Justice Department’s public integrity section. As much as I wanted to prosecute the case, I could not overcome evidentiary problems. The Justice Department and the F.B.I. did not disagree with my decision in the end not to prosecute.

Good has already come from this scandal. Yesterday, the Senate voted to overturn a 2006 provision in the Patriot Act that allows the attorney general to appoint indefinite interim United States attorneys. The attorney general’s chief of staff has resigned and been replaced by a respected career federal prosecutor, Chuck Rosenberg. The president and attorney general have admitted that “mistakes were made,” and Mr. Domenici and Ms. Wilson have publicly acknowledged calling me.

President Bush addressed this scandal yesterday. I appreciate his gratitude for my service — this marks the first time I have been thanked. But only a written retraction by the Justice Department setting the record straight regarding my performance would settle the issue for me.

David C. Iglesias was United States attorney for the District of New Mexico from October 2001 through last month.