David Iglesias, one of seven U.S. attorneys dismissed in late 2006, was in Washington this week to promote his book, In Justice: Inside the Scandal that Rocked the Bush Administration. His work details his journey from the day he got the call asking for his resignation on Dec. 6, 2006 to his firing’s impact on New Mexico politics. A long-time Navy Reserves captain and judge advocate general and former rising Republican star in New Mexico, Iglesias is now a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton in Albuquerque.
Q: Did you feel any competition of sorts with the other insider’s story that’s out there, ex-White House spokesman Scott McClellan’s tell-all book -- What Happened: Inside The Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception?
I had no idea he was writing a book. And I was, at first, a little bit concerned that maybe his book would hurt my book sales, but I’ve been advised…that, if anything, it should help my book sell, so I’m OK with that. And the interesting thing is our two books really represent the first kind of inside the Bush administration look at what was going on…You know the administration was known for its discipline, for insiders not talking to the media, and I think these two books represent a real break from that.
Q: What do you expect readers to come away from your story? It’s not only your story, but is it that of the other seven fired U.S. attorneys?
I interviewed all my colleagues and I had them review what I wrote for accuracy, so they were all happy with what I put down. This book is not a dry-policy book or a boring law review article. It’s a personal memoir when a scandal overtakes a group of tightly-knit prosecutors who understand what their duties were under the Constitution. This book is about speaking truth to power and the consequences of that. This book is a plea for the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney community to return to the historic practice of having independent U.S. attorneys who base their prosecutive decisions on the evidence and on the law only.
Q: Have you gotten any feedback from former colleagues and anybody else within DOJ?
Yes. I’ve heard from some career federal prosecutors at Main Justice who ... have been extremely complimentary, saying that my description of the type of people that were flourishing under [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales is dead on the mark, in terms of there being a greater emphasis put on political purity than on prosecutive qualifications. I’ve also spoken with quite a few currently-serving U.S. attorneys and they’re telling me of…the uniform support that the current U.S. attorneys have of my [U.S. attorney] colleagues and me. I was glad to hear that because for the first few months after getting fired, it’s embarrassing. You don’t want to talk. We testified, obviously, very publicly and I wondered: Do my currently-serving colleagues get it? Do they understand what’s at stake here? I’m glad to report that, yes, they do. And yes, they support us.
Q: Going forward, do you think we'll see the end of the dispute over contempt citations and subpoenas?
We want to ensure that U.S. attorneys are independent and witnesses such as [Harriet] Miers, [Joshua] Bolten and [Karl] Rove are required to show up and testify. Now they may have privileges, but they just can’t ignore a congressional subpoena. That’s outrageous. [Former White House political affairs director] Sarah Taylor -- she did it the right way, which is similar to when you get a subpoena from a court. You don’t just ignore it and say, ‘I have privilege.’ You have to show up and tell the judge. You can answer the questions that don’t ask for privileged information and those that do, you state the basis of the privilege and the judge makes his ruling. That’s how it works, but for Rove, Miers, Bolten to say, ‘We don’t have to show up because it’s executive privilege’, it shows a disrespect for the rule of law.
Q: What have you heard about the joint Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of Inspector General investigation?
They’ve done one follow-up interview, a month or two ago, and as I understand it, they should be in the process of wrapping it up and actually writing the report. I think what’s taken so long is they keep finding more things to investigate.
There was just so much, unfortunately; so many allegations of misconduct that they just kept expanding their investigation.
Q: Do you believe we’ll see some sort of referrals out of this?
OPR is looking for professional, ethical lapses. OIG is looking for criminal violations. I support what [ex-U.S. Attorney] John McKay wrote in his Seattle law review article, which was published a month or two ago. He argued for the notion that a special counsel should be appointed to investigate and prosecute, if necessary. I think that’s a good idea.