The Padilla Announcement Blame-Game

Friday was the last day of government service for Michael Horowitz, who has served as Chief of Staff for the Criminal Division for the last three and a half years.

He'll be joining the Washington office of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. But just consider that someone in a sensitive and supposedly political position was able to serve both the Clinton/Reno and Bush/Ashcroft departments! It says a lot about Horowitz's strengths that he could perform well for both.

Of course, it also speaks well for Criminal Division Chief Mike Chertoff that he had asked Horowitz to stay on. But even though Chertoff served as the bulldog chief counsel for former Sen. Al D'Amato's, R-N.Y., highly partisan Whitewater investigation a few years ago, in this office Chertoff is seen as much more prosecutorial than partisan.

And, as one official noted, Horowitz has been very good at the kind of handholding that the impatient and sometimes brusque Chertoff can't bring off — and, since Sept. 11, has not had the time for.

Not that Horowitz was merely a handholder; he was brought to the Criminal Division from the Southern District of New York by Reno's last Criminal Chief, Jim Robinson.

Robinson gave Horowitz wide discretion and he basically ran the division. Under the hands-on Chertoff, Horowitz reverted to a more traditional COS role, including serving as something of an "ombudsman" to the field. At Cadwalader he will be beefing up their white collar practice.

Matt Martens will be Chertoff's new chief of staff. He worked with Chertoff at Latham & Watkins and is regarded as very sharp. However, although he has trial experience, he's never been a prosecutor and is so young that one official asserted he has "underwear older than him."

But apparently to balance that youth and lack of prosecutorial experience, Chertoff is bringing back Dick Rogers to serve as deputy chief of staff. Rogers was Mike Shaheen's deputy in the Office of Professional Responsibility for years and years and most recently served on the staff of Judge Webster's commission on FBI security failings.

Leak Wars

FBI officials are variously exasperated and awestruck that the CIA managed to leak a story to the New York Times — played on the front page no less — about a promise it made to stop leaking.

It's an outgrowth of the blame game over who did or did not do more to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks. I have confirmed the central point, that Mueller after a briefing of the president, suggested a "truce" to Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin.

It's also variously amusing and confounding that the CIA still does not believe that the Newsweek piece that started the ruckus was not an FBI leak but rather a compilation from various sites, with a big boost from the usual suspect, the Hill.

CIA folks are apparently either too naïve or too guilty of leaking themselves to understand that the FBI rarely puts things out first — although they can be more than happy to confirm somebody else's leak.

Beverley Lumpkin has covered the Justice Department for 16 years for ABCNEWS. Halls of Justice appears every Saturday.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...