Mistakes Made In Handling Of U.S. Prosecutors

Tuesday, March 13th 2007, 5:39 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledged that mistakes were made and accepted responsibility Tuesday for the way eight federal prosecutors were fired.

At a Justice Department news conference, Gonzales said he would find out why Congress was not told sooner that the White House was involved in discussions of who would be fired and when. He did not back away, however, from his stance that the dismissals that did take place were appropriate.

``I stand by the decision and I think it was the right decision,'' Gonzales said.

Democrats in Congress have charged that the eight dismissals announced last December were politically motivated and that some of those ousted have said they felt pressured by powerful Republicans in their home states to rush investigations of potential voter fraud involving Democrats.

Justice Department officials, led by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, told lawmakers under oath that the decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys in December was made solely by the Justice Department and said the decision was based on performance, not politics.

E-mails released Tuesday, however, revealed that the firings were considered and discussed for two years by Justice Department and White House officials.

``Obviously I am concerned about the fact that information _ incomplete information was communicated or may have been communicated to the Congress,'' Gonzales said. ``I believe very strongly in our obligation to ensure that when we provide information to the Congress, it is accurate and it is complete. And I very dismayed that that may not have occurred here.''

Gonzales earlier accepted the resignation of his top aide, Kyle Sampson. Authorities said that Sampson failed to brief other senior Justice Department officials of his discussions about the firings with then-White House counsel Harriet Miers.

E-mail correspondence between Sampson and Miers indicate they began two years ago to consider individual U.S. attorneys for possible dismissal. As the list took shape, their correspondence indicated possible political backlash from the attorneys and their congressional allies.