In October 2001, just a month after 9/11, the assistant US attorney in Seattle was murdered. The murder remains unsolved; the FBI continues to maintain a web page -- artist's sketch of alleged killer and more -- describing the death of assistant US attorney, Tom Wales.
On the night of October 11, 2001, at approximately 10:40 p.m., Thomas Crane Wales was killed in his home in Seattle, Washington. Wales worked for the Western District of Washington as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for over 18 years, prosecuting white collar crime cases on behalf of the United States of America. The shooter stood in the backyard of AUSA Wales' home and shot him several times through a basement window as he sat at his desk typing on his computer. It has been reported that a lone male suspect was seen fleeing the scene. Wales died at a hospital the next day.
"Prosecuting white collar crime cases." Okay?
Today Dan Eggen has a piece in the Washington Post about the dismissal of US attorney John McKay who would have been Tom Wales' boss. McKay pursued the Wales murder diligently, as did the FBI, against the wishes of the Justice Department.
A U.S. attorney in Seattle was singled out for dismissal in part because he clashed with senior Justice Department officials over the investigation of a federal prosecutor's murder, and he was recommended for removal 18 months earlier than was previously known, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews.
D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, told congressional investigators that he believes he may have recommended former U.S. attorney John McKay's removal in March 2005 because of conflicts with senior Justice officials over the investigation of the 2001 murder of federal prosecutor Tom Wales, according to congressional aides and Sampson's attorney.
Former Seattle prosecutor McKay is angry at the apparent use of the Tom Wales case as a pretext for firing him.
"The idea that I was pushing too hard to investigate the assassination of a federal prosecutor -- it's mind-numbing" that they would suggest that, McKay said. " . . . If it's true, it's just immoral, and if it's false, then the idea that they would use the death of Tom Wales to cover up what they did is just unconscionable."
Meanwhile, congressional investigators pursue the matter of the dismissals of eight US attorneys around the country, it becomes clearer that the White House played an important role in the decision to fire McKay. Apparently there was another -- a political -- reason to get rid of McKay.
The new McKay information, which became public this week, shows that he was recommended for dismissal in March 2005, just four months after a disputed gubernatorial election in Washington state. Republicans there complained about McKay's decision not to file charges of voter fraud because of a lack of evidence.
It looks as though efforts were made to fudge the date of what appears in fact to be a purely political decision to fire the Seattle USA. Or is it more complicated than that? You have to wonder whether the FBI may believe that it is. Certainly there is something odd about the pressure exerted by the Department of Justice to stop McKay's office from spending time on the murder of Tom Wales. Tom Wales was, let's remember, prosecuting white collar crime.
Charles Mandigo, who at the time of Wales's murder was special agent in charge of Seattle's FBI office, recalled that McKay, his staff and FBI agents all felt "a little bit neglected" because they did not receive the support they expected for the Wales murder investigation.
McKay's advocacy for the investigation was never "more than normal interplay," said Mandigo, who retired in 2003. "Did he push it? Yeah, he pushed it. Was he ardent? Yeah, he was ardent about it, and I think he should have been."
No Justice official traveled from Washington for Wales's memorial service...