"...Trying to... buy my silence..."

I ran across this weird little story, about a statement fired U.S. Attorney John McKay provided to Congress in advance of his testimony there today, and didn't want to let it slip through the cracks:

WASHINGTON -- As the Justice Department struggled in January to suppress embarrassing stories about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, John McKay received an unsolicited telephone call from a senior official named Michael Elston.

It was a strained conversation, according to a written account McKay provided to the House Judiciary Committee that was released Wednesday in advance of a hearing Thursday. According to McKay, Elston, who was chief of staff to the deputy attorney general, advised him in a "sinister" voice to simply repeat public statements from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales when asked about his firing or face serious consequences.

"I greatly resented what I felt Mr. Elston was trying to do: buy my silence by promising that the attorney general would not demean me in his Senate testimony," said McKay, who was fired as the chief federal prosecutor for Western Washington in December. He did not leave office, however, until Jan. 26.

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Writing my congresspersons (about NASA); asking for help

So I've just written a letter to my congresspersons. I've never done this before and so was wondering if I could ask the MyDD community for help or advice in writing it.

The letter is about a really, really arcane issue-- a specific NASA program called Beyond Einstein which is being mostly dismantled due to shifts in budget priorities, and which in my opinion is important to keep alive. I'm not sure most of Congress would even know this program exists (hence my wishful hope that the letter would somehow manage to break through the wall of interns and bring the program's existence to someone's attention).

The letter is below the fold. Could I possibly get some feedback on it? Is the form good, is it easy to read? Do I make any common mistakes, is there anything I can do to make it more likely the letter will be read and understood? Is it too long? I tried to keep it as brief and succinct as possible but it's still over one page (the letter, printed, fits exactly on one two-sided piece of paper). Any advice would be appreciated.


(I'm planning on sending the letter to my house rep; to Nancy Pelosi whose district is near mine; to both California senators; to the two California reps on the House Science committee; and to the head of the House Science committee. The version below the fold is the one I'm sending to Pelosi, and I'm only planning to change the first paragraph for each copy I send out.)

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Bill Clinton denounces use of military option against Iran

In response to an audience question after a talk in Kansas, Bill Clinton has come out against attacking Iran:

MANHATTAN, Kan. Mar 2, 2007 (AP)-- Former President Bill Clinton said Friday sanctions against Iran were working better than people think and questioned whether a military strike would work to end its nuclear program. He argued that two-thirds of Iran's population wants a moderate government and that sanctions could have some influence on the nation's powerful clerics.

"We may not have to go to war, and we may not have a disaster," he told about 9,000 gathered at Kansas State University. "You need to talk to everybody before you bomb them. In other words, if you're going to fight with somebody I don't care what you don't have in common you should talk first." ...

"We should be talking to the Iranians," Clinton said. "Attacking them is a whole different kettle of fish."

In saying this, Mr. Clinton has gone on the record against war against Iran in much stronger terms than many or most of the Democratic Presidential candidates, including Mr. Clinton's wife.

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Dismissed U.S. attorneys to testify before Congress

As a followup to the news, recently discussed on MyDD, that eight U.S. attorneys had been suddenly dismissed from the Justice Department under strange circumstances (at least seven of the eight were fired despite positive job reviews, three of eight were involved in corruption cases involving GOP congresspersons), you may find this interesting to learn:

A House Judiciary subcommittee voted Thursday to issue subpoenas requiring testimony from four of the eight United States attorneys recently dismissed by the Justice Department.

The vote followed remarks this week in which one of the four, David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, said he believed that the motives for his ouster had been political. He and the three others subpoenaed -- H. E. Cummins III of Arkansas, John McKay of Seattle and Carol C. Lam of San Diego -- were chosen to give testimony because the circumstances of their dismissal are thought to be representative of those surrounding the removal of all eight, Congressional officials say.

The subpoenas order the four to testify at a hearing of the House subcommittee on Tuesday.

Even if nothing comes of this, it's good to see that long-missing Congressional oversight function is working again.

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