Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, May 20, 2005

McDevitt's Recusal

The Spokesman Review is reporting that the entire office of the US Attorney (USA) for the Eastern District of Washington is being removed from any involvement in the federal investigation of Spokane Mayor James West. Under the headline U.S. attorney to recuse himself, staff writer Bill Morlin said that a special prosecutor would be named to supervise the possible public corruption investigation. In the subhead, the article noted that the recusal had been requested by USA James McDevitt.

It is important to understand that this type of recusal is appropriate and anticipated. In no way does it suggest that USA McDevitt or any of his staff has done anything improper. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) recognizes that in performing their duties, its USAs necessarily will socialize and develop professional associations with local elected officials, officials who could become the target of public corruption investigations. Consequently, the DoJ has the processes in place to appoint special prosecutors when the local USA ethically and appropriately requests his office be recused.

A very good and readable explanation of the DoJ's rationale can be found in the Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section for 2002 on pages 1 and 2 under the heading "1. Recusals by United States Attorneys' Offices."

Thus, while the USA's Office recusal in the West investigation is newsworthy, it is hardly earthshaking.


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