AG Gonzales: Attorney Was Fired Over Obscenity Case Commitment

Anne Winter
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales explained the reasoning behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in December, after undergoing intense questioning by several U.S. senators during today's congressional hearing — and confirmed that Daniel Bogden of Nevada was fired over concerns regarding his commitment to pursuing obscenity cases.

Gonzales was summoned by the Senate Judiciary Committee today for a day-long hearing over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in December. Gonzales has maintained his belief that "nothing improper occurred" and that the attorneys were fired for "performance-related" reasons. It appears some of these reasons may have in fact been related to policy issues.

Gonzales told the court that he had concerns regarding Bogden's "level of energy" and commitment to the pursuit of obscenity cases, adding that the decision was Gonzales' "closest call."

Documents show that there was hesitation to fire him because he may have had trouble finding a new job. According to media reports, Gonzales' former chief of staff later confirmed to Congress that Bogden was unmarried, and the decision was made.

"At the end of the day," Gonzales said, "we felt it was the right decision."

Another attorney in question was Paul Charlton of Arizona for his role in the JM Productions obscenity trial. A motion to dismiss obscenity charges against a distributor of four JM titles argued that the U.S. government had overseen the sale of the titles in question, and therefore an obscenity case could not be brought to trial.

Gonzales said that Charlton had fallen out of favor with Justice Department officials after arguing to reconsider the decision of a capital murder case; however, emails later released to Congress reveal that this wasn't in fact why Charlton was given the boot. Most concerning to the Judiciary Committee is that the emails seem to imply that officials had been seeking a reasonable explanation for purging Charlton after they already made their final decision to fire him.