Firing Pretenses

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(Department of Justice conference room, sometime in January 2007)

Paul McNulty: All right, we have to move quickly on this. We’ve got to put something out there right away about firing these eight attorneys, so don’t get hung up on consistency, but everyone has to stick to the story.

Kyle Sampson: I’m still worried they’re going to start talking to the press and cause us problems. This could look pretty bad.

Monica Goodling: Are we allowed to cut out their vocal cords?

William Moschella: That’s an interesting question. John Yoo has written a memo arguing that the law doesn’t explicitly say vocal cords can’t be cut out. But you have to worry about blowback because of the lack of precedent.

Kyle Sampson: I feel funny bringing this up, but when we were all around the Ouija Board, sometimes it felt like Alberto was pushing the planchette toward the letters. Like it was really him spelling out the names instead of Reagan. I also peeked once and he didn’t have his eyes closed like we were all supposed to.

Paul McNulty: Regardless, this process allows the A.G. to state truthfully that the list was compiled — not by any actual person — and he simply approved it. You just aggregated the names and presented them for him to sign off on. But as I mentioned, the process is a little too faith-based for some Americans, so we’re better off finding some common trait among them that we can hang this on.

Kyle Sampson: You could make the connection that most of the attorneys are in border states, and DOJ is unhappy with immigration prosecution. Mexicans settling illegally in New Mexico, Arizona, and San Diego. Canadians coming into Washington state and Michigan. Mormons from Utah sneaking into Nevada, and heterosexual Hawaiians coming into San Francisco.

Monica Goodling: No, look, I have something more compelling. I plotted the districts of all the attorneys in the Western states on a map. If you draw a line from the New Mexico district through the one in Nevada, and then up to Seattle, and then draw a second line from New Mexico through Arizona, San Diego, and San Francisco up to Seattle, you end up with a crescent shape. One of the symbols of Islam. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening —

Paul McNulty: Monica —

Kyle Sampson: What about Arkansas and Michigan? You left them out.

Michael Elston: I think we’re covered there. The Michigan woman did not aggressively prosecute jaywalkers. The Arkansas guy has credit card debt, according to paper we fished out of his trash.

Kyle Sampson: Speaking of Cummins, the Arkansas guy, that situation is very delicate and will be scrutinized to death because of Hillary’s run in ’08, but let me bounce something off you. I rented this movie, The Manchurian Candidate, the other night, and I was wondering whether we had a true Bushie all prepped and…wait, why are you all…Okay, forget I brought it up.

William Moschella: Let’s forget DOJ for a second. What about DOD? I thought they had technology that would bail us out of this.

Paul McNulty: No luck. My contact over in DARPA says the time machine is bollixed. They steered the contract to a big RNC donor in Alabama, who, it turns out, just makes vending machines.

William Moschella: Can we assume they invent it at some point and have already gone back and fixed our problem?

Paul McNulty: These are government personnel.

Michael Elston: Where’s Karl, by the way? Shouldn’t he be here?

Monica Goodling: They’re resurfacing the tunnel that leads from the White House to our basement. He can’t get through.

Paul McNulty: Can’t he just come above ground?

Monica Goodling: The sunlight…he can’t…

Paul McNulty: Oh, right. (Sighs.) Look, we can’t waste any more time on this. I’m going with Monica’s idea. It has an elegance that may distract enough people to buy us time. Just 18 months to go. Okay, we’re officially finished discussing this. Will someone go out into the hall and tell Alberto he can come back in?

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