News & Politics
WASHINGTON — Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities.
But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.
The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.
First, the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in Congress. Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading part.
“We will take the evidence where it leads us,” Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and a presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday. “We will not leave any stone unturned.”
It’s not for the pay that he’s defending the alleged mastermind of the Madrid train blasts.
By Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
April 11, 2007
MADRID — It is Friday night, the end of another week defending the most hated man in Spain, and attorney Endika Zulueta is slumped behind his desk.
Friends visit. Music floats from a stereo. A bottle of honeyed rum from the Canary Islands slowly empties.
The decision to defend a man accused of mass murder did not come easily. It weighs on Zulueta, in his rare still moments, when he agonizes over whether he can mount a convincing defense in Europe’s largest terrorism trial, and whether anyone will listen.
Two other attorneys appointed by the court to represent Egyptian national Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed quit. In a flood of reluctance and exhilaration, Zulueta agreed to take on the case, without pay, even though it may send him to the poorhouse and has earned him bad press and insults.
His client is accused of orchestrating the March 11, 2004, bombings of commuter trains in Madrid that killed nearly 200 people and wounded about 2,000 others, a tragedy that was to Spain what Sept. 11 is to the United States.