Thursday, March 22, 2007 | 7:08 a.m.
WASHINGTON - Republican Sen. John Ensign said Wednesday the firing of Nevada's U.S. attorney "was just part of the incompetence" of the Justice Department, whose handling of the dismissal of eight attorneys now threatens to cost Attorney General Alberto Gonzales his job.
Ensign continued to stand by Gonzales, but said Justice officials' failure to lay out a clear case for firing Bogden within 3,000 pages of documents shows "they let him go for the wrong reasons.
"The e-mails and the documents point out that they blew it," he told Nevada reporters. "There was no documentation. There wasn't anything there.
"I just think it was part of the incompetence of what happened with regard to Dan Bogden."
But Ensign also said that it sounds to him as if "most of the other U.S. attorneys ... were let go for the right reasons."
Ensign remains committed to finding a position for Bogden and said Wednesday "negotiations have been going well." He declined to elaborate.
Bogden was being considered for an immigration judgeship shortly after he was fired Dec. 7, but declined, according to e-mails and reports.
That job would be demeaning to an attorney of Bogden's level, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday.
"Usually the people who take those are people who are relatively inexperienced in the law," Reid told Nevada reporters. "I would bet you he's not real excited about being an immigration judge. I'm sure he would be a good District Court judge or in the state courts."
Reid repeated his assessment of last week that Gonzales will be dismissed.
"It's only a matter of time," Reid said. "Gonzales is history. He can't survive.
"We only have to look at Dan Bogden to see how this man was jerked around, then to see him insulted by saying he could be an immigration law judge. This is demeaning to a man of his caliber."
The one criticism of Bogden that surfaced in the e-mails, that he had failed to pursue an adult obscenity case, was rejected by Ensign. The senator sided with Bogden, who said he needed more manpower to prosecute the case. "He's been trying to argue for more resources," Ensign said.
Gonzales is fighting for his job as Congress reels from being misled over the reasons behind the Justice Department's unprecedented decision to fire eight attorneys last year. Officials first said they were let go mostly for performance reasons, then backtracked. Bogden, they said, was fired to bring in new energy.
Ensign would not say whether Steven Myhre, who is serving as acting U.S. attorney since Bogden stepped down last month, is being interviewed for the job.
Myhre said, "It would be inappropriate for me to comment, because it would be disruptive to the process." He said he had no immediate plans to come to Washington to discuss the job.
Sun reporter Sam Skolnik contributed to this report.