Fired McKay being treated unfairly, Reichert says
Rep. Dave Reichert has come to the defense of fired U.S. Attorney John McKay, whom he praised for pushing the federal government to work...
Seattle Times Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — Rep. Dave Reichert has come to the defense of fired U.S. Attorney John McKay, whom he praised for pushing the federal government to work more closely with law enforcement in the Seattle area.
"It doesn't seem to me that John's being treated fairly," Reichert, R-Auburn, said Tuesday.
He suggested the Justice Department reinstate McKay as U.S. attorney while the agency and Congress investigate "why they fired him."
Reichert said he was particularly concerned about reports that McKay was ousted partly because he championed the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX) system.
McKay chaired the U.S. attorney general's advisory committee on the program, which shares information among law-enforcement agencies.
"John made it a true partnership with local law enforcement," said Reichert, a former King County sheriff. "John was advocating for us. I'm not sure that's where his bosses in D.C. were coming from."
LInX is a Web-based system that allows officers to quickly obtain background information on people, weapons, vehicles, addresses and crimes from numerous jurisdictions — information not previously readily accessible.
A Justice Department official testified at a congressional hearing this month that policy differences between McKay and his supervisors over LInX played a role in his firing.
McKay doesn't buy it. "They didn't fire me over that," he said Tuesday.
But Justice Department documents released Monday night show that Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty was angry with McKay and 16 other U.S. attorneys for sending a letter last August about the LInX program.
The letter's writers asked the Justice Department to overcome delays in funding for the program and also wanted the department to cement partnerships with the departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
"I don't know what their issue is," Reichert said of the Justice Department. "They were the ones who asked John to move this program forward in the first place."
McKay was asked by McNulty's predecessor to lead a pilot program for LInX in April 2005. McNulty later asked McKay to head the attorney general's advisory committee on information sharing, which included LInX.
"I was carrying out department policy," McKay said. "I wasn't some rogue prosecutor off on my own."
Federal law-enforcement agencies have been criticized for not sharing information with local agencies. But McKay encouraged a change in approach, and succeeded to some degree, Reichert said.
"He was a breath of fresh air, active, sincere about developing a relationship" with local agencies, Reichert said.
Times reporter David Bowermaster contributed to this report.
Alicia Mundy: 202-662-7457 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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