MORE THAN EIGHT….The Washington Post reports today that the scope of Purgegate was much wider than anyone has admitted:

The Justice Department considered dismissing many more U.S. attorneys than officials have previously acknowledged, with at least 26 prosecutors suggested for termination between February 2005 and December 2006, according to sources familiar with documents withheld from the public.

….The number of names on the lists demonstrates the breadth of the search for prosecutors to dismiss. The names also hint at a casual process in which the people who were most consistently considered for replacement were not always those ultimately told to leave.

….Sources who have examined or been briefed on the full records identified at least 26 names, including the nine prosecutors fired last year and another, Karl K. “Kasey” Warner of Charleston, W.Va., who was dismissed in August 2005. The remaining 16 include three who resigned from their posts after appearing on one or more lists.

We already know that the first cut at Purgegate, back before cooler heads prevailed, was a suggestion that DOJ fire all the U.S. Attorneys and start the new term with a clean slate. So in a way, it’s hardly surprising that the original list of potential firees was larger than eight.

But, you know, a whole bunch of DOJ employees, up to and including the Attorney General, have testified repeatedly under oath about this whole process, and with their hands on a Bible they’ve all managed to forget to testify that there were a couple dozen people who flitted on and off the purge list over the course of a year.

And that, of course, takes us back to the central mystery: what the hell were the criteria these guys were using for putting prosecutors on the purge list and then taking them off? Were there any? Was it partisan hackery? “Voting fraud” obsession? Monica Goodling’s gut feel after chatting up a few of her buddies? Or what? I mean, I’ve seen league softball teams that seemed to have a more coherent approach to figuring out their Saturday afternoon lineup than these guys did to figuring out who should be America’s front line in the war on crime. It’s like they were all children trying out a shiny new toy.

So: back to the witness stand for all of them! They do work for the Department of Justice, after all. It seems like they could use a wee reminder of what “the whole truth” actually means.