Transcript #130-1

Bush Justice Department Admits To Pervasive Lawbreaking


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



File this under unbelievable script scenarios:


You're in the White House and wander into a conference room.  No one notices you in the back.  So you decide to stick around and listen to what's going on.  You see a notation on the blackboard that this is a seminar called "The Thorough Process of Investigation."


Sounds reasonable.  If you're going to investigate, might as well be thorough about it.


But then, your jaw drops.  The instructor is explaining how you need to search a job applicant's background for important terms like "Florida recount," "guns," "abortion" and "homosexual."




Maybe now you turn to Blast The Right to explain what's going on!


Here's the scoop for you:


Sources you'll hear in this segment include: the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times,, USA Today, and the Washington Post.


The federal Department of Justice has an Inspector General as well as an Office of Professional Responsibility.  They've undertaken a series of  investigations examining how Bush DOJ political appointees handled hiring and enforcement.


The investigations, in short, are asking whether the Bushians have politicized the Justice Department in an illegal manner.


Unless you've been paying real close attention to the news, you wouldn't have seen that this summer the first two of these reports came out.


Both studies condemned the Bushians for overly politicizing the Justice Department.  In many cases, laws and DOJ regulations were broken.


Now you've got to remember.  These aren't reports from a left-wing think tank or the opinions of a loony left columnist.  Were such the case, right-wingers could and would certainly label them suspect, given the source.


No, these are reports prepared from within the Bush Department of Justice.


Attacking the messenger here won't work.


You may be wondering, aren't appointments like Attorney General supposed to be political?


Yes, with certain positions it's perfectly ok to take political views of the appointee into account.


But political appointees are a very small part of the DOJ's some 110,000 employees.


What you're going to hear about involves the filling of positions that are supposed to be non-political, non-partisan.


Let's take the two reports in order.


The first report deals with an honors hiring program for young attorneys.  Senior career officials at the Justice Department had traditionally been in charge.


Making non-partisan choices based on merit.


But in 2002, then Attorney General John Ashcroft decided to change all that.  He transferred final say about who would be hired to his senior aides.  Who are of course political appointees.  Right-wingers.


You remember Ashcroft, don't you?  The guy who was reportedly made uncomfortable by the exposed breast of a Spirit of Justice statue at the DOJ.  So the statue was covered up with a blue drape.


If Ashcroft were an official at the Louvre, he'd probably put a pair of underpants on Michelangelo's David.


Anyway, email messages showed that Ashcroft's aides rejected applicants for offenses such as “leftist commentary” or "use of buzz words like ‘environmental justice’ and ‘social justice."  You also likely wouldn't be hired if you were a member of progressive groups like Greenpeace.


One rejected candidate from Harvard Law School worked for Planned Parenthood. Another wrote opinion pieces critical of the USA Patriot Act and the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. A third applicant worked for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and posted an unflattering cartoon of President Bush on his MySpace page.

These are just the kind of investigative criteria taught at that White House seminar you heard about at the beginning of today's show.


This blatant partisan hiring became on open secret:


One Harvard Law School graduate said that when he applied for the honors program a few years ago he was warned by professors and fellow students to remove any liberal affiliations from his résumé.

The upshot is, job applicants identified as Democrats or liberals were rejected at a significantly higher rate than applicants who were Republican or conservative.


The American Constitution Society is a liberal group.  In 2002, all 7 out of 7 applicants who were members were rejected. 


The Federalist Society is a hard right group.  27 out of 29 of its members were hired.


Similarly, 2/3 of those with Democratic Party ties were rejected.  9 out of 10 Republicans were hired.


Ok, that's the first report.  Get the picture?


The second Justice Department internal report found even more evidence of prejudiced hiring.  And this time it was for senior, not entry level positions.  This included assistant US attorneys -- who are federal prosecutors, immigration judges, and even senior counterterrorism positions.


Bush Texas crony Alberto Gonzales succeeded John Ashcroft as Attorney General.


One of Gonzales' top aides was Monica Goodling.  She comes in for extended condemnation.


Remember, these are supposed to be non-political positions.


Yet Goodling's standard operating procedure was to ask a batch of questions about applicant's political philosophies and views on various hot button issues.


Her interview notes would then give a quick assessment.  For example,


…a Republican lawyer received high marks at his job interview because he was found to be sufficiently conservative on the core issues of “god, guns + gays.”

Another attorney was praised as "pro-God in public life" and "pro-marriage, anti-civil union."  This lawyer was hired as a career prosecutor.


Goodling rejected the hiring of a female prosecutor because Goodling believed she was having a lesbian affair with her supervisor.


Here's the most amazing one:


There was a career terrorism prosecutor who had very positive reviews from his supervisors.  But Goodling blocked his appointment to a post because his wife was active in Democratic politics. 


Who was hired instead? 


A lawyer with Republican leanings.  Who had no counterterrorism experience.  Whom department officials considered unqualified.


Unqualified, yet they hired him anyway.


"Heckuva job, Brownie," redux?


Unbelievable, huh?


In the face of partisan prejudices, even the sacred War on Terror be damned.


Next up: you'll see how these right-wingers try to wriggle out of it when caught red-handed.   Stay tuned.



How do right-wingers plan to get away with their illegal political tests for non-partisan positions?


Oh, the usual.


Tell some lies, play down what they've done, belittle the reporting on the issue.


Lies.  A rejected applicant sued the DOJ.  A department attorney defending the lawsuit sought information from our friend Monica Goodling.  She "provided inaccurate information" to him.


In another instance, a reporter asked a DOJ official about politicized hiring.  That official whipped up a statement for the reporter that the official "knew to be inaccurate."


Play down what you've done?


Monica Goodling testified before Congress in May 2007.  She said she may have "crossed the line" sometimes by using politics in her hiring evaluations.  As we've seen, using political criteria was what she did all the time, her SOP.  It was systematic.


There's talk now of investigating her for perjury.


Belittle the reporting?


That's a really common right-wing tactic. 


When the second DOJ report came out, that's the one with the revelation about the unqualified but Republican lawyer being appointed to the counterterrorism position instead of the highly qualified but Democratic attorney, when that report came out Tony Fratto, speaking for the White House, said:


There really is not a lot new here.

How many times have you heard this one, even in the face of bombshell revelations?



Even internal protests within the Justice Department didn't deter the right-wingers overall.


DOJ officials complained about the influence of Monica Goodling and other political appointees.  The officials explicitly charged that such  irrational hiring decisions had to be based on improper political litmus tests.


In one case, complaints from below were able to save the applicant:


Ms. Goodling slowed the hiring of a prosecutor in the United States attorney’s office in Washington D.C. for a vacancy because she said she was concerned that he was a “liberal Democrat.” After the United States attorney, Jeffrey Taylor, complained to her supervisors, he was allowed to hire the candidate anyway.

But not very often.  This politicization was so rampant, that besides damage to the applicants themselves, and the hiring of incompetents, in some cases jobs were just not covered:


[I]n the hiring of immigration judges…vacancies were allowed to go unfilled — and a backlog of deportation cases grew — while Mr. Gonzales’s aides looked for conservative lawyers to fill what were supposed to be apolitical jobs.

And of course, the credibility of the entire DOJ suffers from such blatant, continued lawbreaking within it.



Now, you probably haven't heard much in the corporate owned media about these two reports.


How much coverage did they get? 


After all, how often is it that an internal investigation within the nation's highest law enforcement agency finds that its own top officials were breaking the law?


Should be a pretty big story, no?


As right-wingers never tire of telling us, the mainstream media are all liberal.  The network newscasts are all anti-Bush, rooting for Democrats.


So how much coverage did the three nightly newscasts give these reports?


Probably a ton, right?




CBS and NBC completely ignored both reports.  ABC gave less than 30 seconds to the second report.


On all three major networks, only 30 seconds for high level lawbreaking, as determined by the Bush administration's own officials.



Has the thought crossed your mind, what'll happen to these lawbreakers?


Unfortunately, probably not much.


Apparently if someone violates federal Civil Service laws and DOJ internal policies, such wrongdoing generally can't be prosecuted under criminal statutes.


And since all but one of the officials involved has left the DOJ, internal disciplinary procedures aren't available.


That one official who gave the reporter a statement he knew was inaccurate, he's the only one left, and he alone might face internal DOJ procedures.


Bush's present Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, has ruled out criminal charges based on anything in these first two reports.


He told the American Bar Association:


Where there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, we vigorously investigate it. And where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute.

But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.

There is still the possibility that Monica Goodling and others could face penalties up to disbarment from their local bar associations.


There has been talk of perjury charges for Goodling and others.


And, the Justice Department is facing a lawsuit by a rejected applicant.  He's seeking to establish a class action on behalf of all improperly rejected applicants.  I don't think this legal action would reach the individual wrongdoers, however.



To close, let's note that as good as these reports were, they only went so far.


There are unanswered questions about where the ultimate trail leads.


Would an underling like Monica Goodling violate the law so openly unless she knew she had he explicit support of her boss, Attorney General Gonzales?


What about top White House officials like Karl Rove and Harriet Miers?  Miers was the former White House counsel.


What role did they play?


Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said that because we don't know the answers to these questions, Mukasey's no prosecutions remark was "premature."


I'm not holding my breath in this improper hiring arena.


But keep in mind, like I indicated at the beginning of the show, these two reports were part of a series of investigations: 


The inspector general is continuing to investigate other issues related to accusations of politicization at the Justice Department, including the central question of why at least eight United States attorneys were fired in late 2006 in a scandal that forced the resignation of then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

The attorney firings are where the rubber may really meet the road.


In the meantime, I thought you should know about this yet additional example of the pervasive lawlessness of these right-wingers.


And how brazen they are, about it.


You might ask your own friendly local right-winger about whether the rule of law is important.


You'll get an enthusiastic yes answer.


Next tell them about the DOJ illegal hiring practices.


Then you may well be able to watch with bemusement as your friendly local right-winger starts to make excuses.


Rule of law?  Meaningless to those for whom ideology trumps all, for those who don't believe in government, except as a mechanism to enrich themselves.


Damaging the integrity of the Justice Department, so what?


The worse government appears, the more you can shrink the government without the populace protesting.


So the right wing is all too happy to muck up the workings of government real good.


All the more evidence they can offer, when arguing for small government.


For a small government really means, a government unable to protect the average citizen, from the predatory practices of these very right wingers.




Transcript #130-2

Listener Email On Hannity, '08 Race / Helping A Fellow Progressive


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



Ok, now for some listener email, and some listener news.


First up, Greg from Gainesville, FL had something interesting to report.


Greg, you wrote:


I listen to your show [and] Air America's Thom Hartman during the day while at work, but just to mix it up a little, I listen Sean "No Brains" Hannity on my drive home.

Lately, he has been getting a lot of callers saying that while they voted for Bush twice, they can not bring themselves to vote for McCain and continue with 4 more years of this insanity.

Then they go on to say that they will be voting for Obama.

Sean tries his best to thwart their decision with his jaded facts but these people have finally seen the light and are not budging from their decision to support Obama.

It was only a matter of time, unfortunately too much time for most of us, that these people are coming to their senses.

I hope what you're reporting is a widespread phenomenon, Greg.


I don't listen to Hannity's radio show, but I do watch Hannity & Colmes every night.  And I've noticed that lately, there's not even a pretense of being fair and balanced.


Listen to this introduction by Hannity of a day's topics:


audio: Hannity

Tonight on Hannity and Colmes...Virginia governor Tim Cain rumored to be the VP frontrunner for Barack Obama.  But who is this guy?  An old political rival spills the dirt!

Vets attack Obama for not visiting the troops.  Black Hawk Down!  Pilot Michael Durant explains why.

(Movie snippet)  "Who do you think you are?  Kennedy?  You're a Bush!  Act like one!" 

(Fox voice:)  And Oliver Stone releases his trailer for W.  Let's just say conservatives will give it a huge thumbs down!

All of that plus--are people finally recognizing the media-Obama love fest? 

Hey, there's just one place to see it all--Hannity & Colmes starts right here, right now! 



Bash an Obama possible VP pick.


Bash Obama himself.


Bash an anti-Bush movie


And then bash the media for favoring Obama


Do you see a pattern here?


Maybe this blatant imbalance in topics -- I guess there's nothing negative anyone could debate about John McCain -- I guess this blatant imbalance in what's being discussed is a sign that the right knows it's got to pull out all the stops if McCain's going to have a chance.


They're willing to take the criticism about a widely unbalanced topic list.



Ok, next is what a listener named Nietz wrote to me.  He was commenting on my recent segment about debunking the right-wing lie -- oft-repeated by the aforementioned Sean Hannity -- that Obama is going to raise taxes on the average American.


I had pointed out, that only if someone earns more than $250,000 a year, would their taxes go up under Obama's plan.  That applies to income tax, taxes on dividends and capital gains, and the payroll tax.


Only the most well-off 3% of Americans earn more than $250,000 a year.


So, I concluded in the podcast, 97% of Americans wouldn't see a tax hike under an Obama administration.


All this according to the New York Times, and


Nietz, you wrote to me that


I think most people receive…tax CUTS under Obama's plan - they don't just avoid tax hikes.

That's a very good point, which if I didn't make, or emphasize enough, I will now.


Obama's economic plan on his website calls for tax credits that will provide individuals up to a $500 credit, families $1000.  Senior citizens would pay no taxes on income under $50,000.


So, you can say, that not only will Obama not raise taxes on most Americans, as right-wingers claim, but that right-wingers are proving the validity of the Blast The Right dictum, that whatever a right-winger says, the opposite is true.


Obama will not raise taxes on most Americans, he will lower them.


McCain, on the other hand, since he wants to make Bush's tax cuts permanent, will continue disproportionate tax cuts for the wealthy.



Now onto the last item, and an important one:


I've had the pleasure of corresponding with a listener named Nick Dupree.


He's a fierce advocate for the progressive cause, and super intelligent.


The situation is, Nick uses a wheelchair, depends on a ventilator to breathe, and types with a single thumb on a roller ball.

Nick lives in Alabama, and undertook a successful crusade to improve that state's Medicaid assistance for people like Nick.


NPR did a story on his efforts.


Now, Medicaid benefits are determined state by state, and Alabama still doesn't have what it takes for Nick to lead a decent life.


So Nick is relocating to New York, which will provide much more reasonable and extensive help for Nick.


He's raising funds for relocation expenses.


He says he needs a minimum of $3000.


I've sent Nick a contribution, and I hope you will as well.


Every little bit will help.


You can go to for more info and to donate.


You can also check his Wikipedia profile. Nick Dupree, D-u-p-r-e-e.


The link to the 5 minute NPR segment is there as well.


Let's get Nick back in the advocacy mode.  We need his strong voice on our side.


Good luck, Nick!


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