Bush Justice Department Admits To Pervasive
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File this under unbelievable script
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."
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
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, mediamatters.org, 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
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.
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
No, these are reports prepared from
within the Bush Department of Justice.
Attacking the messenger here won't
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,
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
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.
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
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:
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
Remember, these are supposed to be
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
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
"Heckuva job, Brownie,"
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
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.
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
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
Belittle the reporting?
That's a really common right-wing
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
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
[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?
On all three major networks, only 30
seconds for high level lawbreaking, as determined by the Bush administration's
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
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
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
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
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
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
Next tell them about the DOJ illegal
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.
Listener Email On Hannity, '08 Race / Helping
A Fellow Progressive
Partially hyperlinked to sources.
For all sources, see the data
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
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
Listen to this introduction by
Hannity of a day's topics:
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
"Who do you think you are? Kennedy?
You're a Bush! Act like
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
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
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
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 mediamatters.org.
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
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
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
So Nick is relocating to New York,
which will provide much more reasonable and extensive help for Nick.
He's raising funds for relocation
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 nickscrusade.org
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
Good luck, Nick!