Archive for Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Report cites illegal Justice hirings

July 29, 2008

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— For nearly two years, a young political aide sought to cultivate a "farm system" for Republicans at the Justice Department, hiring scores of prosecutors and immigration judges who espoused conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices.

That aide, Monica Goodling, exercised what amounted to veto power over a wide range of critical jobs, asking candidates for their views on abortion and same-sex marriage and maneuvering around senior officials who outranked her, including the department's second-in-command.

An extensive report by the department's Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility concluded Monday that Goodling and others had broken civil service laws, run afoul of department policy and engaged in "misconduct," a finding that could expose them to further scrutiny and sanctions. The report depicted Goodling as a central figure in politicizing employment decisions at Justice during the Bush administration.

Goodling declined to cooperate with investigators, who instead interviewed 85 witnesses and scoured documents and computer hard drives to prepare their report. Last year, she trembled as she told the House Judiciary Committee that she "crossed the line" by asking improper questions of job seekers to gauge their political leanings.

But the report and accounts from lawyers who worked alongside Goodling, 34, at Justice provide a far more extensive examination of her dominance during her time as the department's White House liaison and counselor to the attorney general. Thirty-four candidates told investigators that Goodling or one of her deputies raised the topic of abortion in job interviews and 21 said they discussed same-sex marriage, the report said. Another job applicant said he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, only to watch Goodling "frown" and respond, "But she's pro-choice."

The 140-page report appeared to confirm the suspicions of congressional Democrats and raised fresh questions about the reputation of the Justice Department, which has been roiled since the resignations of more than a dozen top officials last year, including Goodling, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Gonzales chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson. The report also found that Sampson had engaged in misconduct by systematically involving politics in the hiring of immigration judges.

Comments

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

Satirical, et al:With this report it is ESTABLISHED that this woman politicized the Department of Justice. This is not, as cato slyly states, "if what is alleged about Ms. Goodling is true..." Moreover this finding does not occur in a vacuum, but instead substantiates the claims made by those attorneys fired in the US Attorney scandal. Their allegations are that they were fired for making or failing to make prosecutorial decision based on political considerations. They were Republican appointees who stood up and blew the whistle on what was going on, and the ususal apoligists on these boards and across the country claimed that, well, "they cannot be believed, they are disgruntled employees, etc." Well, this report substantiates their claims, in my opinion, and should be force each of us to confront the horrible miscarriage of justice that we have permitted under this most corrupt and unethical administration. And here is what is even scarier - in the witch hunt that the bush administration engaged in, we know which US Attorneys were thrown out of office and we have their allegations on what they were asked to do & what they refused to do. What we do not yet know, if what those US Attorneys who retained their jobs were asked to do and whether there are abuses that have not yet been revealed. God help this country and please pray that we survive until this evil administration is replaced.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

Satirical:Ewwwwwwwww, why would I ever want to live in JoCo? Too many rethugs for my liking.

beatrice 7 years, 1 month ago

Cato, let me see if I get this correct -- the thing that bothers you about this whole issue isn't that the law was broken, but that Democrats went after them for breaking the law. Is that it? Holy crap, if somebody working for the government is breaking the law -- make them stop and then prosecute! I don't care what party it is! This "my party is right your party is scum who must die" stuff needs to end! ugh

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Not true, cato. There has been a long tradition at the Justice Dept that career professionals were hired based on their professional qualifications, not their political beliefs or affiliations. Sure, the top positions at Justice have always been political appointees, but this politicization of hiring career professionals is all BushCo.

ndmoderate 7 years, 1 month ago

Gee, what a surprise, coming from the Bush administration. I just wonder how much real justice will come down on the corrupt in the DOJ - I highly doubt Mukasey will touch this, given his attachment to W.

dumas 7 years, 1 month ago

I think what's really awful is it wasn't about being a Republican or a Democrat. They hired and selected based on people's personal views in hopes that would sway their decisions.Note: "Thirty-four candidates told investigators that Goodling or one of her deputies raised the topic of abortion in job interviews and 21 said they discussed same-sex marriage, the report said. Another job applicant said he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, only to watch Goodling 'frown' and respond, 'But she's pro-choice.'"Does it surprise me that the house is cleaned a bit when there's a change in administration. But the problem here really was that Goodling asked questions about personal views which have nothing to do with if a person is qualified for the job. And I suppose if other administrations in the past have done this as well ... at least they weren't arrogant enough to believe they wouldn't be caught at it.

Orwell 7 years, 1 month ago

Actually Cato is right in one sense: an Obama Justice Department won't be populated by incompetent ideological hacks from the Close-Cover-Before-Striking Institute of Jurisprudence.

beatrice 7 years, 1 month ago

cato, you do your country a diservice if you believe members of the party you prefer is incapable of wrong. Just stop it. This is a shortened version of a longer story that explains more fully Goodling's illegal job hirings. Check out the full story. This woman and many around her need to be disbarred at the very least.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Goodling didn't do this all on her own. This came from the top, and it's just one more reason that BushCo should face impeachment for trashing the constitution, among other things.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 1 month ago

While Goodling's own conduct may be subject to criticism, the notion lately pitched by some Democrats that "politics" has previously been nonexistent as a relevant factor in Justice Department hiring practices during prior Democrat and Republican administrations is simply absurd. It's an absolute certainty that an Obama Justice Department is not going to look like a McCain Justice Departrment, period, and anyone in Washington with any experience knows that. Whether it's the hiring practices themselves or the opposing Party's criticism of same, it's all politics, and it's not going to change any time soon.

beatrice 7 years, 1 month ago

Cato, it shouldn't matter to you if others have done similar things. Here is a case of our government breaking the law. This is never okay! This should make you angry. It is one thing to favor one party over another -- I certainly do -- but it shouldn't be a blind following of the party. This is wrong, I hope Goodling, whom insiders refered to as "She who must be obeyed," gets thrown in jail over this. Do you have any idea how many millions and millions this will likely cost us when lawyers and judges begin to sue the U.S. government for illegal hiring practices? This is just the beginning on this one, I'm afraid.Let us just hope that Bush doesn't give her a get out of jail free card before heading back to Texas.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

You are all neglecting to mention the big elephant (pardon the pun) in the room. Confirmation of these practices further substantiates the fear that the administration of justice itself has been compromised. What bidding did these people selected on the basis of political affiliation do on behalf of their political masters? What prosecutions were undertaken for political motives? What prosecutions were aided by information gleaned from illegal activities such as illegal wire tapping of U.S. citizens? What prosecutions were NOT undertaken for political reasons and how many injustices were allowed to stand? Still a great many questions left to be answered about the actual workings of this most unethical administration.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Every new president fires the US attorneys, and then hires new ones to replace them. What's different this time out is that BushCo fired their own appointees because they refused to completely politicize their offices as demanded by Karl Rove. And Goodling politicized the hiring of career justice department lawyers-- something that no administration had done in the past.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

The system isn't perfect, satirical, and personal politics will always come into play for anyone doing the job. But the point of hiring career professionals strictly on their professional credentials is that they will be professionals, and they will prosecute the laws as written, not merely as suits their fancy, or more likely, as the boss demands of them. Career professionals who all work together in the same offices even though they have been hired under different administrations effectively creates a check against the complete politicization of the Justice Dept. Goodling's actions, along with the Rovian firings of the US Attorneys, threaten to remove any shred of prosecutorial objectivity.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 1 month ago

Duplenty and Bozo, wrong again. If during the Clinton administration any Justice Department employee, Democrat or Republican, had engaged in the type of conduct exhibited by a few of the more obnoxious of them during the Bush administration, they'd have been out of the door in a New York minute. The fact that registered Republicans who were Justice Department employees during the Clinton administration had a higher commitment to professionalism doesn't prove anything except that, as usual, you're both wrong.

Satirical 7 years, 1 month ago

Scott3460:"Confirmation of these practices further substantiates the fear that the administration of justice itself has been compromised"So, if we were to assume you live in Johnson County you would vote for Phil Kline as the county prosecutor because he is highly qualified including being the Attorney General for the state? Do you know how most judges are selected (federal or state) who interpret the law. Umm:. politics. Either by the voters who the ones who appoint them. Two people can be similarly qualified, but the reason one judicial candidate or prosecutor is chosen over another is all politics. Having said that this woman broke the law, and should be punished. To be clear, I am only rebutting the notion that politics shouldn't compromise the administration of justice, because it always has.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

US district attorneys have been somewhat of a hybrid beast, cato-- somewhere between political appointees and career professionals-- except under BushCo, where their offices became 100% politicized.But the staffs that do most of the heavy lifting throughout Justice have always been hired for their professional qualifications, and have had the effect of restraining the complete politicization of the department by either Democrats or Republicans. That changed under BushCo, and that's why Goodling's actions are so reprehensible.

Satirical 7 years, 1 month ago

bozo...Assuming Goodling's actions are illegal I agree she should be prosecuted. (I am not convinced the firing of the US Attorney's was illegal but that is another topic)."...they will prosecute the laws as written, not merely as suits their fancy, or more likely, as the boss demands of them." - bozoSo you would vote for Phil Kline as Johnson County Prosecutor even though he is conservative (assuming you could vote)? And you would vote for or support an ultra conservative judge (if it were in your power)? I am glad to hear Scalia, and Thomas have your support.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"So you would vote for Phil Kline as Johnson County Prosecutor even though he is conservative (assuming you could vote)?"Well, Kline wasn't elected JOCO prosecutor, anyway, but the answer is no, I wouldn't vote for his election. But regardless of who is elected, I would hope that when they are selecting their staff, they do so on the basis of professional qualifications, with no political litmus tests. Obviously, that didn't happen with Kline.But we aren't discussing local prosecutors, whose offices are somewhat notorious for politicizing their prosecutorial functions. We're talking about the federal-level Justice Dept., which has historically kept separate the selection processes for the political appointments at the head of the department and even among the 97 or so district attorneys, from the process used for hiring the permanent staff under them.The Supreme Court is also a different beast-- they are nominated by presidents with political purposes in mind, and ratified by the Senate, who also make political calculations in approving or denying those nominations.

ASBESTOS 7 years, 1 month ago

"Do you know how many Republican U.S. attorneys were fired shortly after Bill Clinton was inaugurated?"97

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

Cato:You ignore the allegation of the fired US Attorneys that they were dismissed for improper political reasons. Would you please address whether today's report finding that improper political considerations were practiced within the Department makes you more or less likely to believe the dismissed (Republican) US Attorneys.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 1 month ago

Bozo, you're dead wrong. The "tradition" you describe is one in name only. Yes, certain skilled professionals do survive changes in political administrations - and they are damned careful to stick to their jobs and not let their personal politics, should they differ from those of the administration in power, get them in hot water - because they know the potential consequences. If it's more important to them to become embroiled in political controversy, then their jobs are less important to them. U.S. attorneys are routinely vetted and approved politically, and you can bet your bippy that it has occurred during every presidential administration in your lifetime. The recent flaps over fired U.S. attorneys is ridiculous. Have you ever dealt with any office of the Justice Department, or known anyone employed there? Do you know how many Republican U.S. attorneys were fired shortly after Bill Clinton was inaugurated? Check it out, Bozo - it was routine, and no Republicans complained. The Democrats' recent dog-and-pony show on this is just another example of one-sided Washington politics at its worst.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 1 month ago

Beatrice, as I first stated, if what is alleged about Ms. Goodling is true, then it is possible that it would have merited inquiry, and that it could result in litigation or perhaps prosecution. The credibility problem with all of this is that the Democrats came on in 2006 with a "let's go after everyone in the Bush administration" attitude, starting with absurd claims of "impeachment" relating to our liberation of Iraq (which, as Nancy Pelosi knows well, will never fly because too many Democrats would have to be impeached themselves) and the ridiculous claims against Karl Rove concerning the Wilson-Plame matter. Certain Democrats in Washington and in the news media absolutely despised Alberto Gonzales, for example, and finally succeeded in turning him into a political liability to the extent that he could no longer serve. And, as I also stated earlier, the entire U.S. Attorney flap has been a sideshow of a sideshow, with absolutely no historical basis for it, done purely for partisan political purposes. When did I ever say that no Republican could do wrong? What I did say is that throughout our modern history employees of the Justice Department have known what lines can and cannot be crossed. A few Justice Department employees under the Bush administration could not contain their hatred of the president and his administration, knowingly crossed those lines, and paid the price.And, to Duplenty: For your edification, you might want to learn about President Clinton's close friend Henry Cisneros (were you in what, about the 6th Grade then?), the targeting of political opponents by the IRS and the Justice Department under the Clinton administration, and attempts by Democrats ever since then to sweep it all under the carpet - even to the point of trying to suppress the Independent Counsel's report. I'll let you read the rest on your own, Doofusplenty.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 1 month ago

Doofusplenty, I thought that you were referring to misconduct during a prior administration. In fact, in your most recent post you specifically reproduced part of my comment in which I specifically referred to the Clinton administration. Now that I know what you meant but were unable to express, you might want to know that U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. As I recall, each of the attorneys fired had been earlier appointed by President Bush, who retained the right to discharge them. Contrary to your statement, substantial misconduct has been at the heart of the controversy, including failure to investigate voter fraud and election fraud, and unwillingness to investigate and prosecute wrongdoers based on their political affiliation. Because this is part of the ongoing Democrat witch-hunt still playing at your local theaters, the fact that these people served at the pleasure of the president, as such people always have, will probably remain obscured until the media tire of it and the Dems find something else in their sandbox to play with.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 1 month ago

Beatrice, as I stated, the law is quite clear that U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. No law is broken by removing a U.S. Attorney who has intentionally refused to investigate or prosecute wrongdoers in violation of his or her oath of office.Doofusplenty, your most recent post is so comical that I don't know where to begin. For example, after I referred to failure to investigate and prosecute voter fraud, you cited the lack of cases filed. Hello? Do you need a remedial course in Logic? Your comment reminds me of the infamous Scott Ritter, one of the all-time doofuses, who when asked about mobile weapons labs in Iraq pounded his fist on the TV studio's table and replied angrily, "The whole time I was there, I never saw one mobile weapons lab." Your reference to the number of U.S. Attorneys discharged in prior years may be important to you politically, but is completely irrelevant from a legal standpoint. If an employer has the right to discharge an employee at will and chooses not to exercise that right for 20 years but then does so, it has no bearing on his right to do so. (That has probably been the single most difficult concept for leftist cretins to grasp.) As for the former U.S. Attorneys you identify, well, their reputations and abilities are entirely dependent on whom you ask. For example, many people opposed to illegal immigration have vigorously questioned the actions of Johnny Sutton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, for having prosecuted border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean after they shot and wounded an illegal alien drug smuggler near the border. Despite many outcries from citizens and members of Congress, especially those strongly opposed to illegal immigration, President Bush has stood behind him. Does Mr. Sutton have a "stellar record" as a U.S. Attorney in Texas? It depends entirely on whom you ask, and it can be debated both vigorously and endlessly. Moreover, I have suspected for some time that many Democrats who wouldn't have given two cents for any of these fired lawyers are more than happy to extol them as "heroes" if it provides yet another way to go after the hated George Bush. As a final comment, Doofusplenty, please give some thought to trying to express logical arguments when communicating on this forum.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 1 month ago

Doofusplenty, the "obnoxious conduct" is known in the workplace as "insubordination." People who are guilty of insubordination are often fired. You also refer to "the facts of the report" as supporting your position. Are you referring to the report referenced in the news story, which concerns the alleged hiring practices of Alberto Gonzales's subordinates? Does this report deal at all with President Bush's firing of U.S. Attorneys? Please quote me the language from this report that concerns the president's firing of U.S. Attorneys for failing to investigate non-existent voter fraud.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 1 month ago

Scott0000, you ignore what I previously stated. U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the president, and work at the pleasure of the president. Please reread my previous posts, including my comment that this seems to be the hardest thing for people like you to comprehend. There is no "job security" associated with the position, despite what some of the fired lawyers may have said, clearly for partisan political purposes, after being well-coached by the Loyal Opposition. Today's report, as far as I can tell, deals with internal hiring practices within the Department of Justice - not the presidential appointment of U.S. Attorneys - and does not deal at all with President Bush's firing of certain U.S. Attorneys whom he had previously appointed. I had asked your partner in mediocrity Doofusplenty at 5:50 p.m. to show me where in the report any reference to this might be, but he hasn't responded.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

Cato:I understand and do not dispute what you say, of course, US Attorneys are appointed by the President (with advise and consent of the Senate) and have no job security. That is not in dispute. They allege, in some instances, they were dismissed for refusing to engage in baldly partisan prosecutorial activities. Today's report confirming that the bush administration took illegal steps to politicize the Department of Justice leads me to lend more credence to the dismissed Attorneys allegations. You, I take it, cling to the belief that while the Administration may have engaged in the illegal hiring practices described in today's report, there is no reason to believe that the similar behavior alleged to have taken place in the dismissal of US Attorneys, in fact took place. I guess you can continue to hope that is true, but I think most reasonable people would reach an opposite conclusion as a result of the report.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

bush crime syndicate continues its work:Headline:"EPA Tells Its Staff: Don't Answer Watchdogs' Queries"http://www.truthout.org/article/epa-tells-its-staff-dont-answer-watchdogs-queries

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