Administration: No More ‘Loyal Bushies’ At Justice
Administration: No More ‘Loyal Bushies’ At Justice
Having taken control of the Department of Justice in 2005, Gonzales leaves the Department's credibility in tatters and with staff morale considered "worse...than during Watergate."
|SEPTEMBER 12, 2007||by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna,
Matt Corley, and Ali Frick
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No More ‘Loyal Bushies’ At Justice
Next Monday, Alberto Gonzales, who announced his resignation in August, will officially step down as the Attorney General of the United States. Having taken control of the Department of Justice in 2005, Gonzales leaves the Department’s credibility in tatters and with staff morale considered “worse…than during Watergate.” With both political hiring and political firing such common practices in the Bush Justice Department, the independence of the unit has been undermined to such an extent that defense attorneys are now able to gain traction with accusations of politically motivated prosecutions that previously would have been dismissed. The next Attorney General, whomever he or she may be, needs “a proven track record of independence to ensure that he or she will act as an independent check on this administration‘s expansive claims of virtually unlimited executive power,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently. Unlike Gonzales, the next Attorney General should also have the integrity to “just say no” when the administration disregards the Constitution and the rule of law, whether it be seeking to legalize torture or illegally wiretapping American citizens. Tell your senator we need an Attorney General who can say “no” to President Bush. Take action HERE.
A POLITICIZED DEPARTMENT: The consideration of political affiliation in the hiring of career employees is forbidden by both federal law and internal Justice Department rules. Since May, Glenn Fine, the Inspector General of the Justice Department, has been investigating “allegations regarding improper political or other considerations in hiring decisions within the Department of Justice.” He has much to investigate. In the past four months, at least two now-former Justice Department officials have admitted to “crossing the line” while screening potential employees at the Department. In May, Monica Goodling, the former Justice Department Liaison to the White House, conceded during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that she had “taken inappropriate political considerations into account” while hiring and that it was “illegal” to do so. Goodling also admitted that she “considered party affiliation in screening applicants to become immigration judges.” In written answers to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, former Justice Department official Bradley Schlozman also admitted that he had once urged hiring certain prosecutors for his office based on their political affiliation.
THE NEED FOR INDEPENDENCE: With the administration embroiled in scandal after scandal where officials appear to have broken the law, the next Attorney General must be someone who can credibly investigate the administration’s current, future, and past transgressions. The Justice Department, however has actually signed of on many of the Bush administration’s most significant tramplings of the rule of law. In his new book, The Terror Presidency, former Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) chief Jack Goldsmith reveals that affirmative opinions by the OLC are treated as “the equivalent of ‘an advance pardon‘ for actions taken at the fuzzy edges of criminal laws.” Internal Justice Department opinions have helped justify interrogation policies that violate international norms, rationalized the removal of warrant safeguards on domestic eavesdropping, and the removal of habeas corpus rights from detainees in American custody. With Congress finally willing to act on its oversight duties, the next Attorney General must be willing and able to act independently of the administration if the facts warrant it.
WHO WILL IT BE? The administration “is closing in on a nominee to replace” Gonzales, with the list of potential successors whittled down to a slim five. Though Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was initially touted as the top nominee, former Solicitor General Ted Olson is now seen as the frontrunner. Other finalists include former U.S. district chief judge Michael Mukasey of New York; Laurence H. Silberman, a senior circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; George J. Terwilliger, a former deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush; and Larry D. Thompson, a former deputy attorney general in this administration. Fox News has reported that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) “also is being strongly considered.” Reportedly, Thompson and Silberman have “rebuffed” the administration’s feelers on the position. If Olson is the nominee, a bruising confirmation battle can likely be expected. “Clearly if you made a list of consensus nominees, Olson wouldnâ€™t appear on that list,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told the New York Times.
Yesterday, a Senate panel approved a 3.5 percent pay raise for Defense Department military and civilian workers, higher than the three percent pay raise requested by President Bush.
HAWAII: The return of 7,000 soldiers from to Iraq to Hawaii will be a welcome “surge” for local business.
CALIFORNIA: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoes legislation asking California voters in a ballot measure if they want to withdraw troops from Iraq.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: At current rates, D.C. may lose its longtime majority-African-American status within 10 years.
THINK PROGRESS: Think Progress launches new blog fellows program: get paid to blog.
THINK PROGRESS: Is Gen. David Petraeus’s drawdown part of the White House’s 2008 political strategy?
BODY POLITIK: Path To 9/11 writer uses anniversary of attacks to promote his failed film.
TV NEWSER: For the first time, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann beat Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in the ratings with the 25-54 demographic.
“It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing.”
In a “nationwide, prime-time television address tomorrow,” President Bush “will endorse the broad outlines of a plan to bring home 30,000 troops from Iraq by the middle of next year if conditions are favorable.”
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