Monday, July 28, 2008

Cleaning Up the Poo

When the Justice Department poo created by Albert Gonzales and Karl Rove started hitting the fan over a year ago, some lifelong Republican acquaintances of ours were puzzled. "What's wrong with hiring only lawyers who are loyal to Bush?" they asked. "It's done all the time, isn't it?"

No, it's not. Not when it comes to career attorneys. And not when it comes to firing U.S. Attorneys for political reasons and replacing them with unqualified hacks.

The Justice Department is different. Or, at least it was until George W. Bush. Today, in a joint report issued by the same Justice Department, via the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), we are told why.

For one thing, what the Bushies did to the once-respected U.S. Justice Department is against long-established federal law:
The Department’s policy on non-discrimination is contained in the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 42.1(a) of 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart A, which states:
It is the policy of the Department of Justice to seek to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, age, or physical or mental handicap in employment within the Department and to assure equal employment opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment (emphasis added).
In addition to Department policies, the Civil Service Reform Act(CSRA) prohibits the Department from discriminating in hiring for career positions based on political affiliation. For example, the CSRA states that federal agencies must adopt hiring practices for career employees in which:
selection and advancement should be determined solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge, and skills, after fair and open competition which assures that all receive equal opportunity. 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(1).
For another, it is really dumb and really dangerous:
In one disgraceful example, Goodling refused to hire “one of the leading terrorism prosecutors in the country” because his wife was a Democrat:

He was an experienced terrorism prosecutor and had successfully prosecuted a high-profile terrorism case for which he received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service. … The candidate’s wife was a prominent local Democrat elected official and vice-chairman of a local Democratic Party. […]

[Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Michael] Battle, [EOUSA Deputy Director and Chief of Staff] Kelly, and EOUSA Deputy Director Nowacki all told us that Goodling refused to allow the candidate to be detailed to EOUSA solely on the basis of his wife’s political party affiliation. Battle said he was very upset that Goodling opposed the detail because of political reasons.

Goodling’s “damaging” refusal, the report notes, forced the EOUSA to “select a much more junior attorney who lacked any experience in counterterrorism issues” and was grossly unqualified for the position... .

We'll all be safer after January 20, 2009.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I listened to the coverage of this story on NPR on the way home this evening and all I could think of was how loooong ago this story seemed to of appeared in the news, or on the blogs.

It has only been a year since this story broke, but in the day to day politics of the Bush admin, as well as blog life, that has to be like what? At least 100 years, or something close to that.

It is amazing to me, once again, just how treacherous this admin has been for our country.

Imagine how clueless the average American citizen is.

That is frightening to me. Ignorance is not bliss, it is just ignorance.

Great post, once again.