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Monday, April 09, 2007

The US Justice Dept.: Chasing Around BS Since 2000

Salon.com writer Dahlia Lithwick has a great piece in the Washington Post regarding the Justice Departments' trip into right wing fantasyland (thanks to Karen at Christianity General for bringing it to our attention).

A little background first. With Alberto Gonzales in deep and hot water over the attorney purge, attention has turned to Monica Goodling. Goodling was scheduled to testify before congress in the case, but invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself.

There's a little hitch there. Goodling cites the politically charged and "perilous environment" of the House and Senate judiciary committees as her reason. A lot of people are wondering why she thinks she can get away with that. The fifth protects you from incriminating yourself in a crime. It wouldn't make any difference if the hearings were a partisan witchhunt, she can't refuse to testify because she doesn't like 'the atmosphere.'

And the attention on Goodling is bringing attention to a Justice Dept. that's been blatantly politicized since Bush took office. According to Lithwick's piece:

A 1995 graduate of Messiah College, an evangelical Christian school, and a 1999 graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School, Goodling is an improbable character for a political scandal. Her chief claim to professional fame appears to have been loyalty to the president and to the process of reshaping the Justice Department in his image (and, thus, His image). A former career official there told The Washington Post that Goodling "forced many very talented career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points." And as she rose at Justice, a former classmate said, Goodling "developed a very positive reputation for people coming from Christian schools into Washington looking for employment in government, always ready to offer encouragement and be a sounding board."


Goodling is a typical Bush Justice official. The idea was to stop pursuing actual crimes and start looking into BS that never happens -- as a priority. Lithwick again:

One of [then-Attorney General John] Ashcroft's most profound changes was to the Civil Rights Division, started in 1957 to fight racial discrimination in voting. Under Ashcroft, career lawyers were systematically fired or forced out and replaced by members of conservative or Christian groups or folks with no civil rights experience. In the five years after 2001, the Civil Rights Division brought no voting cases -- and only one employment case -- on behalf of an African American. Instead, the division took up the "civil rights" abuses of reverse discrimination -- claims of voter fraud or discrimination against Christians. On Feb. 20, Gonzales announced a new initiative called the First Freedom Project to carry out "even greater enforcement of religious rights for all Americans." In his view, the fight for a student's right to read a Bible in school is as urgent as the right to vote.


Gonzales likewise focused resources on crap by making fighting pornography a priority -- not child pornography, mind you, just naked people doing stuff that naked people do. I guess all this 'war on terror' stuff includes protecting people who are terrified by naked boobs. Gonzales's war to protect gymnophobes didn't go over very well at the FBI. In fact, it quickly became a joke among agents. In 2005, WaPo printed some common reactions to Gonzales's recruiting campaign for a 'porn squad.'

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."

A few of the printable samples:

"Things I Don't Want On My Resume, Volume Four."

"I already gave at home."

"Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves."


Way to deal with real world problems, right? Equally as crazy was the idea that there was widespread voter fraud among Democrats.

McClatchy Newspapers:

Under President Bush, the Justice Department has backed laws that narrow minority voting rights and pressed U.S. attorneys to investigate voter fraud - policies that critics say have been intended to suppress Democratic votes.

Bush, his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, and other Republican political advisers have highlighted voting rights issues and what Rove has called the "growing problem" of election fraud by Democrats since Bush took power in the tumultuous election of 2000, a race ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.


This was while Democrats were losing elections nationwide. If dems were engaging in voter fraud, they really sucked at it. Last month, in a piece titled The Myth of Voter Fraud, Michael Waldman and Justin Levitt wrote in the Washington Post, "[T]he notion of widespread voter fraud, as these prosecutors found out, is itself a fraud. Firing a prosecutor for failing to find wide voter fraud is like firing a park ranger for failing to find Sasquatch. Where fraud exists, of course, it should be prosecuted and punished. (And politicians have been stuffing ballot boxes and buying votes since senators wore togas; Lyndon Johnson won a 1948 Senate race after his partisans famously 'found' a box of votes well after the election.) Yet evidence of actual fraud by individual voters is painfully skimpy."

Are these people so crazy that they've begun to believe their own propaganda? Or are they so stupid that they'd put out a lie about widespread voter fraud, then go out and investigate it -- proving themselves wrong? Who knows? With this bunch of lunatics, either explanation is credible.

It's looking more and more like some of these federal prosecutors were fired for having to live in reality. The Bushies wanted widespread voter fraud, there was no widespread voter fraud, and they were canned for not finding what didn't exist.

You know what gets me about all of this? Every time they face criticism, GOPers throw the 'War on Terror' in your face. If this war on a tactic were really essential to our very existence, why do we have people dicking around on snipe hunts for obscenity and voter fraud -- shouldn't they being out looking for honest to goodness terrorists? And why were the snipe hunters fired for not finding any snipes? Justify that, GOP.

--Wisco

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