Justice Department roundup
1. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty returned to Capitol Hill to revise some of his previous testimony and remarks about the prosecutor firings. Nothing particularly explosive came out of it, but it's yet another example of a Justice official saying one thing under oath only to have to revise it when later contradicted by facts -- although in this case there are people who feel McNulty's major crime was being honest, and he's being used as a scapegoat by Alberto Gonzales' supporters.
2. Former Attorney General John Aschroft confirmed the sharp disagreement within the administration over warrantless eavesdropping during a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee, according to committee chairman Silvestro Reyes. That is yet another bit of evidence contradicting Gonzales' claim that there was not much disagreement over the policy, and underlining once again that Gonzales is either clueless or a total hack.
3. Finally and most interestingly, Bradley Schlozman -- the last Justice official to have to do over his sworn testimony -- also played a central role in politicizing the hiring of career prosecutors during a stint as acting assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Karen Stevens, Tovah Calderon and Teresa Kwong had a lot in common. They had good performance ratings as career lawyers in the Justice Department's civil rights division. And they were minority women transferred out of their jobs two years ago -- over the objections of their immediate supervisors -- by Bradley Schlozman, then the acting assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Schlozman ordered supervisors to tell the women that they had performance problems or that the office was overstaffed. But one lawyer, Conor Dugan, told colleagues that the recent Bush appointee had confided that his real motive was to "make room for some good Americans" in that high-impact office, according to four lawyers who said they heard the account from Dugan.
But wait! There's more! It's not just Democrats that were targeted, but insufficiently Bushie Republicans:
In another politically tinged conversation recounted by former colleagues, Schlozman asked a supervisor if a career lawyer who had voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a onetime political rival of President Bush, could still be trusted.
On top of that, he was a coward:
That spring, Schlozman told a resistant Flynn to transfer Stevens to the disability rights section. According to sources in the office, Schlozman instructed Flynn to tell Stevens that the transfer was related to performance and was her idea.
View the allegations with a grain of salt, seeing as how they all come from anonymous sources without independent confirmation. But the extensiveness of the sourcing -- five lawyers and a supervisor within the civil-rights section -- helps boost credibility. And what verifiable facts are known are consistent with the story -- in particular that the various attorneys targeted by Schlozman have all returned to their previous jobs now that Schlozman is gone. It's unlikely they would have been returned so quickly if they were truly punished on merit grounds.
Schlozman, Ashcroft, Gonzales, politics, midtopia