Thursday, June 21, 2007

Justice Department roundup

Three Justice-related stories today:

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.

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd rather hear or see John Ashcroft's actual quote versus some Democrats interpretation of it. You have no idea how much the Dem is spinning. AND BTW, we already know there was differences and much DEBATE within the administration regarding the program. This is nothing new.

JP5

6/21/2007 6:52 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Apparently Gonzales didn't get the memo.

6/21/2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gonzales said there was no debate? Got the quote?

JP5

6/21/2007 8:02 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

In February 2006, Gonzales told Congres that "there was no serious disagreement" about the eavesdropping program. Later, after evidence of serious disagreement emerged, he said he was referring to the program that was approved after the disagreement.

Did he lie? No. Did he try hard to mislead? Yes.

6/22/2007 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word "serious" is key here. That's a matter of opinion about how serious it was. Besides---it just proves that serious disagreement was allowed in the Bush White House; something that Dems seemed to believe never occurred.

What I find interesting is that Dems hated John Ashcroft and wanted him OUT during that time period. AND now they are discovering that he was NOT a "yes" man and fought hard for his views.

Will any apologies be forthcoming from Dems on the way they treated John Ashcroft while he was AG? I "seriously" doubt it.

JP5

6/22/2007 10:05 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Aschroft had his own problems, and deserved criticism in his own right -- never mind goofy stuff like covering up the statue of Justice in the Justice Department's lobby.

But I've noted before that Gonzales has managed one near-impossible feat: making people nostalgic for the Ashcroft era.

6/22/2007 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also anonymous:

Worst president and most corrupt administraion in our history. Perjury, obstruction, treason, hatch act, presidential records act,signing statements,erosion of civil rights, degradation of the constitution. Still so many republicans toe the party line, believe the lies, defend the liars and take their side even though it has no basis in reality. Are they so afraid of admitting that they are wrong that they will defend anything?

6/22/2007 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line is....as a Democrat, you are going to criticize and condemn EACH and EVERY Bush administration official no matter what. You are going to always think the worst and never give them the benefit of the doubt. That's why we ignore much of Dems' complaints.

We told you at the time that Ashcroft was a good AG. You didn't believe us.

And that statute incident was not so silly. Imagine what fun Dems would have had with a tv picture that had Ashcroft standing there with a boob over his ear. Do you think Hillary Clinton would be photographed standing in front of a naked male statute with his package staring her in the face??? Imagine what fun Republicans would have with that one? It's certainly no reason to try and get rid of someone.

JP5

6/22/2007 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Dean said...

To JP5,

Come on now brotha, "give them (Bush Officials) the benefit of the doubt"? Are you serious? Which official in that administation has exhibited even the slightest shred of credibility? Personally, none of these hardcore elephants running our country should be trusted any further than they can be thrown.

6/22/2007 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The credibility is there. YOU simply refuse to look.

Dems have hated Bush since before he was sworn in on January 19th, 2001.

JP5

6/24/2007 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Dean said...

Been lookin bud, but I'm sorry, it is not my, or anyone's, responsiblty to "look" for their credibilty like our government is some "Where's Waldo (or Where's Honesty)" book. Instead, it is the officials in our government, who are OUR employees, responisibilty to ensure and demonstrate to us, their bosses, that they mean and do what they say. So I'm sure some of these guys are credible when it comes to what they had for breakfast that morning, but I'm "looking" for a little more accountability and integrity on issues that matter.

6/27/2007 12:23 PM  

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