An internal investigation by the Justice Department has found that former Department officials broke the law by letting Bush Administration politics dictate the hiring of prosecutors, immigration judges and other career government lawyers. The Justice Department’s report found that for nearly two years, top advisers to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales discriminated against applicants for career jobs who weren’t Republican or conservative loyalists. At times, their search for GOP activists delayed filling judgeships and threatened to clog immigration courts, according to the report. The federal government makes a distinction between ”career” and ”political” appointees, and it’s a violation of civil service laws and Justice Department policy to hire career employees on the basis of political affiliation or allegiance.
Yet Monica Goodling, who served as Gonzales’ counselor and White House liaison, routinely asked career job applicants about politics, the report concluded. Questions like ”What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?” were asked. The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility did the investigation. A number of other political questions were asked of the candidates. ”It appeared that these topics were discussed as a result of the question seeking information about how the applicant would characterize the type of conservative they were,” the report concluded. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who succeeded Gonzales, says he was “disturbed” by the findings. He took no action against the wrongdoers. However, the investigation was one of several examining accusations that White House political meddling drove prosecution, policy and employment decisions within the once independent Justice Department. Those charges were spurred initially by the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and culminated with Gonzales’ resignation under fire as Attorney General last September. The 140-page report does not indicate whether Goodling or others involved could face any charges.
None of those involved in the discriminatory hiring still work at the Justice Department, meaning they will avoid any departmental penalties. Even though crimes were committed, nobody will be charged and that’s unfortunate. Goodling, a former Republican National Committee researcher with little experience as a prosecutor, admitted in House Judiciary Committee testimony last year that she ”crossed the lines” while hiring Justice Department career employees. She received immunity for her testimony, meaning she can’t be prosecuted unless it can be proved that she lied while under oath. Nevertheless, this sad episode is apparently typical of how the Justice Department operated during the Bush-Cheney-Rove years. The current Attorney General has already announced that nothing further will be done by the Justice Department and that there will be no prosecutions. That really isn’t too surprising considering who appointed him.
Source: Associated Press
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