David Kirkpatrick

November 14, 2008

Deep rot at Justice

The Bush 43 Department of Justice has been a disgrace, and may well be much worse than the public even knows about right now. Good luck to the incoming DoJ team to shovel through this shitpile.

Scott Horton puts it all in perspective here.

From the Daily Beast link:

Painful as the appearances were of prosecutorial misconduct emerging from the Justice Department’s own letter, in retrospect that letter raises still more troubling issues. It now appears that the Justice Department was aware of even more startling allegations of misconduct raised directly by a member of the prosecution team, and documented with internal communications, but it consciously chose to hide all of this from the court and from opposing counsel. This would warrant another disciplinary review and possible action against the prosecutors.

In the meantime, U.S. Attorney Leura Canary is scrambling to find a new job. But her imminent departure serves to highlight a broader problem. As President-Elect Obama works to pick a new attorney general, his transition team is focused on a series of far more complex issues at the Justice Department. Public confidence in the work of the department has fallen to the lowest level since the Watergate scandal, when attorney generals John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst were indicted and convicted.

Alberto Gonzales and his three most senior deputies were all forced from office in disgrace as evidence mounted that they had abused the Department for political purposes. An internal investigation of this abuse could not be concluded because of obstruction from the White House and the refusal of Bush Administration lawyers to cooperate. A special prosecutor had to be appointed to investigate a number of allegations of politically abusive conduct concerning the operations of U.S. Attorney offices around the country.

Simply appointing a new attorney general will not resolve these problems, but it would be a significant first step. As the Siegelman case shows, some of the departing U.S. attorneys are leaving behind a legal toxic waste dump that may take years to clean up.

Deep Dive:  The key documents in the case.

Scott Horton is a law professor and writer on legal and national security affairs for Harper’s Magazine and The American Lawyer, among other publications.

If you have an interest in the Don Siegelman saga, TPMMuckraker has a many, many posts outlining this disgrace of justice in our nation, a nation of laws except under Bush 43’s DoJ as it turns out.

August 13, 2008

Blackwater facing auditor questions

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:38 pm

Embattled Iraq civilian contractor, Blackwater (read about its misdeeds here) is facing some serious auditing questions after apparently obtaining federal contracts meant for small businesses through creative employee designations. The total of the contracts in dispute is over $100 million.

From the AccountantsWorld (second) link:

The companies could have skirted small business size criteria because they counted many workers as independent contractors, not employees, which allowed them to exceed the 1,500-employee ceiling set in some contracts, according to the auditors.

The inspector general’s office found that Blackwater and the other companies’ sizes and revenues may have ”involved misrepresentations,” and suggested that the agency may want to ”determine whether it is appropriate for Blackwater affiliates to continue receiving small business set-aside contracts.”

When rival firms had challenged the 2006 contract for helicopter services to Presidential Airways on grounds that the company was too large, the airline provided data that 28 Blackwater-affiliated entities had a total of only 715 employees.

But the inspector general found that Blackwater had hired more than a thousand independent contractors and treated them as if they were regular employees, with scheduled shifts, for example, which called the size determination into question. The report also said the Small Business Administration should have ”attempted to reconcile discrepancies” in the data Blackwater provided.

August 7, 2008

This development in the DOJ inquiry …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:35 pm

does not bode well for the Bush 43 administration. It looks less and less likely the stench of cronyism and corruption surrounding the current group in the White House will just go away after the election.

From the link:

Murray Waas confirmed today something we’ve suspected for a long time: that the Justice Department has widened the net in the Inspector General’s U.S. attorneys firing probe to include allegations that senior White House officials made false statements to Congress.

From the Huffington Post:

The Justice Department investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys has been extended to encompass allegations that senior White House officials played a role in providing false and misleading information to Congress, according to numerous sources involved in the inquiry.. . . Federal investigators have obtained documents showing that Kyle Sampson, then-chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Chris Oprison, then an associate White House counsel, drafted and approved the letter even though they had first-hand knowledge that the assertions were not true.

 

The letter referenced was sent from the Justice Department to Congress on February 23, 2007and denied Karl Rove’s involvement in the replacement of fired U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins by Rove protege Tim Griffin.

Just a month later, however, the DOJ was forced to admit that the February letter had been “contradicted by Department documents.”

July 28, 2008

DOJ under Gonzales violated the law

An internal Department of Justice report prepared by the department’s inspector general and its internal ethics office found the Gonzales DOJ broke the law by politicizing the department:

In her position as White House liaison for the Justice Department, Ms. Goodling was involved in hiring lawyers for both political appointments and non-political, career positions. Regardless of the type of position, the report said, Ms. Goodling would run through the same batch of questions, asking candidates about their political philosophies, why they wanted to serve President Bush, and who, aside from Mr. Bush, they admired as public servants. Sometimes, Ms. Goodling would ask: “Why are you a Republican?”

Such questioning was allowed for candidates to political appointments, but was clearly banned under both civil service law and the Justice Department’s own internal policies, the inspector general said. Ms. Goodling’s questioning also generated complaints from one senior official who believed it was improper, long before the issue became a public controversy following the firings of nine United States attorneys. The inspector general concluded that Ms. Goodling knew that questioning applicants to career positions about their political beliefs was improper.

Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, thinks this politization of the DOJ imperiled US citizens:

Responding to today’s report from the DOJ Inspector General, Leahy said in a statement:

“The report reveals decisions to reject qualified, experienced applicants to work on counterterrorism issues in favor of a less experienced attorney on the basis of political ideology. Rather than strengthening our national security, the Department of Justice appears to have bent to the political will of the administration. Further, the report reveals that the ‘principal source’ for politically vetted candidates considered for important positions as immigration judges was the White House- a clear indication of the untoward political influence of the Bush administration on traditionally non-political appointments.”

For more in-depth coverage of the entire scandal, head over to TPMMucker where they’ve been on this case for a long, long time providing a wealth of information the Bush 43 administration would rather had never seen the light of day.