Terrorism vs. Politics

The extreme and absurd politicization of the U.S. Department of Justice under Bush (and Alberto Gonzalez) is old and sad news, but an official report today shows just how bad it was:

Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief
of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting
political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and
line prosecutors, according to an inspector general's report released

Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed
the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal
to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people
and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson
developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on
improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations
from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential
Personnel, the report said.

Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs, “What is it
about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?” the report
said. One former Justice Department official told investigators she had
complained that Goodling was asking interviewees for their views on
abortion, according to the report.

Taking political or personal factors into account in employment
decisions for career positions violates civil service laws and can run
afoul of ethics rules. Investigators said today that both Goodling and
Sampson had engaged in “misconduct.”

The improper personnel moves deprived worthy candidates of
promotions and damaged the credibility of the Justice Department,
investigators wrote. An experienced counterterrorism prosecutor, for
example, was kept from advancing in favor of a more junior lawyer who
lacked a background in terrorism.

Got that.  Why worry about fighting terrorism when there's conservatives to be hired?  Drum digs into the DOJ report and shows just how absurd and pathetic this was (from the report):

He was an experienced terrorism prosecutor and had
successfully prosecuted a high-profile terrorism case for which he
received the Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service….Battle
stated that Voris told him that the candidate was head and shoulders
above the other candidates who had applied for the counterterrorism

Sounds like a great guy. But there was a problem:

candidate's wife was a prominent local Democrat elected official and
vice-chairman of a local Democratic Party. She also ran several
Democratic congressional campaigns….Battle, Kelly, and EOUSA Deputy
Director Nowacki all told us that Goodling refused to allow the
candidate to be detailed to EOUSA solely on the basis of his wife's
political party affiliation.

….Because EOUSA had been unable to fill the counterterrorism
detail after Goodling vetoed this candidate, a current EOUSA detailee
was asked to assume EOUSA's counterterrorism portfolio….He had no
counterterrorism experience and had less than the minimum of 5 years of
federal criminal prosecution experience required by the EOUSA job
announcement. Battle, Nowacki, Kelly, and Voris all said they thought
that he was not qualified for the position, since he had no
counterterrorism experience. The replacement candidate was a registered
Republican who Goodling had interviewed and approved before he was
selected for his EOUSA detail.

Make no mistake, this disgusting display of partisan politics ahead of national security rests squarely on George Bush's shoulders.  This sort of political hackery clearly has the fingerprints of Karl Rove all over it, but Rove was not operating in a vacuum.  I don't care where you fall on the political spectrum, this is just indefensible, and if you are tempted to defend it, you really need a reality check on the partisan blinders you are wearing.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: