Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 28, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

MAYBERRY MACHIAVELLIS....Monica Goodling has long since admitted that she used political considerations to hire career lawyers in the Justice Department, and a couple of months ago the Inspector General compiled statistical evidence showing that this was pretty clearly Bush administration policy. So in a way, today's followup report is anticlimactic: it tells us that the Bush DOJ, as we've known for quite a while, was basically run by a bunch of low-rent Boss Tweeds.

Still, anticlimactic or not, its dry recitation of the facts surrounding "Candidate #1" (the first of eight political hit jobs engineered by Goodling) is pretty startling:

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 detail.

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

The 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.

Your Bush administration at work: When it's politically convenient, the war on terror is vitally important. When it's not, it's not.

Kevin Drum 3:36 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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Comments

What? The Bush administration is not serious on national security and the War on Terror(patent pending)? I'm shocked.

Posted by: ckelly on July 28, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

So all of this should open up Monica Goodling to several law suits. And Bush can only forgive criminal pardons as opposed to civil ones, right?

I guess, anyway, hopefully Goodling will be sued, because she did deny people positions that they were more than qualified for, on the bases of political affiliation. In fact I imagine, that the Bush administration will probably generate numerous lawsuits for years to come.

Posted by: Independent perspective on July 28, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

How's that "permanent majority" coming along, Karl?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on July 28, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

The asked job candidates " "What is it About George W. Bush that Makes you Want to Serve Him?"

I wouldn't hire Goodling and those other DOJ lawyers to do the paperwork for naming my adopted shelter dog.

But they're proseutors in the war against terror.

Posted by: riffle on July 28, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"...that makes you want to serve Him." Nice Christiany ring to it.

Posted by: RollaMO on July 28, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Yep. Shows you how important actually fighting terrorism is to these clowns.

Posted by: DH Walker on July 28, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

"What is it About George W. Bush that makes you want to serve Him?"

"Um, well, George W. Bush didn't really have anything to do with it. But Dick Cheney did make me an offer I couldn't refuse."

Posted by: Thin White Guy on July 28, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

No wonder this administration sucked. They were afraid of anyone who could think.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 28, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

And this is worse than Affirmative Action because...(?)

Posted by: CT on July 28, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Gives new meaning to 'serving at the pleasure of the president'. Or maybe to pleasure the president? These things can be a bit confusing!

Posted by: GOD on July 28, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

CT,
Well, for starters, with Affirmative Action, there is not a blanket "no whites need apply" policy.

But beyond that, I guess you are right since Republicans have been systematically discriminated against in the past. When was that again?

Posted by: DR on July 28, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

And obviously Goodling thought this strategy up on her own. Just another example of a bad apple at the junior level. Nothing to see here -- move along.

Posted by: jb on July 28, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Awww, how cute.

Stupid, fat, white Republicans whining about Affirmative Action. If history has taught us anything its that stupid, fat, white people (also known as Republicans) can't hold a candle to any other race, especially when it comes to sports, entertainment, academics....pretty much any field where monopolies and mafias don't work.

Now run along and get back to masturbating thinking about black women and indulging your cognitive dissonance so you don't have to actually learn new tricks and have a fair chance in the job market you pathetic slob.

Posted by: Thin White Guy on July 28, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK
And this is worse than Affirmative Action because...

...it's a deliberate, knowing violation of federal law for partisan advantage by the people entrusted with paramount authority over the agency charged with defending and enforcing the law of the United States, whereas affirmative action is a program within the law to break the cycle of poverty by providing opportunities to members of groups that have been the victims of centuries of discrimination (de jure for most of that history) and who are disadvantaged as a direct consequence of that.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 28, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Today's report also says Ms. Goodling and Mr. Sampson broke the law. If Ms. Goodling and Mr.Sampson were Blacks accused of possessing a small amount of illicit drugs, they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and the prosecutor would demand the harshest punishment. But these Republicans will probably not face trial, and certainly not jail time. They probably will not even be disbarred.

Posted by: Brojo on July 28, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Presumably Goodling's immunity only applies to what she said while she testified during her hearing. All this other evidence is probably fair game to prosecute her with.

Posted by: Tyro on July 28, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Fat White Guy: Not promoting someone who is married to a political activist is [something different?] and probably justified. Since the individual could easily be influenced by his wife and their political views are more than likely similar.

Yet High Republicans seem to have no problem with the fact that Mary Matalin is married to James Carville.

Posted by: JM on July 28, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Tyro,
If I remember correctly she did testify that she used political affiliation as part of her "hire" test. So I don't think we will see a conviction here.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 28, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

optical weenie, doesn't that just mean that her statements she made in front of the committee can't be used against her? Unless this other evidence is just the result or extension of her own testimony, it could still be used, I thought.

Posted by: Tyro on July 28, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, another clear cut violation of law that the administration will never be held accountable for. Why bother reporting this if nothing ever comes of it. It just demoralizes us all as citizens even more.

Posted by: justin_nyc on July 28, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Your Bush administration at work: When it's politically convenient, the war on terror is vitally important. When it's not, it's not."

Talk about telling us what we already know.

The so-called "war on terror" is a fraud used to frighten people into giving the CheneyBush regime totalitarian powers, and has never been anything but a fraud used to frighten people into giving the CheneyBush regime totalitarian powers.

This is what we get when we allow a gang of career white-collar criminals and war profiteers masquerading as "neoconservative" ideologues to seize power in a "bloodless coup" by blatantly stealing an election through voter disenfranchisement and fraud.

And they are preparing to do it again this year.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 28, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think not promoting someone just because they are a Democrat is wrong. Not promoting someone who is married to a political activist is another and probably justified.

Not promoting someone because of their political party is wrong but not promoting someone because of their spouse's political party is A-OK?

Jeez, Fat White Guy, you've shown a lack of critical thinking skills here before, but that position is simply mental.

And it doesn't change the fact that, your lame justification notwithstanding, Goodling and company broke the law.

Posted by: Gregory on July 28, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

"When it's politically convenient, the war on terror is vitally important. When it's not, it's not."

In the Republicans' defense, at least they recognize that the WoT is, actually, not significant at all.

When liberal hawks make statements like the one above, I'm left to wonder, in this complaint of inconsistency from Republicans regarding the Wot, is the problem (1) acting as if terrorism is important (when it's not) so as to have a tool to manipulate, or (2) acting as if terrorism isn't important, when you (liberal hawks) actually think it is?

If (1), fine, go ahead and complain. If (2), then you're not much better than the neo-cons. And since such statements always leave this strategic ambiguity, the answer is surely that you want it both ways.

Posted by: flubber on July 28, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK
Presumably Goodling's immunity only applies to what she said while she testified during her hearing. All this other evidence is probably fair game to prosecute her with.

Provided, of course, the evidence is all derived in a manner which can be proven not to be directly or indirectly influenced by her testimony, this would be true.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 28, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Fat White Guy has (re)discovered the joys of Sippenhaftung

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 28, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Here's an interesting paradox. If this scandal were the only scandal of this administration, it would be the only topic in the news for weeks on end. But for this administration, it's hard to get excited about this one scandal when there are so many others to worry about.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have called it "defining deviancy down".

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on July 28, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Ain't Bush. It is part of the project. Rick Perlstein, quotes from Tom Frank's new book The Wrecking Crew:

[Said Grover Norquist,] "First we want to remove liberal personnel from the political process. Then we want to capture those positions of power and influence for conservatives. Stalin taught the impotance of this principle. He was running the personnel department, while Trotsky was fighting the White Army. When push came to shove for ontrol of the Soviet Union, Stalin won. His people were in place and Trotsky's were not.... With this principle in mind, conservatives must do all they can to make sure that they get jobs in Washington."...

The assault began in earnest in the first days of the Reagan administration, with the New Right demanding jobs for wingers and shrieking every time a moderate Republican received an important position. The resulting politicization of government operations was unprecedented, with loyalists in and career civil servants out. By the summer of 1981, according to one report, 59 percent of the 'sub-cabinet appointees' confirmed by the Senate had no experience in government, as did 78 percent of Reagan's hires at independent agencies and a full 100 percent at the independent regulatory agencies....


Posted by: bellumregio on July 28, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

And ... absolutely nothing will happen.

We are now a country of (heterosexual white southern) men, not laws.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on July 28, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Fatass--Doesn't matter what your uneducated guess is with regard to someone's political affiliation based on his spouse's political activity, it's against the law. Period. Rule of law. Remember that?
Re Ms. Goodling--I had read somewhere before that she hadn't ever passed a bar exam, maybe never even took a bar exam--anyone know anything about this? If true, then disbarment wouldn't be an option as far as punishment goes, and she already left DOJ, so if they have the evidence to prosecute then I hope they do. Oh, and she went to Regent Law School, Pat Robertson's university.

Posted by: Ringo on July 28, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Provided, of course, the evidence is all derived in a manner which can be proven not to be directly or indirectly influenced by her testimony, this would be true.


Posted by: cmdicely

As I recall, this investigation was a direct outcome of her testifying that she used political affiliation in her hiring decisions.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 28, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Exhibit A: Bill Clinton's wholesale firing of Bush/41 appointees at Justice.

I'm surprised it took so long for a moronic troll to use this bullshit argument--the only people Clinton "fired" were Bush POLITICAL appointees at Justice--that's not a violation of the law, in fact it's common for political appointees to submit their resignations when there's a change of administration. Get a clue.

Posted by: Ringo on July 28, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, I hate these people. Truly, they are vile little worms.

Posted by: Stefan on July 28, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think not promoting someone just because they are a Democrat is wrong. Not promoting someone who is married to a political activist is another and definitely illegal.

Fixed it for you.

Posted by: Stefan on July 28, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Exhibit A: Bill Clinton's wholesale firing of Bush/41 appointees at Justice.

che che, please explain the difference between an appointed position and a career position. You do know that there's a difference, right?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on July 28, 2008 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like treason to me.

Posted by: Augustus on July 28, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

What I can't understand is...didn't they think that they would eventually be caught? People weren't hired, some people complained about the hiring practices at Justice. I just don't see how they figured that this would all be swept under the rug.

Guess it's either extreme naivety or a special kind of arrogance. Mayberry Machiavellis indeed.

Posted by: mollycoddle on July 28, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Let's run Obama against Bush and Republicans in general. Every time something like this comes up, it's important to remind voters which party McSame belongs to, regardless of his rather sketchy and insincere "maverick" past.

Posted by: Neil B ☼ on July 28, 2008 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

I wish I had a wife too but since I cant see my toes when I stand up I guess its cyberporn for a winner like me.
But I just ordered the new Jenna Jameson life-like flesh pocket and let me say, I love it!

Posted by: Fat White Guy with Small Dick on July 28, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Blame yourselves.

Hilarious and sad in equal measures. It's the typical whining pathetic response of crybabies everywhere when caught with their hand in the cookie jar: "B-b-b-but you made me do it! It's not my fault!"

When will conservatives ever learn to take responsibility for their own actions?

Posted by: Stefan on July 28, 2008 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like Pepperdine Law has found its new associate professor--if Heritage can spare her.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on July 28, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a quick summary for the word-averse.

Posted by: Dan on July 28, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

honest to goodness, che che, the quality of kevin's right-wing morons has gotten worse and worse while i haven't been looking.

do we really have to explain to you, yet frickin' again, that at the beginning of every administration (and particularly when parties change over), the US attorneys are by and large all replaced? that this is perfectly legitimate? that only a true moron like you would think this practice (engaged in by democratic and republican presidents both) is equivalent to wholesale lawbreaking and politicizing of career appointments?

Posted by: howard on July 28, 2008 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

howard at 9:56 PM:

Yes, howard, you know as well as I that you do indeed have to correct the screeching harpies' ass smoke every...single...time. Persistence is all they got. That, and an amorality for the ages. Thanks for doing it, by the way, and not to mention that the circumstances of the actual BushCo DOJ firings under investigation were based on real or perceived lack of Stalinist lockstep with the illegal (there's that word again) use of DOJ as a tool of political attack, retribution, and voter suppression. Democracy - such a quaint idea. But, hey - Clinton did it first, right?

Posted by: Conrad's Ghost on July 28, 2008 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

All that Conrad's Ghost, plus allowing them to delay and/or shut down a couple high-profile corruption investigations before they could lead to senior officials in the DoD or the White House.

In particular, the Duke Cunningham investigation has resulted in guilty pleas or convictions with jail time for most of the players that had been identified when the U.S. Attorney for San Diego was replaced. However, investigations of Brent Wilkes' and Dusty Foggo's contacts in the DoD, CIA and elsewhere in the executive branch have largely faded from sight.

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 28, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Btw, in the case of Carol Lam, even the excuse given for firing her was blatantly political.

They claimed she wasn't being aggressive enough in prosecuting illegal immigration cases. In fact, she had brought several cases against human traffickers and sweatshop operators. What the administration and local Republican politicians wanted was large numbers of criminal prosecutions of the illegal immigrants themselves.

Even if we take the administrations claims at face value, one such mid-term firing is unusual and nine is unprecedented. When you add in the administration trying to cover-up the fact that the US Attorney's departures were involuntary and their initial claims that the firings were for uspecified 'performance' issues, it is perfectly reasonable to take a close look at the real reasons for the firings.

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 28, 2008 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

tanstaafl: They claimed she wasn't being aggressive enough... the administration and local Republican politicians wanted was large numbers of criminal prosecutions of the illegal immigrants themselves.

Meanwhile, according to the DOJ/IG report:

Not only did this process violate the law and Department policy, it also caused significant delays in appointing IJs [Immigration Judges]. These delays increased the burden on the immigration courts, which already were experiencing an increased workload and a high vacancy rate. EOIR Deputy Director Ohlson repeatedly requested candidate names to address the growing number of vacancies, with little success. As a result of the delay in providing candidates, the Department was unable to timely fill the large numbers of vacant IJ positions.
Dumb and dumber doesn't even begin to describe it.

Posted by: has407 on July 29, 2008 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm new here. Forgive my ignorance."

Yes, you are ignorant, but its not because you're new here. Don't you watch the news and get at least some good information? Oh, wait...you watch FoxNews, don't you...


Posted by: Captain on July 29, 2008 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Fat White Guy: they didn't hire anyone to take the place of the counter-terrorism qualifed man with the unfortunate wife. Per the article:

.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.

Posted by: lilybart on July 29, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Fat White Guy wrote: You would recognize that this guys wife did not attend all those fundraisers alone.

So you admit that you believe he should have been dismissed because of his own party affiliation, despite your earlier disclaimer. Gotcha.

Of course, doing so is still illegal.

che che wrote: So it's the timing of firing U.S. Attorneys that Bush erred on?

Be careful there, pardner; so far Bush has denied involvement in the US attorney firing.

And I don't blame him -- since the firings seem to have in common that they were done because the USAs either would not push politically motivated prosecutions, or would not soft-pedal investigations of criminal Republicans, the firings are likely a criminal act.

You're right about one thing, surprisingly enough -- the unusual timing of the USA firings drew attention that uncovered this criminal conspiracy.

Once again: President Clinton never did the same thing the Republicans are accused of.

maybe that's why the Democrat Congress is significantly LESS popular than a very unpopular President.

Carefulm, there, che che -- if anyone was tempted to consider you an honest commentator (fat chance!), your use of "Democrat Congress" gave away the game.

The Democratic Congress is less popular than Bush because it's perceived as not doing enough to oppose him.

Posted by: Gregory on July 29, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

@ che che:

FYI, this was not a Congressional investigation. It was conducted by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility. So your theory that the Democratic Congressional majority is engaging in political witch-hunts is, well, uninformed.

Look, a Department of Justice that could produce the Torture Memos ain't your daddy's Department of Justice. This administration really has been different. You just don't know enough about how DOJ worked in the past to have a basis for comparison. That's fine, most people don't, but don't assume that we're wrong just because you haven't done your homework.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 29, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

che che (cute tag by the way) - Educate yourself. There's more than enough info just in this thread to get you started. Start with Talking Points Memo, The New York Times, Scott Horton's "No Comment" blog, the transcript the February 24 broadcast of 60 Minutes, The Congressional Record...out of all of BushCo's amoral ventures, their evisceration of DOJ might be the most insidiously destructive to the long term health of America as a constitutional republic. It amounts to nothing less than a large scale, functional subversion of the rule of law, through the channels of radical religious ideology, for purely political ends. And yes, the parallels to Stalinist positioning of subservient, sycophantic apparatchiks are there, clear to see for those with eyes. Fifty four Attorney's General signed a letter denouncing the Siegelman show trial, Democrat AND Republican. If what Goodling, et al. did and are doing isn't corrected with prejudice (and I believe it will be - real lawyers see these hacks for what they are, and the BushCo weasels will at the least be hounded out once we return to objective standards of competence), then the US has been set up for a truly third world legal system of patronage, radical incompetence, and, yes, Stalinist lock step interpretation and execution of the law in mindless service to political and corporate malfeasance.

Posted by: Conrad's Ghost on July 29, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

the democratic majority uses these investigations as a political weapon

The rule of law is so inconvenient for Republicans isn't it?

investigating a supposed republican administration impropriety that Clinton enthusiastically engaged in when they were previously the majority

No Clinton did not. How many ways must we say "Clinton did not" while you continue to spout "Clinton did it"?

You will find any comment you leave which does not adhere to the progressive philosophy of life completely dismissed

We dismiss your dishonest memes and mendacity yes. Got anything else?

Posted by: ckelly on July 29, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell at 11:08 AM:

Yesssss, yessss, Meester Orwell, ve vait vith sharpened teeth to tear you up with mean words. HA! Another innocent thrown to the lions of progressive ...ummm, nastiness.
I'm tewwibwy, tewwibwy sowwy. Did your feelings get a wittle boo boo? Perhaps if posters trying to force their inexcusable ignorance onto a fairly well informed audience tried - just tried, mind you - to contribute productively to the discussion (as opposed to the old "throwing sand in the gears" schtick) then maybe, just maybe, you'd get the respect you so whiningly seem to feel entitled to.

Posted by: Conrad's Ghost on July 29, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Personally, I am most offended by the question about why the candidates wanted to serve George Bush. A public servant serves [i]the country, the People of the United States of America[/i]. Public servants serve [i]under[/i]whoever is the President. Looking for candidates who would think of themselves as serving George Bush personally was wrong on just about every possible level.

Posted by: on July 29, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, the "personally" post was by me. Should have used the "preview" button!

Posted by: chasmrich on July 29, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

So it's the timing of firing U.S. Attorneys that Bush erred on?

Not so much the timing as the motivation, i.e. doing so for the criminal purpose of obstructing justice and aiding and abetting an ongoing criminal conspiracy, including by deliberately derailing investigations of Republican lawbreakers and/or suborning unfounded, politically-motivated partisan prosecutions of Democrats.

But then you knew that, didn't you?

Posted by: Stefan on July 29, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

To the list of sources provided by Conrad's Ghost above, an interesting addition is the congressional testimony of Joseph Rich, who held a high-level staff position in the DOJ's Voting Rights Division before he resigned in response to the subversion of the Division's mission by the Bush administration's political appointees. Rich served for decades, under Democratic and Republican presidents, and he is very specific in his testimony about the way this administration changed the Voting Rights Division.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 29, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

The concept of "civil servants" who are not political appointees is not something this administration comprehends. Sad, but true.

Posted by: Thalia on July 30, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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