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Archive for June 24th, 2008

Justice Department aka ‘Just Us Department’?

By- Suzie-Q @ 7:00 PM MST

From the Justice Department to the Just Us Department

Carpetbagger Report

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but it appears the Justice Department, throughout Bush’s two terms, flagrantly and repeatedly broke the law by politicizing the hiring process. Yes, I know we knew that before, but the DoJ’s Inspector General has made it official.

Justice Department officials over the last six years illegally used “political or ideological” factors to hire new lawyers into an elite recruitment program, tapping law school graduates with conservative credentials over those with liberal-sounding resumes, a new report found Tuesday.

The blistering report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general, is the first in what will be a series of investigations growing out of last year’s scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys. It appeared to confirm for the first time in an official examination many of the allegations from critics who charged that the Justice Department had become overly politicized during the Bush administration.

“Many qualified candidates” were rejected for the department’s honors program because of what was perceived as a liberal bias, the report found. Those practices, the report concluded, “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations.”

According to the investigation, the Justice Department began ignoring merit and making employment decisions based on politics in 2002, when then-Attorney General John Ashcroft restructured the honors program, taking decisions away from career officials in each section of the department, giving power to Bush appointees. When Alberto Gonzales took the reins, the illegalities expanded and were intensified.

If you were affiliated with the Federalist Society, you were practically a shoe-in. If Bush appointees saw certain buzz words in your c.v. — works like “environmental” and “social justice” — your application was rejected.

Leave it to Bush and his cohorts to transform the Justice Department into the Just Us Department.

Kevin highlighted this fascinating portion of the I.G.’s report, on the perspective of one DoJ employee who could barely believe what he saw.

Daniel Fridman began his career with the Department in December 2004….[In] September 2006 [Michael] Elston assigned him to work on the Screening Committee along with Elston and Esther Slater McDonald.

….Fridman learned that McDonald was obtaining additional information about candidates on the Internet when he saw notations by McDonald providing information that was not contained in the candidate’s application. When Fridman asked McDonald how she obtained the additional information, she told him she conducted searches on Google and MySpace.

….Fridman said McDonald also circled or otherwise identified items on candidates’ applications about which she apparently had concern, such as membership in certain organizations like the American Constitution Society, having a clerkship with a judge who was perceived as a liberal, having worked for a liberal Member of Congress, or having worked for a liberal law school professor.

….We asked Fridman to review a sample of approximately 50 applications of deselected candidates who had outstanding academic records. Fridman said that he would have voted yes on each of the candidates….At the end of the interview, Fridman stated: “I’m still kind of reeling from the resumes that you . . .showed me . . . people from Harvard, Yale, Stanford who were deselected. There were a lot of them. And I am shocked and very disappointed about that. . . . I didn’t know that this was going on. I thought that this was being conducted in good faith. I was conducting my reviews in good faith and making my recommendations based on merits and what I thought were the people [who] were going to be the most qualified candidates for the Department. And I’m sickened by this. And I’m not happy that I’m associated with this.”

I can’t say I blame him.

I do, however, have a question. What happens if Obama wins the presidency, and has to deal with a Justice Department staffed with a bunch of unqualified conservative activists who were rewarded in an illegal employment scheme?

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Douglas Feith: “Come On Down!!”

GEF @ 5:28 PM MST

Panel seeks testimony from Rumsfeld aide

Subcommittee votes to subpoena Rumsfeld aide over torture memo

AP News

A congressional subcommittee voted Tuesday to subpoena an adviser to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the Bush administration’s harsh interrogation policies toward terror detainees.

Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy, had agreed to testify but changed his mind hours before he was to appear last week at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Feith is believed to have been instrumental in drafting government interrogation policies in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, policies that critics say led to torture.

His lawyer said Feith changed his mind when he learned that Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, an aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, would also testify.

The lawyer, John Moustakas, wrote the committee that Wilkerson has made defamatory comments about Feith, calling Feith stupid and a `card-carrying member of the Likud party’ and more loyal to Israel than the U.S.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the subcommittee chairman, said he had never seen a witness behave as Feith did.

“One witness’ dislike for another witness cannot become a reason not to provide critical testimony to Congress,” said Nadler, D-N.Y.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said Feith justifiably believed the hearing would not be a respectful discussion about terror detainees if Wilkerson shared the microphone.

Republicans asked the Democrats who control the panel to give Feith the opportunity to appear voluntarily without a subpoena. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said the panel was “trying to use a sledgehammer when maybe a flyswatter would do.”

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he hoped Feith would appear voluntarily and that the committee would not need to issue a subpoena.

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By- Suzie-Q @ 2:15 PM MST

FLASHBACK: McCain Declared Osama Bin Laden Threats Are ‘Very Helpful’ To Bush’s Campaign

Think Progress

By Ali at 12:20 pm

Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sought to distance himself from adviser Charlie Black, who told Fortune Magazine that another terrorist attack on the United States would be “a big advantage” to McCain’s campaign. McCain rejected the comments, saying, “If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree.”

However, McCain himself has made similar assertions in the past. In 2004, just three days before the presidential election, McCain argued that a recently-released video-tape by Osama bin Laden would prove “very helpful to President Bush”:

U.S. Sen. John McCain, campaigning in southwestern Connecticut on Saturday, said Osama bin Laden’s video message to Americans will likely energize President Bush’s re-election campaign.

I think it’s very helpful to President Bush,” said McCain, R-Ariz., while stumping in Stamford for U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays. “It focuses America’s attention on the war on terrorism. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I think it does have an effect.” [AP, 10/30/04]

In the 18-minute video, bin Laden declared that al Qaeda was still motivated to attack the United States again.

More recently, McCain indicated that the terrorist attack that killed Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto would help him politically, as CNN’s Dana Bash recounted on the Situation Room yesterday:

BASH: I was actually with Sen. McCain the very day that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. … He really did understand from that moment that this was something that he thought could help him in the race at that point to be the Republican nominee. In fact, at that event that very day I asked Sen. McCain if he thought it would help his political campaign and he said pretty much “Yes.” … So it’s not a secret that back then that Sen. McCain and his campaign thought it would help.

To be sure — unlike Black seemed to do — McCain in 2004 was not advocating a terrorist attack. Yet just like his trusted adviser, McCain — who claimed yesterday he “cannot imagine” why Black would say such a thing — has not hesitated to claim political advantage from acts of terror.

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By- Suzie-Q @ 11:05 AM MST

French President Sarkozy, Wife Carla Bruni Run Into Plane After Israeli Officer Shoots Himself (VIDEO)

AP | DAN BALILTY | June 24, 2008 at 11:33 AM

An Israeli police officer fatally shot himself Tuesday at an airport departure ceremony for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, sparking fear of an assassination attempt and prompting bodyguards to whisk away Sarkozy and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, officials said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there had been no assassination attempt on the French leader.

Watch video below from the scene and click here for updates:

VIDEO

Another police official said the shooting was a suicide, while a third said it may have been accidental.

Dark-suited men quickly ushered Sarkozy and his wife up the stairs of their plane. At the same time, security guards with guns drawn rushed Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Peres toward their cars.

Sarkozy’s wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, rushed up the stairs ahead of her husband.

The shooting occurred while a military band was playing, and the leaders apparently didn’t hear anything.

The incident was over within minutes, and Olmert boarded the plane to inform Sarkozy what had transpired, witnesses said.

Police spokesman Shlomi Sagi confirmed that a policeman guarding the airport committed suicide just as Sarkozy was about to board his plane.

Officials said he shot himself in the head.

The area police commander, Nissim Mor, said police were looking into the incident.

“We are currently investigating the circumstances to see whether it was suicide or if he accidentally discharged his weapon,” he said. “His mission was to secure an area to prevent people from reaching the ceremony.”

Sarkozy’s three-day trip to Israel was meant to improve relations between the two countries.

French presidential spokesman Franck Louvrier could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone. Another presidential spokesman who was on a separate scheduled flight out of Tel Aviv said he knew nothing about the incident.

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Afternoon Jukebox… American Woman

By- Suzie-Q @ 11:00 AM MST

Guess Who- American Woman – (Full Version)

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By- Suzie-Q @ 7:10 AM MST

Judge: Why Litigate When You Can Arrest?

TPM Muckraker
By Kate Klonick – June 23, 2008, 6:35PM

In a motion hearing in federal court today, [Monday] U.S. District Judge John Bates questioned why Congress didn’t simply arrest former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff Josh Bolten after both refused to respond to subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee:

Congress has the authority to hold someone in contempt, U.S. District Judge John Bates said. Did it really need to go to court? House counsel Irvin Nathan said it did.

The hearing is the latest in an ongoing battle between Congress and the White House, to have senior aides testify about the U.S. attorney firings.

Bates also queried whether he should make a decision at all:

“Both sides have the same argument,” Bates said. “Whether I rule for the executive branch or I rule for the legislative branch, I’m going to disrupt the balance.”

Bates promised a quick decision, but noted the likelihood of appeal.

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