Politicizing the Justice Department

POLITICIZING THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT….Joseph Rich was chief of the voting section in the Justice Department’s civil right division from 1999 to 2005. Today he writes that ever since 2001 the division has been deliberately politicized in an effort to favor the prospects of Republican candidates:

I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws — particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies — from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.

The firing of John McKay and David Iglesias are two pieces of this puzzle, as is the hiring of Bradley Schlozman last year as interim USA for Missouri. The result?

Morale plummeted, resulting in an alarming exodus of career attorneys. In the last two years, 55% to 60% of attorneys in the voting section have transferred to other departments or left the Justice Department entirely.

At the same time, career staff were nearly cut out of the process of hiring lawyers. Control of hiring went to political appointees, so an applicant’s fidelity to GOP interests replaced civil rights experience as the most important factor in hiring decisions.

All part of the grand plan. All part of the plan.

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