Monday :: Apr 30, 2007

Gonzales Gave All Personnel Power To Sampson, Goodling

by Steve

You can't escape the feeling after reading this that Alberto Gonzales may be the worst AG this country has ever seen. He is not only deficient as a legal mind, but he is an inept and absent manager, and willing to sacrifice his whole department to a purge for purely political reasons. This goes way beyond any gripe that the right wing had against Janet Reno.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides -- who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys -- extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department. A copy of the order and other Justice Department records related to the conception and implementation of the order were provided to National Journal.
In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison "the authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration" of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department's political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. Monica Goodling became White House liaison in April 2006, the month after Gonzales signed the order.

That's right; the senior law enforcement official in the United States willingly transferred day-to-day power of his department over to two young political hacks with no real world justice or prosecutorial experience.

The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed.
A senior executive branch official familiar with the delegation of authority said in an interview that -- as was the case with the firings of the U.S. attorneys and the selection of their replacements -- the two aides intended to work closely with White House political aides and the White House counsel's office in deciding which senior Justice Department officials to dismiss and whom to appoint to their posts. "It was an attempt to make the department more responsive to the political side of the White House and to do it in such a way that people would not know it was going on," the official said.

I think the no-confidence vote against Gonzales is only a matter of time now. And failing that, he should be impeached. But it sure is a nifty trick to try and transfer blame to the two snotnose underlings.

Hat tip to Kim Stewart

Steve :: 8:17 PM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!