Wednesday :: Jan 30, 2008

Michael Mukasey's Department of Injustice

by Turkana

The news today will include Attorney General Michael Mukasey once again refusing to say that waterboarding is torture. He claims that his opinion is not needed because the CIA no longer uses waterboarding on "terror suspects." You can decide for yourself which is more specious: for the nation's chief law enforcement officer to refuse to state whether a form of torture is torture, or for him to claim that it is no longer used. Of course, this is the same guy who refused to appoint a special prosecutor, and refused to cooperate with Congressional investigators, when it was discovered that the CIA had destroyed videotapes taken while interrogating a terror suspect. Videotapes that are believed to reveal that the CIA was committing torture. See no evil, render no opinions on evil.

Well, Mukasey's Department of Justice was, today, also accused of further impeding the investigation into the U.S. Attorneys firings scandal. Scott Horton very neatly summarizes that:

Richard Schmitt and Tom Hamburger at the Los Angeles Times are reporting this morning on the status of the probe by Scott Bloch, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, into the December 7, 2006 firing by Attorney General Gonzales of eight U.S. attorneys. The suspicion, now bolstered by a substantial amount of investigative work by the press and by Congressional oversight organs, is, that the firings occurred for corrupt purposes. The terminated U.S. attorneys had been under intense pressure to bring election-eve charges against Democrats, or to suppress criminal investigations targeting Republicans. Each had refused these overtures and insisted on handling the investigations “by the book.” And that vestige of professionalism was, in the White House’s book, a show-stopper.

And what Schmitt and Hamburger show is that the Department of Justice is again obstructing justice:

The government agency that enforces one of the principal laws aimed at keeping politics out of the civil service has accused the Justice Department of blocking its investigation into alleged politicizing of the department under former Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales.

Scott J. Bloch, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, wrote Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey last week that the department had repeatedly "impeded" his investigation by refusing to share documents and provide answers to written questions, according to a copy of Bloch's letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The Justice Department wants Bloch to wait until its own internal investigation is completed. A department official signaled recently that the investigation is examining the possibility of criminal charges.

But that, the regulator wrote, could take until the last months of the Bush administration, "when there is little hope of any corrective measures or discipline possible" being taken by his office.

Bloch's allegations show how the controversy, which mostly focused on the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006, continues to boil inside government.

Bloch, himself, is a controversial figure, but, as Paul Kiel explains:

Bloch does have authority to investigate such matters. But he has very little actual power to pursue those investigations.

The DOJ is conducting an internal probe, but Bloch claims they are ignoring the Rachel Paulose controversy. There appears to be little he can do about that. You can see a pdf of Bloch's letter here.

And, of course, the DOJ did absolutely nothing, for two years, after a former Halliburton employee charged that she had been gang-raped in Iraq.

There is no way to end this story but to post this report, from Mukasey's confirmation hearings:

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey told senators Wednesday he will reject White House political meddling and overstepping its authority in terrorism cases if approved to run the Justice Department. He said he would resign if his legal or ethical doubts about administration policy are ignored.

Mukasey's plans for the scandal-scarred Justice Department starkly contrast with how it operated under the man who would be his immediate predecessor former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Or not.

Turkana :: 9:21 AM :: Comments (15) :: Digg It!