Sunday, February 08, 2015

rule of law: not just the DoD, G-Dub salted the DoJ with dominionists too...,


salon |  The Republican’s strategy should be clear by now: at the most superficial level, it’s about base mobilization, not trying to persuade those in the middle. Whitehouse was right about that much. But this doesn’t mean the GOP isn’t targeting the middle, and doing it more successfully than Digby might suggest—they’re just not doing it directly. At a deeper level, their play is simple: go hard right with no concern for facts or any other standard, and pull the “both sides do it” brain-dead centrist journalists, pundit class and the rest of Washington along with them, so that they do the actual work of moving everyone in the center to the right.

With so many attacks made so continuously, even the reporters who’ve helped debunk them come to accept the situation as normal. But the bottom line of normal in this instance—the GOP charge that the DOJ under Holder has suddenly become politicized—is precisely the opposite of the truth. It was actually the Bush DOJ that was politicized like no other in modern history, save Nixon’s post-Watergate, and Obama’s biggest mistake (as in so many other things) was in giving them a pass in hopes of fostering bipartisan cooperation going forward.

It wasn’t just Democrats complaining about politicization under Bush, either. The watershed event—though far from the only violation involved—was the U.S. attorneys scandal—an unprecedented set of politically motivatied high-level firings that eventually had politicians of both parties shaking their heads in disbelief. The scandal took some time to decode, but in late February 2007, Salon identified one key aspect—that high-performing U.S. attorneys had been forced out to make way for perceived Bush loyalists. McClatchy played a key role in reporting many of the differently inflected twists and turns, while Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, who first raised the alarm widely, was key in drawing attention to the political core of what was happening. As he explained in March 2007, as the outlines were still coming into focus:
The issue here is why these U.S. Attorneys were fired and the fact that the White House intended to replace them with U.S. Attorneys not confirmed by the senate. We now have abundant evidence that they were fired for not sufficiently politicizing their offices, for not indicting enough Democrats on bogus charges or for too aggressively going after Republicans. (Remember, Carol Lam is still the big story here.) We also now know that the top leadership of the Justice Department lied both to the public and to Congress about why the firing took place. As an added bonus we know the whole plan was hatched at the White House with the direct involvement of the president.
That same month, Salon highlighted the role of bogus voter fraud claims in the years leading up to the firings. That story briefly touched on New Mexico, where, “in 2004, U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, one of the two fired U.S. attorneys who allegedly failed to pursue electoral fraud cases, took a pass on an especially dubious prosecution,” but it focused intently on Missouri, where Salon noted, “three different [Bush era] U.S. attorneys have launched investigations into electoral fraud… indicting nine people”—not a very large haul, which was part of the problem. In Missouri, the replacement U.S. attorney—appointed without Senate approval, as was then possible, due to a Patriot Act loophole—was Bradley Schlozman, who had previously supervised the voting section of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, which we’ll soon see was another hotbed of politicization within the Bush DOJ.

But it wasn’t just Democrats and a handful of remaining “good government” Republicans who were upset. By late August, McClatchy’s Marisa Taylor reported widespread internal criticism based on extensive interviews with “current and former department officials,” as well as at least one anonymous federal judge. “Charges of cronyism and partisan politicking have sunk the Justice Department’s reputation to levels not seen since Watergate and damaged the Bush administration’s ability to fight crime, pursue the war on terrorism and achieve its other goals,” Taylor reported in late August 2007.