Monday, August 27, 2007

HIRING PRACTICES AT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: WIDESPREAD PATRONAGE APPOINTMENTS UNDER BUSH ADMINSTRATION? (Repost of June 14th article)


"We anticipate that many of our graduates are going to go and be change agents in society."
--Regent School of Law Dean, Jeffrey Brauch to the Boston Globe (04.08.2007)

Washington D.C.--While it's beyond the scope of this blog to fully-investigate this--something that only Congress can truly find-out--there could be connections between "Hookergate" and the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, and they could be legion. Take former senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Monica Goodling: she's now 33, but was in her late-twenties when she was tapped for Justice by...who?

That would be Alberto Gonzales, who answers to the president. Goodling--a graduate of lowest-tiered Regent School of Law--hired ex-U.S. Attorney (not fired) Tim Griffin in what could be a widespread game of appointment-leapfrog, and helped draw-up a list of prosecutors to fire. There is ample-evidence at this time to believe they were fired for political reasons. According to an April Boston Globe article on Regent, there is ample-evidence the Bush administration hires-and-fires for political reasons. Hey, that's fair:
But even in its darker days, Regent has had no better friend than the Bush administration. Graduates of the law school have been among the most influential of the more than 150 Regent University alumni hired to federal government positions since President Bush took office in 2001, according to a university website. One of those graduates is Monica Goodling , the former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who is at the center of the storm over the firing of US attorneys. Goodling, who resigned on Friday, has become the face of Regent overnight -- and drawn a harsh spotlight to the administration's hiring of officials educated at smaller, conservative schools with sometimes marginal academic reputations. (Boston Globe, 04.08.2007)
Hey, the president didn't have good grades either. He must have a soft-spot (his head) for them. It would seem it's the Bush administration and their appointments, once ensconced within the bureaucracy, who decide on the hiring now.

How widespread is this?
Is it politically-based? It appears it could very well be. There have been rumblings about this for months-and-months, but we got an earful around May 7th regarding the Justice Department probe:

"We are highly disturbed by the emerging information, because it seems to repeat this pattern going on at the [Department of Justice] where people are chosen for their positions not for their experience and qualifications, but rather whether or not they match a certain political ideology," Sanchez said. Among those raising concerns is Joseph Rich, a 36-year veteran of the department, who left in 2005 after serving as head of the Civil Rights Division's section that deals with voting rights. "The whole hiring process had been changed to put the decision-making in political appointees' hands, and it was clear it was being politicized in that manner," Rich told CNN. (CNN, 05.07.2007)
Tim Griffin could tell us more about the problems at the Civil Rights Division. But is it just at Justice? This is the connection to Deborah Jeane Palfrey and her case. Palfrey's impressions of the postal agents who contacted her realtor on October 3rd of 2006 appeared to be in their "late-twenties."

Her mother Blanche was visited at her home in Florida on June 5th of this year by IRS agent Troy Burrus...and one of the postal investigators, Maria Couvillon [Ed.-Quite possibly the daughter of federal district court judge Irvin Couvillon who works out of Louisiana]. Her mother had the same impression, and Palfrey adds, "...my mother thought the “kids” appeared to be very young."


Is it a strange question to ask: are hiring practices throughout the rest of our government bureaucracy are the same as they are at Justice (under the Bush administration)? This is an administration that has made-it-plain that they're at war with the departments of our government--could politically-based hiring be of any surprise after warrantless wiretapping?

It's being alleged that Bradley Schlozman (former top official in the Civil Rights Division of Justice) had the party-affiliation of Ty Clevenger (a Republican) removed from his application for employment at the department. Again, the public isn't allowed to know these details under federal law, based on protecting investigative procedures and privacy. The public isn't allowed access to this information.

Is standard procedure a legitimate front (highlighted by legal counsel like Harriet Miers, or even someone like Goodling?), something that the Bush administration was counting on? What's strange is the multi-jurisdictional quality of Palfrey's case, it seems confused: the USPS, the Justice Department, and the IRS (more?). There could be other departments involved, but the question is: why? Was authorizing the use of postal investigators a way to federalize the case? Could the same be said about the involvement of the IRS? Is this how "Hookergate" began:
Lawmakers from both parties yesterday called for limits on antiterrorism laws in response to a Justice Department report that the FBI improperly obtained telephone logs, banking records and other personal information on thousands of Americans." It also found that the FBI had hatched an agreement with telephone companies allowing the agency to ask for information on more than 3,000 phone numbers -- often without a subpoena, without an emergency or even without an investigative case. (Washington Post, 03.10.2007)
This sounds very familiar, and might cover the predicament that Ms. Palfrey has found herself in. Were antiterrorism laws used--and abused--in her case? Many in Congress have been calling for a rollback on statutes within the Patriot Act. We could be finding-out soon whether Deborah Jeane Palfrey was caught-up in this net, but this aspect can only be covered by Congress--or by whistle-blowers.


Ed.-Minor revisions added 08.27.2007. FOIAs were filed in July of this year by J-7 on all members of the investigation and prosecution team at Justice involved in the case of Ms. Palfrey. They are pending, but could aid in substantiating if others at DOJ were hired for ideological reasons. [Ed., 08.28.2008--The FOIAs were laughable with no detail on the prosecutors' backgrounds, merely their loyalty oaths.]