The Department of InJustice

The New York Times this morning reports that "violent crime in cities" showed a "sharp surge" over the past two years. Kate Zernike writes: "While overall crime has been declining nationwide, police officials have been warning of a rise in murder, robbery and gun assaults since late 2005, particularly in midsize cities and the Midwest. Now, they say, two years of data indicates that the spike is more than an aberration." Is it a coincidence that this two-year period coincides roughly with Alberto Gonzales' tenure as Attorney General of the United States? Probably. But that makes the Justice Department's recent woes no less outrageous.

While murder rates rise sharply, our Justice Department plays loosey-goosey with ethical rules and allows good, decent U.S. Attorneys-- the backbone of the federal justice system-- to be replaced by political hacks chosen by the White House. While meth use in the nation's heartland increases, our Federal Bureau of Investigation is unable to adequately and accurately account for its extraordinary use of National Security Letters to gain subpoena power without prior court approval. It's no wonder that Senate Judiciary Committee member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said yesterday: "One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner rather than later."

I'll have more to say on this topic, much much more, in the next week or so when I post a series about Alberto Gonzales and his Justice Department. Stay tuned here for details.

By Andrew Cohen |  March 9, 2007; 9:30 AM ET agag
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The real question is how many of the current U.S. Attorneys quietly subverted justice by doing everything they were asked to do in the name of Republican party politics. If they were not inclined to do so before, watching eight of their kind walk the plank must have registered. The facts are in, Alberto Gonzales is more interested in humping Bush's leg than he is in doing justice.

Posted by: mikeasr | March 9, 2007 01:09 PM

With all the illegal aliens in this country, why are people surprised there is more crime? Mexico has a very high crime rate and we have no idea what criminals have come across the border.

Posted by: art | March 9, 2007 01:12 PM

Andrew Cohen :If you are reporting about Corruption .Then why not go to your Intrernet search and type in "Who owns Citi Bank and put up Vimpires in the city .And why one never hears about the ones list in this corruption . Pastor Danny

Posted by: Pastor Danny Ray Fowler | March 9, 2007 01:24 PM

Did I miss something? Are these U.S. Attorney's not appointed? Do they not, as all other appointee's, serve at the pleasure of those who appointed them? Is it not common practice for there to be "turnovers" when an administration changes, or when a new DOJ director is brought in?

These are attorney's for the people, not supreme court justices. It makes sense that for whatever administration is in power, that they should be allowed to appoint or remove as they see fit, for any reason, or for no reason at all. Otherwise, it should be illegal for the Supreme Court to decline a case and refuse to state their reason for declining. Equally important, that scrutiny over law makers attempts to influence U.S. Attorneys must be scrupulous and have a meaningful enforcement mechanism. The system cannot reasonably be expected to operate without both these provisions.

Posted by: edweirdness | March 9, 2007 01:24 PM

I fail to see why people are surprised. For the longest time it has been clear that under the Bush administration all matters, let me repeat, ALL matters are subordinated to political interests. Take your pick. Budgets, war, peace, justice, enforcement, FEMA, enviornment, foreign policy, science and so on. So I guess the only thing that is surprising to me is how gullable and subject to propoganda Americans are that they would consider this a surprise or that they also continue to uncritically accept this administration's protestations of benign or benevolent intent.

Posted by: Paul Bogdanich | March 9, 2007 01:33 PM

A very perplexing question of the Bush Justice agenda relates to its treatment of Clinton holdover, Office of Public Integrity Chief Noel Hillman, responsible for all proscutions of politically related cases.
Hillman bungled the Hillary Clinton campaign finance fraud investigation relating to more than $900,000 Hillary obtained from Hollywood entrepreneur and ex-felon Peter Paul in 2000. Hillman prosecuted the only man in Hillary's campaign who wasnt legally responsible for the false FEC reports Hillary's campaign filed that lied about Paul's contributions as Hillary's largest donor.
While Hillman was bungling the investigation that should have ended Hillary's new political career- he was bungling the Sandy Berger prosecution to protect Bill. As a reward for bungling and abusing his office, Hillman was appointed to a federal court seat and 6 months later nominated by Bush for the 3rd Circuit court of appeal.- clearly a reward for his bungling. Why is Bush rewarding Hillman for protecting both Clintons?

Posted by: Dan Morgan | March 9, 2007 01:33 PM

Isn't it true that most murder cases are tried by the state criminal courts and not the U.S. Attorney's office? Mentioning the growing number of murders to enhance your views, displays another agenda having little to do with the original argument. If there were concerns about the reason for the removals, there are ample "civil service" provisions in place to deal with any who feels they were discharged unfairly. I'd guess that every disgruntled employee might want to avail themselves of a House or Senate inquiry. Certainly it would tend to diminish the number of government employees who were discharged, whether properly or improperly.

If there is a problem with an administration being allowed to appoint and remove U.S. Attorneys as they see fit, then the legislature should make being a U.S. Attorney and elected office. My surmise is that if citizens were given a say into how the U.S. Attorneys conduct the business of the people, there would still be a high rate of turnover.

Posted by: Edweirdness | March 9, 2007 01:34 PM

The thing wrong is Washington politics. Why were the attorneys fired, who is to know the truth,in Washington and in many states we get what the special interest pay for. Service in the public sector is
supposed to be a privilage not a life time appointment( some congressmen/women disagree). If we want to remove the problem then demand a vote for term limits in congress. If you are going to sit back and take it then these people are going to give it to you.. They are the most arrogant people that I have ever seen or (smelled)-- heard of. The press don't do their jobs of reporting in an unbiase manner.maybe most of them were congressmen. Who is to know the truth.....

Posted by: William Johnston | March 9, 2007 02:16 PM

I just looked away for a minute and our civil rights, liberties and freedoms disappeared. Could it be that the Fascists elected six years ago had something to do with it?
Sure miss my country.

Posted by: BGREEN2224@AOL.COM | March 9, 2007 02:19 PM

art, I don't know about YOUR community but in mine (population of 1 million + in the greater metro area), virtually all our violent crimes are being committed by good ole born-in-the-USA folks, and usually under the influence of alcohol, not drugs. I'm sure, with our growing Latin population, we've got our share of 'illegals' but you hardly ever read about a violent crime committed here by that group. Try some other scapegoat, please.

Posted by: windrider | March 9, 2007 02:21 PM

Be prepared for people to be puzzled by this as a story about hiring policy and practices in the sense of "gee my boss can lay me off w/o explanation, what makes the US Attorney Generals so special". That's not the story. The story is that the US Attorney Generals and their processes were being subverted (bad enough), and for political reasons (even worse) by the legislature (getting really bad) with cooperation by the DOJ/excutive branch in the execution of hiring policies and practices (kaboom!).

Posted by: disc | March 9, 2007 02:27 PM

Please follow up on this. It is really a huge threat to "rule of law." Gonzalez has long overstayed his welcome. He is loaded with criminal intent. To appoint political hacks is outrageous.
I have always believed in hiring the best person for the job after they are vetted by the Senate. To do otherwise is to undermine the working ethic of America. If I am the best for a job, and I am not the right color, preference, religion or politcal association, I am still the best for the job and should be hired. The worst place to hire (based on anything other than performance and ability) second bests or those who would otherwise not be in the running is in education and justice.
Please go after this issue like a mad dog foaming.
ed u cates

Posted by: educates | March 9, 2007 02:27 PM

"Did I miss something? Are these U.S. Attorney's [sic] not appointed? Do they not, as all other appointee's [sic], serve at the pleasure of those who appointed them?"

Yes. Apparently you did miss something:

Posted by: Halitosis Rex | March 9, 2007 02:47 PM

"With all the illegal aliens in this country, why are people surprised there is more crime?"

No, even Tony Snow observed that areas of the country known for being full of illegals actually have crime rates lower than average.

Posted by: Halitosis Rex | March 9, 2007 02:49 PM

On an almost daily basis, Gonzales pulls down his pants, squats, and deficates on the United States Constitution.

Posted by: Jake | March 9, 2007 02:58 PM

If you want to analogize to personal life, think of it this way. It would be wrong if the manager hires and fires according to who does the most favors, unrelated to work tasks, that benefit the manager and his buddies, not the business. Remember, in America, We the People are the "boss." Hiring and firing for reasons other than competence is not part of our charge to the President, our manager.

Posted by: Nomo Stew | March 9, 2007 03:07 PM

Time for Gonzales to be fired, or to be impeached. He can no longer protect his masters.

Posted by: H5N1 | March 13, 2007 05:43 PM

The laws don't really mean what they say. There can be manifold interpretations of sets of words set on paper. The president can order the torture to death the children of those we suspect to and there is no legal penality if he thinks he is acting in the best interests of the country. Harsh treatment is not torture unless the practioner thinks he/she is committing torture or the treatment causes organ failure. Those that we deem enemy combatents have no rights whatsoever. Any lies we tell are in your best interests. Despite the chaos and expanding violence, we are in control and know what we are doing. Any doubts you may manifest about our actions will only give aid & confort to the enemy. If you lose faith in our abilities, you are surrendering to terrorists!

Posted by: Thomas | March 13, 2007 10:54 PM

In the interest of justice, why don't the congress return to the practice of vetting and approving or disapproving the nominees for federal attorneys. Since the attorney general is not an elected official how did we ever get in the predicament of letting an unelected official appoint federal attorneys without the approval of the U.S. congress.

Posted by: mike gibbons | March 14, 2007 01:31 AM

Thank you US Attorney Christopher Christie.

The FBI and the Department of Internal Affairs should investigate the Burlington City Police, Prosecutor Lou Gallagher, Public Defender Kurts, Judge Montalto and their association to Burlington Twp. Detective Britzinhoffer before another human being becomes the target of malicious prosecution.

New Jersey needs a productive oversight/ethics committee to sanction police, prosecutors, and judges that blatantly abuse their power.

There are police, prosecutors, and judges in this state that have integrity and we need to restore our faith in the system by removing individuals who have lost site of what the justice system is.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 18, 2007 01:00 PM

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