The Attorney General's Job: Outsourced
We learned Monday that for most of 2006 the Justice Department's ultimate hiring and firing authority was not in the hands of the boss-- the Attorney General of the United States-- but rather in the hands of an inexperienced 37-year-old guy (Kyle Sampson) who briefly wanted to fire fabled U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald and an inexperienced 33-year-old woman (Monica Goodling) who went to a fourth-rate law school founded by Pat Robertson, the mission statement of which was "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world." Does that help explain why the Justice Department is the pathetic mess it is today? Does it help reaffirm for you the notion that Alberto R. Gonzales is an incompetent leader who wasn't even capable enough to properly delegate to the right people a job he should have been doing in the first place?
Even if you accept the current spin at the Justice Department, which is that the so-called "Internal Order" letting Goodling and Sampson loose was not improperly withheld from Congress as part of the investigation into the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys last year, the disclosure adds a disturbing twist on an already-disturbing scenario. Yes, executive delegate. And, yes, high-ranking government officials don't have the time to personally oversee the personnel decisions in their departments. But what this revelation tells me, again and perhaps for the 20th time since this scandal broke, is that the Gonzales Justice Department was and is a place where the chief simply has stepped out of the way, failed to perform his constitutional function, and just allowed his subordinates to be directed by the White House. Which begs the question: with an Attorney General like this, who needs an Attorney General? It's like the job has been outsourced to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, trying to distance himself from this mess, reportedly told Congressional investigators that he did not choose the names of any of the Gang of Eight. Here is how the Post's Dan Eggen put it: "The statements Friday, during a private interview with investigators from the House and Senate Judiciary committees, make McNulty the latest senior Justice official to assert that he did not identify any of the U.S. attorneys to be fired and that his role was minimal. Gonzales, former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson and William E. Moschella, the principal associate deputy attorney general, also told Congress they did not choose who was fired." Where's Waldo, right? Right.
Finally, thank you to those of you who wrote yesterday to update me on the latest mindbender from Gonzales shill Ruben Navarrette, who wrote this about the Attorney General following the latter's Senate Judiciary Committee appearance. First, the guy failed to recognize the sarcasm in Dahlia LIthwick's scathing piece about Gonzales' performance. Strike One. Then he applauded the White House for using Gonzales as a "decoy" for Karl Rove-- Heckuva Job, Alberto! Strike Two. And then he concluded that the Attorney General did not "get flustered" during his appearance. Strike Three. I suppose that someone in the world has to defend Gonzales and it's clearly a sign of how indefensible he truly is that Navarrette's lame work is the best anyone can do.
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