Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Fun at the Justice Department

Here's an idea--why not impeach Attorney General Mukasey?

He won't give anyone a straight answer about waterboarding and he won't do anything about whistleblower complaints.

[By Paul Kiel]
It's hard enough to get the facts straight when allegations are made. But everything gets all the more complicated in the Bush Administration's hall of mirrors; it's all pots and kettles.

Consider this dust-up between the Office of Special Counsel and the Justice Department. In one corner, you have Special Counsel Scott Bloch, who heads an obscure little office that is charged with investigating whistleblower complaints, Hatch Act violations, and the like -- but who is himself being investigated for retaliating against whistleblowers and politicizing his office. Oh, and he used a tech service called Geeks on Call to scrub his hard drive at work (he says all the info was personal). In the other corner, you have the Justice Department, and well, you know all about that.

In a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey last week, Bloch charged that the Department was blocking his probe of politicization in the DoJ, his investigation of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias' firing (was it because of his Navy reserve service?), and a whistleblower complaint against former U.S. attorney Rachel Paulose. Eric Black, who reported on the letter last night, has helpfully posted a copy here (pdf).

The OSC, an independent executive branch agency that is not part of the Justice Department, had received a whistleblower complaint about Paulose from Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marti, who had stepped down from his position as Paulose's top deputy in protest against her degrading management style. As characterized by the Bloch letter of last week, Marti alleged that Paulose's management "by fear and intimidation" was disrupting the operation of the office.

While OSC proceeded to investigate those areas over which it has direct authority — specifically relating to prohibited personnel practices, or to the possibility that Paulose had retaliated against Marti for blowing the whistle on her — Bloch referred other matters — such as the allegation that Paulose had mishandled classified national security documents, and the belief that her management style was undermining the morale and efficiency of the office — to Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine last August for investigation.

In the letter, Bloch complains that 1) after the Justice Department launched its own internal investigation of the U.S. attorney firings and politicization in the Department last spring, they asked him to back off, and 2) the DoJ has refused to investigate a whistleblower complaint against Paulose.

Bloch's job, at least under the Bush administration, is to write investigatory reports which the White House will then ignore. Tellingly, Bloch complains in the letter that he's been trying to get White House counsel Fred Fielding on the phone for two months and had no luck.

An official from the Justice Department can't get Fred Fielding on the phone? Incredible.

And now that Paulose has been forced out of her position as a US Attorney, why won't Mukasey do anything about Bloch's attempts to find out how it all went wrong for Paulose (perhaps more prayer next time, and a row of trumpeters to blow a triumphant theme as doves are released would help the next time she is sworn in for a job for which she isn't qualified for.)

Mukasey is a disgrace and should be impeached.

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