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Saturday, April 28, 2007

The DOJ: Partisan Firing and Hiring

posted by on April 28 at 14:39 PM

The Washington Post revealed today that the DOJ wasn’t only firing people for political reasons, but hiring new people— through its revered Honors Program for young stars— along partisan lines as well.

From the Post’s article:

The Justice Department is removing political appointees from the hiring process for rookie lawyers and summer interns, amid allegations that the Bush administration had rigged the programs in favor of candidates with connections to conservative or Republican groups, according to documents and officials.

The decision, outlined in an internal memo distributed Thursday, returns control of the Attorney General’s Honors Program and the Summer Law Intern Program to career lawyers in the department after four years during which political appointees directed the process. …

The changes come as the Justice Department is scrutinized for its hiring and firing practices because of the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. Some of the fired prosecutors were removed because they were not considered “loyal Bushies” by senior Justice and White House officials.

Justice officials said the change was prompted by a contentious staff meeting in early December, which included complaints that political appointees led by Michael J. Elston, chief of staff for Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, had rejected an unusually large number of applicants during the most recent hiring period. Last year, about 400 applicants were interviewed for the honors program — the primary path to a Justice Department job for new lawyers — down from more than 600 the year before.

The honors program, established during the Eisenhower administration, is a highly regarded recruiting program that attracts thousands of applicants from top-flight law schools for about 150 spots each year and has been overseen for most of its history by senior career lawyers at Justice. Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft reworked the program in 2002, shifting control from career employees to himself and his aides.

The changes alarmed many current and former Justice officials, who feared that the Bush administration was seeking to pack the department with conservative ideologues. Many law school placement officers said in 2003 that they noticed a marked shift to the right in the students approached for honors program interviews.

Complaints about the program emerged again this month after Senate and House investigators received a letter from the unidentified Justice employees, who alleged that hiring at the department was “consistently and methodically being eroded by partisan politics.” The letter singled out the honors and intern programs, alleging that senior political appointees appeared to reject applicants who “had interned for a Hill Democrat, clerked for a Democratic judge, worked for a ‘liberal’ cause, or otherwise appeared to have ‘liberal’ leanings.”

The Post article was flagged for me by my dad, a long-retired DOJ lawyer who’s sad about the Dept. right now.

RSS icon Comments


Its, damn it.

Posted by GrammarCop | April 28, 2007 2:49 PM

did they borrow this tactic from nickels?

Posted by wf | April 28, 2007 2:53 PM

Got it. Fixed. It'll never happen again.

Posted by Josh Feit | April 28, 2007 2:55 PM

We now have the Constitution shredded ("It's just a goddamned piece of paper!" - GW Bush), so it was not all for nought. We are safer now that anybody who -might- be a problem can be abducted for no reason and with no recourse. Only Bad people should be concerned, Good people have nothing to worry about.

Long Live Big Brother!

Posted by Terror Dividend | April 28, 2007 4:57 PM


Posted by Andy Niable | April 28, 2007 7:06 PM

There's three major threads going through this scandal:
1. USAs who were told to walk the line, didn't and then got fired.
2. The cronies who replaced the fired USAs.
3. The USAs who were told to the walk the line and then did.

The USA in Wisconsin is a prime example of #3 - railroaded a state employee to embarass the governor prior to the election. An appeals court recently threw out the employee's conviction and exonnerated her saying the case should have never been brought to trial.

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