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A Culture of Corruption

"The 140-page report appeared to confirm the suspicions of congressional Democrats and raised fresh questions about the reputation of the Justice Department, which has been roiled since the resignations of more than a dozen top officials last year, including Goodling, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Gonzales chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson. The report also found that Sampson had engaged in misconduct by systematically involving politics in the hiring of immigration judges. . . .

"Current and former department lawyers said they were appalled by the deep reach of the political hiring, which affected hundreds of rejected job seekers and as many as 40 immigration judges who were recruited under the political criteria. Those judges may remain on the bench because their career civil service jobs carry significant employment protections."

Eric Lichtblau writes in the New York Times: "A longtime prosecutor who drew rave reviews from his supervisors was passed over for an important counterterrorism slot because his wife was active in Democratic politics, and a much-less-experienced lawyer with Republican leanings got the job, the report said.

"Another prosecutor was rejected for a job in part because she was thought to be a lesbian. And a Republican lawyer received high marks at his job interview because he was found to be sufficiently conservative on the core issues of 'god, guns + gays.'"

The report "found that White House officials were actively involved in some hiring decisions.

"According to the report, officials at the White House first developed a method of searching the Internet to glean the political leanings of a candidate and introduced it at a White House seminar called The Thorough Process of Investigation. Justice Department officials then began using the technique to search for key phrases or words in an applicant's background, like 'abortion,' 'homosexual,' 'Florida recount,' or 'guns.' . . .

"The problem appears to have predated Ms. Goodling's rise at the Justice Department. In one episode cited in 2004, when John Ashcroft was attorney general, Ms. Goodling's predecessor as White House liaison, Susan Richmond, blocked the deputy attorney general's office from extending the stint of one lawyer because she felt that the job should be filled by a political appointee loyal to Mr. Bush, the report said.

"Stuart Levey, an aide in the deputy attorney general's office, summed up his frustration in an e-mail message recounting his inability to keep the lawyer in his office. 'I also probed whether there is something negative about him that I did not know,' Mr. Levey wrote. 'Turns out there is: he is a registered Democrat,' he wrote, and Jan Williams, an official in the White House, 'thinks everyone in the leadership offices should have some demonstrated loyalty to the President. She all but said that he should pack his bags and get out of Dodge by sunset.'"

Marisa Taylor writes for McClatchy Newspapers that administration critics continue to contend that high-level administration officials were to blame. "'The policies and attitudes of this administration encouraged politicization of the department and permitted these excesses,' charged Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. 'It is now clear that these politically rooted actions were widespread, and could not have been done without at least the tacit approval of senior department officials.'"

Opinion Watch

The New York Times editorial board writes: "The report, prepared by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector General, does not delve deep enough. . . .

"Despite [its] incriminating findings, the report is disappointing for what it omits. Did these hiring practices have any impact on the handling of political cases -- like those involving phony charges of election fraud -- or its prosecution of individuals? What role did White House officials, including Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, play in the politicization?

"And what about former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whose memory went so conveniently fuzzy under questioning by Congress? It strains credulity to believe that a functionary like Ms. Goodling could act so brazenly unless she knew that she was doing what her bosses wanted. . . .


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