Monday, September 29, 2008

House on Fire

With the news media focused on the bailout plan to avoid financial disaster till yet another day, as well as the upcoming Palin/Biden debate, the report set to be released today detailing the findings of the Justice Department probe of the US Attorney firings will most likely not get much play.

Murray Waas provides an advance peek into the results of the investigation, Exclusive: Bush appointees attempted to thwart US Attorney Probe:

A report to be made public tomorrow morning by the Justice Department detailing findings of its investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys will say that the efforts of investigators were severely stymied in large part by the lack of cooperation by some Bush administration officials and others outside the Department, according to sources who have seen the report.

The investigation was conducted jointly by the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) and the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR.) Both of those internal watchdogs have no potential prosecutorial power, but can make recommendations that career prosecutors take up their work after they finish their final report. It is unclear whether Attorney General Michael Mukasey will do so.

Despite the fact that its efforts were stymied in part by non-cooperation by witnesses, the report will say- not much of a surprise-that several of the firings were due to the politicization of the Justice Department by Bush administration appointees and that the White House played a role in some of them. Investigators did attempt to do as thorough job as possible in investigating the White House’s role in the firings and were assisted by being able to review some confidential White House emails that the White House had been withholding from Congress.

* * * *

The lack of cooperation by some former Bush administration officials with investigators probing the firings of nine U.S. attorneys is not the first time that former administration officials have thwarted investigators probing the politicization of the Justice Department by refusing to answer their questions.

See Investigation Into Firings Will Not Call for Charges.

After a year of investigating the politization of the Department of Justice, the probe was unable to make any definitive findings because the parties involved refused to cooperate and the Departement lacked the ability -- via subpoena power -- to force their testimony. Shocking, I know! As Emptywheel explains, The USA Purge: DOJ’s IG Punts:

Yeah, those key participants: Harriet Miers, Turdblossom, Bush, Domenici and his staffers, Heather Wilson and her staffers, etcetera. What a surprise. Mukasey's refusal to appoint a prosecutor last year--and his ongoing support for the claims of executive privilege and absolute immunity--bought the White House a year in their attempts to stall or quash this investigation.

And, as if you didn't already guess, Mukasey seems unprepared to appoint a special counsel to investigate this--he seems poised to appoint someone internal, just as he did with the torture tape destruction investigation.

I realize that the list is long, but the degradation of the Department of Justice by the Bush Administration is one of the worst examples of lawless destruction of our governmental principles in its long, shameful history. I wrote about Attorneygate many times last year, see here, here & here, but it is an episode in our history that should not be forgotten or overlooked.

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