Too much politics in Justice Dept.

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (Reuters Photo)

U.S. President George W. Bush’s Justice Department improperly injected politics into hiring programs, a department investigation released on Tuesday found.

A report by the department’s inspector general and office of professional responsibility said members of a screening committee were asked to weed out "wackos" and ideological "extremists" who sought work in a competitive honors program for entry-level attorneys or as summer interns.

It said the committee rejected applicants with liberal or Democratic affiliations at a much higher rate than those with Republican, conservative or politically neutral backgrounds.

One candidate, a Harvard student fluent in Arabic who was at the top of his class, was put in a "questionable" category evidently because of his membership in the Council on American Islamic Relations civil-rights group.

Another candidate was described by a U.S. attorney who was asked for input as someone who "appears to favor a reintroduction of wolves" on federal lands.

Federal law and department policy prohibit such factors in hiring career positions.

The study said problems were notable in 2002, under Attorney General John Ashcroft, and in 2006, under Alberto Gonzales, a longtime ally of Bush who resigned last year under pressure over charges the department improperly ousted U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

"The screening committees in 2002 and 2006 improperly deselected candidates for interviews based on political and ideological affiliations," the report said.

It said the department has since dismantled the screening process established in 2002 and set new guidance on hiring criteria.

The department is still investigating the ouster of U.S. attorneys under Gonzales.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement, "Never again should blatant partisanship be made the crux of the Justice Department’s hiring practices … It houses our nation’s top law enforcement officers, and it has been crippled in the last seven years."

Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who succeeded Gonzales, said "the consideration of political affiliations in the hiring of career department employees is impermissible and unacceptable."

He said he had accepted recommendations in the report to further guard against improper hiring factors.


  1. Sandra Price

    One only has to attend a Christian Revival meeting to understand why Christians believe the Constitition is based on “our creator” being only Jesus Christ. When I was in junior highschool, my assumption was that we were created by the universe. The focus of the religious right is that America should have been declared a Christian Nation from its inception. When I questioned why people of other Gods were allowed to enter America, they all agreed that it was an over sight. I am now seeing a virulent reaction to a Black American running for President and it is becoming apparent that the skin color is now another problem.

    I spent the first 65 years of my life in California and cannot conceive of this kind of culture developing in America. If the Constitution was written to classify a Christian America, I was never aware of it until I went on line and read the doctrines of the religious right.

    It is bad enough that this condition exists in America but to have it infiltrate into the Republican Party makes me sick. The GOP was my party of choice as it stood tall for individual freedoms and a limited government formed to stay out of the lives of all Americans. In 1994 I woke up in a nightmare after reading the plans within the GOP. It all came alive in 2000 when my glorious nation turned into the very nation our founders tried to control by legislating freedoms for all Americans. Now we have a government legislating prohibitions. The internet was the warning heard all over the world.

    Thank you members of the religious right, you have managed to change the last free nation on this planet into a large group of fools who want us to start the end of days. You are as foolish as any army under Hitler and I can only hope the American people will not allow you another Bush to reign over our destruction.

    We have the perfect example of unAmerican culture forcing us all into dividing up America by Gods and colors. We must not let this continue.

  2. staunchdem

    I can’t disagree with anything any of you have said.
    This group of thugs and liars are the slimiest dirtbags I’ve ever seen and I first voted in a presidential campaign against Nixon.
    Eisenhower was the last honest Republican president and he warned of the dangers of the military industrial complex.
    Audio of his speech can be found easily on the internet and boy was he right.
    I’ll bet he never imagined that a so-called religious group would make that policy worse exponentially.
    The thought of John McCain being elected president absolutely terrifies me.
    Today he was asked what might bring about a military draft and, after mumbling a bit he again brought up WW3.
    We must get involved on the ground at the grassroots level and throw these blood sucking pigs out on their ears.
    As much as I’d love to see them hang for war crimes I doubt anything will happen once they’re gone.
    As long as they go away we’ll begin to take on the generational task of repairing the damage they’ve done.