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Thursday, March 29, 2007

A bit more on Bush-whacked Justice

Digby's column, "Machiavelli's Inbred Children", starts off citing an LA Times op-ed by Joseph Rich, a retired DOJ career civil rights attorney. Rich begins:

THE SCANDAL unfolding around the firing of eight U.S. attorneys compels the conclusion that the Bush administration has rewarded loyalty over all else. A destructive pattern of partisan political actions at the Justice Department started long before this incident, however, as those of us who worked in its civil rights division can attest.

I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws — particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies — from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.

It has notably shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights. From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.

Well, as Jack Benny used to say. "They hate our freedoms", as another less humourous comedian famously said. It's not really a revelation, as I recall, but still.

Rich has more to say. So does Digby ("since I first started writing on-line, one of my recurring themes is that the modern Republican party has become fundamentally hostile to democracy"), mostly about the Bush v. Gore, Florida recount debacle.

But I will stop after this: funny, I hadn't thought that anything was more critical to this nation right now than the Iraq occupation; but maybe, just maybe, the current Senate Judiciary hearings are more fundamental.

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