Thursday, December 20, 2007

Republicans Subverted And Misused Justice Dept.

Traditionally, presidents have allowed the Justice Department to operate as an independent entity. They have staffed it with non-partisan professionals and allowed these professionals to do their job without interference. The result has been a Justice Department that treated all political parties equally in general, regardless of which political party was in power.

While this wasn't a perfect system, it had worked pretty well for the American people for the last 200 years. But the Bush administration doesn't value tradition, nonpartisonship or fairness. Since this administration took power in 2000, they have done their best to turn the Justice Department into an avenging arm of the Republican Party.

One example of this is the unparalleled access to Justice Department information about ongoing investigations that Bush attorney generals have given to the White House. Over 400 officials of the Bush White House were authorized to request and receive this information. Compare this to the number of people in the Clinton administration who had access -- seven.

With this many White House officials having acces to records of Justice Department investigations, it is easy to see how even nonpartisan professionals could feel pressured to toe the Republican party-line. Add to this the leadership of men like Alberto Gonzales who were concerned only with furthering the Bush agenda, and the hiring only of Bush loyalists from places like ultra-right-wing law school Regent University, and you have the recipe for the co-opting of the Justice Department for political purposes.

There is evidence now that while Republicans were urging the Justice Department to file any kind of case against Democratic candidates and activists (and firing attorneys who wouldn't do it), Justice Department officials were also delaying investigations into criminal activities by Republicans.

In New Hampshire in the 2002 election, Republicans jammed the phone lines of the Democratic Party's get-out-the-vote effort. The responsibility for this stretched not only to the state Republican party leaders, but to at least one official of the Republican National Committee -- James Tobin.

A Justice Department prosecutor was ready to file charges all the way up to Tobin before the 2004 elections. But Justice Department officials delayed the investigation and the filing of charges until after the 2004 election. This prevented the exposure of state and national party involvement, and allowed Republicans to claim it was just a local "dirty trick" that they had no control over. It may well have affected the outcome of the election.

This is why we can no longer count on the Justice Department to fairly investigate the many crimes of the Bush administration. The Department is now little more than a partisan arm of the Republican Party. By subverting and misusing the Justice Department, the Bush administration has harmed all Americans -- regardless of their party affiliation.

It has always been in the best interests of all Americans to have an independent and nonpartisan Justice Department so that civil and human rights can be protected.

This is just one more reason to impeach Bush and Cheney.

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