Monday, April 30, 2007

Gonzales Handed the Keys to Goodling And Sampson

Via Atrios, I learned that Murray Waas has an explosive new story in the National Journal that states in part:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides -- who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys -- extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department. A copy of the order and other Justice Department records related to the conception and implementation of the order were provided to National Journal.

In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison "the authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration" of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department's political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. Monica Goodling became White House liaison in April 2006, the month after Gonzales signed the order.

The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level.

This is such an upsetting story for several reasons. Our system of justice is being perverted by a crassness in the legal process that is shocking in it's scope and lack of respect for the rule of law. Secondly, to place two inexperienced lawyers, one a recent bible school and Regent Law School graduate, the other, a guy who had 3 minor cases as his entire trial experience in charge of reshaping the entire justice department at all levels. Gonzales handing off his responsibility to two young inexperienced hacks in inexplicable to me. Did he just want to avoid getting his hands dirty, and have plausible deniability?

This actually seems worse to me than him politicizing the justice department on a hands on basis. What the hell was he thinking? Sampson and Goodling could take care of it without any oversight once he signed this order? How dare he leave our federal law enforcement entity in their hands. Does anybody think even a Republican congress would cave so far as to think this was ok? Wishy-washy Arlen Specter would have to get off the fence on this. The word is often overused, but this is a genuine outrage.