Justice department lawyers are doing right by the American people -- they are standing up and telling the truth. Some are putting their jobs on the line to do so. These are patriots, please give them a few minutes of your valuable time to see what they have to say.
Daniel J. Metcalfe, a lawyer who began his government career in the Nixon administration and retired from the Justice Department last winter, said morale at the department was worse under Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales than during Watergate.
John S. Koppel, who continues to work at the department as a civil appellate lawyer in Washington, wrote this month that he was "ashamed" of the department and that if Mr. Gonzales told the truth in recent Congressional testimony, "he has been derelict in the performance of his duties and is not up to the job."
Even though they worry that it may hinder their career prospects, a few current and former Justice Department lawyers have begun to add to the chorus of Mr. Gonzales's critics who say that the furor over his performance as attorney general, and questions about his truthfulness under oath, could do lasting damage to the department's work.[...]
The department's No. 2 official, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, has resigned and is expected to leave next week; his departure is widely assumed to have resulted from the outcry over his role in the dismissal of nine United States attorneys last year. A permanent successor has not been named.
William W. Mercer, the nominee for the department's third-highest job, associate attorney general, withdrew his name from consideration for the job last month after determining that his nomination would almost certainly be rejected by the Senate, and also because of his role in the firing of the prosecutors. There is no indication that the administration is close to finding another candidate.
Among the 93 United States attorneys, who serve as the chief federal prosecutors for their regions, there are 24 vacancies. The White House has announced nominations for only six of those offices, which means that several of the jobs may remain unfilled for the rest of the Bush administration.
The Bush administration's politicizing has resulted in a weakening of the Justice Department at a time this country needs to have all law enforcement offices fully-staffed, top to bottom.
Mr. Metcalfe, the retired lawyer who was the founding director of the department's Office of Information and Privacy, said in an interview that the questions over Mr. Gonzales's competence and credibility had shattered morale at the department, especially after the attorney general's testimony this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"When you have an attorney general with his personal integrity and credibility so repeatedly reduced to shreds, not to mention in so public a forum, that's just antithetical to the very nature of the Justice Department and its role in upholding the rule of law," Mr. Metcalfe said. "This is the Department of Justice and the attorney general, where absolute integrity is Job 1."[...]
An Attorney General whose allegiance is to a particular political party, over the Constitution and people of the United States, is just plain unfit to serve that office and should be removed.
In an opinion article that was first published this month in The Denver Post and has since been circulated in the department, Mr. Koppel, the civil appellate lawyer, said that under the Bush administration the department had been "thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful."
Mr. Koppel, who has been with the department since 1981, wrote that his decision to issue such a public criticism of Mr. Gonzales and the department "subjects me to a substantial risk of unlawful reprisal from extremely ruthless people who have repeatedly taken such action in the past."
"But I am confident," Mr. Koppel continued, "that I am speaking on behalf of countless thousands of honorable public servants, at Justice and elsewhere."
The lawyer mentioned in the lead paragraph, Daniel Metcalfe, served in the Nixon administration. He's seen the demoralizing effects of failed leadership before. Nixon's Attorney General John MItchell was the first, and so far only, federal Attorney General to face criminal charges. He was guilty of authorizing illegal wiretaps against U.S. citizens, prosecuted for perjury and obstruction of justice, and was sentenced to 2.5 years in federal prison.
Gonzales is obviously hiding and covering up for his superiors. How high this goes, and to what extent has the GOP and the White House are now, and/or have in the past, used the department for political purposes is still to be determined, but the continued presence of Gonzales, and seemingly unwavering support of President Bush, indicates the "fix" is in.
Just as was the case with Scooter Libby, a top administration member is lying, no doubt with the same expectation of a pardon. The President of the United States has once again bought the silence of a top administration official.
Our country deserves better. The American people deserve better.
More: at the New York Times
- A NYT Timeline of the last six months
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