07.28.08

On Inspector General And Office Of Professional Responsibility Report On Politicization At The Department Of Justice

“Today’s report from the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility about their investigation into improper political influence in the hiring of attorneys for key career positions throughout the Department of Justice provides a close examination of another troubling chapter at the Department.  The policies and attitudes of this administration encouraged politicization of the Department and permitted these excesses.  It is now clear that these politically-rooted actions were widespread, and could not have been done without at least the tacit approval of senior Department officials. 

“The report reveals decisions to reject qualified, experienced applicants to work on counterterrorism issues in favor of a less experienced attorney on the basis of political ideology.  Rather than strengthening our national security, the Department of Justice appears to have bent to the political will of the administration.  Further, the report reveals that the ‘principal source’ for politically vetted candidates considered for important positions as immigration judges was the White House– a clear indication of the untoward political influence of the Bush administration on traditionally non-political appointments.  The report finds that this politicization caused delays in filling immigration judge positions just as the workload and importance of those judges was increasing.  The report documents similar improper politicization in the hiring of career attorneys to crucial positions throughout the Department.

“Like some in the administration who would place blame for the actions at Abu Ghraib solely onto the shoulders of a few bad apples, the Attorney General has tried to dismiss the Inspector General’s first report on politicization issued last month as documenting the actions of just a few bad apples.  But it was obvious from that first report, and becomes more so with this second joint IG/OPR report, that the problems of politicization at the Department are rooted deeper than that.  In this report, we once again see that the Bush administration has allowed politics to affect and infect the nation’s chief law enforcement agency’s priorities. 

“I look forward to the Inspector General’s testimony Wednesday before the Judiciary Committee.  His office’s investigation has shone much needed light on hiring decisions made at the Department of Justice in the shadow of the White House.”

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693