Posted tagged ‘us attorneys’

A Few More Bad Apples

July 29, 2008

The Inspector General’s report on the hiring process of career (non-political) US attorneys will undoubtably be attributed to “a few bad apples” who operated on their own and will be left out to dry by the Administration.  Monica Goodling, a name that will be remembered for narrow minded, mean spirited, and completely misguided thinking has been again singled out for gross abuse of the civil service by screening all Bush US attorney appointments from a loyalty and fundamentalist religious perspective.

It is not so long ago that we heard of the Abu Ghraib “bad apples” who sadistically tormented Arab prisoners and gratuitously photographed their actions for all the world to see.  Justice was swift and all the low ranking individuals were court marshaled and both militiary and government officials labeled this as offensive and a violation of policy.  Of course later we found out that in fact they were doing what they had been encouraged to do and that that encouragement could be traced to the highest levels of the US Government.

To be sure no one in the Government or the Military probably ever described the exact practices used by the guards at Abu Ghraib.  Rather it was the tone at the top and lack of oversight that both encouraged and enabled this type of behavior.

With Monica, there is an strange similarity.  For reasons of its own, the Bush Administration recruited a huge number (about 80) graduates from Regent University School of Law (founded by Pat Robertson).  These young and idealistic conservatives were put in all sorts of government positions “because they could be trusted”.  The tone at the top was clear, if it is republican or strongly conservative or devoutly religious, and preferably all three, it was ok.

But just as there are rules covering prisoner treatment, there are rules covering the recruitment of career US attorneys.  These career jobs are suppose to be apolitical and embody the principle that no one is above the law.  Ms Goodling’s careful screening to pick only those who opposed abortion, were not gay or lesbian, and loved Republicans (particularly “W”) was a clear violation of that objective.

Ms Goodling as well as the Abu Ghraib guards are not the root of the problem.  The real source of these transgressions lies at the top of the Bush Administration.  Most likely it was Dick Cheney and a small group of his reports who drove both these processes.  They picked their legal advisers carefully and extracted “opinions” that seemed to provide some latitude in interrogation and in staffing government jobs.  George W Bush is a complete failure as an executive and did not provide any oversight.  With this background, it is not a surprise that subordinates enlarged their assignments in ways they thought the boss wanted.  The rest is history.

While Ms Goodling should have known better and must suffer some penalty, any investigation should not stop with her.  Her actions could not have been a secret either.  The trail must be followed to where it began.