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July 9, 2008

Today’s Captain Renault Award
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:32 PM * 46 comments

… goes to Attorney General Michael Mukasey:.

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Wednesday dismissed allegations of widespread politicization within the Justice Department, saying he hadn’t seen evidence of it since he took office eight months ago.

Add the entire Justice Department to the list of totally corrupt federal agencies that will have to be rebuilt from the ground up if we ever get an honorable president and a congress with a spine.

And add Mukasey to the list of federal officials who should face criminal charges.

Comments on Today's Captain Renault Award:
#1 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:55 PM:

Actually, DOJ would be at the top of my list; if you can't trust law enforcement you're in deep kim-chi.

#2 ::: Dave Lartigue ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 10:14 PM:

You can almost hear them all snickering.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 11:12 PM:

There was no small amount of WTF when he said it was Congress's job to investigate whether Rove was involved in the prosecution of Alabama's Siegelman. (You can read about that over at Emptywheel's place.) Congress currently can't even start an impeachment investigation for crimes that have been publicly admitted by Bush.

If the DoJ won't investigate possible politically-motivated prosecutions by the US Attorney's office, then whose job is it, and why should what amounts to a criminal investigation be done by the legislative branch? What are we paying the AG, and can we get a refund on that particular overpayment?

#4 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 11:26 PM:

He doesn't see it because he is assiduously avoiding looking.

#5 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 11:27 PM:

if we ever get an honorable president and a congress with a spine

Not that it's likely any time soon.

#6 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 11:31 PM:

Of course Mukaasy can't investigate the DOJ, it'd be a conflict of interest. The same person can't be both prosecutor and criminal.

#7 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 11:59 PM:

It's things like this that make me fantasize about being a U.S. Senator, and holding up Mukasey's nomination, and insisting on someone independent...arrghh. The Dems should have *insisted* on someone independent. Like Patrick Fitzgerald.

#8 ::: Thalia ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Mukasey is trying to avoid appointing a Special Counsel, which is what is done when there is potentially a conflict between the AG's obligation to the executive branch and its obligation to investigate crimes. But if you close your eyes, plug your ears, and yell lalala loud enough, you can pretend not to see the need for a Special Counsel.

#9 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 09:16 AM:

I will bet up to $1000, even odds, that the number of registered Democrats in the Justice Department (civil service--not counting appointees) exceeds the number of registered Republicans.

Any takers?

Seriously--the Federal civil service is overwhelmingly Democratic; changing the Democrat/Republican ratio from 5/1 to 4/2 is hard for me to get upset about.

#10 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 09:45 AM:


The trouble with counting the total for the whole DoJ is that all those Janitors who happen to be registered Democrats aren't taking decisions on who to prosecute.

Neither are the Janitors who are registered Republicans.

#11 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 09:50 AM:

Yup, on "add to list of those who, in a just nation, would be facing criminal charges".

And add his response to the long list of "We have conducted an impartial internal investigation and have discovered that we're innocent of any wrongdoing".

#12 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 09:57 AM:


We seem to be of different natures. For me, any hiring or firing of Civil Service employees on the basis of their political party affiliation, or enforcement of policies based on political ideology, rather than on the laws enacted by Congress, is very easy to get upset about.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 10:13 AM:

"I see NOTHING! I know NOTHING!"
- Sgt. Hans Georg Schultz

#14 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 10:23 AM:

SamChevre, that's not the point. There are many walks in life where a certain political position is more common. The question is not how many staffers appointed were Democrat or Republican or non-aligned. The question is, were people appointed on the basis of their political affiliations? Appointing people to powerful public roles, especially prosecutorial ones, on the basis of their political allegiance is wrong. Even if the appointing power thinks it's just balancing a natural bias, it's still wrong.

#15 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Appointing people to powerful public roles, especially prosecutorial ones, on the basis of their political allegiance is wrong.

Just to clarify: "wrong" in this case means not only morally wrong but illegal. There's a law against it. I can't at the moment recall the name of the law -- isn't it sweet, BTW, that here in the US we name our laws? -- but it exists, and everyone knows about it. So there's a very good reason to get upset about the DoJ refusing to look into or even at its own lawlessness.

Not surprised, though. Not at all.

#16 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 10:36 AM:

SamChevre @9:

If the Federal employees (Civil Service) are Career-Conditional, i.e. they're still "on probation," they can be fired. If they're Career, it is much harder.

Rather than go through the complicated procedure of firing the Career employee, they are usually given scut-work to do, and are for the most part ignored. They are not recommended for promotion, and depending on the office, they can be shunned. Result: MOST of these people go looking for another job.

Dave Bell @10: Most cleaning done at Federal buildings is contracted out, so the odds of the Janitor at DOJ being a Federal employee are very slim. This is one of the reasons most Federal agencies have locking file rooms and safes.

Don Fitch @12: In theory, political party is not supposed to be one of the criteria for hiring. I think there is a good possibility for a class action suit against the DOJ over the fact that the powers that be were choosing to employ only Republicans.

As many of you know, I am a Federal employee. In my 30 years as a civil servant I have seen only ONE employee fired -- she attacked a manager.

#17 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 10:47 AM:

Chris Lawson @14: If you want a really egregious example of the Bush Administration's corruption, Google "Lurita Doan."

She actually held a meeting in a GSA facility about "how to help our REPUBLICAN cadidates during the up-coming election."

She became the head of GSA because she'd donated $200K to Bush's campaign. She had no experience.

Lizzy @15: There are actually two laws that cover this, the Civil Service Act and the Hatch Act.

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 11:22 AM:


The Hatch Act is the one that covers things like that meeting in a GSA facility about "how to help our REPUBLICAN cadidates during the up-coming election."

I know Lori knows this, but Lurita didn't seem to be aware of it. I suspect Rove and Cheney know it, but are betting they all can get away with it until after the time limit for prosecution expires (they are, unfortunately, right so far).

#19 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 11:49 AM:

Don't know about Justice, but as an enforcement attorney at the SEC for 11 years, I was under the impression that as an attorney, I had fewer civil service protections than regular bureaucrats. I would think the same would hold true at DoJ

#20 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 11:50 AM:

Clearly, Mukasey is a graduate of the Horatio Nelson School of Signal Observation. That makes him uniquely qualified for the primary responsibility (according to his boss) of his current position: preventing scandal until after the election.

#21 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Sam Chevre #9: That may or may not be true, but it's irrelevant. Whether the people at DoJ vote Democratic, Republican, or whatever else, is their private matter; what matters is if they engage in partisan politics, up to and including obstructing investigations of politically-motivated crimes.

#22 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 12:47 PM:

PJ Evans @18: You know what really makes me angry with the Doan situation?

Every Federal employee takes three annual courses, Security Awarness,* Ethics, and The Hatch Act.

The rules are that everyone in every Department, up to and including the Secretary, has to complete them, and the format is such that completion of the courses is verified.

Doan did lose her job -- but anyone who can drop $200k as a political contribution probably didn't need it.

*Not just Computer Security, but protecting any personal information we might access during the performance of our duties. (With HHS that's SSNs and medical information.)

#23 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 02:45 PM:

So... is "Sam Chevre" another way to spell "Sean Hannity"? Because this is the sort of nonsense he does on a regular basis.

The political makeup of people who cannot make decisions that affect much are not useful statistically, but the affilitions of the political appointees who *do* make the decisions are. Your argument (such as it is) is about as valid as saying "The pentagon was built during a Democratic administration, end therefore the building is unsound."

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 03:02 PM:

Lori, where I work, I get ethics/harassment, safety, and records retention/management (just did that one yesterday, actually). Oh yeah, driver training, because sometime I might need to drive a company vehicle.

Every year, scheduled by the wonderful computers somewhere else. And we have to either sign a log sheet if it's a group class, or send a copy of the completion notice to a higher-up, for the on-line review class.

How Doan snuck out of hers I don't know, but I'd bet there are others who did, too. Probably all politically-connected, too.

#25 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 03:33 PM:

PJ @ 24: You can't sneak out of the mandated training. I'm also a Federal employee, and we all take the same training, across all the departments. I think what happens is the bad* political appointees disregard the training as "not applicable to them", and go on about their way of life.

Many Federal employees may well be Democrats, although I suspect this depends strongly on the Department -- DoD tends to run heavily Republican, at least based on my admittedly-small-sample-biased experience.

Digressing to the question of janitorial staff: as far as I know, there are no Federal janitors; cleaning is considered "not inherently governmental", and is thus a contractor's position rather than an FTE. I don't know if attorneys at the SEC are contractors, but some lower-ranking positions can indeed be contract, which leaves the person in that job without the same benefits/protections as the folks who are FTEs. The difference between contract and FTE are legalistic, and it's all about keeping the government "smaller".

*The good political appointees -- and I'm sure there are some, around here someplace -- wouldn't disregard the laws and regulations that make the Federal Government go. FedRegs -- not just the law, but a way of life!

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 11:13 PM:

Ginger, we had to do safety training twice this year, because the twit who ran the first meeting didn't pass a signup sheet.

Oh, yes, we also get 'affiliate compliance' training, because we're part of a larger company where some parts are regulated and some are not. It's who we can and can't talk to, and what we can and can't talk about with them. Best summarized as "Don't".

#27 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:00 AM:

PJ @ 26: Signup sheets are your Friend! Never forget them, never throw them out, for you never know when the Safety Officer is going to call you up and ask for proof that everyone's been trained.

And it just so happened that I did.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:06 AM:

Ginger @ 27... proof that everyone's been trained

"Good girl, Ginger!"

#29 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:22 AM:

I used to audit to a federal standard (internal QA).

"If it ain't wrote down, it ain't done!"

#30 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:26 AM:

Serge @ 28: "Blah blah Ginger, blah blah!"

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:32 AM:

Ginger @ 30... I am reminded of that other Far Side where a dog is in his owner's car and he's all excited about the trip to the vet, because he overheard his owner say he was going to be tutored.

#32 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Serge@ 31: Oddly enough, I love tutoring.

There once was a tutor of Tooting
Who loved to tutor the flute-ing
Though he sat at Miskatonic
The scales were diatonic
But the music was oddly neutering.

#33 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:14 AM:

Ginger @ 32... Or, as the flea said, in another Far Side cartoon...

"What the...? Not only is the forest gone, but the mountains too!"

#34 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Ginger @ #32:

There once was a curate of Kew
who kept a small cat in a pew.
He taught it to speak
alphabetical Greek
but it never got further than "μ".

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Paul A @ 34... Is that what they call the kitty letter?

#36 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Serge @ 35: I think your question is μ-t, but a-μ-sing.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 12:43 PM:

Ginger @ 36... At least you didn't say I was tauing the line.

#38 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 02:04 PM:

On the internet, nobody knows you're a...

#40 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 02:23 PM:

I'm not exactly an α male, thought I have done a fair amount of β-testing. I never fly on Δ Airlines. Catharine ζ-Jones is not my favorite actress.

On the other hand, I am a little bit ψonic, and I may bake a π tonight, possibly while singing ρ, ρ, ρ your boat, but probably not.

Am I the only one who thinks ΡΡΡ should be a crew fraternity?

#41 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 02:24 PM:

'Though', not 'thought'.


#42 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 02:47 PM:

Xopher @#40: Given the derivation, shouldn't your nom-de-net be pronounced "Chi-o-fer"? :)

#43 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 03:54 PM:

Χopher@ 40: You're making Π? Ω have a piece too? Can you γ a big piece? I'm so hungry I could η horse. M-k you very much.

#44 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 06:22 PM:


I θ you'd want π. This being greek, we should probably have λ for a main course. For a small φ, I'll bring a ν κ for you to wear.

#45 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 07:52 PM:

Carrie @42: That _is_ where the "Ksopher" pronunciation someone mentioned elsethread comes from....

My wife used to work with a vendor rep named Xenia; she and her boss earned major brownie points by being some of the few people other than Xenia's Greek coworkers who actually said her name correctly.

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 09:07 PM:

In some parts of Guatemala "Xerox" is pronounced "Sherosh."

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