by Damozel | Joe Windish has provided some background, some blogger reactions, and some other useful links. JI spent a couple of hours this afternoon browsing the report (h/t to Sadly No! where I found the link to the report (actually entitled 'Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General') (pdf.file) I've set out relevant quotes below. I felt angry while I was reading it---which probably shows in my commentary; I don't know---but now that I'm done I just feel sad. I certainly don't feel disposed to rejoice, but I do want to see these people held accountable.
The Judiciary Committee site has published the responses of John Conyers and Linda Sanchez:
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. and Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sánchez had the following response to today’s Department of Justice Inspector General/Office of Personal Responsibility Report on “An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General.”"Today's report describes ‘systematic’ violations of federal law by several former leaders of the Department of Justice," said Conyers. "Apparently, the political screening was so pervasive that even qualified Republican applicants were rejected from Department positions because they were ‘not Republican enough’ for Monica Goodling and others. The report also makes clear that the cost to our nation of these apparent crimes was severe, as qualified individuals were rejected for key positions in the fight against terrorism and other critical Department jobs for no reason other than political whim. The Report also indicates that Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, and Alberto Gonzales may have lied to the Congress about these matters. I have directed my staff to closely review this matter and to consider whether a criminal referral for perjury is needed."
“The House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the politicization of the Department of Justice has been criticized by the Minority as a fishing expedition that has caught no fish," said Sánchez. “This report, which found that Monica Goodling and many other Justice Department officials committed misconduct by violating both federal law and Department policy, adds to a growing public record that this Administration has tainted our system of justice.”
Even thought I expected to find some evidence of wrongdoing, this report shocked me. his is what evil looks like when latches on to a young person's good intentions: like a well brought up, polite young woman---religious and zealous to a fault in carrying out what she sees as her duty---whose loyalties, beliefs, and wish to do the right thing have become so entangled with a political agenda that she is happy to do anything to serve the cause.
And isn't astonishing---seriously, isn't it?---that so many hardcore law and order Republicans who blithely break the law if they decide that (1) the law is wrong or doesn't matter; (2) the end justifies the means; or (3) both. They are the same people who are most likely to insist that lawbreakers take the consequences of their own actions with respect to the laws that they believe are important and do matter. They are particularly inclined to temper mercy with justice.
Where would these people have drawn the line, I wonder? I am not asking rhetorically---I really do wonder.
Before you consider poor Monica's tragically mistaken performance of her duties, you might want a tak detour to consider another unfortunate young woman (Sarah Taylor) explaining to an irate Patrick Leahy that she took an oath to serve the president. It’s an extraordinary video and illustrates what I imagine was the mindset of many of these young officials
To understand Monica Goodling's errors and the issue of intent, you should first know that the Justice Department hires both 'political' and 'career' attorneys. And on page 12 of its report, it says:
It is not improper to consider political affiliations when hiring for political positions. However, both Department policy and federal law prohibit discrimination in hiring for Department career positions on the basis of political affiliations.
Apparently, Goodling decided that the distinction didn't matter. From page 17 of the report:
Our investigation demonstrated that Goodling sometimes used for career applicants the same political screening techniques she employed in considering applicants for political positions. In addition, she used for candidates who were interested in any position, whether career or political, the same political screening she used for applicants who applied solely for political positions, and some of these candidates were placed in career positions. [emphasis added]
You may be thinking that signs of political discrimination are likely to be subtle....difficult to pin down. Think again.
The Deputy White House Liaison sat in on Goodling's interviews. (Page 18) She said that Goodling always asked the same questions and asked all candidates the same questions; and she herself sometimes was permitted to conduct interviews using these questions. After Goodling resigned, she made a little list. (Page 18) Here are the questions that Ms. Goodling used to ask the candidates---ALL of the candidates (page 18-19)
Tell us about your political philosophy. There are different groups of conservatives, by way of example: Social Conservative, Fiscal Conservative, Law & Order Republican.
[W]hat is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him? [my personal favorite]
Aside from the President, give us an example of someone currently or recently in public service who you admire.
The DoJ adds: 'We found that this last question often took the form of asking the candidate to identify his or her most admired President, Supreme Court Justice, or legislator. Some candidates were asked to identify a person for all three categories. Williamson told us that sometimes Goodling asked candidates: “Why are you a Republican?”'
Some of the candidates felt that their political views were being probed. You think?
Several candidates interviewed by Goodling told us they believed that her question about identifying their favorite Supreme Court Justice, President, or legislator was an attempt to determine the candidates’political beliefs. (Page 19)
And it wasn't just a matter of naming your favorite Republican---you also had to hold the right views on abortion and gay marriage.
For example, one candidate reported that after he stated he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Goodling “frowned” and commented, “but she’s pro-choice.” Another candidate commented that when Goodling asked him to name his favorite judge, it seemed to him that she was trying to “get at my political views.”
We also found that many of [the] interview notes reflected that the topics of abortion and gay marriage were discussed during interviews. It appeared that these topics were discussed as a result of the question seeking information about how the applicant would characterize the type of conservative they were. (Page 19)
Buh-but...did no one notice or ever complain? Why, yes.
Regina Schofield, former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, said she complained to OAG Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson about Goodling asking inappropriate questions of OJP candidates, such as questions about abortion. Schofield said she told Sampson that Goodling needed to be trained, and that Sampson seemed to agree with the suggestion. (Page 19)
She also---accidentally-on-purpose, as they say---used employment firms intended for political candidates for career candidates.
Typically, people who wanted to be considered for political positions within the Bush administration had to complete a form entitled “PPO Non-Career Appointment Form” (PPO is the acronym for “Presidential Personnel Office”). The form required applicants to identify their political party affiliation, their voting address for 2000 and 2004, their involvement in the Bush/Cheney campaigns of 2000 and 2004, and a point of contact to verify their involvement in the campaigns. The form also stated that each applicant had to submit a “political and personal resume” before “White House clearance” could begin....
[D]uring the course of our investigation we found many instances in which candidates for career positions....were asked to complete PPO forms before they interviewed with Goodling. (Page 21)
Did she know that was the wrong thing to do?
Several witnesses told us that when they objected to completing the form prior to interviewing for a career position, Goodling responded that they were given the PPO form by mistake. This response shows that Goodling was aware that it was improper for career candidates to complete a political form. (Page 21)
Goodling didn't stop there. She used the same criteria to screen requests by interim US Attorneys to hire assistant US attorneys.
One attorney complained.
On March 29, 2007, Chuck Rosenberg, Acting Chief of Staff to the Attorney General, forwarded to us a complaint that Goodling had denied an interim U.S. Attorney’s request for a waiver to hire an AUSA because she believed the candidate was too “liberal.” In addition, Goodling’s written statement to Congress acknowledged that “[i]n a very small number of [waiver] cases, I believe that my decisions may have been influenced in part based on political considerations.” (Page 25)
Even when she moved to a different position, she continued to monitor waiver requests. She and her minion applied political and ideological criteria in making some of these determinations. Here's a good anecdote (paragraph spacings added).
On December 19, 2006, Bradley Schlozman, who at the time was the interim U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, sent an e-mail to EOUSA Director Battle and Nowacki to request a waiver to hire an AUSA. Nowacki asked to see the résumés of potential candidates for the position.
On December 22, Schlozman sent Nowacki an e-mail that attached the résumés of three candidates. In his e-mail, Schlozman described the three candidates as “rock-solid Americans” who would be a “hugely positive legacy for this Administration.” Schlozman described each candidate in terms of their conservative political credentials. He wrote that the first applicant’s “involvement with the Bush/Cheney campaign speaks for itself.” Regarding the second candidate, Schlozman noted that he met the applicant during the applicant’s clerkship with a “43-appointee” (referring to a federal appellate judge appointed by President Bush). Schlozman described the third candidate as “a rock star talent in addition to being hard core (in the most positive sense of that phrase) on the issues[.]” Schlozman also described the third applicant as “an obvious conservative of incredible intellect.”
That same day, Nowacki forwarded the three résumés by e-mail to Goodling in the OAG. Later that day, Goodling sent an e-mail to Nowacki saying, “Tell Brad he can hire one more good American.” Shortly thereafter, Nowacki sent an e-mail to Schlozman saying, “You can go ahead and hire one more good American.” Nowacki acknowledged to us that he understood the phrase “good American” to refer to someone with Republican credentials. (Page 36)
Schlozman told Congress that he brought up their credentials because he'd heard rumors that Goodling 'considered political affiliation in approving hiring decisions for career positions. I also knew that, although the decision to authorize the hiring of AUSAs by interim U.S. Attorneys was technically vested in EOUSA, Ms. Goodling exercised great control in this area. Knowing this, and in order to maximize the chances of obtaining authority to hire an additional AUSA, I recall once noting the likely political leanings of several applicants in response to a query from.' (Page 36)
He said that he turned over the actual consideration of the candidates to 'apolitical' review by three veteran career prosecutors in his office. The investigation confirmed that none of the good Americans was hired.
The investigators concluded:
[T]he evidence showed that Goodling violated both federal law and Department policy, and therefore committed misconduct, when she considered political or ideological affiliations in hiring decisions for candidates for career positions within the Department. In particular, the evidence showed that she considered political or ideological affiliations in deciding several waiver requests from interim U.S. Attorneys, in promoting several candidates for career. (Page 36)
That wasn't all. She also applied the same standards in hiring candidates for temporary details to Department offices.'
[S]he did not want Democrats detailed to the ODAG because she had a “farm system” approach to filling vacancies in the Department, and she wanted to “credential” Republicans so that they could move on to higher political positions. Elston also stated that there were some Republicans that Goodling did not want to hire as detailees because they were not “Republican enough.” In addition, EOUSA senior management, including Director Battle, Deputy Director Nowacki, and Associate Counsel Natalie Voris, all told us that during the time Goodling served in the OAG, she used political or ideological affiliations to assess candidates for EOUSA details. (Page 48)
Temporary detailees? That doesn't sound quite so serious does it? Except it was.
[W]e concluded that Goodling prevented EOUSA from selecting an experienced career AUSA to handle counterterrorism issues because of his and his wife’s political affiliation. As a result, a much less experienced, but politically acceptable, attorney was assigned this important responsibility. (Page 50)
And even people whose supervisors regarded them as indispensable didn't get a look kn if they didn't share her far right convictions.
[One of the interviewees] told us...that...[either] Goodling [or her predecessor told him that they did not want to extend the detail because she was a Democrat. [He] said that the detailee’s supervisor told him that if the detailee left ODAG, he would “throw himself out the window.” Elston said he felt the same way about her. According to Elston, for a period of time the OAG would only extend the detail on a month-to-month basis, until Goodling grudgingly extended it for 6 months (Page 54).
The investigators concluded:
As these examples illustrate, we found that Goodling regularly considered a candidate’s political or ideological affiliations when deciding whether to approve details of career attorneys to positions in EOUSA, OLP, and the ODAG, or whether to extend existing details in these offices. In these examples, the candidates were qualified for the details and supported by the leaders of those offices because of their qualifications and ability.
However, Goodling’s review focused on their political or ideological affiliations and she often rejected candidates based upon these affiliations, or her perception of these affiliations, some of which were inaccurate, without regard to professional qualifications. Senior officials in these offices sometimes objected to Goodling’s decisions, and argued with her about the quality of these candidates.
Sometimes their appeals were successful, but more often they were not. Even candidates personally offered positions by the Deputy Attorney General were required to be interviewed by and receive the approval of Goodling before they could begin their details. Goodling’s decisions were particularly damaging to the Department because they resulted in high-quality candidates being rejected for important positions.
For example, in one of the most troubling instances an experienced terrorism prosecutor who had received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service was rejected by Goodling for a detail to EOUSA to work on counterterrorism issues because of his wife’s political affiliations. Instead, EOUSA had to select a much more junior attorney who it believed was not qualified for the position. This use of political affiliation prevented an experienced career attorney from assuming important counterterrorism responsibilities, and instead resulted in the assignment of the duties to a less qualified candidate (Page 59-60)
This last example is particularly startling, given the Bush Administration's known priorities (and is also mentioned at the Judiciary Committee site as an instance of particularly damaging 'cronyism'.)
The Judiciary Committee site sums up its response to the above.
Senior Bush Administration Department of Justice officials, including Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, Jan Williams, and others violated federal law and committed misconduct in basing hiring decisions for career prosecutor positions, details to senior Department offices and immigration judgeships on the applicant's political affiliations and views. (125-27)
Immigration judgeships were needlessly held vacant for long periods while Department leaders sought to identify politically suitable candidates, leading to a severe backlog of immigration matters. (128)
Monica Goodling also made false statements to the Department’s own lawyers who were defending a lawsuit regarding Immigration Judge hiring. (138)
A current Department official, John Nowacki, prepared and circulated a press release responding to public concern about these issues that he knew was false at the time; the report recommends that Mr. Nowacki be disciplined (127-28)
Monica Goodling refused to approve several DOJ appointments for an AUSA who Ms. Goodling believed was gay. (132-33)