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Delegating Justice

Fate is not without its sense of irony. So it was, that on the same day President Bush commemorated Law Day, the top story should be the further erosion of the independence of the Justice Department. Murray Waas reports that not only was Attorney General Gonzales involved in the US attorney purges, but also delegated his authority to hire and fire anyone to his woefully inexperienced but well connected subordinates.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides -- who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys -- extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department...

The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed.

The whole piece deserves a read, but as one official who talked to Waas said, the reason such actions are so verboten is because they "posed a serious threat to the integrity of the criminal-justice system." Funny how the same can be said of the Bush administration and the rule of law.

Update: Another must read post from Scarecrow.

(Filed at State of the Day)

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