Lawlessness and corruption in the Obama-Holder Justice Department. From our new November issue.
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Eric Eversole, director of the Military Voter Protection Project and a former DOJ Voting Section attorney, warned of the problem in September, telling me: “Some of the attorneys in the section are openly hostile to the military and, at the very least, are unsympathetic to the sacrifices of our service members.”
So angry about all this is Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the military voting law’s co-author, that he called for congressional hearings on the matter, placed a lasting “hold” on the nomination of close Holder friend James Cole to be deputy attorney general, and wrote Holder a scathing September 16 letter that accused Holder and company of “a shameful failure to honor the heroic service of those who defend America.”
Indeed, the department failed for more than a year to update its website to reflect the new law protecting military voters — but it spent what must have been an immense amount of taxpayer-supported staff time building a 2,314-word web page telling felons how to recover their voting privileges. Yet the department enjoys no statutory authority to deal with felon voting at all. Who needs the law when you can bolster the numbers of a key Democratic constituency?
Undermining National Security
OF COURSE, this Justice Department has shown its disdain for military and security considerations in numerous other ways as well. The first came on the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) rule on homosexuals in the military. Whatever one’s views of the wisdom of the policy, it remains the law of the land and DOJ is obliged to defend it. But Edward Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center has written at great length explaining how the Holderites were derelict on this. “It [DOJ] failed to seek Supreme Court review of a rogue Ninth Circuit ruling that subjected DADT to heightened scrutiny,” he told me. “And when trial on DADT took place, DOJ called no witnesses and failed to offer any serious defense of DADT. The district judge’s ruling against DADT relied heavily on DOJ’s failings.”
Those failings perhaps pale in comparison to the outright defiance of security concerns with regard to the trials of terrorist detainees. Holder’s decidedly premature announcement that the 9/11 conspirators detained in Guantanamo Bay, including the mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, would be tried in New York City has actually slowed the course of justice.
Former terrorist prosecutor Andrew McCarthy quite arguably has been the most eloquent expositor of this thesis. “From a legal standpoint, it makes no sense to try the al Qaeda quintet in civilian court,” he wrote in the November 22, 2009, New York Daily News. “Eleven months ago, these men were prepared to plead guilty in their military commission and proceed to execution. Yet the Obama administration pulled the plug on that commission. This was a transparent sop to the left, which wants to judicialize war-fighting and is repulsed by the intelligence-centric, prevention-first counterterrorism strategy that has protected us for eight years from a reprise of the 9/11 atrocities. Now, our enemies will be given a full-blown civilian trial with all the rights of the American citizens they are sworn to kill. They will get a year or more to sift through our national defense secrets.”
All of this was made more problematic when the Justice Department was forced, after much stonewalling, to acknowledge just how many of the new Holder team had done legal work for the detainees. At least nine had done so, and at least another five worked for firms that did significant detainee defense work. They include Jennifer Daskal, who was known as a particularly fervid defender of those detainees. They include Eric Columbus, who worked for the detainee in the landmark case of Boumediene v. Bush and who now is senior counsel for the deputy attorney general. This gives him at least some supervisory authority over both the Criminal and National Security divisions at DOJ-the very divisions involved with deciding how to handle the convincingly accused terrorists.
Moreover, as first reported by the Washington Times on November 22, 2009, “Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, No. 3 official in the Justice Department, had to recuse himself on at least 13 active detainee cases and at least 26 cases listed as either closed or mooted,” presumably because of his former law firm’s efforts on their behalf. To further quote the Washington Times:
The extent of the recusals raises questions about whether the attorney general has enough unbiased advisers around him to have made good judgments about how to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other detainees. He certainly did seem terribly ill-informed when asked basic questions at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday about how Miranda rights for detainees would be treated in civil courts and if any enemy combatant from a foreign battlefield had ever been tried in American civil courts. Columnist Charles Krauthammer justly called Mr. Holder’s responses “utterly incoherent.” If the incoherence stems from an inherent bias among President Obama’s appointees at the Justice Department, senators and the American public have the right to know it.
Illegal Alien Nation
MANY PEOPLE SEE illegal immigration as a national security issue, too. As with DADT and with an even worse sabotage of the Defense of Marriage Act by declaring that the act is not “rationally related to any legitimate government interests in procreation and child-rearing,” the Obama administration on immigration has gone far beyond its obvious right to pursue its favored policy objectives through the legislative process; instead, it has used the power of the Justice Department to make a mockery of legitimate legislative enactments.
“It is one thing, and totally appropriate, to pick policy priorities that are in line with the administration you serve,” said Robert Driscoll, another former DOJ attorney, who has represented famed Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio against Obama administration harassment. “Are particular investigations or prosecutions being undertaken or avoided to advance the president’s political allies? Unfortunately, there are too many examples even beyond Black Panthers that raise questions.… All of these cases raise concern that the ‘political’ influence at DOJ, which has always been reflected in the priorities and policy choices of any attorney general, has begun to influence the front-line decision-making regarding individual cases and investigations.”
So it was that the Holder DOJ has taken the position that (to quote a Washington Times editorial) “Sheriff Arpaio should not set up a phone tip line to search for immigration violators, and he is not allowed to tell the public about federal immigration enforcement policies even if he is merely disputing demonstrable falsehoods told about him; yet the Justice Department can set up an anonymous tip line to gather evidence against the sheriff.” Even though a 2008 investigation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency found that the sheriff and ICE officials had an “excellent” working relationship, DOJ is now suing Arpaio for supposedly discriminating against Hispanic inmates. The DOJ lawsuit looked even more absurd when, in late September, an audit from the U.S. Marshals Service gave Arpaio’s treatment of inmates the highest grades possible in every single category-including for prevention of, yes, discrimination against detainees.
So it was that DOJ also has sued Maricopa County Community Colleges for requiring that non-citizens produce “green cards” to prove they are here legally. Since such visiting workers are by law supposed to carry the cards with them at all times anyway, it defies belief to think it’s illegal for an employer to ask to see it.
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