The Spectacle Blog

Panthers Before Breakfast?

By on 4.1.11 | 10:29AM

The Washington Times editorial today on the latest on the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case explains why it means next to nothing that the DoJ's Office of Professional Responsibilty found no "misconduct" in the case. For instance, it provides four good reasons why the OPR report is not to be believed [numbers below are my insertions for purposes of clarity]:

[1] It’s hard to believe the Civil Rights Division’s litigation chief Steven H. Rosenbaum, a presidential appointee and a key decisionmaker, was motivated entirely by law, not politics - even though he reportedly told career attorney Christopher Coates that he hadn’t even read Mr. Coates’ file on the case. [2] Email logs also show a substantial flow of messages back and forth with political appointees at Justice regarding the scandal. [3]The department came up with at least five explanations, often shifting, to explain its conduct in dropping the case. [4]It even ignored word from the department’s own appellate section that the entire Black Panther case seemed solid.

Again, what OPR concluded was that only the law -- not politics or race -- motivated the Obama team when it jettisoned most of the charges against the Panthers. Anyway, in addition to those reasons above, there are at least two more reasons why that conclusion is just not believable. Reason 5: It's impossible to believe race-consciousness was not a factor when even the Washington Post reported definitively that numerous Justice officials believe civil rights laws are meant only to protect black voters. Reason 6: It defies belief to say a Justice Department that claims Arizona local officials cannot enforce federal immigration laws would defer to a local Philadelphia cop's decision not to enforce federal civil rights laws.

There: That's six well-night impossible things to believe. It brings to mind the Queen in Wonderland, who boasted that she once "believed six impossible things [even] before breakfast."

Wait, there's more. It must be understood that OPR is hardly a reliable body. As the Wash Times notes:

The office has long been a hotbed for liberal attorneys. In January 2010, the Justice Department’s senior career official, Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, ripped OPR’s conduct in its most recent high-profile review. Mr. Margolis wrote that OPR had applied standards of conduct in the case of President George W. Bush’s alleged “torture attorneys” John Yoo and Jay Bybee that didn’t even exist at the time the supposed infractions occurred. He explained that those standards were “neither known nor unambiguous.”OPR rigged the deck then, and it likely rigged the deck this time too.

But there's more than that. As Hans von Spakovsky has reported, OPR is led by somebody von Spakovsky portrays as a left-wing hack:

Attorney General Eric Holder seems to have a new corollary: Make bad appointments over holiday breaks. It works. Holder’s announcement on Christmas Eve that he was appointing Robin Ashton... Ashton’s antics at DOJ have often been so petty and juvenile that she should be disqualified from serving in any career leadership position at Justice, much less the one responsible for enforcing ethical standards.... The investigation of the New Black Panther Party case has dragged on for more than a year and a half. OPR had to remove the lawyer initially assigned to investigate the case (Mary Aubry) after it became public that she had made thousands of dollars of political contributions to Barack Obama, other Democratic candidates, and the Democratic National Committee, with the latest contribution to the DNC coming as recently as July 13, 2010....Ashton’s bad reputation goes beyond partisan grievance. Two former directors of EOUSA were interviewed in 2006 by the House Judiciary Committee during its investigation of the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. According to someone familiar with the entire transcripts of those interviews (which are not public), the directors were scathing in their criticism. Ashton reportedly would go through the desk of one former director, Mary Beth Buchanan, when she was out of the office, rifling through confidential files and documents.

Finally, reported von Spakovsky:

To add insult to injury, Attorney General Holder, in an interview in the New York Times, improperly (and unprofessionally) commented on the open investigation of the New Black Panther Party case, saying, “There is no there there.” He also called the investigation of the hostility to racially neutral enforcement of the law in the Civil Rights Division a “made-up controversy.” Thus, the lawyers in OPR have been told by their attorney general what their conclusions should be in these investigations — never mind what facts they uncover.

Think about it this way: Politicized appointees reviewing politicized appointees determined that no political shenanigans occurred. It's as if an NBA team were asked to call fouls on itself and, lo and behold, made not a single call. The public surely wouldn't accept such an arrangement in basketball – and Congress, acting on behalf of the public, shouldn't accept it in the Black Panther case, either.

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