Friday, August 01, 2008

Ted Stevens and Monica Goodling

My favorite smoking gun in the Justice Department Inspector General's Report (gigantic file warning if you click on the link!) about how the Justice Department's longstanding and honorable tradition of impartiality was undermined, is the revelation that Monica Goodling took handwritten notes and later recommended an applicant for hiring for a career (rather than political) position as an Assistant US Attorney because the applicant was “pro-God in public life,” and “pro-marriage, anti-civil union.” Another candidate who declared himself "more hawkish" on immigration than President Bush did not have his name forwarded for an Immigration Judge position because he failed the three G's. Goodling's notes say: “Cons. On ‘god, guns + gays’.” Goodling comes across as gratuitously vindictive, screening out those deemed insufficiently loyal (or in one case, insufficiently heterosexual) even where the issues in question obviously had nothing to do with the applicant's ability to do the job. Goodling wanted true believers, end of story.

No doubt others will weigh in on whether Goodling and a few other mid-level officials could have been acting on their own. Certainly the assignment of other jobs by the Bush Administration (think "Brownie you're doing a heck of a job;" Paul Bremer; etc) leads one to suspect that politicizing what should have been a professional operation was not simply the brainchild of Goodling.

Here let me also suggest that the timing of the indictment of Senator Ted "It's a series of tubes" Stevens simultaneously with the release of the Inspector General's report is at least a tad suspicious. It's possible that this is just a coincidence, but by indicting a very powerful Republican Senator, the Mukasey Justice Department---which has already agreed to the Inspector General's recommendations---sends a not-so-subtle signal, namely: Don't worry about politicization; that's old news; now we're just doing our lawyerly jobs as professional prosecutors. If central Justice did push hard for an indictment against Stevens to counteract the potential negative PR from the Inspector General's report, then we can at least thank Monica Goodling for that. And if you think the timing is entirely coincidental, have I got a bridge to nowhere to sell you!

(Actually, I think the timing probably is coincidental, but I couldn't figure out how else to work the bridge to nowhere into this post.)

Posted by Mike Dorf