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In a story on Brad Schlozman last week, I quoted Bob Kengle, formerly the deputy chief of the voting section of the Civil Rights Division and a Justice Department veteran, as saying that he'd left because he'd reached his "personal breaking point."

Well, that's true. But it's also, of course, more complicated than that. And Kengle thought that readers would benefit from a more in-depth view of what life was like in the division and why he "lost faith in the institution as it had become."

The Civil Rights Division, and specifically the voting section there, as I've said before, is probably the worst case of politicization at the department. Kengle's is an invaluable account of how political appointees like Schlozman seized control -- and the damage that seizure has done to the department's integrity and credibility.

The full text is below, but we've also posted Kengle's statement in our document collection if you prefer to read it there.

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Speaking outside after a court hearing this morning, the D.C. Madam, Jeane Palfrey, says she expects ABC News to track down more clients of her firm, who she says will serve as "potential witnesses for my defense."



So who's up next? ABC News -- where Brian Ross and TPM alum Justin Rood are on the case -- has Palfrey's phone records for the past four years. This morning, they report that "also on Palfrey's list of customers who could be potential witnesses are a Bush administration economist, the head of a conservative think tank, a prominent CEO, several lobbyists and a handful of military officials."

Expect some of that to come out this Friday, during Palfrey's star turn on 20/20.

82 Inmates Cleared But Still At Guantanamo "More than a fifth of the approximately 385 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been cleared for release but may have to wait months or years for their freedom because U.S. officials are finding it increasingly difficult to line up places to send them, according to Bush administration officials and defense lawyers. Since February, the Pentagon has notified about 85 inmates or their attorneys that they are eligible to leave after being cleared by military review panels. But only a handful have gone home, including a Moroccan and an Afghan who were released Tuesday." (Washington Post)

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You can always count on lawyers to produce the most precise non-denial denials.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the Justice Department had decided to return control of the hiring process to career lawyers in the department. Why? Because, a spokesman explained, after four years of political appointees having control of the process, those in charge have finally realized that there's something of an appearance problem.

But the department was quick to deny that politics had had anything to do with who has been hired over the past four years. No, sir. And here comes that finely parsed denial:

"The Justice Department does not, nor has it ever, solicited any information from applicants . . . about their political affiliation or orientation."


The key to that denial, you might have guessed, lies in that word, "solicit."

Here's how the hiring process went last year, according to a group of anonymous Justice Department employees who've complained to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees: all candidates selected for an interview had to be cleared by the deputy attorney general's office. The employees were shocked when they sent up a list of 600 names and got back a list of 400. They demanded a meeting with the deputy attorney general's chief of staff, Michael Elston, who coolly informed them that "inappropriate information about them on the Internet" had disqualified a number of applicants. So after the meeting, the employees searched online and found out what had been so inappropriate. Most of the disqualified applicants were Democrats.

When that story broke last week, the Justice Department had the same non-denial denial: ""the department does not solicit any information about applicants' political affiliations or orientation."

But that wasn't the allegation. As the higher-ups at the department know full well, it would be totally inappropriate for the Justice Department to ask an applicant for his/her political affiliation. So they didn't. Instead, a small group of people in the deputy attorney general's office googled every applicant to find the information they'd been unable to solicit.

Very clever, huh?

Now, sometimes there was no need to go to the trouble of all that internet research. There's evidence that there have been other methods of ascertaining whether an applicant was suited to work in Bush's Justice Department -- like recruiting through the Republican National Lawyers Association or simply asking around to see whether the applicant has the right stuff.

But here's the real question. John Ashcroft put political appointees in charge of the hiring process in 2002. And for four years the department has been pumped full of Federalist Society members, so that in some departments (e.g. the Civil Rights Division), the career staff are indistinguishable from the political appointees. With Congress bearing down, the leadership in the Justice Department has finally decided to relinquish control of the hiring. But perhaps that decision is made easier because the mission has already been accomplished?

A big new bundle of documents just got dumped by the Department of Justice. Here's a link to the documents in PDF form at the House Judiciary Committee website. As per our routine in recent document dumps, if you'd like to help us cull through the mails and reports, use this thread to share your findings with us and other TPMm Readers.

Identify the items you find by document dump set number and page number.

After his controversial tenure at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, Bradley Schlozman was rewarded by being installed as the U.S. attorney for Kansas City. His time as U.S.A. there, which ended only a week ago, is notable mostly for his decision to bring four "voter fraud" indictments shortly before the election last year. (We'll have more on that later.)

But Schlozman isn't done at the Justice Department. In fact, he's headed back to Washington to work at the office that supervises U.S. attorneys all over the country. A Justice Department spokesman told CBS Investigative Producer Laura Strickler that Schlozman will be "an attorney in the Counsel to the Director staff at the Executive Office for United States Attorneys." It's not clear exactly what that means, and the spokesman did not indicate precisely what Schlozman's duties would be. The EOUSA serves as the liaison beween U.S. attorneys all over the country and DoJ leadership in Washington.

Schlozman certainly has friends in high places. Salon has quoted a former senior Justice Department official as saying that Schlozman was "one of Gonzales' guys," and that "several of us were scratching our heads when we heard about [his appointment as U.S. attorney in Kansas City] because he was not a very well-regarded trial attorney."

The official also told Salon that Schlozman likely would have remained as U.S. attorney there indefinitely if the administration's firing of eight U.S.A.s had not become controversial: "They weren't going to replace him."

Schlozman, it's fair to say, would have stood little chance at being confirmed by the Senate. Instead, the president nominated John Wood to replace Schlozman in the middle of January, just as the controversy of the fired U.S. attorneys was beginning to simmer. Wood was confirmed by the Senate and took office last week.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) wants former CIA chief George Tenet to testify to the House oversight committee.

Think of it as part of the book tour.

The Jack Abramoff investigation continues to burst with renewed vigor. Now, it's ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) -- who was defeated back in November due in large part to his ties to Abramoff -- who might be in trouble.

In the current issue of the National Journal (not available online), Peter Stone reports that "two sources say that the Justice Department is making new inquiries into Hayworth’s past links to Abramoff."

Put Hayworth together with Reps. John Doolittle (R-CA) and Tom Feeney (R-FL), ex-Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), and ex-Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), and you have five current and former members of Congress who are reportedly under scrutiny by investigators.

From Roll Call:

Despite rumors to the contrary, embattled Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) issued two statements Friday insisting that he has no intention of resigning....

“For several weeks, I have been the subject of leaked stories, conjecture, and false attacks about a land exchange,” the three-term Congressman said. “None of them bear any resemblance to the truth, including the rumor that I am planning on resigning.”

Last night, the Justice Department provided Congress with a list of documents related to the U.S. attorneys firings that it was withholding -- all of them either documents or emails sent to or received by Kyle Sampson. You can see the list here.

The reason Congress won't be seeing these, Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling wrote in a letter to the House and Senate judiciary committees, is because the Department has "substantial concerns about the disclosure of documents that were generated after December 7, 2006 for the purpose of responding to congressional and media inquiries about the resignations of the U.S. Attorneys."

All of the withheld documents disclosed today supposedly meet that description -- but then, so do a number of the documents the Department has already released. So what makes these different? It's not clear.

And some of these documents do sound very interesting. Take, for example, Sampson's email to White House counsel Harriet Miers on January 7th. It's described as "Discussion, re: processes for filling USA vacancies, including appointment of acting/interim USAs." In other words, it sounds like Sampson was conferring with Miers over how the fired U.S. attorneys should be replaced -- and possibly who they might be replaced with. And it seems like it was a spirited discussion. Sampson sent two more two page emails to Miers that day, which are only described as "further discussion" of the issue. Over the next couple days, Sampson forwarded that discussion to a number of senior Justice Department officials.

Marcy Wheeler has a rundown of other withheld documents of note.

The judiciary committees are in talks with the Justice Department over the withtheld documents, which are, after all, under subpoena.

Note: Along with the list of withheld documents, the Justice Department also turned over a couple of emails that have DoJ officials reacting to stories about the firings in the Post and the Times. You can see them here.

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