Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Opposite of Civil Rights

Back in December 2005, I wrote about the Bush administration's politicization of the DOJ civil rights section (follow-up posts here and here). Short version: the political leadership was overruling the career staff on sensitive cases such as the Georgia voter ID law and DeLay's Texas redistricting.

Well, everything old is new again. More precisely, every scandal we caught a glimpse of earlier in the administration eventually reappears in a more fleshed-out version.

The ever-more-essential TPM Muckraker reports on the details of the evisceration of the civil rights section:

According to Moore, his supervisor and the political appointees in the section consistently criticized his work because it didn't jibe with their pre-drawn conclusions....the real trouble came after he and three colleagues recommended opposing a Georgia voter I.D. law pushed by Republicans. After the recommendation, which clashed with the views of Moore's superiors, they reprimanded him for not adequately analyzing the evidence and accused him of mistreating his Republican colleague, with whom he'd had frequent disagreements. But it got worse. Moore said that his Republican superiors even monitored his emails, eventually filing a complaint against him with the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility for allegedly disclosing privileged information in one email (he was cleared of wrongdoing). Fed up, and worried that it was too dangerous to his professional future to remain there, he left.

Moore said that his experience was similar to others in the section who'd disagreed with conservative attorneys working at the Justice Department. Over the following year, all three of Moore's colleagues who'd joined him in opposing the law either left or were transferred out of the section.
To illustrate that this is more than just a matter of governing philosophy, here's some background on the Georgia bill:
According to the Recommendation Memorandum, George state Rep. Sue Burmeister, the sponsor of the bill, told section staff that "if there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud," and that "when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls."
All of this is coming up again because of the prosecutor purge. Rove's obsession with 'voter fraud' (as a way of driving down minority participation) drove the purge, just as it drove the neutering of the civil rights section. It's all connected, all part of the same effort to harness every aspect of government to the permanent Republican campaign for permanent rule.

And the people who are disenfranchised along the way? I suppose Rove would consider them collateral damage, if he considered them at all.

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