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While the Justice Department has loudly tooted its horn about it’s ability to prosecute bad guys, it hasn’t really done much recently.

For example,the Department’s “crackdown” on Wall Street is just a P.R. stunt targeting small-time crooks.

And former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke said of all the publicity surrounding the handful of terrorism prosecutions since 9/11:

A lot of the cases after 9/11 were manufactured or enormously exaggerated and were announced with great trumpets by the attorney general and the FBI director so that we felt that they were doing something when, in fact, what they were doing was not helpful, not relevant, not needed.

The DOJ famously refused to prosecute high-level officials who ordered torture, or illegal spying, or other criminal acts, or those who destroyed evidence and obstructed justice, even though top conservative and liberal legal scholars said that crimes had clearly been committed. It appears that Justice is playing politics to protect Bush, Cheney and the gang. See this and this.

Instead of helping the little guy, the Department of Justice is bending over backwards to protect giant corporations. For example, DOJ – along with the Department of Homeland Security – has also been using its national security powers to help big businesses. For example:

As the ACLU notes, Fusion Centers – a hybrid of military, intelligence agency, police and private corporations set up in centers throughout the country, and run by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security – allow big businesses like Boeing to get access to classified information which gives them an unfair advantage over smaller competitors.

Moreover, the Justice Department has itself been playing fast and loose with justice.

For example, an ATF agent told CBS News yesterday that Justice Department ordered the ATF to let guns cross into Mexico. The guns went to the Mexican drug cartels, which have used them to terrorize the locals:

And documents leaked a couple of weeks ago show that – instead of following leads showing criminal wrongdoing by the big banks – the Department of Justice is instead working to crush whistleblowers who have the goods on the white collar criminals.

For example – in an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of wrongdoing – the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks. As a leaked email states:

DOJ called the GC [general counsel] of BofA and told them to hire Hunton and Williams, specifically to hire Richard Wyatt who I’m beginning to think is the emperor. They want to present to the bank a team capable of doing a comprehensive investigation into the data leak. Currently they are recommending:

-Hire H&W as outside council on retainer

-Use Palantir for network/cyber/insider threat investigation
-Use Berico/HBGary to analyze wikileaks the organization (people, history, where they are located) Apparently if they can show that wikileaks is hosting data in certain countries it will make prosecution easier.
-Use a team of GD/PWC forensics investigators.

See this and this. Indeed, Glenn Greenwald and others say that the Justice Department is illegally participating in a scheme to smear journalists and to discredit all those who support WikiLeaks.

And there are many other areas in which the Justice Department has engaged in unsightly actions.

Of course, the Justice Department’s role in turning a blind eye toward crime is not new under the current administration.

As I wrote in August:

Jon Eisenberg is a very well-known California lawyer. Eisenberg literally wrote the book on California appellate practice.

In a new interview, Eisenberg … reveals the games played by the Department of Justice:

[Interviewer] You have written “effectively … President George W. Bush is a felon.” Why, and do you ever think he’ll be brought to justice?

[Eisenberg] President Bush has freely admitted that his administration committed warrantless electronic surveillance, violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. That’s a felony, according to title 50, section 1809 of the United States Code. So President Bush is a felon. It’s that simple.

Will he ever be brought to justice? Evidently not by a criminal prosecution, in which the Obama administration seems to have little interest…

[Interviewer] During [a lawsuit against the Bush administration concerning illegal spying,] you wrote a response to a government brief that you were not allowed to see. How does one go about doing that?

[Eisenberg] It was quite a challenge. It wasn’t just that we had to speculate as to what might be in the secret DOJ brief; the conditions under which we wrote our secret response were onerous, approaching the bizarre: We were required to write the brief under guard in the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco; we were forbidden from preparing any notes for the brief-writing session; the DOJ retained sole possession of the brief we produced; and the DOJ has refused to allow us to review the brief since we wrote it. Litigation doesn’t get any weirder than that.

There is no justifiable reason why the Department of Justice would refuse to allow the opposing counsel to see DOJ’s brief, force the attorney to write his response brief under armed guard and without being able to use any notes, and then bury that brief without even letting the attorney who wrote it have a copy.

Attorney General Ashcroft approved torture, as did high-level Justice Department officials such as Assistant deputy Attorney General John Yoo. Promotion of torture is not just an ethical breach: it also constitutes a war crime under U.S. and international law. See this, this, this, and this. Yoo xsxseealso wrote memos defending illegal spying.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey supported illegal wiretapping, torture and indefinite detention (and see this).

Congressional Quarterly, Glenn Greenwald, Raw Story, FireDogLake and others point out that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales virtually blackmailed Congresswoman Harman into support illegal warrantless spying on Americans by threatening to prosecute her for her AIPAC shenanigans if she didn’t play ball.

And former constitutional law teacher Glenn Greenwald says that – in it’s defense of state secrecy, illegal spying, preventative detention, and other positions – the Obama Department of Justice is even worse than under Bush.

Given the above, it’s worth asking: how much justice does the DOJ actually dispense?

Category: Legal, Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

5 Responses to “The Department of Justice Plays Fast and Loose to Protect the Big Boys”

  1. Moss says:

    Maybe the French will be the first to serve justice to those who break the law. Would be ironic if one of those ‘old Europe’ socialistic societies get their man. We can only hope.

    Former French President Chirac to stand trial

  2. KJ Foehr says:

    Great post, a real eye-opener.

    The ATF story takes absurdity to new levels. The agency tasked with preventing the trafficking of guns across the border is instead allowing it to happen in order to build a case against a drug cartel? Leading to the deaths of 100s in Mexico, and some here, including a border agent? Truly shocking and so very disappointing.

    And why is the ATF going after a drug cartel? I thought that was DEAs charge?

    I wondered why the level of violence has escalated so much there in recent years. There have been drug cartels and drug smuggling for many decades, but never the kind of violence we have seen recently. Now I know why, I guess. And it was all for what? To break up a drug cartel? That is the same stupid thinking that advocates killing bin Laden and other terrorists expecting that it will make radical Islam go away.

    Ending one drug cartel is not going to stop drug use or smuggling — another cartel is sure to follow. So all those people, including our own citizens will have died in vain. Great plan… not. It’s disheartening to see that the greatest country on earth, with all our American exceptionalism and world leading innovation, can’t come up with a wiser plan than that.

    And the BOA story makes it appear the government is not just enabling corporate wrongdoing, but actually assisting in the process, or at least in the cover up of it. How depressing, if true.

    “Given the above, it’s worth asking: how much justice does the DOJ actually dispense?” Quite a bit apparently, but one must keep in mind it’s really not the Dept Of Justice; it’s the Dept of Our Justice (the administration’s justice).

    It’s really very disappointing to see that an administration people had placed so much hope for positive change in, has come to be perhaps even worse that GWB’s DOJ? It sometimes seems that we have crossed over into some topsy-turvy, mirror image alternate reality in this new millennium. A world where right has become wrong and wrong right. I feel it must right itself soon, or it is going to end very badly for this country.

    In my mind, what is most exceptional about this country is the supremacy of the rule of law. And now we are seriously undermining that rule in many ways, by allowing illegal immigration to continue and by ignoring high level corporate and government wrongdoing chief among them. This is leading to a loss of respect for the law, for justice, and for basic right and wrong we all learned in kindergarten. It all becomes about everybody (and of course every corporation) figuring out how to circumvent the laws to get what they want to satisfy their selfish, self-interest.

    When the rule of law loses its primacy, we lose our exceptionalism and our claim as the greatest country on earth. We will become just another nation rife with corruption and greed in business and in government.

  3. contrabandista13 says:

    You’ve noticed….? Here’s another tid-bit of justice gone awry, derailed, jumped off the track, fallen off a cliff and landed upside down in a ditch. I guess that, the terrorists did win after all……


    Best regards,


  4. rip says:

    We have alas achieved the final stage of social development and rank right up there with Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of corruption and rule of law.

    History will record the last ten years and the next six as the most corrupt in American history.

    Don’t think we’ll make it past the next six.

    Years ago I knew DEA and ATF people. ATF has been corrupt for decades. Their own people risk personal danger by whistle-blowing. DEA folks I’ve known are plain old stupid. It’s some kind of weird patronage that would never be missed.

    Both agencies could be eliminated and the US would be a better place.

    As for “Justice”. It too could be reduced by a factor of ten and never be missed.

  5. victor says:

    Off with their heads, off with their heads! so screams George the head writer… Bush, Cheney (of course) Ashcroft, Gonzalez &Yoo (to hell with PC, minorities or not!), and the rest of the Gang! But now wait:

    “And former constitutional law teacher Glenn Greenwald says that – in it’s defense of state secrecy, illegal spying, preventative detention, and other positions – the Obama Department of Justice is even worse than under Bush” . Now, does this mean we have NO good people left? look what happened with poor Harman (she’s worth a couple of hundred million bucks or so)… ay ay ay America! look at all those millions (people) who still want “to be in America”!!! if they only knew how bad we are! they’d stay put! Wise up!