Senators condemn Justice Dept. politics

July 30, 2008 at 7:27 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) -- The leaders of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday asked President George W. Bush to condemn the politicization of the Justice Department.

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., pointed to a recent investigation that found former Justice Department officials allowed Bush administration politics to influence the hiring of immigration judges and career government lawyers, The Hill reported.

Bush and Attorney General Michael Mukasey have a duty to correct what happened, the senators said.

Leahy said the report shows that "cronyism was valued over competence."

"The question is what Attorney General Mukasey and the president do about it to provide accountability," Leahy said.

"I'm glad to see Attorney General Mukasey asking to change these practices," Specter said during a committee hearing on the matter. "I'd like to see, frankly, a very forceful statement out of the Department of Justice as to what they intend to do."

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine told the committee that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales didn't provide supervision of the department.

"That was one of the significant problems ... the lack of oversight of these people," Fine said. "These were inexperienced, junior people and they were able to implement these (political) policies and it resulted in very serious damage to the Department of Justice."

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