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Over the past six years, the Bush administration has aggressively reshaped the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Many career analysts and attorneys have either been transferred or driven out; their replacements are long on conservative credentials and short on civil rights experience.

Here's an inside account of what it's like inside from Toby Moore, a redistricting expert with the division's voting section until the spring of 2006. Like many of his colleagues, he left due to the hostile atmosphere in the section, where he says there was a pattern of selective intimidation towards career staff.

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. That was bad enough, he said, but 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. The senior member of the team, Robert Berman, the deputy chief of the section and a 28-year veteran of the Civil Rights Division, was transferred to the Office of Professional Development -- what Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has called "a dead-end job."

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility opened and conducted an investigation into the section's handling of the Georgia I.D. law. Joe Rich, the former chief of the voting section, told me that he was interviewed by investigators in 2006. It's not clear, however, what the outcome of the investigation was.

"Mr. Moore's allegations about political interference in the Civil Rights Division surrounding the Georgia memo, are very much in line with what we are learning daily about this Justice Department," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told TPMmuckraker. Nadler is the chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee that held a hearing on the voting section last month. "A clear picture is developing of a department culture that seems to encourage politically-motivated, improper and lawless activity."

The voting section is tasked under the Voting Rights Act with reviewing new legislation in certain regions in order to prevent regulations that might lead to discrimination against minority voters. When Moore and his colleagues examined the Georgia voter-identification law, they found a lot to worry about. Their bosses weren't interested.

"They weren’t really interested in investigating Georgia's submission," Moore, who has a Ph.D. in geography and had been with the section since 2000, told me. "They were mainly interested in assembling evidence to support pre-clearance. Any attempt to bring up counter-evidence to suggest a discriminatory impact was ignored or critiqued. We were told it was our own bias.... Any evidence in support was embraced uncritically."

The problems with Georgia's new law were legion, as outlined in the "Recommendation Memorandum" that Moore and his colleagues compiled.

To start with, jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act (mostly in southern states) are required to show that law changes will not have a discriminatory impact on minority voters. In the case of Georgia, the law change would have revised an earlier voter-I.D. law that allowed a variety of forms of identification (such as a utility bill); the new law restricted acceptable forms to photo I.D. But the law's advocates could provide no evidence that African Americans would not be disproportionately affected by the bill. In fact, the law had been pushed largely on the basis of assertions contained in Stealing Elections, a book by conservative journalist John Fund and what was called "anecdotal evidence."

Other evidence pointed even more strongly to nefarious motives behind the legislation. According to the Recommendation Memorandum, Georgia 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."

For that and a host of other reasons, Moore and three of his colleagues recommended against clearing the bill. A single member on their review team, a young Republican lawyer, supported clearance. Yet Moore's team was nevertheless overruled and the bill was cleared. In a telling sequel to these events at the Justice Department, a federal appeals court judge later barred implementation of the law, comparing it to a Jim Crow-era poll tax.

Things went downhill from there.

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From Ken Silverstein over at Harper's:

I recently received an advance copy of Seth Hettena's Feasting on the Spoils: The Life and Times of Randy “Duke” Cunningham, History's Most Corrupt Congressman, which will be published this July and which I highly recommend. In addition to being a terrific piece of political reporting, the book is filled with juicy details concerning the seamier side of the Cunningham affair, otherwise known as “Hookergate.”

I was particularly interested in stories Hettena unearthed about Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, whom former CIA director Porter Goss had named as executive director, the agency's number-three official. Foggo resigned last year not long after FBI agents raided his home and office. The Feds suspected that Foggo, who was later indicted, had funneled CIA contracts to his long-time friend Brent Wilkes, the defense contractor who is accused of bribing Cunningham with money and prostitutes.

Some of the more sensational stories in Hettena's book—and he has on-the-record sources—got me thinking. First, didn't Foggo's frequent indiscretions (for example, flashing his agency ID to jump the line at a strip club) raise red flags about his character? Second, wasn't Foggo's outlandish sexual behavior—like, say, publicly performing oral sex on a hooker (hired by Wilkes) at his own bachelor party—just the sort of thing that makes intelligence officials potentially vulnerable to blackmail by a hostile spy service? Third, might it be possible to cynically point to such revelations and use them as a hook for a blog item that combines sex and espionage?

The answers, you won't be surprised to find out, are yes, yes, and yes.

That's a rather sudden development.

The House Judiciary Committee will meet tomorrow morning in order to vote on whether to offer former Justice Department official Monica Goodling immunity to prosecution. Goodling had indicated that she would plead the Fifth rather than testify.

Says Chairman John Conyers (D-MI):

"As the White House Liaison in the Department while the US Attorney firings were planned and carried out, Ms. Goodling clearly has much to contribute to the Committee's understanding of the surrounding circumstances... I am hopeful we can approve immunity so that we can schedule her to testify as soon as possible and begin to clear up the many inconsistencies and gaps surrounding this matter."

The varying stories about why the U.S. attorneys were fired have finally reached such a state of complexity that soon I will be forced to resort to equations.

The Justice Department has consistently said that while seven of the U.S. attorneys were fired for "performance" reasons, one was not: Little Rock's Bud Cummins. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty told the Senate Judiciary Committee in early February that Cummins was removed for no other reason than to install Tim Griffin, Karl Rove's former aide, in his place.

But apparently it's more complicated than that. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said that Kyle Sampson told congressional investigators that Cummins was fired for performance reasons. Sampson apparently couldn't describe just what those pressing problems were -- only that Cummins "hadn't distinguished himself" in his position.

Remember that Alberto Gonzales was also under the impression that [that the story was] Cummins was fired for performance reasons -- and he was reportedly upset by McNulty's testimony because of that.

So how to account between the discrepancy between McNulty's testimony and Sampson's and Gonzales' version?

Words fail. From U.S. News:

Other knowledgeable sources say Sampson's testimony was not as clear cut as Schumer indicated. According to their version, while Sampson indicated there had been some performance issues with Cummins that placed him on the potential firing list well before Griffin had entered the picture, Sampson's explanations about the Cummins firing were complex enough that different people could interpret the reasons for the firings differently.

Got that?

Detainee Denies Ties to Al-Qaida "A Palestinian terror suspect once described by President Bush as a trusted deputy of Osama bin Laden told a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, last month that he wasn't a member of al-Qaida, had met bin Laden only once and that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were a violation of Islamic law. The detainee, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, but better known as Abu Zubaydah, also claimed that he was tortured during the more than three years he was held in secret CIA detention before he was turned over to U.S. military authorities and flown to the Guantanamo Bay prison for suspected terrorists last September." (McClatchy Newspapers)

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I tell you, it's hard work remembering what Alberto Gonzales remembers and doesn't remember.

In October of last year, President Bush had a conversation with Gonzales about U.S. attorneys. According to the White House's public statements, the conversation was a broad one, about voter fraud in three districts. Gonzales has said publicly that he doesn't remember such a conversation taking place.

But that's not what Kyle Sampson told congressional investigators this past weekend. According to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sampson said that in early March of this year, Gonzales told him about a conversation he'd had in October with Bush that was specifically about U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias. Remember that the White House was getting heavy pressure from Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and other New Mexico Republicans to can Iglesias.

So in early March, Gonzales told Sampson privately about this conversation (this was, by the way, before the White House had publicly disclosed that there had been any conversations between Bush and Gonzales about U.S. attorneys). But on March 26, Gonzales told NBC and the world that he didn't remember having any such conversation.

But the Justice Department has an explanation! Spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said that Gonzales really didn't remember having such a conversation, and that when he'd told Sampson about it in early March, it was "based on what others had told him, not his own memory."

That doesn't quite solve it, though.

First, if Schumer's relation of Sampson's testimony is accurate, it seems clear that Sampson had not been under the impression that Gonzales himself didn't remember the conversation when they spoke about it in early March.

But second, who were the "others" who told Gonzales this? The White House has a different version of the conversation -- that it was broader, about three districts (New Mexico, Milwaukee, Philadelphia) where voter fraud wasn't being aggressively pursued. Sampson's version, which has the conversation focusing on Iglesias, implicates Bush much more directly in his removal. So who did Gonzales get this version from? Does he remember that?

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed a number of Justice Department documents -- but particularly those that identified other U.S. attorneys who had been on the administration's list to be purged but weren't.

The Justice Department had signaled that it would not comply, and now it seems like that's indeed what will happen. The deadline to turn over the documents was 2 PM today, and it was radio silence from the DoJ.

So chairman John Conyers (D-MI) is considering his options:

While we understand that the Department considers this effort a priority and we plan to continue working with them, we will review all available legal options to secure compliance with the subpoena.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) announced from the Senate floor that the hearing has been postponed until Thursday due to the Virginia Tech shootings today.

From ABC News:

Ignoring calls for his ouster over the firing of several U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is set to testify before Congress tomorrow. It's a move experts say could rescue his political career, or cost him his job -- even send him to jail.

"It's suicidal," said Stanley Brand, one of the top ethics defense lawyers in Washington, D.C. Given the conflicting stories from Gonzales, his aides and top Justice Department officials about why eight U.S. attorneys were fired, and to what extent Gonzales was involved in the process, the attorney general puts himself in criminal jeopardy by testifying under oath, Brand said....

"I've seen it before. People get indicted for false statements and perjury and obstruction of justice," Brand told ABC News. Brand recently represented ex-Interior Department official Stephen Griles, who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in connection with the Jack Abramoff scandal.

What's so dangerous about simply telling the truth? Isn't it true that, like the old adage, the truth shall set you free?

"Not in my world," Brand retorted.

It's a bad, bad sign when a subject of the Jack Abramoff investigation suddenly and without explanation resigns from his job. And that's what Kevin Ring did Friday, according to The Politico.

Ring, who worked as a lobbyist with Abramoff from 2000 until Abramoff was forced to close up shop in 2004, has come up again and again over the course of the Abramoff investigation. But he had a singular and important role in Abramoff's organization -- he was Abramoff's access to Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), for whom Ring had been a senior staffer. Whenever Abramoff wanted Doolittle's help with anything -- and that happened often --, Ring was the man.

But Abramoff, being Abramoff, didn't expect help for nothing. And so it was Ring who served as the intermediary when Abramoff hired Doolittle's wife for consulting work, an arrangement that lasted for approximately two years. The payments suspiciously align with actions Doolittle took on behalf of Abramoff's clients.

Doolittle has been in investigators' sights since 2005. But it looks like they're finally closing in -- because if anyone could deliver Doolittle, it would be Ring.

As The Politico notes, Ring seems poised to follow the path of other aides who've pled guilty in the Abramoff scandal -- pleading guilty to lesser charges in return for delivering their former bosses to investigators. Ex-Rep. Bob Ney's (R-OH) former chief of staff Neil Volz, who also worked with Ring with Abramoff and then later at Barnes & Thornburg, resigned abruptly from that firm in January last year. He pled guilty to corruption charges in May, agreeing to cooperate and implicating Ney.