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BOOK REVIEW: 'Injustice': Department of Justice is Broken, Dysfunctional
Saturday, December 31, 2011 - 18:05 by Rene A. Henry
Adams’ book only further reinforces how the DOJ under Attorney General Eric Holder is not only broken, but completely dysfunctional. Holder has opted for high profile media coverage and photo/ops in pursuing cases against baseball superstars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens while failing to criminally prosecute executives at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, banks and Wall Street firms who nearly destroyed the nation’s economy. After wasting millions of dollars prosecuting the two superstars, DOJ lawyers lost the Clemens case but were able to get Bonds charged with house arrest for 30 days.
Holder never prosecuted the SEC lawyers who criminally watched pornography on government computers and ignored whistleblower complaints while the economy nearly collapsed. He also said he would investigate and prosecute the DOJ lawyers who wrongfully and maliciously went after the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, but has not. Lawyers seldom prosecute and sanction their own.
In “Injustice” Adams writes that “Holder’s term has been marked by racially discriminatory law enforcement, politicized and ideological hiring, court-imposed sanctions on DOJ lawyers, and corrupt decisions to allow American voter rolls to overflow with deceased citizens and ineligible felons.”
Holder has clearly established himself as this nation’s worst Attorney General and his department has been even less productive than the current “do nothing” Congress.
“The Voting Section has enormous power over the systems of government adopted by states, counties, and cities,” Adams writes. “Where you vote, how you vote and for whom you vote are all impacted by bureaucrats.” He cites how DOJ objected in 2009 to a Georgia citizenship verification that required those registering to vote to prove U.S. citizenship. The state’s law was upheld on appeal.
A December 30th Wall Street Journal editorial, “Holder’s Racial Politics,” called his blocking of a South Carolina voter identification law “a political abuse of law.” The state would require voters to present any one of five photo IDs at the polls and offered not only free state-issued IDs, but free transportation to the site to obtain one. “The AG’s attack on voter ID laws may backfire legally and politically,” the editors wrote.
To support his claims that Holder and his lawyers are not race-neutral, as required by Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, Adams profiles in detail two cases. One, in Noxubee County, Mississippi, involved manipulation of absentee ballots and voter fraud and discrimination against white voters. In another chapter he details the intimidation of white voters by the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia during the 2008 election. Following a continuing pattern of what Holder considers priority, in recent weeks DOJ made headlines when it accused the Maricopa, Arizona Sheriff’s office and the Seattle Police Department of using excessive force against minorities.
In the Philadelphia case Adams writes that after being subpoenaed to testify before Congress and the Civil Rights Commission he was ordered to not comply or disclose any information about the incident. Federal law requires all federal agencies to comply and the DOJ is vested with the power to enforce the subpoenas. This led to Adams’ resignation. “Over the last several months, unattributed statements about the case by DOJ officials have been cited in media reports that are demonstrably false,” he says. “Essentially I was saying that someone at DOJ was lying to the press.” He writes that he believed in the Noxubee County case there was an information pipeline running out of DOJ to the defendants’ legal team.
Adams writes that the Philadelphia Panther case set a dangerous precedent because during the November 2010 elections the New Black Panthers repeated deployment to bully white voters at polls not only in Philadelphia but also in Houston. In other chapters in his book he writes about various DOJ actions in a number of states as well as “disenfranchising tens of thousands of military voters.” He believes to protect military voters the enforcement of military voting laws should be moved out of the Civil Rights Division to the Civil or National Security Division. “The people who have bungled this cannot be allowed to continue enforcing the law,” he says.
Unethical behavior is nothing new to DOJ. “The department is predominantly populated by worthy professionals, but politics, deceit, misconduct, and bias infest some of its activities, particularly in the Civil Rights Division,” Adams writes. “This is a long-standing problem that has grown exponentially under the Obama administration.”
In May 2011 this journalist reviewed a book written by another former DOJ lawyer and U.S. Attorney. In “Spinning the Law” Kendall Coffey writes that DOJ lawyers regularly gave copies of letters, ultimatums and pleadings to media sources and that the defense team only learned what was happening when the media called.
Coffey also cited a November 1998 10-part series written by Bill Moushey and Bob Martinson of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that exposed federal agents and prosecutors who pursued justice by breaking the law. “They lied, hid evidence, distorted facts, engaged in cover-ups, paid for perjury and set up innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments, guilty pleas and convictions,” the two wrote in the series.
“The division’s attorneys know that most businesses they target, fearing adverse publicity and believing in the DOJ’s legal supremacy, will buckle quickly on whatever face-saving terms they can muster, no matter how outrageous the lawsuit may be,” Adams writes. “Thus, business by business, some of America’s most radical political activists are imposing their will on the American people – almost completely under the media’s radar.”
According to Adams, DOJ has cost American taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuits. “Businesses typically presume they can’t win, but millions of dollars in misconduct fines say otherwise,” he writes. “The Civil Rights division has been sanctioned more than $4.1 million for bringing frivolous cases or engaging in misconduct, all under Holder.”
In “Injustice” Adams cites where a federal judge reprimanded a DOJ lawyer for habitually missing court deadlines. “His excuse was that instead of writing down the deadlines, he kept his court docket in his head,” says Adams.
“Today the largest metropolitan areas are required to print ballots in a foreign language if English-language ballots and election materials cannot be understood by certain groups of people who don’t speak English,” he writes. He lists the following cities: New York, LA, Houston, Miami, Boston, Tampa, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
According to Adams, DOJ lawyers showed bias in responding to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by discriminating against some journalists while favoring others. In one chapter he lists requests showing some were completely ignored or took six months for a response while others were handled the same day. Under FOIA, to comply with the law, the agency or department must respond within 10 working days. Repeated requests for information this journalist made to his public affairs office and his office were ignored as well as a complaint filed with the DOJ Inspector General. The DOJ lawyers responsible for upholding laws obviously believe they are above the law.
Adams has been meticulous in providing documented references and footnotes throughout the book to factually support all of his claims about the current mess at DOJ. As long as Barak Obama is President of the U.S., Eric Holder will be the Attorney General and the Department of Justice will continue to have its own agenda.
Rene A. Henry is the author of eight books and writes on a variety of subjects, many of which are posted on his website at www.renehenry.com. He served in federal service in both the George H.W. Bush and William J. Clinton administrations. Henry’s book, “Communicating In A Crisis,” should be a must read for all senior officials at DOJ.
Editor's note: David M. Kinchen reviewed this book on Oct. 5, 2011. We decided to run this review by contributor Rene Henry to get another take on this important book.