The announcement by Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Tuesday that he regards illegal hiring practices in the Department of Justice only as violations of civil service laws and not as crimes came under withering criticism from legal expert Jonathan Turley on MSNBC’s Countdown.
“The attorney general would have had a lot more credibility if he actually prosecuted government officials on occasion,” Turley told Keith Olbermann. “He said he would not prosecute what is defined as a war crime in the case of torture. He would not prosecute on the electronic surveillance crimes. … He has been standing in the way of investigations. And now … he’s just saying, ‘You know, they got away and what can I do about that?'”
“He is not prosecuting government officials,” Turley summed up, “and I’m afraid he’s doing it without principle.”
Turley also noted that, while he agreed with Mukasey that “it would be unfair” to dismiss all the Justice Department personnel who were hired as the result of partisan decision-making, he has a particular concern with the immigration judges.
“It’s clear that the standards used to select those judges were not based on the merits and were based on their political alliances and associations,” Turley stated. “Those are people rendering decisions over the lives of others.”
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