It was hardly news that President Bush’s Justice Department has been illegally politicized, but it was important that the Justice Department finally owned up to that sorry state of affairs. An internal investigation released on Monday found that the department’s top staff routinely took politics and ideology into account in filling nonpolitical positions — and lied about it.
The details of what the investigators found were appalling, and Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s response was disgracefully lukewarm. If he hopes to leave office with any sort of reputation for integrity, he needs to get serious about punishing this sort of wrongdoing.
The report, prepared by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector General, does not delve deep enough. There is much more work to be done. But even this dip into the murky waters of the Justice Department found that senior officials took into account applicants’ political views in hiring United States attorneys and other nonpolitical positions. This, the report said, “violated federal law and department policy, and also constituted misconduct.”