Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Department Of Justice Indicted For Political Profiling

To follow up yesterday’s post, we wanted to put the issue of possible politicized indictments into context.

Two professors – Dr. Donald C. Shields of University of Missouri in St. Louis and Professor John F. Cragan of Illinois State University – have been engaged in an ongoing study of investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice during the Bush presidency as they wrap up a book planned for next year.

In their review of more than 800 investigations and indictments between January, 2001, and September, 2007, they concluded that U.S. Attorneys across the country have investigated Democrats four and a half times more than Republicans. In fact, they conclude that it’s a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African-Americans at traffic stops.

They concluded that 77% of investigations/indictments have been for Democrats, 17% for Republicans and 6% for independents. As a frame of reference, the percentages of party affiliation are 50% Democratic, 41% Republican and 9% independent. In the words of the professors, “the current Bush Republican Administration appears to be the first to have engaged in political profiling.” (It’s worth noting that local grand juries have shown no political imbalance.)

The results of this disparity in investigations produce a number of obvious results, according to Dr. Shields and Professor Cragan:

• Democratic elected officials are made to look like they are more corrupt, just as racial profiling by law enforcement agencies skews perceptions.

• Investigations result in the political party being attacked “as the grassroots essence of its personality.”

• Investigations discredit people as viable leaders or spokespersons

• Officials’ ability to raise money for re-election and eliminates their ability to raise money for other candidates.

• Keeping the profiling at the local level keeps it below the national radar of the media, who are less likely to connect dots that stretch from Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago and Las Vegas, and as a result, they appear to be isolated incidents rather than a broader pattern by the Bush Administration.

As a result of their study, the authors advocate laws to create a national registry of federal investigations of both candidates and elected officials by the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the U.S. The registry would list names, party affiliation and outcomes of the investigations. In the event of acquittals, they believe that the government should pay legal expenses to prevent the kind of investigations that took place in Baltimore.

The “longitudinal study” was begun by the professors to “explain the confluence of unique aspects of the religious-conservative and neo-conservation rhetorical vision, which were held by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft” and which influences his direction of the 93 U.S. Attorneys that reported to him.

“Ashcroft and Gonzales elevated many non-corruption transgressions to federal crimes by usurping cases like campaign ethics issues that traditionally would have been handled as state cases,” the authors wrote. “With the new anti-corruption rhetorical vision, the investigation and prosecution of actual crimes was replaced by ferreting out of potential new crimes.”

As we said yesterday, if the lame duck U.S. Attorney’s Office is inclined to take action against Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton, there’s little question that it would be put into the political lens through which we now view much of the Department of Justice’s decisions. That’s why the investigative file about the mayor should be put in the inbox on the desk of the next federal prosecutor.


Anonymous said...

Didn't Herenton say he wasn't a democrat and has supported Lamar Alexander?

Anonymous said...

What's this, a Going Out Of Business Sale for the Bush Derangement Syndrome crowd? We've lost our lease, EVERYTHING MUST GO!
And when's the last time John Ashcroft was in the news? Anyway I bet you weren't arrested for your refusal to join a gospel quartet more than, oh, once or twice during his whole time in office.

Look, you won. Congratulations. The recession is all yours, have a blast.

By the way, I remember reading your Sarah Palin ridicule, but I missed your tirade at Obama for talking up a woman with absolutely no -- none, zero, nada -- foreign policy experience for Secretary of State.

Anonymous said...

>>>Democratic elected officials are made to look like they are more corrupt,

And what's the conviction rate on these indictments? The complaints would carry weight if more Democrats were being indicted but not convicted. If, as in Memphis, they're virtually always convicted, then there's really nothing to complaint about.

Anonymous said...

i just stumbled across this blogspot. whoever wrote these last two posts has incredible insight.

packrat said...

I notice none of you neo-con apologists argue with the data. Should be fun for all the LIberty University Law School grads now that they don't have a job and a personal prayer rug waiting for them in the Justice Department....

Anonymous said...

What a great post. Every notice the wingnuts always attack the person, never the numbers. They speak for themselves, and if they don't know that this group of crazies in the White House have dumbed down our liberties, they are blind. Habeas corpus right - nah, we don't need that. Held in prison for years without charges - sure, that's ok. Attorneys removed for not indicting Democrats - what's really wrong with that. Phone tapping Americans talking to their relatives overseas - what's to hide. Laws so average people can't sue corporations - it's all about capitalism not democracy, man.

Get real, you Rip Van Winkle right wing apologists. You've made the world less safe and blown up our economy. And still you want to tell us what a good job you and your clone in the White House hhave done.

Anonymous said...

>>>"We are often blind to our own environment because of our assumptions, framed by media, insular thinking and our own prejudices." (Top of the blog)

Speaking of which, the assumption behind that last comment (surplus Bush insults! We gotta clear 'em out, folks!), and the main post, and the study cited in it, is that Republicans commit the same number of crimes as Democrats, but the Republicans are getting away with them. Where are your data behind that assumption?

victor said...

Its a very nice article


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