Tuesday, March 20, 2007

a government so dysfunctional it might drown on its own

It appears the light suddenly shining in on the Justice Dept. from the US Attorney purge is causing some internal problems. From U.S. News and World Report's blog:
The Justice Department now says the document dump will contain closer to 2000 documents.

"You have no idea," said one Justice official, "how bad it is here."

The fear that virtually any piece of communication will have to be turned over has paralyzed department officials' ability to communicate effectively and respond in unison to the crisis, as has the fact that senior Justice officials themselves say they still don't know the entire story about what happened that led to the crisis. So they are afraid that anything they put down on paper could be viewed as lies or obfuscation, when in fact, the story is changing daily as new documents are found and as the Office of Legal Counsel conducts its own internal probe into the matter.

The paralysis will affect the calculations that Gonzales must make this week as to whether he should stay or go. If Gonzales doesn't resign, there's little doubt that he will get few of his initiatives through for the rest of his tenure and that his people will spend months churning out documents at the behest of angry Democrats who will be investigating virtually anything that moves. But this could also give Gonzales an exit strategy, officials say. He could say that while neither he nor his subordinates did anything wrong, he has decided to resign for the greater good of the department and for justice at large.

Hmm, the Dems will investigate "anything that moves?" Even bad news is great news for the Bush Administration since it gives Gonzales "an exit strategy?" Later it says Bush is "stubbornly loyal" (as we can see from this purge, or from the disappearance of virtually his entire staff after the '04 election?). Amazing that people would deign to say USNWR has a rightwing slant!

Despite how hard Chitra Ragavan is trying to spin this as bad PR for, of all people, Democrats, what this snippet actually shows is the spectacularly poor administrative skills of this administration, and of Attorney General Gonzales in particular. How could staffers be so concerned about whether they're distributing "lies and obfuscation," unless they actually are lying and obfuscating in their emails? Is Justice now so mired in deceit, obstruction, and political intrigues that it's incapable of functioning while responsible parties are conducting oversight? Is it really so poorly run, and has corruption, incompetence, and corner-cutting so deeply infested the dept. on Gonzales' watch, that the staff no longer feels confident that it knows the difference between legal and illegal procedure? The friggin' Dept. of Justice?

Apparently so: it's not just in their intra-dept. communications, people. It's in their handling of criminal suspects as well.

It's interesting to look at the relationship between these stories: we're actually starting to see an economy of corruption, how it engenders and then feeds off of incompetence and secrecy. The 3 have a symbiotic relationship, and I'm finding more and more that you don't find one without the others.

As Joel Salatin (of The Omnivore's Dilemma fame, and in a different context) said, light and fresh air are the best sterilizers in the world.

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