No Comment — July 17, 2007, 7:37 am

Obstruction at Justice

Q: When does the U.S. Department of Justice, once one of the most highly respected law enforcement organizations in the world, behave like an organized crime family?

A: When it’s under the control of a man named “Fredo.”

The Department of Justice continues its flat-out efforts at obstruction of Congressional oversight and investigation. And the latest act in this comic opera: it orders the head of the voting rights section, John Tanner, not to appear or testify before the House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating wrongdoing in his section. TPM Muckraker reports:

The House Judiciary Committee was set to hold a hearing on the Civil Rights Division’s voting rights section tomorrow, but no more. That’s because the Justice Department has refused to allow the chief of the section, John Tanner, to testify. The committee has postponed the hearing until the Department allows Tanner to appear.

A career employee at the Department, Tanner worked hand in hand with political appointees Bradley Schlozman and Hans von Spakovsky to ensure the passage of voter identification laws in Georgia and elsewhere — sometimes overruling the recommendations of staff analysts and attorneys, who found that the laws might discriminate against African American voters.

Both Schlozman and von Spakovsky endured hard questioning during testimony last month. Tanner would have gotten the same treatment.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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