A Legacy of Political Persecution | Harper's Magazine

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A Legacy of Political Persecution

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Under the administration of George W. Bush, the Department of Justice was converted into an extension of the Republican Party and its massive resources were redirected to serve the party’s electoral agenda. A major part of this transformation, overseen by Bush’s deputy chief of staff and senior political advisor Karl Rove, involved using the Public Integrity Section and cooperating U.S. attorneys to systematically target Democratic political figures during election cycles. Here is a snippet from a forthcoming documentary that addresses a number of largely unknown cases. Nearly every one of these cases was brought in a state which Karl Rove designated as a “battleground” because the margin of victory in the 2000 election had been three percent or less. Similarly, almost every case was assigned to a judge appointed by George W. Bush who adopted a very friendly disposition towards the prosecution.

As the Bush team prepares to depart, the House Judiciary Committee has committed itself to pursue investigations relating to a long list of politically motivated prosecutions brought by Bush Justice. The Public Integrity Section’s corrupt practices were dramatically revealed in court proceedings relating to their prosecution of Republican Senator Ted Stevens, when an FBI agent filed a whistleblower complaint charging that Justice figures had engaged in some of the same corrupt practices with which they charged Stevens.

The judge supervising the case, Emmet G. Sullivan showed visible anger when he learned that the FBI agent had not been granted whistleblower protections. He suggested that he did not consider the representations made by the Public Integrity lawyers to be trustworthy and insisted instead that Michael B. Mukasey execute a comprehensive explanation for the Justice Department’s errant conduct in the case before leaving office. With fewer than eighteen hours remaining, Mukasey has not satisfied the judge’s order.

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