Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Department of Justice Clears Itself

Black Panthers outside Polling Station
Here is a perfect examp0le of what happens when you let a department, organization, company or any group, investigate themselves without oversight of any kind. Let me give you some background. Following the 2008 elections people became outraged at the blatant political handling when the Justice Department dismissed charges against 2 Black Panthers. The Black Panthers had stationed themselves outside a polling pace and intimidated citizens arriving to vote. So, responding to the outcry, the DOJ “investigated” itself. Not surprisingly, according to their investigation the, Justice Department did not improperly let politics or the race of the defendants affect the handling of a high-profile civil voter intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party.

Justice Department attorneys "did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment, but rather acted appropriately, in the exercise of their supervisory duties in connection with the dismissal of the three defendants in the NBPP case," the head of OPR wrote in a letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

OPR's (the Office of Professional Responsibility, a department that reports to the Attorney General) investigation began in the summer of 2009. After an extensive investigation, OPR "found no evidence that the decision to dismiss the case against three of the four defendants was predicated on political considerations," wrote DOJ's Robin Ashton.

"We found that the decision by the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, a career Department employee, was made following appropriate consultation with, or notification to, career attorneys and supervisors, and Department leadership," Ashton wrote.

"We found no evidence of improper political interference or influence from within or outside the Department in connection with the decision in the case," she wrote. "In sum, we concluded that the decision to dismiss three of the four defendants and to seek more narrowly-tailored injunctive relief against King Samir Shabazz was predicated on a good faith assessment of the law and the facts of the case and had a reasonable basis."

"We found no evidence that political considerations were a motivating factor in reaching the decision. We also concluded that the decision to initiate the NBPP case was based upon a good faith assessment of the facts and the law. We found no evidence that political considerations were a motivating factor in authorizing the civil action against the four defendants," Ashton wrote.

"Finally, we found no evidence to support allegations (which were raised during the course of our investigation) that the decision makers, either in bringing or dismissing the claims, were influenced by the race of the defendants, or any considerations other than an assessment of the evidence and the applicable law," Ashton wrote.

"In sum, we examined only whether any of the individuals involved in the decision-making process - with respect to either the initiation or dismissal of claims in the NBPP case - committed professional misconduct in the performance of their official duties," Ashton wrote.

"We determined that the attorneys involved in the NBPP case made good faith, reasonable assessments of the facts and the law," Ashton wrote. "We did not attempt to evaluate the relative merits of their differing positions."

This is a complete and all too obvious white wash by the Administration. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission, investigating the same case, drew different conclusions and uncovered allegations pointing to the exact opposite conclusions. Fortunately, this matter is not done. In Congress a Committee headed by Representative Darrell Issa has promised to conduct a thorough investigation. That committee has something the other investigations did not have, the power to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony. I will be watching the progress of that investigation with great interest.

Live Long and Prosper....

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