The U.S. Justice Department takes a stab at the question of who will watch the watchmen. Their answer: we will, but only after journalists exposed a series of interlocking scandals and weeks of non-stop political opposition drives the Attorney General out of his post. Justice today published a report detailing interference (.pdf) in Justice hiring processes by conservative Republican operatives.
The non-partisan watchdog Pro Publica has a solid wrapup. Quoting this:
Today’s Justice Department report is clear and damning: A number of former department officials, including then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ chief of staff, “committed misconduct” and broke the law in using a political filter to fill non-political positions. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales’ former right-hand man, and Monica Goodling, formerly the White House liaison at the department, get the brunt of the criticism, and though investigators are clear that the scope of the behavior was wide, they say the most serious impact was on the country’s immigration courts.
The report provides glimpses of the “team” mentality that has become the signature meme of the Bush White House. Paul Kiel of Pro Publica writes:
The report is rich in the code used in e-mails by Goodling and others to connote those deserving of advancement: “on the team” was a favorite (e.g. “loyal to the team,” “a true member of the team,” “completely on the team”), but there’s also simply “like you and me” or the more robust “rock-solid Americans.”
Those on the wrong team [Democrats] usually got a simpler tag. “She’s a D,” says one e-mail. Or in another: “she’s a big D.”
It’s not hard to see how this us/them culture reinforces itself and comes to justify all manner of malfeasance.