Who’s in Charge Here?
Essentially, the nation’s top cop is the Attorney General of
the Justice Department.
Like so many other Cabinet Members,
Bill Barr sets a low-bar for the duties assigned him. And he’s worth
singling-out because he has such a diverse and widely-spread influence on our
lives as ordinary citizens.
When the FBI knocks on your door,
Bill Barr sent them. This dude runs the Federal Prison System as well and reviews
the conduct of local law enforcement as directed by the Violent Crime
Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
He’s who’s in charge here, in
law enforcement. The top guy.
Which has historically been pretty
much okay, with a glitch here and there such as J. Edgar Hoover. But someone’s
got to do the job and Bill Barely measures up.
(David R. Lurie) Perhaps Barr’s
ignorance about the role of the prosecutor helps explain his ineptitude, but
that hardly excuses it.
Since the early 1990s, he has
had the unique ability to advocate policies that been remarkably ineffective
and costly to the American taxpayer. During his first tenure as attorney
general, he championed a concordance of failed criminal justice policies: mass
incarceration, aggressive use of pretrial detention, mandatory minimum
sentences, prison labor, asset forfeiture, charging juvenile defendants as
adults, and expanding prosecutorial authority to use wiretaps.
An entire body of scholarship
has been devoted to documenting the racist impulses and moral vacancy of these
measures—not to mention how they contribute to, rather than combat, cycles of
So, who really gives a shit? There’s always a complaint
about this or that political appointment and if you’re like me, your eyes
pretty much glaze over in today’s media maze.
But then there’s the Roger Stone trial. Stone is a buddy of
Donald Trump, a sort of political advisor Trump is supposed to have spoken with
on an almost daily basis, who self-styles himself as a ‘political fixer.’
… Stone was arrested on seven
criminal charges of an indictment in the Mueller investigation: one count of
obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one
count of witness tampering.
He was found guilty and FBI
prosecutors recommended a seven to nine year prison sentence.
Trump immediately tweeted (what
else?) that the sentence was “horrible and unfair.” Bill Barr, almost as
immediately, dictated a revised sentencing memorandum, stating that the sentence
could be "considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances."
All four prosecuting attorneys immediately resigned. Stone got a 40-month
And now, as I sometimes say, the fun begins.
The Department of Justice brought
74,843 criminal cases in 2019. Yet only two convictions warranted the
attorney general’s direct involvement--those of Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.
The Stone case was the final straw
for all those who faithfully served and retired from the Department of Justice:
(Edited version) “We, the (2,689) undersigned,
are alumni of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) who have
collectively served both Republican and Democratic administrations. Each of us
strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in
the fair administration of justice.
“…we support and commend the
four career prosecutors who upheld their oaths and stood up for the
Department’s independence by withdrawing from the Stone case and/or resigning
from the Department. Our simple message to them is that we — and millions of
other Americans — stand with them. And we call on every DOJ employee to follow
their heroic example and be prepared to report future abuses to the Inspector
General, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Congress; to refuse to carry
out directives that are inconsistent with their oaths of office; to withdraw
from cases that involve such directives or other misconduct; and, if necessary,
to resign and report publicly — in a manner consistent with professional ethics
— to the American people the reasons for their resignation.”
Answering who really gives a shit, over two and a
half thousand DOJ alumni cared enough to fix their names to a public statement.
That’s never happened before in the history of the
But then, this is an administration where many things in
government and ethics have never happened before.