Government Law

Career Attorney Targets DOJ in Editorial

A 25-year career attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice has caused a stir by critiquing in scathing terms his employer and the administration of President George W. Bush in a recent newspaper editorial.

“In the course of its tenure since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has turned the entire government (and the DOJ in particular) into a veritable Augean stable on issues such as civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights, as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices,” writes John S. Koppel in the Denver Post.

Decrying the politicization of the DOJ—as exemplified by the president’s recent commutation of former chief vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s sentence for obstructing justice, the abuse of warrantless search powers under the Patriot Act and an alleged political purge of U.S. attorneys who did not promote Republican party goals—Koppel says the current situation has reached an unprecedented low.

“In more than a quarter of a century at the DOJ, I have never before seen such consistent and marked disrespect on the part of the highest-ranking government policymakers for both law and ethics,” he writes. “It is especially unheard of for U.S. attorneys to be targeted and removed on the basis of pressure and complaints from political figures dissatisfied with their handling of politically sensitive investigations and their unwillingness to ‘play ball.’ “

A civil appellate attorney for the department since 1981, Koppel says he realizes the editorial could cause problems for him at work. “But some things must be said, whatever the risk.” His editorial earned him a mention yesterday in a CBS News round-up of unusually hot issues in Washington, D.C., during what is normally a slow summer season.

(Hat tip to

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