Thursday, February 05, 2009

Civil and Human Rights Reborn At DOJ

The term that begins for new Attorney General Holder follows a long dearth of real justice in the Justice Department. My hopes are particularly high for his access to the records withheld from congress of work for torture, on the grounds that it would threaten national security. An end is near for the threat to national security provoked by torture, at last.

The diversion of Justice Department work to fight the GWOT, from its purpose of actually bringing Justice to the U.S., is well known. The "Civil Rights division showed disregard for minorities, and not only was diminished in "number of cases it sought to solve, but also in its tone, over the past eight years of catering to the base.

"The most important thing is that we have a person who gets it," said Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP. "He understands that the purpose of incarceration is not just punishment and protection but it is also redemption. He understands that people shouldn't be targeted because of what they look like but because of what they do. He understands that enforcing civil rights serves the interest of law enforcement. It's not about what he looks like, it's about what he believes."
For criminal justice activists, a pressing concern has been sentencing disparities for convicts caught with crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. Possession of crack carries longer criminal penalties, and 80 percent of people prosecuted for crack offenses have been African American, according to the Sentencing Project. Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to end the sentencing disparity.

But when Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) asked Holder at his confirmation hearing to work with Congress to promote more fairness in sentencing laws, he responded with the cool of a longtime judge and prosecutor: "We have to be tough. We have to be smart. And we have to be fair. Our criminal justice system has to be fair. It has to be viewed as being fair."

Sorry, I don't understand the word "but" in that paragraph. Being fair, or just, is very much to the point in the matter of prosecution of drug cases. (Of course, under the editorship of Hiatt, the standards for writing in WaPo do not include accuracy or vocabulary - this morning we have a Hiatt editorial calling on President Obama to be bipartisan, instead of solving the economic crisis the voters expect him to. But I digress.)

So much that this country was proud of has been destroyed by the executive branch just kicked out, that it is intimidating. The Department of Justice needs to be shaken down and its large faction of those opposed to human rights and civil rights expelled. Then we can begin the real business of returning to the Rule of Law.


Wishing all the best to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just operated on for a very early stage pancreatic cancer.

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Anonymous JDM said...

Don't forget charging that POS Brad Schlozman. It's not enough that he has to live in Kansas anymore.

3:29 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

I am very ready to see Brad Schlozman charged, as recommended by the DOJ Inspector General.

6:31 AM  

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