US Justice

Monica Goodling: Where She Is Now And Where She Should Be

Where she is now: Married to Mike Krempasky, founder of the right-wing blog, Redstate.

Where she should be: In a Federal courtroom, on trail for violating Federal hiring laws, violations of the Hatch Act, and for obstructing justice. Andrew Cohen of CBS news agrees.

Damozel at The Moderate Voice saw the same Sadly, No! post I saw on Monday, and she created this most excellent post.

"That damned spotted owl. It haunts us to this day."

Thanks to Sadly, No! and their commentator, J--, for pointing this out.

The Office of Professional Conduct (OPC) has published its final report on the interviewing techniques of Monica Goodling during her tenure at the US Department of Justice.

It is worth a read because it is full of scathing evidence and a conclusion that cannot possibly be misread:

[Page 125] The evidence demonstrated that Goodling violated Department policy and federal law, and committed misconduct, by considering political or ideological affiliations in the appointment of IJs and BIA members. Goodling admitted in her congressional testimony that she “took political considerations into account” in IJ and BIA hiring. She stated that Sampson had told her that IJ hiring was not subject to civil service laws, and that she “assumed” those laws did not apply to BIA member hiring. The evidence showed that she used political considerations in assessing candidates for both IJ and BIA positions.

That's an important distinction. It means that Monica Goodling asked the same political screening questions of both political appointees (which is legal) and DOJ candidates for employment (which is not). Many of the candidates for career positions screened by Goodling included IJ applicants - Immigration Judges. Ms. Goodling was not a decision maker in the hiring process. But she was a key interviewer, and made recommendations on who to hire and who to reject. You might think that the political screening questions would be subtle. But thankfully, they were quite blunt. Take a look at this key excerpt from pages 17-19 (emphasis mine):

As White House Liaison, Goodling’s primary responsibility was to screen candidates for political positions. Based on our witness interviews and review of documents, and the results of our survey, we found that most of the people Goodling screened or interviewed had applied for political positions. However, Goodling also assessed candidates for various types of career positions, including candidates for AUSA positions requested by interim U.S. Attorneys, career attorneys applying for details to Department offices, and candidates for IJ and BIA positions. We also found that Goodling interviewed many candidates who were interested in obtaining any position in the Department, whether career or political.

Our investigation demonstrated that Goodling sometimes used for career applicants the same political screening techniques she employed in considering applicants for political positions. In addition, she used for candidates who were interested in any position, whether career or political, the same political screening she used for applicants who applied solely for political positions, and some of these candidates were placed in career positions.

In the sections that follow, we describe the process Goodling used as White House Liaison to screen candidates for political positions within the Department. We note where applicable the evidence that she used similar techniques in assessing candidates for career positions. As detailed in this chapter, Goodling used a variety of methods to screen candidates, including interview questions, Internet searches, employment forms, and reference checks.

I. Interview Questions

According to witnesses we interviewed and documents we reviewed, Goodling regularly asked interview questions designed to determine how politically conservative the candidates were. We interviewed Angela Williamson, who was the Department’s Deputy White House Liaison and reported to Goodling during most of Goodling’s tenure as White House Liaison. Williamson attended numerous interviews conducted by Goodling and told us that Goodling asked the same questions “all the time” and tried to ask the same questions of all candidates. Williamson said she became so familiar with the questions, Goodling occasionally allowed her to conduct portions of interviews or entire interviews on her own.

After Goodling resigned, Williamson typed from memory the list of questions Goodling asked as a guide for future interviews. Among other questions, the list included the following:

  • Tell us about your political philosophy. There are different
    groups of conservatives, by way of example: Social
    Conservative, Fiscal Conservative, Law & Order Republican.

  • [W]hat is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to
    serve him?

  • Aside from the President, give us an example of someone
    currently or recently in public service who you admire.
  • We found that this last question often took the form of asking the candidate to identify his or her most admired President, Supreme Court Justice, or legislator. Some candidates were asked to identify a person for all three categories. Williamson told us that sometimes Goodling asked candidates: “Why are you a Republican?”

    Several candidates interviewed by Goodling told us they believed that her question about identifying their favorite Supreme Court Justice, President, or legislator was an attempt to determine the candidates’ political beliefs. For example, one candidate reported that after he stated he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Goodling “frowned” and commented, “but she’s pro-choice.” Another candidate commented that when Goodling asked him to name his favorite judge, it seemed to him that she was trying to “get at my political views.”

    Williamson said that she and Goodling took notes during candidate interviews, which were maintained in folders for the candidates. We also found that many of Goodling’s and Williamson’s interview notes reflected that the topics of abortion and gay marriage were discussed during interviews. It appeared that these topics were discussed as a result of the question seeking information about how the applicant would characterize the type of conservative they were. We received information from our survey that 34 persons interviewed by Goodling or Williamson said they discussed abortion, and 21 said they discussed gay marriage.

    And how did Goodling research candidates and filter out the suspected liberals from the 'good Bushies'? She used the most powerful media search tool on the planet - Lexis/Nexis. Any candidate who went near specific topics in print or online news media would presumably be disqualified. Another key excerpt:

    We found that Goodling’s Internet research on candidates for Department positions was extensive and designed to obtain their political and ideological affiliations. We determined that while working in the OAG, Goodling conducted computer searches on candidates for career as well as political Department positions. Goodling used an Internet search string in her hiring research that she had received from Jan Williams, her predecessor as the Department’s White House Liaison. At some time during the year Williams served as White House Liaison, she had attended a seminar at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and received a document entitled “The Thorough Process of Investigation.”

    The document described methods for screening candidates for political positions and recommended using and to find information about contributions to political candidates and parties. The document also explained how to find voter registration information. In addition, the document explained how to conduct searches on, and included an example of a search string that contained political terms such as “republican,” “Bush or Cheney,” “Karl Rove,” “Howard Dean,” “democrat!,” “liberal,” “abortion or pro-choice,” as well as generic terms such as “arrest!” and “bankrupt!”

    When Williams left the Department in April 2006, she sent an email to Goodling containing an Internet search string and explained: “This is the lexis nexis search string that I use for AG appointments.”

    The string reads as follows:

    [First name of a candidate]! and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!

    In addition, Williams provided to Goodling the White House document described above entitled, “The Thorough Process of Investigation.”

    The Spotted Owl. The damned Spotted Owl. It haunts us to this day. Those Bushies know what we like. There is no escape from the Goodling Lexis/Nexis search string.

    Jose Padilla Sentenced To 17 Years

    He was originally accused of plotting to detonate a dirty bomb. The president declared him an 'enemy combatant' in June 2002 with a stroke of a pen. He was held without access to a lawyer for over 2 years. And in the end, he was never charged with anything related to a dirty bomb.

    But he is off to a federal prison, for agreeing to be part of some jihadist terrorist conspiracy.

    Yes, Jose Padilla was sentenced today for what could be called a 'thought crime'.

    He allegedly agreed to help alleged terrorists to kidnap and/or murder civilians of an unnamed foreign nation.

    The US Attorney wanted him sentenced to life in prison. Federal Court Judge Marcia Cooke, a Jeb Bush and George W. Bush appointee, felt she did the right thing by sentencing Mr. Padilla to 17 years and 4 months in her Miami courtroom.

    17 years. For a thought crime. No physical evidence other than an application form that Mr. Padilla filled-out to attend an alleged Al Qaeda training camp (strange but true). No opportunity to see any of the 78 interrogation videotapes at trial. No justice.

    Lewis Koch reviews how Citizen Padilla was stripped of all constitutional rights, confined, tortured, and ultimately sentenced to solitary confinement.

    I don't recognize the USA anymore. It has always been rife with injustice, but never as scary as this. Supporters of this new, evil empire claim that the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 'changed everything.' They are correct. This new kind of injustice is the change they brought. Those who attacked us have virtually won.

    Padilla Receives 17-Year Sentence

    MIAMI (AP) -- Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting with al-Qaida to blow up a radioactive ''dirty bomb,'' was sentenced Tuesday to 17 years and four months on terrorism conspiracy charges that don't mention those initial allegations.

    The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke marks another step in the extraordinary personal and legal odyssey for the 37-year-old Muslim convert, a U.S. citizen who was held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest amid the ''dirty bomb'' allegations.

    Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, but Cook said she arrived at the 17-year sentence after considering the ''harsh conditions'' during Padilla's lengthy military detention at a Navy brig in South Carolina.

    ''I do find that the conditions were so harsh for Mr. Padilla ... they warrant consideration in the sentencing in this case,'' the judge said. However, he did not get credit for time served.

    Padilla's lawyers claimed his treatment amounted to torture, which U.S. officials have repeatedly denied. His attorneys say he was forced to stand in painful stress positions, given LSD or other drugs as ''truth serum,'' deprived of sleep and even a mattress for extended periods and subjected to loud noises, extreme heat and cold and noxious odors.

    Cooke also imposed prison terms on two other men of Middle Eastern origin who were convicted of conspiracy and material support charges along with Padilla in August. The three were part of a North American support cell for al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists around the world, prosecutors said.

    The jury was told that Padilla was recruited by Islamic extremists in the U.S. and filled out an application to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.

    Cooke said that as serious as the conspiracy was, there was no evidence linking the men to specific acts of terrorism anywhere.

    ''There is no evidence that these defendants personally maimed, kidnapped or killed anyone in the United States or elsewhere,'' she said.

    Padilla was added in 2005 to an existing Miami terrorism support case just as the U.S. Supreme Court was considering his challenge to President Bush's decision to hold him in custody indefinitely without charge. The ''dirty bomb'' charges were quietly discarded and were never part of the criminal case.

    Cooke sentenced Padilla's recruiter, 45-year-old Adham Amin Hassoun, to 15 years and eight months in prison and the third defendant, 46-year-old Kifah Wael Jayyousi, to 12 years and eight months. Jayyousi was a financier and propagandist for the cell that assisted Islamic extremists in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere, according to trial testimony. Both also faced life in prison.

    Padilla's mother, Estela Lebron, smiled at reporters in the courtroom when the sentence was announced and questioned outside the courthouse whether the Bush administration had misplaced its priorities in prosecuting her son.

    ''This is the way they are spending our money? Hello?'' she said.

    But she was also pleased he didn't get the maximum sentence. ''I feel good about everything. This is amazing.''

    Attorneys for Hassoun and Jayyousi were also gratified but repeated that they will appeal their convictions and sentences, as will Padilla.

    ''It is definitely a defeat for the government,'' said Hassoun lawyer Jeanne Baker.

    ''The government has not made America any safer. It has just made America less free,'' said William Swor, who represents Jayyousi.

    The Justice Department praised prosecutors and investigators in the long-running case.

    ''Thanks to their efforts, the defendants' North American support cell has been dismantled and can no longer send money and jihadist recruits to conflicts overseas,'' Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement.

    The men were convicted after a three-month trial based on tens of thousands of FBI telephone intercepts collected over an eight-year investigation and a form Padilla filled out in 2000 to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. Padilla, a former Chicago gang member with a long criminal record, converted to Islam in prison and was recruited by Hassoun while attending a mosque in suburban Sunrise.

    Padilla sought a sentence of no more than 10 years. Hassoun asked for 15 years or less and Jayyousi for no more than five years.

    Padilla's arrest was initially portrayed by the Bush administration as an important victory in the months immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and later was seen as a symbol of the administration's zeal to prevent homegrown terrorism.

    Civil liberties groups and Padilla's lawyers called his detention unconstitutional for someone born in this country.

    Jurors in the criminal case never heard Padilla's full history, which according to U.S. officials included a graduation from the al-Qaida terror camp, a plot to detonate the ''dirty bomb'' and a plot to fill apartments with natural gas and blow them up. Much of what Padilla supposedly told interrogators during his long detention as an enemy combatant could not be used in court because he had no access to a lawyer and was not read his constitutional rights.

    Attorneys for Hassoun and Jayyousi argued that any assistance they provided overseas was for peaceful purposes and to help persecuted Muslims in violent countries. But FBI agents testified that their charitable work was a cover for violent jihad, which they frequently discussed in code using words such as ''tourism'' and ''football.''

    Stephen Elliott: Paris, The Hero

    Fiction author and legal journalist Stephen Elliott explains how and why Paris Hilton has drawn valuable attention to the inequalities of the California justice system.

    Paris, The Hero
    Stephen Elliott
    The Huffington Post
    Mon Jun 11, 8:35 PM ET

    Sometimes I think Paris Hilton is a hero. I watch the news and I see the willowy blonde, staring from the squad car window, face like a painting. Then I hear about over-crowded jails, a corrupt Los Angeles Sheriff, a two-tiered legal system. It doesn't bother me that it takes Paris Hilton to draw attention to these issues. Well, it does, but this is America and you have to accept certain things.

    If anything, the Paris Hilton story breaks all the rules of celebrity journalism in that it is actually about something. It's about money and the kind of privilege money can buy, the kind of things that aren't supposed to be for sale, like justice. It's about the California penal system, broken under Pete Wilson and Gray Davis regimes where cheap slogans like "tough on crime" took over the space reserved for intelligent analysis and were rammed through the state legislature or put on ballot initiatives where they became law. Pete Wilson was going to run for president and Gray Davis' prime constituency was the prison guards union followed by the victims rights groups. If you were to visit a prison like the LA County Prison in Lancaster you would see medium security prisoners, most drug offenders, stuck in endless bunks in what was supposed to be recreational areas. I visited Lancaster in 2005. There were only a few feet before the walls, a bank of television screens, open toilets, guard with a gun walking on a metal plank twenty feet above. The bunks were in two or three tiers and the prisoners were only outside one hour a day. These people are serving years in the most horrendous, over-crowded conditions imaginable. And it is costing tax payers huge sums of money.

    There is a PR campaign underway to paint Paris Hilton's punishment as harsh, as if she was being penalized for being a celebrity. Sheriff Baca even pointed to her harsh sentence when defending his decision to release her after three days. In fact, the sentence isn't harsh. This was not her first time being pulled over driving recklessly since her license had been suspended. She was given repeated warnings and pulled over in at least three separate counties. She had a signed document in her glove compartment stating she knew she was not allowed to drive. She had the resources to hire a full-time driver. Most people in her situation are forced to drive on a suspended license just to get to work, thanks to General Motors early dismantling of the LA public transit system. There are those that say the Sheriff was within his jurisdiction to release Paris early, but surely he could have found another prisoner to release, one whose sentence didn't specifically state that she could not serve any part of her sentence under house arrest.

    This is about class warfare of the kind the rich have been waging on the poor. This is about separate and unequal. This is about a generation of poor stripped of political power in jail or on parole. And Paris Hilton has got America talking about these things.

    Paris has become an unlikely hero. She didn't even try. Her well-cared for golden hair is shining a bright spotlight on the ever increasing disparity between the rich and the poor. Perhaps when Paris is released for real she will travel the country speaking to these issues. She'll lobby congress against mandatory sentencing guidelines, three strikes laws that target non-violent criminals, the absurdity of ballot initiatives that cost more money while removing layers of judicial oversight -- such as the absurdly named Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Act- AKA Proposition 21.

    So I want to take this moment to thank Paris Hilton for bringing these important issues back to the American conversation and the media for its excellent coverage of the events as they unfolded. Can a person be a hero even when they don't mean to be? Even while crying for their mother, taken away in chains? I guess it depends on your definition, but I don't see why not.