Thus far, the Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit that PajamasMedia.com filed against the U.S. Department of Justice has resulted in the disclosure of dozens of DOJ employee resumes and nine largely ignored columns by Hans von Spakovsky, J. Christian Adams and Richard Pollock.
"Every Single One" is their ongoing series of posts that tediously tick off the prior work experiences of DOJ lawyers followed by commentary declaring them unabashed left-wing radicals. Ostensibly, the point of the exercise is to establish a case that the administration of President Obama is engaging in the same kind of politicized hiring at DOJ that President Bush was found to have done. Their work has been an utter failure.
Von Spakovsky et al have provided no evidence of politicized hiring practices and have been content to make the lazy claim that, given "every single one" of the latest DOJ hires is liberal, improper procedures must have been used. Unfortunately, they've failed even at this. In order to make their case that every DOJ hire is liberal, they've concocted a definition of liberal so broad that even Pollack himself likely would have to be labeled as a radical leftist.
Are you a right-winger with an axe to grind and a book to sell? Having trouble getting anyone to pay attention to your expensive non-story about liberal evildoers? Then call Caroline May, intrepid reporter for Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller! The Caller has substantial experience repeating verbatim the politically-tinged accusations made by right-wing figures, and May knows just how to conceal your conservative credentials in an effort to make your story seem credible.
In the latest example of ethical subterfuge, May has written a news story that repeats the claims by conservative bloggers J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky that the hiring practices at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) "have become politicized under Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Administration."
Importantly, May doesn't turn a critical eye to the research methods used by Adams and Spakovsky to come to their conclusion that "every single new hire" at DOJ's Civil Rights Division "boasted far-left resumes," she simply pushes their complaints forward. More importantly, May -- for the second time -- completely omits any mention that Adams and Spakovsky played a central role in the saga of politicization at DOJ under President Bush.
May's story is only newsworthy if the "former Department of Justice officials" (Adams and von Spakovsky) she cites are trustworthy sources whose call for investigation is objectively warranted and not based on an ulterior political motive. It's ethically imperative, then, that their significant right-wing backgrounds are disclosed so that readers can fairly assess the credibility of their work and their claims. May does not even attempt this.
For the past couple of weeks, Pajamas Media (PJM) has been pushing what they believe to be is a profound disclosure of personal information about new employees at the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. PJM contributors Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams have been struggling to make the case that the Obama administration is politicizing the DOJ the way the Bush administration was found to have done, and now that they've gone through the trouble of filing a lawsuit to obtain the resumes of everyone hired at DOJ's Civil Rights Division since 2009, they are desperate to make their investment worthwhile. As a result, PJM has decided to run with the theme that "every single one" of the new hires is a "far-left" liberal.
Their arguments have so far provided no evidence whatsoever that qualified, similarly-situated conservative applicants to the Civil Rights Division were turned away for a lack of liberal credentials. Instead, they rely on the assertion that because all of the new hires are liberal, it defies probability that conservatives weren't rejected for political reasons. Despite the logical inadequacy of this argument, it relies on a definition of "liberal" that is completely constructed by von Spakovsky and Adams. Their frantic attempts to make a case of politicization against Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration results in a broad, and at times ridiculous, characterization of what activities and affiliations constitute sufficient evidence of one's liberal worldview.
Here are just a few of the previous employers and affiliations that PJM believes are liberal (which by contrast reveals a lot about what von Spakovsky and Adams must believe conservative values do or do not encompass):
Eleven months ago, J. Christian Adams triggered weeks of frenzied right-wing coverage after he quit the Department of Justice and claimed that under President Obama, the Department of Justice was engaged in a campaign of racially-motivated corruption, highlighted by its actions in the New Black Panther Party case.
Complaints that the DOJ is hiring attorneys for the Civil Rights Division who have backgrounds in civil rights law? Sure. Declarations that those lawyers are "radicals," "committed leftist[s]," "militants," and so on? Of course. Complete lack of comprehension of the irony of a guy hired under a regime of improper DOJ politicization complaining about politicization? You betcha!
But then, via TPM's Ryan J. Reilly, we come to this paragraph:
Tamica Daniel: Ms. Daniel comes to the Section only a year out of Georgetown's law school, where she was the diversity committee chair of the law review, volunteered with the ACLU's Innocence Project, and participated in the Institute for Public Representation Clinic. For those in the real world, diversity committees are groups set up to hector for race-based outcomes in hiring employees and student matters. It is an entity with close cousins in South Africa's apartheid regime and other dark eras in history.
Yup. Adams thinks that committees intended to increase diversity are "close cousins" with "South Africa's apartheid regime."
This isn't the sort of comparison that you make when you want to be taken seriously as a critic of the DOJ's fictional policy of racial corruption. With every additional comment, Adams discredits the right-wing freak show that promoted his wild claims.
Former Department of Justice lawyer and New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams has found a way to cash in on last year's manufactured scandal. On October 4, right-wing outlet Regnery Publishing will release Adams' first book, "Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department."
According to the description provided to Amazon.com, Adams' book will expand on his oft-repeated claims that DOJ practices racially-motivated enforcement of the law, focusing in particular on his fanciful recounting of the Justice Department's handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case:
Revealing unknown and startling examples of racism and corruption at the local, state, and federal level, Injustice exposes a Justice Department that is anything but just.
Justice is supposed to be blind, especially to race and politics. Yet as Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower J. Christian Adams divulges in his shocking expose Injustice, justice under the Obama administration is anything but blind. Here, Adams reveals the never-before-published truth about the corrupt, racist, and politicized inner workings of the Obama Justice Department, as well as the untold story of the DOJ's corrupt handling of the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case. As a former Department of Justice attorney in the civil rights division, Adams has witnessed firsthand how the DOJ is aggressively executing a racist and radical left-wing agenda through its policies and employees. After watching the DOJ continually turn a blind eye to voter fraud, blatant racism, and voter rights abuses, Adams finally blew the whistle during the New Black Panther case--a case that Adams brought to the DOJ's attention and ultimately resigned over because of the corruption and perjury he witnessed leading up to and following the case's orchestrated dismissal.
Michael Yaki, a Democratic member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission who led the opposition to the Commission's flawed investigation of the New Black Panther Party case, predicted to Media Matters that Adams' book would be "a warmed over-retread of his allegations that never got traction and which an independent watchdog within Justice cleared of any political or racial overtones."
Yaki also commented that "Adams' failed and discredited testimony before the US Civil Rights Commission was a lesson that apparently did not take hold," adding that under the Bush administration, DOJ's Civil Rights Division employed "a partisan litmus test which he passed" and "ignored massive civil rights violations at the polls."
Indeed, it has long been clear that Adams' claims of racially charged "corruption" in the handling of the New Black Panther Party case don't add up, and are simply the politically-motivated attacks of a right-wing activist tied to the Bush-era politicization of DOJ.
As part of its extended campaign against the Obama administration Justice Department's hires, Pajamas Media has turned to noted experts on the subject of politicization: Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams.
Yes, the conservative media outlet is again attacking the Obama administration for hiring civil rights attorneys for the Civil Rights Division. And they've decided that the best people to push their months-long investigation are a beneficiary of the Bush DOJ's policy of politicized hiring and a Bush DOJ staffer known for injecting his own politics into the department's work.
It's the sort of takes-one-to-know-one decision reminiscent of Fox News' decisions to hire Judith Miller as a media critic and book Michael Brown to discuss disaster relief.
Who's next? Will PJM drag out fellow Bush DOJ alums Bradley Schlozman and Monica Goodling to write the next installments in this breathtakingly mundane series?
J. Christian Adams, the right-wing storyteller whose works include the many-times debunked New Black Panther scandal, is back with a gripping tale about Eric Holder's "peculiar tendency to set loose militant black panthers." Writing on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, Adams proclaims: "Leftist Activists Convince Eric Holder's DOJ to Set Violent Marxist Free." The violent Marxist in question is Marilyn Buck, who was incarcerated in 1985 for her roles in the Black Liberation Army's 1981 armed robbery of a Brinks armored car and the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Senate.
Take it away, J. Christian:
Yet Holder's DOJ unlocked Buck's jail cell and set her free last summer. Justice concluded that Buck "expressed a dramatic change from her previous political philosophy." Releasing Buck reflects an alien attitude that has caused the Obama years to be characterized by an ideological disconnect with most Americans.
The letters which persuaded the Justice Department were stuffed with crackpot arguments and have yet to be reported over the last year. They are full of lawlessness and arguments from extreme fringes of political thought. What's worse, the letters are on the letterhead of government and private institutions, institutions most Americans incorrectly think are worthy of respect.
Got it? Crazy people wrote crazy letters to free their terrorist friend, and Holder loves crazy terrorists so much that he unlocked her cell and let her scamper off into the summer breeze.
Now, let's explore what really happened and look at three key facts that Adams omitted from his piece: 1) the groundwork for Buck's early release was laid during the Bush administration; 2) Buck was ultimately released because she had late-stage terminal uterine cancer; and 3) she passed away less than a month after her parole.
Back in February, Hans von Spakovsky trumpeted news of a supposed plan by the Justice Department to use their power under the Voting Rights Act to review redistricting plans and reject those they deem discriminatory in order to benefit the Democratic Party. The former Bush Justice Department official warned that if Republican-controlled legislatures drew up redistricting plans that "Democrats don't like," "the Left's effort to exploit the Voting Rights Act for crass political purposes may reach a degree of success once thought unimaginable" as the Voting Section would strike those plans down for purely partisan reasons.
According to von Spakovsky, those Republican-led legislatures could only save their plans by choosing to bypass DOJ and taking their redistricting plans directly to federal court. Former Bush DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams quickly picked up von Spakovsky's call, warning of the "Eric Holder buzzsaw" and urging Republican-dominated states to take his words to heart.
But a funny thing has happened over the past few months. Republican-controlled legislatures in states like Louisiana and Virginia have submitted redistricting plans to DOJ. But the fears of Adams and von Spakovsky notwithstanding, those plans were precleared by the Voting Section.
If you're wondering whether this factual record has led Adams to reconsider his belief in the supposed partisanship of the Justice Department, the answer is no. Indeed, wedded to his conviction that DOJ simply must be filled with politicized ideologues, Adams doubled down, insisting that the only reason DOJ approved those plans was that the states submitted their plans to the U.S. District Court in Washington at the same time they submitted them to DOJ.
By this line of reasoning, the Voting Section's actions don't prove them to be nonpartisan - in fact, the actions even more strongly prove their political commitments. DOJ could have stopped Republican-backed redistricting, if it weren't for those meddling states, but once the plans were submitted to court, DOJ had no choice but to hide their true goals and approve the plans. The cunning of the Voting Section's lawyers is apparently unparalleled.
Of course, one could logically propose another reason for why DOJ's Voting Section didn't reject the Virginia or Louisiana plan: they engaged in legal, not political, analysis, and did not find the plans to be illegal. But by engaging in this way, Adams has made it very easy to again trumpet DOJ's partisanship if they ever do find a submitted plan to be discriminatory.
Note that Adams doesn't seem at all worried with whether or not those redistricting plans are actually discriminatory, but he does seem extremely worried about whether the Republican plans will be approved. It's almost as if his concerns are entirely partisan! And indeed, Adams is a longtime GOP supporter who was hired during the period when DOJ was illegally hiring people on the basis of partisanship. Likewise, von Spakovsky was a Bush recess nominee who was criticized by career DOJ lawyers for improperly "inject[ing] partisan political factors into decision-making."
But of course, none of this matters, because as Adams and von Spakovsky will be the first to tell you, it's the current DOJ attorneys who are the real partisans.
Fox News' strategy for assembling a stable of commentators appears to follow this pattern: find the biggest possible failure in an area of expertise and ask them to comment on that topic. When there's a story involving responses to disasters, they call in "heckuva job" Michael Brown; Mark Fuhrman is the network's "forensic and crime scene expert" and the guy they turn to for discussions of race and law enforcement; Judith Miller appears regularly on Fox News' media criticism program.
Nonetheless, the network's use this afternoon of serial fabricator J. Christian Adams for commentary on recent stories involving the Department of Justice is so pathetically absurd that it leads us to ask the question: Is it possible that this is all some sort of joke?
You may remember that it was almost a year ago when Fox News first introduced Adams to the world on America Live, the same program on which he appeared today. At the time, Adams was an obscure lawyer and writer for websites like Pajamas Media and American Spectator who had served for a few years in the Bush administration's Justice Department Civil Rights Division.
Adams had an explosive, but entirely unsubstantiated story: that DOJ improperly dismissed voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for political reasons, namely an unwillingness to protect white voters from intimidation by black defendants. It being Fox News, and given that the story was critical of the Obama administration, the network put the emphasis on the "explosive" and kept quiet about the "unsubstantiated." Adams' lengthy two-part interview with Megyn Kelly, and the wall-to-wall coverage the story would receive on the network over the following month, catapulted Adams into political relevance.
But even as Fox was promoting Adams' allegations, it quickly became clear that his story didn't add up[[,]] and that he was in fact a political hack whose goal was to damage the Obama administration and the Justice Department. Soon even Fox News pundits were pushing back on the network's obsessive coverage of Adams' tale, while other media clued into the way that Fox's coverage seemed obviously agenda-driven.
One year later, Adams is completely discredited, a fabulist whose obsession with bringing down the Obama Justice Department consistently leads him far from the facts. Except on Fox News, where he's apparently the person they turn to for commentary on what DOJ is up to.
Take a look. Make sure to pay special attention to the parts where a) Adams compares current DOJ "scandals" to the New Black Panthers case, as if that story hadn't been thoroughly repudiated and b) the host closes the interview by saying of Adams, "we know that you know so well the culture inside the DOJ":
A couple of months ago, J. Christian Adams put up the following breathless headline on the Pajamas Media blog: "Bombshell: Justice Department Only Selectively Complies with Freedom of Information Act (PJM Exclusive)." In the post, Adams claimed that the Obama Justice Department has "politicized compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. According to documents I have obtained, FOIA requests from liberals or politically connected civil rights groups are often given same day turn-around by the DOJ. But requests from conservatives or Republicans face long delays, if they are fulfilled at all."
If anyone had asked us, we would have warned them not to take the bait without closely double-checking Adams' claims. After all, Adams is a long-time Republican activist who appears to be willing to promote any falsehood in order to attack President Obama's Justice Department. However, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee did fall for Adams' claims, pressing DOJ on whether it has politicized FOIA responses.
As we've noted, Attorney General Eric Holder has already testified that he looked into the issues raised by Adams' blog post and "I can assure you there is no ideological component with regard to how we can respond to FOIA requests." Now, the Justice Department has sent a detailed response to a letter from Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) answering Adams' claims, and the response shows that the "bombshell" Adams touted was actually a total dud.
It turns out that Adams' claims are based on falsehoods and apples-to-oranges comparisons. In fact, the letter shows that Adams even lied about the FOIA request made by his own organization, Pajamas Media, in his original post.
In a Pajamas Media blog post, New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams reports on a request from the town of Southbridge, Massachusetts to the Justice Department to monitor upcoming elections. Adams thinks that he's really trapped the Obama DOJ in a way that proves his central theory that the Obama DOJ is willing to protect minorities from voter discrimination but not willing to protect white people.
Unfortunately for him, he's entirely wrong about why the town is requesting monitors. His trap unravels quickly after that.
Adams claims that the town is requesting monitors because of a recently posted billboard in the town which recommends people voluntarily show identification at the polls. Adams responds:
So what is more intimidating: black panthers with billy clubs, or billboards urging citizens to voluntarily show photo identification? I'd lay odds that right now inside the Voting Section, you'd find more votes for the billboard. The two photos, the lady on the billboard vs. the black panthers, serve as a DOJ Rorschach test. Hold both up, and watch what happens in the next few weeks.
Adams is correct that Latino advocates have said that the billboard is "meant to intimidate Latino voters." But that's not why Southbridge asked for DOJ monitors. As you can read by clicking on one of the links that Adams helpfully includes in his post, the town contacted DOJ in response to Tuesday's election. During that election, according to the town clerk and a local judge, Latino voters were allegedly targeted for intimidation by tea party groups.
J. Christian Adams sure packed a lot of falsehoods and poisonous comments into one op-ed attacking the Obama Justice Department. As we've already pointed out, Adams falsely claimed that DOJ "stopped the debut of the Amazon Kindle." He also employed falsehoods and smears to attack Justice Department attorney Varda Hussain because of her prior work representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
But that's not all. Adams also has the audacity to attack the Justice Department for employing an attorney who used to work for D.C. Legal Aid Society, an organization that provides attorneys for residents of Washington, DC, who are involved in civil court cases but are too poor to afford attorneys.
In a piece for the Washington Examiner, Adams writes:
Who did Holder pick to head the unit inside civil rights to bring civil rights lawsuits against police departments and prisons? Why none other than Jonathan Smith, formerly of the Prisoners Legal Services Project and the D.C. Legal Aid Society, two anti-police and anti-prison guard antagonist groups. Hopefully America's police unions will take note of Smith's hiring when deciding presidential endorsements next year.
What's so bad about the D.C. Legal Aid Society and the Prisoners Legal Services Project?
The D.C. Legal Aid Society states that it provides "civil legal aid to individuals, families and communities in the District who could not otherwise afford to hire a lawyer." You would think the civil rights division would be a good place for someone whose career includes providing legal representation to those who can't afford it.
Indeed, the ethical rules for District of Columbia attorneys state: "A lawyer should participate in serving those persons, or groups of persons, who are unable to pay all or a portion of reasonable attorney's fees or who are otherwise unable to obtain counsel."
So, rather than paint Smith as "anti-police" for his work at the D.C. Legal Aid Society, one might say that Smith was fulfilling his ethical duties as an attorney to provide representation to those who can't afford it.
New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams attacked Department of Justice attorney Varda Hussain for previously defending terror suspects and suggested she was one of the purported "activist lawyers" hired by the Obama DOJ. But Hussain is one of several attorneys hired during the Bush administration who previously represented Guantanamo Bay detainees, and several Bush administration officials have criticized attacks against lawyers who represented terror suspects as "inappropriate" and "wrong."
If you are wondering if there was any lie about the Obama Justice Department so absurd that even New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams wouldn't push it, today is the day to eat some crow.
In an op-ed in The Washington Examiner, the rightwing activist cites as an example of "bizarre cases have come out of the Holder Civil Rights Division" that "DOJ stopped the debut of the Amazon Kindle because it was not in Braille." Problem 1 with this claim: the Kindle debuted in 2007, during the Bush administration. Problem 2: DOJ didn't block the Kindle's debut.
Adams seems to have a lot of trouble getting the facts right on this; back in August 2010, he offered the similarly false claim that Amazon "tried to sell a talking Kindle reader, but Justice said it couldn't because the button to make the Kindle talk didn't have Braille."
Here's what actually happened: In June 2009, the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind filed suit against Arizona State University on behalf of a bind student after the university announced plans to participate in a pilot program to use the Kindle DX in the classroom. ASU was one of several universities to participate in this program. According to NFB, the program was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because:
The Kindle DX features text-to-speech technology that can read textbooks aloud to blind students. The menus of the device are not accessible to the blind, however, making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon's Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX.
The advocacy groups also filed complaints with DOJ, which began an investigation of the use of Kindle in classrooms. The impact of these efforts was swift and positive for the blind. Under pressure, Amazon began improving the Kindle to be more accessible to the blind. In January 2010, the groups -- joined by DOJ -- settled with ASU, citing "making improvements to and progress in the accessibility of e-book readers" and the university's agreement that they would "strive to use devices that are accessible to the blind.
I'm sure you are shocked to read this, but J. Christian Adams, the former DOJ attorney and Republican activist who has been the prime mover of the New Black Panther Party conspiracy theory, is not moving on with his life now that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence of wrongdoing in the DOJ's handling of the case. Instead, Adams is using his platform at the right-wing blog Pajamas Media to continue his attacks.
In an appearance yesterday on PJTV, Adams claimed that the report showed "there's more amazing things that the taxpayers would be shocked that this is how the Justice Department runs law enforcement." Specifically, Adams highlighted that Steve Rosenbaum, a senior DOJ attorney who called for the trial team to be overruled and the case be narrowed, suggested that the trail team "should go out in the community, the investigators should talk to people, 'What do you think about the Black Panthers? What's their reputation? Do you kind of know them?'" Adams added, "It was this crazy, 'You didn't do enough investigation because you didn't see what people's feelings were.'"
Adams is carefully extracting what he apparently considers a laughable idea from Rosenbaum's extremely damning criticism of the trial team's failure to adequately investigate the case. From the report, regarding Rosenbaum's review of the trial team's J Memo as of May 14, 2009:
Rosenbaum said that, in his opinion, the information in the J Memo reflected an incomplete factual investigation. Rosenbaum Transcript at 307. He was surprised at the absence of basic information about the specifics of what transpired at 1221 Fairmount Avenue on election day, such as how long the NBPP members were present or what Jackson did or said after Samir Shabazz left. Id. at 306, 308. Rosenbaum said he expected a memorandum that described the NBPP team's efforts to contact witnesses, such as contacting both the Republican and Democratic officials who may have been present; interviewing all of the poll watchers and poll workers to determine what they saw or heard; interviewing people who lived or worked in the building, to determine if they had witnessed the incident, or if Jackson and Samir Shabazz were known in the community and how they were regarded. Id. at 307-09. Rosenbaum said the NBPP team also could have accessed the voter list to try to contact voters who may have witnessed the incident, particularly if they were able to identify individuals who voted in the morning. Id. At 308-09. Instead, Rosenbaum noted, it appeared that the factual investigation was based largely on talking only to Republican party members who - were in Philadelphia or at the polling place, without including the accounts of Democratic party officials or other people who were present at the polls that day. [emphasis added]
I can see why Adams wants to talk about Rosenblum's alleged excessive attention to "people's feelings" rather than his criticisms of the trial team's failure to even attempt to find an intimidated voter for their voter intimidation case, or the coincidental way all the poll watchers and poll workers they interviewed happened to be Republicans.
That said, Adams' criticism of Rosenbaum makes no sense in and of itself.