You would think that with Thanksgiving just a few days away that everyone would be in a good, thankful mood. But that isn’t the case at the U.S. Department of Justice. They are having some trouble trying to find things to be thankful about. Because most of the DQJ-related news that is floating around right now is just depressing.
A court-appointed investigator, Henry F. Schuelke, just released what the New York Times has described as a ”scathing” report on one of the DQJ’s most prominent prosecutions in recent years. Schuelke gathered that the prosecution of the late Senator Ted Stevens ”was ‘permeated’ by the prosecutors serious widespread and at times intentional, illegal concealment of evidence that would have helped Mr. Stevens defend himself at his 2008 trial.” Wow. They were right when they said his report was ”scathing.” You can almost feel the venom in the words.
Unfortunately, that is not all of the depressing news that coming out of the Department. There is also the hiring freeze, and the state of Honors Program offers.
The ”temporary” hiring freeze that was issued by Attorney General Eric Holder in January 2011 remains in effect. There has been no news, nor any rumor, about the hiring freezes being lifted at anytime in the near future.
Is the hiring freeze really saving us that much money? There is an argument to be made that it is counterproductive. This is an editorial from the Newark Star-Ledger:
”Chasing down big-time crooks can be incredibly lucrative. In New Jersey, the U.S. Attorney’s office managed to recover $137.5 million from criminals this fiscal year — more than four times its budget for 2011. That money, which goes to the victims and the federal Treasury, adds up to a very cost-effective use of resources.
Yet, the budget for this agency, which prosecutes federal crimes ranging from terrorism to public corruption, has been slashed. Congress didn’t appropriate enough funding over the past two fiscal years to hire the same number of prosecutors that had previously been on the payroll. So since last January, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has had a nationwide hiring freeze, with a few exceptions, leaving New Jersey’s division with 16 vacancies for prosecutors it can’t fill.”
And the recent dysfunction in D.C. over deficit reduction might make this situation even worse:
”Since this is part of discretionary spending, the portion of the federal budget that Congress debated and decides every year, it’s likely to be reduced in any budget deal that relies on across-the-board cuts. Such cuts may be imposed automatically if the deficit-reduction supercommittee can’t agree on a plan before Thanksgiving.
What Congress calls ”discretionary” includes core law enforcement functionaries such as federal prosecution and FBI agents. It also includes military spending, but the decision on where those cuts land will fall to the Armed Services Committee, which can pick and choose. So, why do we rely of a blind ax for the other cuts, resulting in this kind of irrational move?”