DOJ Decides Leaked, Inaccurate DOJ IG Materials Are Awful

The NYT has a story–on which Michael Shear, who is home in quarantine with his spouse after catching COVID in the White House’s superspreader cluster, has the lead byline–on DOJ’s complicit role in separating children from their parents.

It describes how five border-state US Attorneys tried to avoid imposing the draconian policies masterminded by Stephen Miller (who, like Shear, got infected in Trump’s super-spreader event). But those US Attorneys were overruled by Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein. Those findings appear in a draft DOJ IG Report, which has been sent to DOJ for comment, but not yet published.

The five U.S. attorneys along the border with Mexico, including three appointed by President Trump, recoiled in May 2018 against an order to prosecute all undocumented immigrants even if it meant separating children from their parents. They told top Justice Department officials they were “deeply concerned” about the children’s welfare.

But the attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, made it clear what Mr. Trump wanted on a conference call later that afternoon, according to a two-year inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general into Mr. Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy.

“We need to take away children,” Mr. Sessions told the prosecutors, according to participants’ notes. One added in shorthand: “If care about kids, don’t bring them in. Won’t give amnesty to people with kids.”

Rod J. Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, went even further in a second call about a week later, telling the five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. He said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants.

Passages of the report citing John Bash, who recently resigned his position as US Attorney for WD TX only to be replaced by a Billy Barr flunky, are quoted twice.

“Those two cases should not have been declined,” John Bash, the departing U.S. attorney in western Texas, wrote to his staff immediately after the call. Mr. Bash had declined the cases, but Mr. Rosenstein “instructed that, per the A.G.’s policy, we should NOT be categorically declining immigration prosecutions of adults in family units because of the age of a child.”

[snip]

In a briefing two days after Christmas in 2017, top Justice Department officials asked Mr. Bash for statistics from the pilot program, conducted by his predecessor, that could be used to develop “nationwide prosecution guidelines.” Mr. Bash, a former White House adviser, did not receive a follow-up request for the information. Thinking that the idea had been abandoned, he did not provide it.

And there’s at least one other prosecutor quoted — revealing that the no-tolerance policy targeting children let some far more serious criminals go free — who could be him.

Border Patrol officers missed serious felony cases because they were stretched too thin by the zero-tolerance policy requiring them to detain and prosecute all of the misdemeanor illegal entry cases. One Texas prosecutor warned top Justice Department officials in 2018 that “sex offenders were released” as a result.

The article itself is based off a draft copy of the report and interviews with three anonymous officials.

This article is based on a review of the 86-page draft report and interviews with three government officials who read it in recent months and described its conclusions and many of the details in it.

Bash should not have had access to this entire report to review his own role in it. Past practice would have suggested he get just those passages that pertain to him directly (though this report appears to cover his time both at Main DOJ and as a US Attorney). But he would have access to the passages that quote him directly.

The article is most amusing, however, for the response from DOJ, which complains about an inaccurate DOJ IG Report and improper leaks.

Alexa Vance, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, disputed the draft report and said the Homeland Security Department referred cases for prosecution.

“The draft report relied on for this article contains numerous factual errors and inaccuracies,” she said. “While D.O.J. is responsible for the prosecutions of defendants, it had no role in tracking or providing custodial care to the children of defendants. Finally, both the timing and misleading content of this leak raise troubling questions about the motivations of those responsible for it.”

As I have laid out, the DOJ IG Report on Carter Page has numerous factual errors, just some of which they’ve corrected. The central complaint in the parallel Lisa Page and Peter Strzok Privacy Act lawsuits about the release of their texts is that those were released improperly, both as to timing and legality, and led to misleading interpretations of what the texts mean. Both of those lawsuits implicate a sworn declaration made by Rod Rosenstein (who is badly implicated by this report and who issued a statement to the NYT, suggesting he could be one of the anonymous sources as well). The Rosenstein statement in the Page and Strzok lawsuits will test how credible his claims are about his own actions in response to illegal requests from the President.

In other words, the entire article is thick with irony and revenge. And it will surely focus more scrutiny on the denials that DOJ issues once it is released after the election.

But none of that helps the infants who got separated from their parents.

Not the Right Kind of Monster, Says the Racist [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! Updates at bottom of post. / ~Rayne]

It was just a matter of time before Republicans honed their eye teeth and sharpened their claws, coalescing around a single line of attack after Joe Biden announced he’d selected Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Harris is a dirty radical leftist! Harris is an Obama centrist! they snarled across social media, grasping at any point to prove to Democratic Party voters that Harris isn’t their kind of candidate.

Harris will defund the police! Harris is a cop! they growled in more posts and tweets from the right and their horseshoe left proxies, whipping up vortices of volatility in messaging about Harris’s identity.

But Newsweek solved that yesterday by publishing this piece of racist bullshit to which I won’t link:

Not only is this racist ogre’s argument wrong, the contributor was a former candidate who lost the Republican primary for California Attorney General in 2010 when Kamala Harris won.

Newsweek failed to point out this conflict of interest upfront; in for a penny, in for a pound, though, as Newsweek had already failed to spike the piece.

Early this morning Newsweek’s editor offers an explanation and it is just as bad as Eastman’s:

Newsweek’s editors claim it wasn’t birtherism (racism focusing on a candidate’s birth place), but a 14th Amendment issue (racism focusing on a candidate’s parents’ birth place).

It’s still racism. There’s no excuse for running Eastman’s racist op-ed. Period.

It’s bad when right-leaning Axios says the op-ed is baseless and hypocritical since Eastman didn’t have any problem with Ted Cruz’s candidacy in 2016.

Justin Fox at Bloomberg Opinion definitively takes apart Eastman’s monstrous argument in case there’s any doubt, replete with excerpts about the drafting of the 14th Amendment. This is what Newsweek should have sought before approving Eastman’s racist crap.

~ ~ ~

Eastman likely picked up his cue from USAToday’s fact-checking article addressing an earlier Facebook entry which cast doubt about Harris’s eligibility (not linking to the entry):

USAToday said they reached out to this Facebook poster. They never mention whether they had any luck making contact.

I doubt they could.

The poster’s last name, Sciuridae, means squirrel in Latin; the last name doesn’t match the username in the Facebook URL for the post, aseckora. The post looks — well, squirrelly.

The post’s timing doesn’t make sense — it’s dated August 2 when Biden didn’t announce his running mate until Tuesday August 11.

While USAToday did a thorough job shooting down the Facebook post’s false claims, it doesn’t look good that it didn’t resolve the source of the claims.

Whatever triggered Newsweek’s unacceptable choices isn’t rational. A once-respected news organization has now become cursed by its terminal adherence to bothsides-ism, giving a platform to racism.

~ ~ ~

In the manga work, “Death Note,” by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the character L Lawliet describes the targets of his detective work:

“… There are many types of monsters that scare me: Monsters who cause trouble without showing themselves, monsters who abduct children, monsters who devour dreams, monsters who suck blood… and then, monsters who tell nothing but lies. Lying monsters are a real nuisance: They are much more cunning than others. They pose as humans even though they have no understanding of the human heart; they eat even though they’ve never experienced hunger; they study even though they have no interest in academics; they seek friendship even though they do not know how to love. …”

While their adored tangerine-tinted president abducts children from the parents and cages them, sucks resources from taxpayers’ government services, lies about the spread of pandemic and the reasons why Americans are dying, the right-wing will argue again and again that Harris is some kind of monster. These arguments will be propelled even further by their trollish minions to flood the zone.

They’ll ignore the logical inconsistency of their claim Harris is not eligible as an immigrants’ child though their fearless and feckless leader is an immigrant’s child, too, and the grandson of a then-Canadian brothel owner to boot.

We can see the challenge isn’t immigrant parentage. We can see their problem.

The real problem for the right-wing isn’t that Harris is some kind of dread bugaboo or a feared bugbear.

It’s that Harris isn’t one of their kind.

She’ll never be qualified to be a white supremacist monster.

.
UPDATE-1 — 6:45 P.M. ET —

The monster in the White House just referred to Eastman’s piece-of-shit racist op-ed.

This is why this argument must be repudiated strongly. Average Americans have taken this man’s word on face value too often — like the man who poisoned himself with HCQ or the people who sickened themselves drinking disinfectant after Trump promoted both as means to treat COVID-19.

These same people will accept on faith this racist’s racist lawyer’s bad opinion because he said it from the presidential podium.

.
UPDATE-2 — 8:00 P.M. ET —

This observation is key:

It’s on Newsweek for platforming Eastman’s racist bullshit, validating it as equal to any counter argument.

It’s on other entities like USAToday which fact checked another birther’s claims but did not call it out forcefully as racism. The words race, racist, racism never appear in their article.

As I’ve said before: Get comfortable with calling out racism. I’m talking to you white people. Recognize, call it out, shame it.

The reason why Trump had any chance of winning in 2016 and again in 2020 is racism. Until you, white people, make it socially, morally, ethically unacceptable to be racist, Trump and his kind of monster will continue to acquire and hold power.

It’s not enough to just nod your head. Silence is approval. Silence is complicity. You must be anti-racist if you want the monsters dead.

Newsweek was overtly racist by publishing Eastman’s racist screed.

USAToday piece is what happens when white people just nod their heads and don’t openly acknowledge racism at work.

Which media outlets recognized the next generation birtherism as racism?

The Statue Donald Trump Has Overturned

I apologize for my scarcity over the last week. I’ve got a bunch of personal things going on — I expect to be fairly scarce for the next week or so yet.

Thanks to Rayne, bmaz, and Ed for picking up the slack.

I’m having a particularly hard time with our nation’s celebration this year. It’s not just the things Trump is doing. It’s not just the many visible signs of where we’ve fallen short of the ideals our nation aspires to (though I double down on the idea that a Trump Effect, in which he makes things that have long been a problem visible, may serve us if and when we recover from his presidency).

This year, I’m wondering, myself, if I could have done anything more to serve the ideals of this country.

The same things that have kept me from writing saved me from watching yet another race-baiting speech from the President last night.

That said, I couldn’t help but observe, amid the coverage of his claim to be protecting the nation’s statues honoring dead racists rather than human beings facing a deadly disease, that there actually is a,

better place to celebrate America’s independence than beneath this magnificent, incredible majestic mountain and monument to the greatest Americans who have ever lived.

Sure, Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln are key (and flawed) figures who have guided our country.

But the more obvious statue symbolizing our nation is the one sitting in New York harbor, the female figuring inviting your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free to be part of the great experiment that is our country, the one that welcomed so many immigrants who became key contributors to our nation.

It is that idea, the idea that any person, no matter how humble, can join this nation that has been so powerful an idea, when when he have fallen short from delivering on that dream.

And yet there was zero chance that Trump would have given a speech with that great female figure behind him, in the city he has fled (in part to hide his financial state). There’s no chance Trump would pay tribute to the abstract idea of freedom. There’s no chance Trump would risk a speech in a Blue State.

There’s sure as hell no chance that Trump would do anything to recognize how immigrants are the strength of this country.

Long before protestors started overturning statues honoring traitors to the United States, Trump overturned an ideal. He might well have held the Statue of Liberty underwater, shaking her violently as she drowned.

Donald Trump wants to run against those who’ve dared overturn those statues to traitors.

And yet he has betrayed the statue that better symbolizes what this country might be.

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