The New DOJ report

The New York Times covers it this way:

Justice Department officials over the last six years illegally used "political or ideological" factors to hire new lawyers into an elite recruitment program, tapping law school graduates with conservative credentials over those with liberal-sounding resumes, a new report found Tuesday.

The blistering report, prepared by the Justice Department's inspector general, is the first in what will be a series of investigations growing out of last year's scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys. It appeared to confirm for the first time in an official examination many of the allegations from critics who charged that the Justice Department had become overly politicized during the Bush administration.

"Many qualified candidates" were rejected for the department's honors program because of what was perceived as a liberal bias, the report found. Those practices, the report concluded, "constituted misconduct and also violated the department's policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations."

The shift began in 2002, when advisers to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft restructured the honors program in response to what some officials saw as a liberal tilt in recruiting young lawyers from elite law schools like Harvard and Yale. While the recruitment was once controlled largely by career officials in each section who would review applications, political officials in the department began to assume more control, rejecting candidates with liberal or Democratic affiliations "at a significantly higher rate" than those with Republican or conservative credentials, the report said.

The shift appeared to accelerate in 2006, under then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, with two aides on the screening committee - Michael Elston and Esther Slater McDonald - singled out for particular criticism. The blocking of applicants with liberal credentials appeared to be a particular problem in the Justice Department's civil rights division, which has seen an exodus of career employees in recent years as the department has pursued a more conservative agenda in deciding what types of cases to bring....

Of course, this single event cannot be viewed in isolation. Add to the mix the lying over Iraq,the incredible bungling of the reconstruction and occupation of Iraq, the systemic corruption of GOP politics, the lack of any kind of response to declining incomes and the struggling middle class, the complete botching of the Department of Homeland Security that led to Katrina, the degradation of the U.S. Census process, the now-accepted repudiation of the various Bush legal theories around torture, enemy combatants and habeus corpus, and the picture of the Bush era that emerges is a national party more concerned with its power, privilege and perogative than fulfilling its basic obligations to the American people and the common good (as I wrote recently it is this failure that is at the heart of the recent collapse of the GOP brand).  

The challenge to the Democrats next year will be to uncover all the illegality and malfeasance of this era - as they are obligated to do - without appearing to be on a partisan witch hunt. The government must investigate and uncover, and inform, so as to prevent any thing like this from happening again.

The challenge for a possible President Obama will be to lift up this broken national capital and culture and create a climate and a politics that will allow the American people to have a government again as good and as fair and as smart as they are themselves. For those who have not been here in DC in recent years, it is hard to overstate how broken Washington has become, and how hard it is going to be to get it moving forward in a way that will allow us to tackle the great challenges ahead of us. But creating a politics that will help usher in an age of progress is what is required now, something Obama seems intent on bringing about, and is certainly something we focus on here every day at NDN.