Third Party & Independents Archives

Should AG Sessions Prosecute His DOJ?

It’s certainly not 95 theses nailed to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, but … Lawyer and author Benjamin Wetmore, writing in The Federalist paints a disturbing portrait of Obama’s Justice Department as an out of control partisan prosecutorial army. Conservative activists and even Congressmen were hauled before an inquisitorial DOJ and reduced often to forced confessions based on faulty local news reports.

Seeing Wetmore suffered some of those persecutions, one has to be cautious in assessing his claims. But he has suggested a way to assess the very claims he has made. Like Martin Luther, he has a list. Of federal prosecutors who were involved in the witch hunts suffered by conservatives during Obama's presidency.

He would be more than glad to hand that list over to AG Sessions, in order to let an outside prosecutor investigate any allegations of abuse on the part of former or current DOJ officials. That's an outrageous statement to make. That is, if you're one of those DOJ prosecutors who may have ridden roughshod over people's constitutional rights. How dare the targets of our investigations speak up for themselves?!

But Wetmore goes further than that in his Federalist piece. He writes:

The entire judicial system is composed to an overwhelming extent by people who were cultivated in a prosecution mindset. So they think everyone is guilty of everything, and your rights and privileges under the Constitution are inconvenient impediments to their work.

That's not just the Obama DOJ he's taking aim at, that's the entire Judicial Branch of government. A system of justice based on a prosecutor's mindset is one in which the presumption of innocence gets all the oxygen sucked out of it by the endless process of open-ended investigations. The presumption of innocence gets strangled to death, if you will, by the prosecutorial perspective of most of the participants in the judicial system.

The investigation itself becomes the end. Not any truth or evidence that it may nominally presume to be pursuing. Their motto could be shortened from Who Prosecutes On Behalf of Justice to Who Prosecutes.

But rather than merely being Kafkaesque in it's horrifying implications, this is worse. Because almost all DOJ investigations have a political origin. Which comes from the DOJ's boss, whoever is sitting in the oval office. So what Wetmore is suggesting in no uncertain terms is that the DOJ has been weaponized for partisan ends. A sort of Gestapo.

That may not shock many voters in 2017. But thinking through some of its implications can leave many citizens with precious little trust in the justice system. And justifiably so. And that is a fatal flaw for any democracy.

Maybe reforming the DOJ will indeed require nailing a list to the entranceway.

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