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April 09, 2007

Monica Goodling - Only The Tip of the Iceberg?

It is gratifying that we are now seeing attention being paid to the increasingly deep levels of damage being done to the rule of law in the Bush Administration.  Heaven only knows where we'd be right now had we all - a blend of citizens and blogs and activists and traditional media - not called attention to all this.  And it is terrifying to see how many of levels of government have been damaged by this administration. 

On the visible level, we've had what will likely be judged criminal behavior from Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, Mark Foley, Duke Cunningham, Scotter Libby, Ralph Reed, and Stephen Griles.   Of course, there have been and will be many more.  Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, others, may get away without seeing the inside of a prision cell. 

But these high level folks could never have done what they did by themselves.  We are only beginning to see in the basement where the sausage was being made.   

And one of the most hard-working young people servicing the great Bush monster administration was Monica Goodling, who just resigned from the position of senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Justice Department liaison to the White House.  She was in the basement just a few short years ago, working in the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000.   (Catch this great video-clip of her that Josh Marshall uncovered.)

Goodling was a 1995 graduate of Messiah College, an evangelical Christian school, and a 1999 graduate of Regent University Law School. 

Charlie Savage, writing at the Boston Globe yesterday, says:

The Regent law school was founded in 1986, when Oral Roberts University shut down its ailing law school and sent its library to Robertson's Bible-based college in Virginia. It was initially called "CBN University School of Law" after the televangelist's Christian Broadcasting Network, whose studios share the campus and which provided much of the funding for the law school. (The Coors Foundation is also a donor to the university.) The American Bar Association accredited Regent 's law school in 1996.

In 2001, Kay Cole James, then the dean of Regent's government school, was selected to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management for the Bush executive branch.  One out of every six graduates works in government; 150 of them work in the Bush Administration.   

The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni.

"We've had great placement," said Jay Sekulow , who heads a non profit law firm based at Regent that files lawsuits aimed at lowering barriers between church and state. "We've had a lot of people in key positions."

It got even easier in 2002 when John Ashcroft, who now teaches at Regent, "changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks."

The changes resulted in a sometimes dramatic alteration to the profile of new hires beginning in 2003, as the Globe reported last year after obtaining resumes from 2001-2006 to three sections in the civil rights division. Conservative credentials rose, while prior experience in civil rights law and the average ranking of the law school attended by the applicant dropped.

So, what are these young lawyers doing?

According to Dahlia Lithwick, writing in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post:

The express goal is not only to tear down the wall between church and state in America but also to enmesh the two.

Jeffrey A. Brauch, the law school's dean, urges that students reflect upon "the critical role the Christian faith should play in our legal system."

And Monica's role in this, the way Monica integrated her Christian faith into our legal system?  Here is emptywheel's theory:

You see, I think it highly likely that one of the reasons Goodling is pleading the Fifth is because she caused Paul McNulty to commit perjury. But another reason--a much bigger one, given the centrality of the politicization of DOJ hiring to the scandal surrounding the USA purge, is because she committed regular violations of the laws in place to prevent the politicization of our career employees.

T.R. Goldman and Emma Schwartz, writing at the Legal Times, take it from here.  They report that Monica was a close associate of the infamous Barbara Comstock, head of opposition research for the RNC and later the chief spokeswoman for Ashcroft.  Then, in 2005, Goodling:

moved into Gonzales’ office as a senior counsel and soon took on the responsibilities of White House liaison. In that post, Goodling served as the gatekeeper for the White House for all 400-some political appointees in the Justice Department, from U.S. attorneys and marshals to secretaries.

Interviews for U.S. attorney replacements took place with only a handful of people: David Margolis, the department’s top-ranking career official and a 40-plus year veteran; a member of the White House Counsel’s Office; the head of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys; and Goodling.


When the ultimate plan for the firing of the other seven U.S. attorneys went into effect, Goodling rode the point, directing the public-relations team.

I personally would not be surprised if we find her fingerprints on the mysterious midnight insertion of the no-oversight of interim appointments clause into the Patriot Act.  The young Monica Goodling may turn out to be the junior Karl Rove, at the center of what will  be the old College Republican gang of another generation.  That group of hard-working young Republicans - Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, to count a few, turned out to be rather significance characters.  And from another corner of the dank Republican cellar came Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the gang of neocons left over from the Richard Nixon days.

I only hope is that we are able to use the technology of our times to uncover her role and the role of the other 149 Regent law school grads in the Bush Administration and then keep track of them so they don't come back to haunt us over and over for decades to come, as their Republican predecessors did.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 9, 2007 at 09:47 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink


I couldn't help but totally agree with your observation:

"I personally would not be surprised if we find her fingerprints on the mysterious midnight insertion of the no-oversight of interim appointments clause into the Patriot Act."

The current explaination, that an inidentified staffer inserted the law, is totally unacceptable.
However I have confidence that John Conyers and Patrick Leahy will find out who was responsible.

If this question isn't answered, then Congress's legislative integrity is essentially non-existent.

Posted by: CoolAqua | Apr 10, 2007 1:58:46 PM

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