My intellect is slowly shrinkingIt is apparently very, very lucrative to be one of two Attorney Generals to have presided over the biggest erosion of civil liberties in America since we put Japanese-Americans in internment camps! These days, former AG Ashcroft is a lawyer in a private consulting firm, but many of his minions from the good old days are still at Justice. And one of those minions, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie in New Jersey, might've done John a little, tiny $1 million/month favor. But, what's a little cash between friends?

Since the start of the Bush Administration, there's been this, well, distaste for "wasting" time and money prosecuting companies that have done bad things. Instead, the Justice Department seeks out settlements with naughty companies and gets the companies to pay outside lawyers to monitor their compliance. Except that, you know, the U.S. Attorneys get to make "suggestions" about which lawyers ought to be hired.

Unsurprisingly, Christie often only has a couple suggestions for companies, and he knows the lawyers that he used to work at Justice with really, really, really well, so, of course he recommends them! And if one of those lawyers is his former boss and the recommendation is the functional equivalent of a no-bid contract well, it's not like the Bush Administration is opposed to those! Except, maybe, Michael Mukasey, who was brought on board to stop all this conflict-of-interest-y stuff. He has started an internal investigation which may or may not result in some reform of the way that U.S. Attorneys basically award these lucrative monitoring contracts to their friends, but probably not because the new President doesn't take office for another year.

Ashcroft Deal Brings Scrutiny in Justice Dept. [NY Times]


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