Of Partisanship and Political Tribalism

08/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This week the Justice Department's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility released a sobering report documenting serious abuses of power at the Department. The report validates my suspicions of wrongdoing at the Department -- suspicions that only grew stronger during every month of the Congressional investigation I launched into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

This week's report painted the picture of a Justice Department that became the political playground of unchecked Bush appointees who placed partisanship above competence and political tribalism above blind justice. It found that an experienced prosecutor up for a counter-terrorism position whose wife happened to be an active Democrat was passed over in favor of an unqualified candidate. In another case, a career attorney was denied promotion because of her perceived sexual orientation. Political cronies were selected to be immigration judges. This might have been acceptable if this was done for political appointee positions, but these were all nonpartisan career positions -- at least they were supposed to be.

This report was just the first of three related to the politicization of the Justice Department to be released so far. The contents were alarming enough to cause Attorney General Michael Mukasey to concede that these practices should never happen again. He should not have to wait for the results of the next two reports in order to conclude that the serious wrongdoing at the Department warrants him working with Congress, not against us in our efforts to get to the truth.

Earlier this year, Mr. Mukasey refused to refer contempt charges on both former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton to a federal prosecutor for disobeying congressional subpoenas.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that the House of Representatives hold Karl Rove in contempt for similarly defying a congressional subpoena that is part of the same investigation into the Justice Department's politicization. If Mr. Mukasey is truly interested in restoring credibility to the Department, he will enforce our subpoena rather than obstruct it. If he chooses to block our investigation, he will be protecting those who committed wrongdoing. And that would be no way for our nation's "top law enforcement officer" to behave.

Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez is the Chairwoman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law. She represents the 39th Congressional District of California.