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Study: White House Guilty Of "Political Profiling"

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In a study cited on the floor of the United States Senate earlier this week, two researchers have found that the Bush administration's Justice Department has persistently engaged in what they call "political profiling" and that there is a "non-proportionate political profiling of elected Democratic officials" by U.S. Attorneys. In a February 2007 article, "The Political Profiling of Elected Democratic Officials: When Rhetorical Vision Participation Runs Amok," Donald Shields, Ph.D. and John Cragan, both Professors of Communications at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and Illinois State University, respectively, provide the data behind a charge leveled by Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) on the Senate floor Monday. "These statistics are troubling, and we have to look into them," said Durbin. "The firings of the U.S. attorneys and documents that have been turned over to Congress really call into question the legitimacy of all prosecutions brought by the U.S. attorney in cases involving partisan interests." Durbin is referring to a study done by Shields and Cragan showing that, under the Ashcroft/Gonzales Justice Departments from 2001 through 2006, a vastly disproportionate number of Democratic officials were scrutinized when total investigations were viewed based on political party affiliation. "We compare political profiling to racial profiling by presenting the results (January 2001 through December 2006) of the U.S. Attorneys' federal investigation and/or indictment of 375 elected officials," write the authors in their study. "The distribution of party affiliation of the sample is compared to the available normative data (50% Dem, 41% GOP, and 9% Ind.)." The Shields-Cragan report reveals that, of the 375 investigations of public officials conducted by the Bush Justice Department, 298 -- or almost 80 percent -- were done against Democratic public officials. Only 67 investigations were performed on Republicans, while 10 probes were done on people affiliated with the Independent, Green or other parties. "Our ongoing study of the Bush Justice Department (to be published in 2009) investigates the implications of the Bush/Ashcroft/Gonzales Justice Department's blended religious-fundamentalist and neo-conservative rhetorical vision," write Shields and Cragan. "The study views the impact of the Justice Department's vision on the fight against public corruption and reveals the non-proportionate political profiling of elected Democratic officials." Shields and Cragan also take the corporate media to task for allowing all of this to go on right under their noses:
"We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-state-wide and non-Congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press. Each instance is treated by a local beat reporter as an isolated case that is only of local interest. The real Pulitizer Prize-winning story is the extent of the politicization of Justice Department investigations and/or indictments of local elected and office-seeking Democrats vis-a-vis their Republican counterparts across the nation."
What's also interesting is to take a look at the list of 375 names and see what prominent Democrats have been investigated under the Bush watch. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was investigated in 2005, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2002 and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in 2004 -- all led to nothing. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and freshman Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) were investigated by the Gonzales Justice Department -- both also dead ends -- and, in what should surprise nobody, those investigation occurred in late 2006 as both were locked in tight U.S. Senate campaigns. Conversely, of the relatively few times U.S. Attorneys bothered to look under the Republican rock, they dug up Randy "Duke" Cunningham for receiving bribes for defense contracts, Congressman Bob Ney for public corruption and a guy named Tom DeLay for influence peddling.

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The study draws the same conclusion that is likely to be seen in the Congressional investigations of the Justice Department that will come in the next few weeks and months -- that this all stinks to high heaven and Americans are damn lucky they chose to return oversight to the United States Congress in November. "Our paper calls for new federal laws that would create a national registry of federal investigations of elected officials by party affiliation," say Shields and Cragan. "The current Bush Republican Administration appears to be the first to have engaged in political profiling." Note: You can view the details (PDF file) of the 375 investigations examined here. You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.
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Bob Geiger is a writer, activist and Democratic operative in Westchester County, NY.
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