The Office of Professional Responsibility, reporting directly to the Attorney General, is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct involving Department attorneys that relate to the exercise of their authority to investigate, litigate or provide legal advice, as well as allegations of misconduct by law enforcement personnel when related to allegations of attorney misconduct within the jurisdiction of OPR. . . The objective of OPR is to ensure that Department of Justice attorneys continue to perform their duties in accordance with the high professional standards expected of the Nation's principal law enforcement agency. . . Some allegations of misconduct by Department attorneys do not fall within the jurisdiction of OPR and are investigated by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). OPR's jurisdiction is limited to reviewing allegations of misconduct made against Department of Justice attorneys and law enforcement personnel that relate to the attorneys' exercise of authority to investigate, litigate, or provide legal advice. The OIG is required to notify OPR of the existence and results of any OIG investigation that reflects upon the professional ethics, competence or integrity of a Department attorney. In such cases, OPR will take appropriate action. From the Department of Justice Website.
Bureaucracies -- ALL bureaucracies -- proceed by paperwork. Letter from Reinhard Heydrich to Martin Luther of the German Foreign Office, inviting him to the Wannsee Conference.
"Things like this happen because of meetings. People sit in meetings and they decide what they want to happen. And then they take decisions, make policy and implement that policy to achieve those ends." He added, "That's why State is so nervous. They signed off on this. In a meeting." . . . He added, "Of course the meeting transcripts won't reflect the truth so plainly, but then neither did the Wannsee Conference. These bastards always talk in riddles about what they're really after. Watch what they do, not what they say." -- Old DC intelligence community member, quoted in Meetings: Part One.
Meet H. Marshall Jarrett, political "non-political" head of the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility for a decade and current head of the Executive Office of US Attorneys.
One thing is certain, now after three hearings and hundreds of leaked documents and press revelations. The Gunwalker Scandal did not begin in Phoenix, Arizona. William "Gunwalker Bill" Newell did not arise from his bed one fine morning in late 2009 and decide, after brushing his teeth, "Today I'm going to start my own foreign policy, facilitate the smuggling of weapons to Mexico and commit numerous acts of war on a sovereign nation."
In a bureaucracy -- especially the current federal law enforcement bureaucracy -- policies, and demand for actions to carry out those policies, come from above. Where, then, did Gunwalker come from? Or, specifically, from what meetings? -- Mike Vanderboegh, "Meetings, Part 1."
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about meetings, bureaucracy and political legitimacy and the lessons that the Gunwalker Scandal teaches us. I happened across this report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The report, with the jaw-breaking titled of "Study on the Political Involvement in Senior Staffing and on the Delineation of Responsibilities Between Ministers and Senior Civil Servants" examines the interface between the permanent civil service bureaucrats and the temporary politicians who must direct them and how that effects the long-term legitimacy of the government that they serve.
Stating that "The public service is inherently political," the report continues:
Discussions about the relationship between bureaucrats and politicians frequently take Max Weber’s model of bureaucracy as a starting point. . . Weber argued that the division of labour between politicians and bureaucrats would work best when there is a clear distinction between the two sets of actors. He saw administrators as instrumental and subordinate to politicians – as technical experts who should advise and efficiently execute the decisions of politicians as the sovereign representative. He saw “neutral competence” as a determining characteristic of the administrator. However while politicians are in charge of defining the policies to be implemented by bureaucrats, Weber pointed out the danger that career civil servants might dominate politicians through their superior knowledge, technical expertise and longer experience, in contrast to the frequently changing ministers.
This observation corresponds to what new institutional economics refers to as “information asymmetry” – the possibility that the “principal” may be thwarted in their efforts to control and direct the “agent”, because the agent is in a position to hide, or fail to reveal important information. The modern movement to formalise agreements on goals and reporting requirements between the political and administrative domains (and between the legislative and executive domains) can be seen as attempting to reduce this informational disadvantage.
Weber’s theoretical model, often considered as an ideal type of bureaucracy, was, however, rarely found in practice. Peters (and others) argue that the public service is inherently a political creation, and, thus can never be made fully apolitical. Bureaucrats, in delivering a public service to the citizens, inevitably participate in the political role of deciding who gets what from the public sector. . . However, many authors claim politicisation has increased over the years, citing a "thickening” with added layers of political appointees even in countries that already possessed several politically appointed echelons such as the United States. . . (Others) similarly report a growing involvement of political actors in roles which are traditionally played by public servants. (Emphasis supplied, MBV.)
This "thickening" is perhaps best illustrated by examining the career of our next actor in the story of the run-up to the Gunwalker Scandal, H. Marshall Jarrett. Indeed, Jarrett's biography indicates just how a bureaucrat may become a political actor and then, with the change of administrations, drop back down to lurk among the "non-political" bureaucracy, only to pop up again when his political friends come back into power, or, failing that, to wreak political havoc on an unfriendly administration by sabotaging its programs and policies from within while using the "civil service" shield to deflect retribution.
From July, 2009, AllGov.com gives us this biographical sketch: Director of United States Attorneys: Who is H. Marshall Jarrett?
On April 8, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was appointing H. Marshall Jarrett, since 1998 the Chief Counsel and Director of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), the new Director of the Office of United States Attorneys, which has direct supervisory responsibility over the 94 United States Attorneys offices in the US and its territories.
Born in 1945 in Bluefield, West Virginia, H. Marshall Jarrett earned his BA in 1966 from West Virginia University and his law degree in 1969 from the WVU College of Law. Jarrett has worked as a government attorney for most of his career, starting as a Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1973 to 1975. He commenced his federal career in 1975, when he was hired to be an Assistant U.S. Attorney (trial lawyer) in the Southern District of West Virginia. In 1979 and 1980, he served as Deputy Director of the Enforcement Division of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
In 1980, Jarrett joined the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, prosecuting public officials for corruption, eventually rising to Deputy Chief. During his tenure there, Jarrett prosecuted a variety of defendants, including CIA agents for stealing government funds, the chairman of Kentucky’s Democratic Party for an insurance mail fraud and tax scheme, and a Mississippi sheriff for drug trafficking. In 1988, he became Chief of the Criminal Division for Washington DC, managing high-profile prosecutions, including those of Mayor Marion Barry and Congressman Dan Rostenkowski. In 1997, Jarrett became an Associate Deputy Attorney General, before being named as Chief Counsel of OPR in 1998. As a sidelight, in 2008, Jarrett was a finalist for the job of Dean of the West Virginia University College of Law.
AT OPR, Jarrett investigated several scandals and controversies involving DOJ attorneys, including allegations that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez lied in sworn testimony to Congress; that Gonzalez or others fired nine US attorneys based on political considerations; that Gonzalez or other highly-placed DOJ officials unlawfully hired attorneys based on partisan political considerations; that DOJ attorneys acted improperly in creating and overseeing the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program; and whether DOJ attorneys acted professionally in approving the legality of the use of torture, including waterboarding, in interrogating suspected terrorists. The first two investigations have yet to be completed. The look into hiring practices found that high officials had broken civil service laws, violated department policy and engaged in “misconduct” by hiring based on politics and whether an applicant was a Christian. The NSA investigation was torpedoed by President Bush’s refusal to grant Jarrett and his attorneys the security clearances they needed to perform the investigation. The final probe determined that DOJ attorneys acted unprofessionally in approving the use of torture by ignoring key precedents.
Some of you may not recall the case of Dan Rostenkowski, a powerful Democrat from Chicago and Chairman of the United States House Committee on Ways and Means.
Rostenkowski's political career ended in 1994 after a two year investigation by the Justice Department. In a case led by future U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, (Emphasis supplied, MBV.) Rostenkowski was indicted on corruption charges for his role in the House post office scandal. He was forced to step down from all Congressional leadership positions. In elections later that year, Rostenkowski lost his seat and retired from political life. Charges against Rostenkowski included keeping "ghost" employees on his payroll, using Congressional funds to buy gifts such as chairs and ashtrays for friends, and trading in officially purchased stamps for cash at the House post office. While the stamps-for-cash allegation received the most media coverage, those charges were dismissed on the recommendation of the prosecutor. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of mail fraud. He was fined and was sentenced to 17 months in prison, of which he served 15 at the federal prison in Oxford, Wisconsin, and the remaining 2 months at a half way house in Chicago. Rostenkowski was pardoned in December 2000 by President Clinton, who said "Rostenkowski had done a lot for his country and had more than paid for his mistakes." -- Wikipedia.
The Rostenkowski scandal was one of the many examples of public corruption that led to the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994. The Democrats were furious at "Rosty" for the electoral damage that they took on his behalf. If the damage was to be contained, the Clinton Administration had to make an example of him, and they did. You will note that they entrusted this delicate task to two politically reliable DOJ "professionals" -- Eric Holder and H. Marshall Jarrett. Some may argue that the prosecution of Rosty and other Democrats publicly outed in the press as being corrupt is an example of their political impartiality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Again, Wikipedia:
Former President Gerald Ford, whose lone pardon letter in all his ex-White House years was on behalf of Rostenkowski, told a biographer, "Danny's problem was he played precisely under the rules of the city of Chicago. Now, those aren't the same rules that any other place in the country lives by, but in Chicago they were totally legal, and Danny got a screwing". . . Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Mike Royko, a frequent Rostenkowski critic, wrote “Nobody should be taking pleasure from Rostenkowski’s misfortune.. . . Rostenkowski was a big political fish - the kind of trophy that an ambitious federal prosecutor loves to stuff and hang on his wall…That’s what did Rostenkowski in – a federal prosecutor’s personal ambitions."
That prosecutor was Eric Holder and his deputy was H. Marshall Jarrett. And while it is certain that Holder had big personal ambitions, he and Jarrett were merely carrying out a distasteful political necessity for their political party and its boss, Bill Clinton. Such people are appreciated by their masters and thus move up in the hierarchy of power. And so Holder and Jarrett did. "In 1997, Jarrett became an Associate Deputy Attorney General, before being named as Chief Counsel of OPR in 1998."
This was a post he held for ten years, throughout the Bush Administration, because, of course, it was "non-political." From there he did his best to surreptitiously cause the Bushies trouble and, as you can read above, he did just that.
The Rostenkowski prosecution was only one aspect of their utility to the Clintonistas however. From their positions within the Justice Department, Holder and Jarrett also deflected scrutiny or foiled honest investigations in a whole series of Clinton Administration scandals, including Waco.
And yet Jarrett's "non-political" job at OPR protected his highly-political bureaucratic ass from removal by the Bushies, who didn't want the hassle of trying to remove a "career civil servant."
Then came Obama.
In April 2009, it was decided to do a little cosmetic reshuffling. As Daphne Eviatar of the Washington Independent reported, "Holder Names New Justice Department Ethics Chief."
Attorney General Eric Holder this afternoon named Mary Patrice Brown as the new head of the Office of Professional Responsibility, the Justice Department’s internal ethics unit.
The changing of the guard at the sensitive ethics office comes just after embarrassing revelations of federal attorney misconduct in the prosecution of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan earlier this week went so far as to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the matter, and Holder announced last week that he would dismiss the indictment. Stevens was convicted last fall of ethics violations for accepting about $250,000 worth of gift he never declared from an oil services company executive.
The Office of Professional Responsibility is also in the hot seat now as observers — and some senators — eagerly await a review it has reportedly prepared, analyzing and harshly criticizing the conduct of former lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, including John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who is now a federal judge. Those lawyers are accused of manipulating the law to draft memos justifying harsh interrogation techniques that include waterboarding, a form of torture. That report is still under review by Holder and others. According to Newsweek, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey objected to the report and blocked its disclosure during his tenure.
Mary Patrice Brown, Holder’s pick, now leads the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia. She will become only the third chief of that unit since it was established in 1975, after the Watergate scandal.
H. Marshall Jarrett, the current head of the ethics office, has been tapped to lead the executive office of U.S. attorneys, which sets policy and handles disputes among the Justice Department in Washington and the 94 U.S. Attorneys around the country.
Jarrett will replace Kenneth Melson, who has been named acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Yes, you got that right. Jarrett, the useful fellow who had been bobbing up and down from "civil service" bureaucrat to political hatchet man and back again was transferred to EOUSA because the previous holder of that office, another useful tool named Ken "Gunwalker Man" Melson, had been transferred to become Acting Director of the ATF. You see, if you have enough jobs available, you can transfer your failures and make it look like a positive social good -- at least to the unwary who are not paying attention.
At the time, there were some who saw this as less than optimal.
On 8 April 2009, Joe Palazzolo also reported at Legal Times, "Holder Names New OPR Chief."
H. Marshall Jarrett, the longtime chief lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, is being reassigned to head the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced today.
The move comes one day after a federal judge questioned the “deafening" silence at OPR regarding the status of an investigation of allegations of misconduct in the case of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Holder has appointed Mary Patrice Brown, criminal chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, as acting head of the office.
Brown, a well-regarded career prosecutor, is the office’s third chief since its creation in 1975. She held numerous high-level positions in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, including executive assistant U.S. attorney for operations, deputy chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, and deputy chief of the Appellate Division. She and Holder worked closely together when he was the District's U.S. attorney. (For a little more on Brown, click here for our Q&A with her a couple years ago.)
“Mary Pat has a stellar reputation and the highest integrity,” said Holder in a statement. “I trust her sense of fairness and judgment implicitly.”
The shuffle follows criticisms from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan that OPR was dragging its feet in the Stevens investigation, which began in October. Sullivan dismissed the case yesterday, on a motion by the government, and appointed an outside lawyer to investigate the prosecutors' conduct.
Jarrett, who led OPR for decade, will oversee the 94 U.S. attorneys offices in his new position. Before his job at OPR, Jarrett was an associate deputy attorney general, and like Brown, he served as the criminal chief in U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. He and Holder first worked together in the department's Public Integrity Section in the 1980s.
“I have had the privilege of working with Marshall over the years and I have the highest regard for his experience, talents and capabilities,” said Holder. The attorney general said Jarrett had been "a tremendous leader in OPR."
Justice Department officials were quick to dismiss a link between Jarrett’s reassignment and Sullivan’s remarks.
“It had nothing at all to do with it,” said spokesman Matt Miller. “This was planned before yesterday and is a reflection of the confidence the attorney general has in all three of the individuals.
Holder also announced today the appointment of Kenneth Melson to serve as acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Melson had been the director of the EOUSA since 2007. He has also served as acting and interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he began his career as a federal prosecutor.
This story brought some very cynical and disapproving comments. "SR" wrote:
Mary Patrice Brown, an EXTREMELY poor choice to head OPR. That woman, who is rather notorious around the US Atty's Office for being rather, odd-a mercurial personality at best. She is likely very good at cultivating relationships with those at the top, like Holder, who is a good man, and who does NOT have personality quirks or defects-very well-adjusted (a rarity in Washington political circles, btw) in an effort to increase her status-she's probably a hard worker, but all the evidence would indicate that she is still-nuts-somebody who holds grudges over nothing. And simply because this Post reporter has gone out and found Kenneth Wainstein - another not very bright light who has managed, like a few others out of the U.S. Atty's Office, to ingratiate himself with the right crowd - which is not the same as saying he's intelligent or insightful, by any means, but simply adept at playing the Washington game.
I fear the Obama administration in some ways, might be even worse than the Bush Administration, particularly in the Justice Department, and it is impossible to think how much worse it could get at Justice after the last several years.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Kenneth Melson is unethical. He has an outstanding OPR complaint against him. He has done some truly astonishing things particularly in 2007, right before he got promoted to the EOUSA, in order to cover up the prosecutorial misconduct of a certain prosecutor that Rosenberg and McNulty wanted to protect. When that story comes out, and it will, it will be VERY VERY UGLY.
He didn't begin his career as a prosecutor at EDVa., Joe; I suppose it would be accurate to say he began his career as a federal prosecutor there. I believe Ken Melson served in the Arlington County state's attorney's office in Virginia for several years prior to joining the USAO.
Hmmm. Sounds like some interesting background info on Mr. Melson has yet to surface. (Written with a wink and a nod to FOX and CBS.)
A long-time ATF veteran told me of the agency scuttlebutt at the time:
My understanding is that Melson did not want the ATF job but he had no choice, since Holder was taking care of Jarrett and did not owe Melson any loyalty. Melson was worried about his career status retirement, as head of ATF he would fall under "exempt" status that would somehow affect his retirement.
I heard Melson pitched quite a bitch to keep his job, but was told it was ATF or nothing, and that they would take care of him later.
Lucky Melson. I wonder if the promise from Holder still stands. ;-)
The so-called "iron river of guns" from the United States arms Mexican drug cartels to the teeth. The cartels purchase weapons at gun shows from unlicensed sellers who are not required to conduct background checks. Or the cartels use "straw buyers" with clean criminal records to buy guns for them. According to ATF, more than 90% of guns seized after raids or shootings in Mexico have been traced to the United States. -- Opening Statement of Senator Richard J. Durbin, Hearing on "Law Enforcement Responses to Mexican Drug Cartels." March 17, 2009
Three months after his transfer to EOUSA, Jarrett was giving the intro speech for Deputy Attorney General Ogden at the Violent Crime and Firearms Trafficking Summit in Albuquerque. Taking his cue from a favorite Senator of his, Jarrett wanted everybody to know, "We are committed to stopping the river of illegal weapons -- both to Mexico and throughout this country."
Ah, yes. The "Iron River." It became an early meme of the Obamanoids. Durbin made it popular. And every bleating sheep in the administration and the lapdog media echoed it. Here's an early example from USA Today: ATF takes aim at deep 'Iron river of guns.' Of course two years later this 90% myth would be thoruoughly debunked by folks as dissimilar as Stratfor, "Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth" and "Senator Chuck Grassley demolishes the ‘river of guns’ myth."
But in June 2009, the iron river was the marketing concept for more gun control and Jarrett was right on the mark in towing the line on the meme:
Good morning. It is my pleasure to be here this morning as part of the United States Attorney community to express our commitment in the battle against violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking. The primary example of our commitment to this battle is the exemplary work of the 540 Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the five Southwest Border districts, handling national and district-level priorities which include drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, violent crimes, and immigration offenses. Although the Assistant U.S. Attorneys in these five border district offices comprise only eleven percent of the nation's AUSAs, they have been responsible for initiating 35 percent of all felony cases filed in U.S. District Courts nation-wide.
The problem of illegal firearm trafficking is not simply a Southwest Border problem. Yes, we are concerned about the violence caused by the flow of illegal firearms across the border. And we are also concerned about the violence caused by the flow of illegal firearms from source states to our cities within the United States.
As the flow of illegal firearms from the U.S. into the hands of the Mexican cartels contributes to the violence along the Southwest Border, so does the flow of illegal firearms from source states into the hands of gangs and drug dealers in our major cities, also cause violence.
We are committed to stopping the river of illegal weapons -- both to Mexico and throughout this country. And to do that we need to employ a comprehensive strategy that focuses on the cases in the source states. That strategy would include aggressively pursuing: the straw purchase case; the corrupt FFL cases; and the highway interdiction cases where weapons are found.
Also, we need to pursue the cases along the border: the illegal export cases; the border stop cases; the public corruption cases that arise out of illegal firearm trafficking business.
And we need to pursue the organizations that traffic across the border: the criminal enterprises that are buying the guns that come south and sending the drugs north.
The only solution is a comprehensive solution. And for a comprehensive solution to succeed we need to work together, cooperatively. (Emphasis supplied, MBV.)
The prosecutors must work with each other across districts.
The agents must work with each other across agencies and the prosecutors and agents must work together cooperatively.
And we all must work with the state, local and the Mexican authorities.
There are several examples of how the Executive Office for United States Attorneys will support these cooperative efforts:
** In August, we will be hosting a four day training at the National Advocacy Center on investigating and prosecuting Southwest Border Firearms Trafficking Cases. At that training we will bring together a number of agencies including ATF, DEA, FBI, CBP, and ICE, to train about 60 AUSAs and 80 agents. Because of the importance of this initiative, Federal state, local and Mexican law enforcement personnel will participate in the training.
** In October, we are sponsoring a Violent Crime Coordinators Training, again at the NAC, where we will include as an integral part of the training, important sessions on investigating and prosecuting illegal firearms trafficking.
** Also, AUSAs working in EOUSA in Washington are participating in policy working groups which are examining aspects of the violence and firearms trafficking issues. (Emphasis supplied, MBV.)
** AUSA Tate Chambers, our National Project Safe Neighborhood Coordinator, and former USA Gretchen Shappert work on gang violence for EOUSA and bring a wealth of experience to our effort.
** In the upcoming weeks, the Department will be allocating 28 new attorney positions to the United States Attorney's offices to support violent crime, firearms trafficking, and immigration enforcement. In addition, the President has requested an additional $8.1 million for fiscal year 2010, which translates to approximately 50 attorney and support positions to support these same initiatives. The Department will continue to seek resources in future years to ensure our success in this effort.
Later today you will hear about two very successful investigations and prosecutions: Operation Delta Blues out of Northern Mississippi and Northern Illinois; and Operation Angels Cottage out of New Mexico. (Emphasis supplied, MBV.) Both successful operations were investigated by ATF and prosecuted by U.S. Attorney's offices. The ATF in Chicago noticed that a number of firearms recovered there could be traced back to the four FFLs in Oxford, MS. The number of firearms recovered was significant enough that an investigation was initiated. Ultimately, the investigation established that straw purchases of firearms in Mississippi were ending up in the hands of gang members in Chicago. The combined efforts of these offices resulted in numerous prosecutions and seizures primarily by the Northern District of Illinois U.S. Attorney and ATF in Chicago. However, a critical role was played by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Mississippi and by the ATF office in New Orleans, where those offices investigated and prosecuted four defendants.
Finally, I want to restate the importance of teamwork. Working with their law enforcement partners, the United States Attorneys' offices along the Southwest Border will identify the most pressing law enforcement threats and jointly craft investigative and prosecutorial strategies that leverage our resources in the in the most effective way possible. As Chief Law Enforcement Officers in their districts, the U.S. Attorneys are in a unique position to appreciate the impact that local issues, juries, judiciary, and others have on design and implementation of effective enforcement strategies. I know that each U.S. Attorney realizes fully the importance of ensuring that everyone works together. They understand that we can address the entire problem from the straw purchases in Oxford, Mississippi to the cartels in Juarez, Mexico.
The message I bring you today is that the United States Attorney community is dedicated to doing its part to stop the river of illegal weapons. (Emphasis supplied, MBV.)
I have as yet found no mention on the Internet of "Operation Angels Cottage out of New Mexico." As that would have been in the Area of Operations of the Phoenix Field Division and "Gunwalker Bill" Newell, I am more than a little interested in finding out more about it. FOIAs are being prepared to seek out more details of the 30 June 2009 Summit as well.
In the end, the administration did in fact find a way to "address the entire problem from the straw purchases in Oxford, Mississippi to the cartels in Juarez, Mexico."
Today we call it "the Gunwalker Scandal."
(Next, in "Meetings, Part 4" we return to DAG David Ogden and follow his trail to the next meetings later in the year in Phoenix and Houston.)