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April 15, 2007

Can and should AG Gonzales be blamed for the uptick in violent crime?

This week will surely be consumed with the stories surrounding AG Alberto Gonzales' hearings before the Senate to defend the US Attorney firings.  Today the fun starts with this Washington Post piece authored by Gonzales detailing what are sure to be themes in his testimony.  And this one sentence toward the end of the Gonzales piece really got me to thinking:

During the past two years, we have made great strides in securing our country from terrorism, protecting our neighborhoods from gangs and drugs, shielding our children from predators and pedophiles, and protecting the public trust by prosecuting public corruption.

Specifically, I am wondering what evidence exists to support the assertion that "great strides" have been made in these areas over the last two years while AG Gonzales has been the nation's top prosecutor.  Here's my own off-the-cuff assessment of the Gonzales record:

  • Terrorism: We've not had a major terrorist attack in the US during the Gonzales term, though there seems to be evidence that we are not using homeland security dollars wisely and that privacy interests are not be respected.
  • Protecting our neighborhoods: As this article details, it appears that there has been a significant increase in violent crime in 2005 and 2006.  The article notes "heightened criticism of the federal government from many police chiefs and state law enforcement officials, who complain that the Bush administration has retreated from fighting traditional crime in favor of combating terrorism and protecting homeland security."
  • Shielding our children: Gonzales helped DOJ create a national sex offender registry, which seems like an important and valuable develop.  The DOJ has not shown much leadership on the important reentry initiatives that President Bush spoke grandly about in his 2004 State of the Union address.
  • Protecting the public trust: I am not sure how to assess the public corruption issues, but the ugliest part of "purgegate" is how it must lead everyone to question whether public justice or just personal politics defines agendas for both Main Justice and for local prosecutors.

I would be eager to hear reader assessments of how much justice the Justice Department has been helping to produce under the control of AG Gonzales.  Needless to say, I have been less than impressed with its work in sentencing area, including DOJ's mysterious eagerness to get death sentences while acceptance of de facto moratorium on federal executions (discussed here).

April 15, 2007 at 03:45 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Perhaps great strides in appearances? Substantively, I don't see any.

Posted by: Gideon | Apr 15, 2007 8:47:29 PM

A 9% increase in armed robberies is significant because there are a lot of armed robberies. If they cross the county committing armed robberies the FBI would have to be involved in the investigations. If the armed robbers target rural or small urban areas and then move on the local law enforcement agencies need help from the FBI if they are to solve the case. If investigations are being reduced in order to shift resources to homeland security there is legitimate basis for complaint.

Posted by: John Neff | Apr 15, 2007 10:08:37 PM

What I regret is that Gonzales' claims will direct questioning on him to whether or not he has achieved his claims. Since some of his targets never existed in the first place (adult pornography as a crime, voter fraud), he can claim we are safe from it because of his administration. He ought to be confronted with the shallowness of his priorities as public policy, a legitimate legislative watchdog function.

Posted by: Michael Israel | Apr 16, 2007 10:31:01 AM

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