Cry Me a River: DOJ Hurting for Funds

Woe is me, cries the Justice Department, according to the Wall St. Journal.

In the past few years, U.S. attorneys' offices around the country have been unable to fill vacancies. Lawyers sometimes can't travel to interview witnesses. Even funds for basic office needs such as photocopying documents and obtaining deposition transcripts have been cut, according to current and former officials.


Department of Justice data show the impact. Prosecutions are down overall, with large drops in categories such as drugs, violent crime and white-collar offenses.

Could have fooled me. But assuming that's true, what's the reason? How about the war in Iraq?

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal priorities shifted to terrorism from routine crime fighting. The cost of the Iraq war also prompted Congress and the White House to slow the growth of many types of domestic spending.

....[M]ore than 100 lawyers and administrative personnel from U.S. attorneys' offices have gone to Iraq to help the fledgling government there. The offices generally pay the salaries of the seconded attorneys, which would typically be about $120,000 a year plus an additional 25% in combat pay.

Easy answer: Shift the priorities back to crime-fighting, bring the prosecutors home from Iraq.

There is one group of prosecutions that have increased: Immigration cases.


Of the categories detailed in the statistics, only immigration cases showed an increase. These rose to 18,147 cases in 2005 from 13,676 in 2002, or 33%, before dropping back to 17,686 in 2006.

As for fewer small drug cases, what's wrong with that? Most of them belong in state courts:

One way budget cuts led to fewer cases was the raising of "thresholds" for filing cases, prosecutors say. For example, an office might raise the minimum for filing drug cases to those involving at least five kilograms of drugs instead of two.

Then there's the lament about salaries. At $120,000 per year, please, hold your tears. Everyone sacrifices the big bucks when they do public service work. Not to mention, what do public defenders and judges make, and why should AUSA's make more?

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    The bottom is dropping out of the well (none / 0) (#1)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 07:49:35 AM EST
    A well that is sourced by a spring of foreign money...which is starting to peter out as it becomes clear Uncle is mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US economy is on the ropes thanks to those two colossal blunders and Katrina, and foreign investment is going elsewhere, creditor nations are seeking to divest themselves of rapidly depreciating dollars, etc.

    The US has been able to 'burn the candle at both ends' only for as long as our foreign creditors have been patient. Their patience is running out. Soon, Uncle will have to cinch his belt in a few notches and decide what's really important domestically. Given the wastrels and spendthrifts in power now, I don't expect them to make the correct decisions; they haven't done such a great job up 'til now...

    Oh, and BTW (none / 0) (#2)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 09:11:21 AM EST
    Part of that streamlining process will have to include whether we can afford the incredibly wasteful War on (Some) Drugs. How much longer we can afford something that is essentially paid for with borrowed money? (Civil forfeiture was sold to the public as being THE means of paying for the DrugWar, but it obviously hasn't, given the continual and growing budgetary demands involved in its implementation.)

    I'm quite sure Grover Norquist didn't really have this in his (authoritarian) mind when he said he wanted to shrink the Fed government down to a size small enough to drown it in the bath-tub. The DrugWar is an authoritarian's wet-dream, enabling them to do to their own citizens what they normally could have expected a tar bath and feather rinse for trying otherwise. But it may become amongst the first casualties of that winnowing process. It can't come soon enough, sez I...

    being a tad harsh there, aren't you (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 09:15:29 AM EST
    jeralyn? geez, consider all those jail beds, built by private industry, needing to be filled. all that construction occured, on the good-faith basis that every two-bit, nickel bag owner on the planet would be popped, and sentenced to a mandatory minimum. where is your concern for the fiscal health of the shareholder's woman?

    at this rate, an entire corporate structure could come a tumblin' down, leaving roving bands of unemployed guards doing god only knows what in the neighborhood!

    the horror, the horror!

    Critical mass (none / 0) (#4)
    by aahpat on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 11:31:37 AM EST
    The anarchy and dysfunction normal to a lack of democratic institutions is hitting critical mass both in the U.S. and around the world.

    If we had democratic over-sight and loyal opposition in the congress to both the war in Iraq and the drug war neither of these policies would exist. Both policies represent a breakdown of American democratic institutions. When Democratic institutions break down the underlying governing institutions reflect it.

    The authoritarian drug war breaks everything that it touches upon. Authoritarianism is like that which is why authoritarianism has a bad reputation.

     The war in Iraq was imposed with the same authoritarian lack of regard for the will of the people and so it too is causing dysfunction and untenable stresses on the institutions it depends on directly, the Pentagon, and beyond to the Justice Department.

    These polices are also causing stresses in our international position. See my essaytoday: Russia: US/UK use heroin to destabilize competitors

    The Russians, through Pravda, are blaming America for the drug problems of the world and asserting that it is intentional to destabilize our "competition".

    "The poppy crop is on the rise in complete connivance with the occupying forces - "

    Right. Looks like they have enough funds to (none / 0) (#5)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 11:50:14 AM EST
    investigate Gonzales though.

    Lewis Case Stalled (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 04:53:58 PM EST
    The WSJ's Scot Paltrow reports that the investigation of former House appropriations committee chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Ca) has been stalled by lack of funds. "In Los Angeles, a federal criminal investigation of Rep. Jerry Lewis, a California Republican, stalled for nearly six months due to a lack of funds, according to former prosecutors. The lead prosecutor on the inquiry and other lawyers departed the office, and vacancies couldn't be filled.

    People with knowledge of the case said that by the time the investigation stalled in December 2006, it had branched out into other areas, including Mr. Lewis's June 2003 role in passing legislation that helped giant hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management. People associated with Cerberus around the same time gave at least $140,000 to a political action committee controlled by Mr. Lewis.....

    .....Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lewis, said, "We have no comment," in response to emailed questions about the investigation.

    Link (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 04:55:36 PM EST
    Other wasteful prosecutions (none / 0) (#8)
    by womanwarrior on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 11:44:59 PM EST
    Alfredo was also making a priority of child pornography on the internet.  They are bringing up really stupid cases, like finding 2 alleged child porn "thumbnails" on a external hard drive.  Why should this be a federal case or a case at all when the person has no prior record and there is not a whisper of him in chat rooms or doing bad things to kids.  
    But if the defendant loses, he won't get reemployed and will be registered as a sex offender.  The latest witch hunt, in my view.  

    but, but, but... (none / 0) (#9)
    by aahpat on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:58:38 PM EST
    The DEA had plenty of money to bust a paraplegic medical pot advocate in new Mexico last week.

    War and piss...