We have covered the Department's inexplicable refusal to continue to the punishment phase of the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther party in Philadelphia; conduct condemned by the US Civil Rights Commission which is investigating the case and which has subpoenaed records from the Department which it has refused to provide without court order.
Today the Washington Times reports that the Departmet is asserting preposterous and unjustifiable claims of privilege to avoid responding to those subpoenas:
The Washington Times asked Michael Carvin, deputy assistant attorney general for both the Civil Rights Division and the Office of Legal Counsel under President Reagan, to review the Department of Justice's privilege assertions. His response was scathing.
"They are relying on privileges that the Office of Legal Counsel says do not exist," Mr. Carvin asserted. "There is no privilege, for instance, saying that the Justice Department will not identify personnel working on the case. ... Generally, a number of these privileges [are ones] I've literally never heard of."
Mr. Carvin specifically noted, contrary to Justice claims, "Normally there is no general attorney-client privilege unless you are dealing with the president. So a claim would have to come under the 'work product' or 'deliberative process' exemption. But 'work product' is very narrow, and the deliberative-process privilege is moot ... once the case closes. This is especially true when the [request for the information] does not involve litigants but instead an agency with statutory responsibilities concerning civil rights."
The Justice Department is out of control. If this power grab doesn't trigger a congressional investigation, Congress is admitting it is no more than a body of lapdogs, fetching slippers for their executive masters.