The Bush Administration always manages to top itself. No matter how inured I think I am to the blatant hostility this Administration has for environmental protections in general—and wildlife conservation in particular—they still sometimes manage to surprise me. Today we have a double-header, courtesy of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice.
First, this month the Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released a report “Progress Evaluation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program.” (Hat tip: Daniel Patterson.) Nothing wrong with that—God knows it’s a program badly in need of evaluation. But the report, posted on Interior’s website, is so heavily redacted as to be practically unintelligible. Public Employees for Environmental Protection (PEER) makes two very good points about these redactions. First, seemingly far more sensitive reports (such as, I kid you not, an evaluation of security measures at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.) appear on the Department of Interior’s web site without any redactions. Moreover, the report on endangered species itself seems entirely unremarkable. As PEER’s Executive Director quipped: “Perhaps this report was blacked out because it is so inane.” Heh.
Second, today the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility at the U.S. Department of Justice released a report on allegations that hiring attorneys in the Department’s highly prestigious honors program (a two-year program designed for recent law school graduates) was tainted by political considerations. Not surprisingly, it turns out that candidates with liberal or Democratic affiliations on their resumes were rejected at far higher rates than similarly qualified candidates with conservative or “neutral” credentials. But this passage (hat tip: TPM Muckraker) is particularly remarkable:
...in one e-mail exchange Hruska, [then Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General] forwarded an application from a candidate from Montana to William Mercer, then U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana. Hruska asked Mercer if this was "someone we want at DOJ?"
Mercer responded by e-mail that he was inquiring with a reference the candidate listed whom Mercer knew to find out "the scoop on intellect, personality, etc." Mercer added:
My initial reaction is that the guy is probably quite liberal. He is clerking for a very activist, ATLA-oriented justice. His law review article appears to favor reintroduction of wolves on federal lands, a very controversial issue here which pits environmentalists against lots of other interests, including virtually all conservative and moderate thinkers. I know of better candidates through our internship and clerkship programs who have applied to the honors program.
The strangest thing about this exchange is the assertion that “virtually all conservative and moderate thinkers” oppose the reintroduction of wolves on federal lands. No, they don’t. In 2008, for example, polling conducted by Defenders of Wildlife showed that 71% and 69% of the public in Arizona and New Mexico, respectively, supported wolf reintroduction in their states.
Supporting wildlife conservation isn’t a liberal issue, it’s as mainstream as mainstream can get. Too bad the folks at the Bush Administration can’t see that.