The Justice Department under the Bush administration has retreated from prosecutions of mobsters, white-collar criminals, environmental crimes, and traditional civil rights infractions, say data analyzed by the Washington Post. The department has strongly emphasized immigration and terrorism-related investigations. It has devoted new attention to areas important to conservative activists, such as sex trafficking and obscenity. Such dramatic changes form a backdrop as the Senate Judiciary Committee considers today the nomination of former federal judge Michael Mukasey to be President Bush’s third attorney general.
From 2000 to 2006, there were large drops in the number of defendants related to environmental offenses (12 percent), organized crime (38 percent), white-collar crime (10 percent), bank robbery (18 percent) and bankruptcy fraud (46 percent), according to Justice Department statistics. Money-laundering prosecutions related to drugs were also down nearly 25 percent, while the number of drug cases overall was stagnant. There were jumps in prosecutions related to immigration (36 percent), weapons cases (87 percent), official corruption (15 percent), and, most dramatically, terrorism and national security cases (876 percent). FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has signaled a desire to reinvigorate the department’s emphasis on traditional crime-fighting. “We are realizing that national security is as much about reducing the number of homicides on our streets as it is about reducing the threat of terrorism,” Mueller said Monday in New Orleans at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention. “Today, in pockets around the country, we are seeing the first steady increase in street-level crime since 1993. As a result, we must view criminal threats differently than we did in the immediate aftermath of September 11.”