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A positive moment at a beleaguered department

It’s been a tough couple of years at the Department of Justice. It has seen a seemingly endless stream of news headlines about politicized hiring and firing practices, congressional probes, even the resignation of the last attorney general amid scandal.

Yesterday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey used the occasion of honoring the extraordinary work of some DOJ staffers to make a point: the department’s controversies belie the true nature of the place and its employees.

“Over the last few years, this Department has endured its share of critical attention,” Mukasey said yesterday on the stage of DAR Constitution Hall, where he kicked off the Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony. “As a result, I have been asked many times about morale at the Department and about how we were going to restore the public’s confidence in DOJ. My answer has never wavered: to a person, the men and women who were here when I arrived have worked hard to help me succeed and have kept doing their jobs on behalf of the American people.”

Mukasey praised the people in his department, saying “the dedication and excellence of the people of this Department have not wavered in the face of public controversy is a powerful testament to how seriously you take the oath of office you have sworn.”

Mukasey added that the workers’ dedication is often overlooked by lawmakers and the press. “I wish I could simply hand today’s program to the press or to the Congress and ask them to read it,” he said. “I wish the newspapers would reprint it so that the American people could read about the extraordinary work we do on their behalf. … If the American people could see today’s program, I am certain that we would no longer have to field questions about our morale or whether people can have confidence in what we do.”

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