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Repairing the image of the Justice Department

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez vows to stay at the Justice Department "to try to repair its broken image". In a prepared statement for the Senate Judiciary Committee he said:

"I believe very strongly that there is no place for political considerations in the hiring of our career employees or in the administration of justice," he said. "As such, these allegations have been troubling to hear. From my perspective, there are two options available in light of these allegations. I would walk away or I could devote my time, effort and energy to fix the problems. Since I have never been one to quit, I decided that the best course of action was to remain here and fix the problems."
This is either a very smart move or a very misguided one. I say smart because through his actions he is showing that he feels he is in the right, an assertion that people may ultimately accept. I say misguided because if people believe he is in the wrong then no amount of effort on his part will help the Department, other than to resign. Right now, his major problem is that public perception--rightly or wrongly--is that he is at the heart of the scandal.

If he is going to pursue this strategy my suggestion to Gonzalez is that he start his campaign by convincing employees of his rightness, because they are a critical audience to carry the message forward both internally and externally. First you clean up your house, then the rest of the world.

If Gonzalez does so, let's hope he fares better than former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who, when he apologized to employees for providing professional help to a World Bank employee with whom he was involved (not that Gonzalez is apologizing), got booed and hissed with chants to "Resign. Resign."

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