Heffelfinger supports probe into 'broken' DOJ

Former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger said Congress is right to investigate the Department of Justice, which he called "fundamentally broken" in light of the firings of several federal prosecutors.

Heffelfinger said he was "outraged" to learn that he was targeted for removal due to his focus on Indian issues. “The fact that some allegedly responsible official or officials in Washington at Main Justice now believe that I should have been removed for spending too much time focused on the public safety of Native Americans is outrageous, and it’s shameful,” the former U.S. Attorney for Minnesota said at a bar association meeting on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Heffelfinger said the handling of the firings reflects poorly on the department. "If there isn't a change within the Department of Justice, ultimately, the deterioration of morale and effectiveness will lead to a lack of effectiveness in enforcing the law," he told reporters after his speech, KARE-TV reported.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has faced numerous calls to resign over the scandal. President Bush has repeatedly backed him, and Heffelfinger wouldn't say what he thought should happen to his former boss.

"I have an opinion," he told reporters. "I'm not going to share it."

Steven Day, the police chief for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota, praised Heffelfinger's efforts to improve public safety on the reservation. "With his help, we took down some major Native gang members who are now sitting in jail. With his help, we took $1.2 million of drugs off our streets. He's been nothing but a great help," Day told The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Red Lake Nation Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. said he appreciated Heffelfinger's presence after the deadly shootings on the reservation back in March 2005. He credited Heffelfinger with helping start a family violence center but said some tribal members might not agree with everything the former prosecutor did.

Get the Story:
Heffelfinger says something within DOJ is 'broken' (AP 5/25)
Heffelfinger slams Justice Department (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 5/25)
Minnesota U.S. Attorney Firings / Heffelfinger defends work (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 5/25)
Heffelfinger says "change" needed at Dept. of Justice (KARE 5/24)

Goodling Testifies Before The House Judiciary Committee | David Iglesias on U.S. Attorney Firings, Goodling Testimony

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