The Memory Hole Can Be Quite Shallow…

I heard about this on Democracy Now yesterday, but didn’t get around to looking it up until this morning. The Department of Justice has released a report on diversity in the Dept. The report has been ready for two years, but the DoJ has stalled its release — even after several FoIA requests (no surprise there, really) — andwat was finally released was heavily redacted. All of the policy recommendations and what looks like about two-thirds of the body of the report were blacked out, so that The Memory Hole calls it “one of the most heavily-redacted government documents in recent memory.” However, desiring absolute secrecy and having the competence to approach it are two different things — The Memory Hole performed a small bit of technological magic on the document and managed to extract all of the redacted text! The complete version is available at their site, with all the previously-hidden parts highlighted in yellow (the file is a 5.78 MB pdf; the original version is also available for downloading).

The weird thing is that so much of the redactions seems totally trivial. For instance, section 4.3.7:

In addition to more structured mentoring, each component should have a diversity advocate who is an attorney. This advocate can provide knowledgable guidance to attorneys, serve as an ombudsman to address disputes, and continue to ensure that the component is cognizant of diversity issues.

Not very controversial stuff at all. The only thing I can think of is that this administration has no intention of doing anything to address diversity issues, and felt it would look better if they could say “we’re doing all we can” without having their own ignored policy recommendations thrown back at them.

Given that so much of today’s DoJ activity is entirely counter to the intended purpose of protecting rights and ensuring justice for all, the deeply ironic nature of this report should come as no surprise. In this least transparent (at least intentionally) of all government documents, one of the sticking points in achieving a more diverse and diversity-friendly DoJ is noted as the lack of transparency in human resource practices (page ES-2):

The Department sufferd from an inadequate human resources management infrastructure. There is widespread perception, especially among minorities, that HR practice lack transparency. This results in attorneys perceiving that practices are unfair. The Department does not emphasize career development, and tools for performanc appraisal are deficient. As a result, attorneys cite poor “people management” by supervisors.(Emphasis in original)

In other words, minorities see white employees who they perceive as less qualified advancing more quickly and/or to higher levels in a seemingly arbitrary way, and because the DoJ is not willing to bite the bullet and publicly reassure them that minorities’ interests matter (for instance, by releasing a report that shows what the problems are and how the DoJ intends to go about rectifying them), they feel that it is their status as minorities that is holding them back.

Sounds healthy.

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