Inside Opinion

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Tag: department of justice


Administration must respect media’s government watchdog role

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

In his speech Thursday on national security, President Barack Obama said the right things about the media’s role as government watchdogs. Now the question is whether his administration’s actions will connect to his words.

Obama said that a free press is essential for our democracy: “I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”

You’d never guess it from his detached tone, but he was referring to two abusive leak investigations undertaken

Read more »


The Seattle lesson: Police abuses start at the top

This editorial will appear in the Thursday print edition.

Could Seattle’s police force be that brutal? The U.S. Justice Department last week reported that many of Seattle’s officers know way too much about bashing suspects and not nearly enough about de-escalating confrontations.

A couple of numbers sum up the indictment: Justice’s Civil Rights Division concluded that Seattle police engaged in excessive force 57 percent of the time they hammered someone with their batons. Overall, the investigators decided that 20 percent of all use of force by officers was unconstitutionally excessive.

Members of the SPD are angrily challenging those shocking findings. From this distance, it’s impossible to say whether the department has been unfairly tarred by armchair experts. But there’s no doubt that Seattle police have a flair for doing outrageous things in front of video cameras. Read more »


Federal probe just the latest chapter in sorry Washam saga


This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

If Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam is feeling at all vindicated by the failure of the recall campaign against him, perhaps news that he’s the subject of a federal investigation has provided something of a reality check.

The Department of Justice inquiry stems from Washam’s retaliation against Sally Barnes, a high-ranking office employee who had complained about how Washam treated her.

Barnes, who cited “intolerable working conditions” when she resigned in March 2010, is one of the employees suing Washam and Pierce County for damages. A fifth has reached a settlement.

The DOJ investigation – which grew out of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determination that Washam likely had violated Barnes’ civil rights – could go away if Barnes reaches a settlement with Pierce County. Or the DOJ could continue investigating – and even sue the county – if it’s not satisfied with the terms of the settlement.  Read more »