Jersey Gov. Christie, President Obama Slammed on Justice Policies

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama are under increasing fire for their law enforcement policies in ways predictable from our Justice Integrity Project commentary the past two years.

Mainstream media are now criticizing them for multiple issues that share a theme: That each fails to match action to rhetoric on high-profile law enforcement issues.

Chris ChristieChristie, left, is a Republican former New Jersey U.S. Attorney, serving from 2001 to the end of the Bush administration. He won his state's governorship in 2009 on a corruption-fighting platform. In July 2009, Christie's hand-picked successors in the U.S. attorney's office timed 46 high-profile "Bid Rig III" arrests for maximum political benefit. The suspects were primarily from Democratic and urban regions adjoining the Hudson River across from New York City. The arrests meshed nicely with Christie's other campaign theme: that he would reduce government waste and other expenses with cost-effective government that relied heavily on private contractors.

But on June 18, the Star-Ledger of Newark became the second major paper in the state to urge that Solomon Dwek, Christie's key informant in the "Bid Rig" dragnet, testBarqack Obamaify against a GOP lawyer Christie recently nominated to the state court bench. [On June 19, the Jersey Journal became the third.] Dwek reputedly has suggested that the Republican nominee engaged in misconduct as a local sheriff. The U.S. attorney's office never prosecuted the GOP suspect in the "Bid Rig" mass arrest. The political defendants (not including rabbis and business executives) were nearly all Democrats.

Additionally, the non-partisan PolitiFact New Jersey news site reports that Christie has greatly exaggerated the number of corruption arrests he initiated as U.S. attorney. Finally, the New York Times published June 16 a major investigation, entitled, As Escapees Stream Out, a Penal Business Thrives. The report's sub-headline amplified: "A company with deep ties to Gov. Chris Christie dominates New Jersey’s system of large halfway houses. There has been little state oversight, despite widespread problems."

Similarly, Democrats Obama and Attorney Gen. Eric Holder have been under attack on many fronts.

Law enforcement controversies include accusations of over-zealousness and failure to prosecute those who are well-connected in law enforcement, the financial community and otherwise. For example, a Huffington Post column June 18 by Dan Froomkin, Occupy Protesters' Rights Must Be Protected, U.N. Says, revealed that United Nations officials in December protested U.S. treatment of "Occupy" protesters. The U.S. State Department has so far failed to respond.

Also, a new opinion poll shows sharply reduced global popularity for Obama because of his war policies that include novel strategies of using drones to kill targets in foreign lands. In a similar spirit, one of Obama's former law professors made news by releasing a YouTube video. It argues that voters should deny Obama re-election because he has sold out to the powerful. "He has reduced justice to charity," argued longtime Harvard Law School professor Roberto Unger in a YouTube front-paged by the Huffington Post June 16.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post June 17 awarded Holder the dubious honor of "The Worst Week in Washington." That's largely because more than 100 Republican congressman have called for Holder's resignation, most notably because of the "Fast and Furious" gun-walking program in Arizona.

From the left, OpEd News Publisher/Editor Rob Kall and several columnists have been hitting Obama and Holder hard in recent days. Ten reasons why Mr. Obama will lose the Presidential race in 2012 was a Herbert Calhoun column on June 18. Two days earlier, OpEd News columnist Joan Brunwasser published, Happy Father's Day! ... and the Justice Department's War On Families. In it, Brunwasser examined human toll on innocent families from the Obama-Holder administration's harsh enforcement of political prosecutions initiated by the Bush Justice Department.

The 2006 DOJ political purge may seem like a distant memory to the average citizen. But the effects on imprisoned victims and their families continue. The purge encouraged remaining officials like Christie to undertake political prosecutions, or face the Bush administration's unprecedented dismissal of Republican prosecutors nationwide who did not use their offices for partisan purposes. The purpose was what one DOJ GOP leader described to Karl Rove as using the regional prosecution slots to keep "loyal Bushies," who would use their powers accordingly. One of those was Christie, who was reportedly tipped off in 2006 that he might be purged unless he demonstrated more clearly why the White House would let him remain through the rest of the Bush administration.

On the other hand, these criticisms of Christie and Obama occur at a time of many other positive developments for each of them.

Many Republican enthusiasts and independent political commentators, for instance, regard Christie as an attractive candidate for the vice presidential slot on the Mitt Romney GOP ticket in November. Christie is from a swing state and won office on law-and-order and cost-cutting themes, according to conventional wisdom. Christie's political stock inevitably rises also when compared to Jon Corzine, the Democratic incumbent whom Christie defeated in 2009. Corzine went on to lead the global financial derivatives broker MF Global beginning in 2010. A year and a half later, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization after it lost up to $1.6 billion. It sought to avoid disaster by using customer funds in potentially illegal ways, causing company investors vast harm.  

Corzine's shabby track record is not the only comparison standard for Christie, however. That's especially so if Christie aspires to higher office. Christie's own rhetoric is a valid standard, and a number of his actions fall disgracefully short of his claims, as our Project has noted for several years. Much of our focus has been on the vast abuses that Christie initiated by funding Dwek, an admitted multi-million dollar bank fraudster and brothel operator. Christie and his colleagues orchestrated how Dwek would approach local New Jersey politicians and rabbis with offers to contribute to their campaigns or otherwise engage in such criminal schemes as money-laundering.

Even though most of the Bid Rig defendants have pled guilty, the concept of the prosecution raises serious issues of fairness. Suspicions of Christie's partisan use of the prosecution office fester also because he hired more than a dozen of his former federal colleagues to work in his state administration. Also, he issued as U.S. attorney tens of millions of dollars in no-bid federal contracts under suspicious circumstances to fellow Republicans who have been high-level prosecutors.

Going along with all of this (so far as visible to the public) is New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, Christie's Democratic successor under the Obama administration.

In normal times, a solid front of Bush-Obama law enforcers  -- with Democrats, Republicans and career personnel all protecting one another and keeping secrets -- might reassure the public. But the public could get angry at leaders of both parties. This is partly because of the vast inequities occasionally revealed in such travesties as the no-bid contracts worth up to $50 million that Christie, as U.S. attorney, awarded to John Ashcroft, his Republican former boss at the Justice Department. Another reason is the bleak financial prospects for many in the public as serious threats occur to savings, jobs, homes and pensions.

A new study reported by the Washington Post says, Families see their wealth sapped. "The data represent one of the most detailed looks at how the economic downturn altered the landscape of family finance. Over a span of three years, Americans watched progress that took almost a generation to accumulate evaporate." It continued:

The Federal Reserve said the median net worth of families plunged by 39 percent in just three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. That puts Americans roughly on par with where they were in 1992.

The promise of retirement built on the inevitable rise of the stock market proved illusory for most. Home-ownership, once heralded as a pathway to wealth, became an albatross. The findings underscore the depth of the wounds of the financial crisis and how far many families remain from healing. If the recession set Americans back 20 years, economists say, the road forward is sure to be a long one. And so far, the country has seen only a halting recovery.

In these circumstances, politicians of all viewpoints had a golden opportunity to fight for voters. This could have been by pursuing genuinely impartial prosecutions of waste, fraud and corruption in domestic spending and business. Similarly, officials could have pursued military and national security policies with guidelines of cost-efficiency and justice under long-accepted United States policies. These have historically forbidden torture, wars of aggression and such other practices as indefinite detention without charges or trial, and publicly announced assassinations.Although many violations of these standards occurred in the Unietd States as elsewhere, high public standards reinforced the nation's strength.

Instead, political, law enforcement and military-security leaders have too often targeted a few scapegoats, and been caught pretending in other cases that rhetoric is a substitute for justice.

In terms of politician greed, CBS News 60 Minutes on June 17 re-ran Insiders:The road to the STOCK Act, a powerful segment first shown in November illustrating how leaders of Congress from both parties made millions from in-effect "insider-trading" on their decision-making. The worst thing about the finagling was that it was all legal, at least until the original broadcast of the expose boosted the number of reform sponsors from six members of Congress to 284 co-sponsors.

Looking ahead, CBS "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer, dressed in blue jeans for the interview with the khaki-clad Romney, tried without success on June 17 to obtain clear answers from GOP candidate. Four times, Romney ducked a simple answer to one question: whether he would rescind President Obama's Executive Order June 15 suspending deportations of certain classes of young illegal aliens. Romney clearly felt no pressure to go beyond his talking points. He repeated that he opposed Obama's plan, but couldn't say whether he would want something different until after election.

As indicated in a video here, Mitt on CBS: The Eyeball Gap, columnist Craig Crawford sees a larger significance when, as here, he cannot see a candidate's eyes. Whatever the case on that, we're seeing now an awakened public that refuses to accept blindly whatever bromides officials provide.

 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 

 

Related News Coverage

New Jersey Controversies

Update: Jersey Journal, Accusations against GOP nominee need full scrutiny, Editorial board, June 19, 2012. Last month, Gov. Chris Christie nominated former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley for a Superior Court judgeship. The problem is that the FBI's informant in the major Operation Bid Rig III sting in 2009, Solomon Dwek, says he received favors from the nominee when Oxley was sheriff. In an FBI document, Dwek said he was given advance notice of property foreclosure sales by Oxley to allow the informant to get a head start in making favorable deals for himself. Christie and Oxley are Republicans. The sheriff was also head of the Monmouth County GOP. Dwek claimed he met with Republicans in Monmouth County, but the majority of arrests and indictments were of Democrats in Hudson County. Although Dwek's meetings with Republican officials were summarized in an 2006 FBI report, when Christie was the U.S. attorney, federal officials said they could not find more evidence to corroborate Dwek's claims against Oxley and other GOP officials....It's late, but is it time to question those motives?

New York Times, As Escapees Stream Out, a Penal Business Thrives, A company with deep ties to Gov. Chris Christie dominates New Jersey’s system of large halfway houses. There has been little state oversight, despite widespread problems, Sam Dolnick, June 16, 2012. A company with deep ties to Gov. Chris Christie dominates New Jersey’s system of large halfway houses. There has been little state oversight, despite widespread problems, the New York Times found. After decades of tough criminal justice policies, states have been grappling with crowded prisons that are straining budgets. In response to those pressures, New Jersey has become a leader in a national movement to save money by diverting inmates to a new kind of privately run halfway house. At the heart of the system is a company with deep connections to politicians of both parties, most notably Gov. Chris Christie. Many of these halfway houses are as big as prisons, with several hundred beds, and bear little resemblance to the neighborhood halfway houses of the past, where small groups of low-level offenders were sent to straighten up. New Jersey officials have called these large facilities an innovative example of privatization and have promoted the approach all the way to the Obama White House. Yet with little oversight, the state’s halfway houses have mutated into a shadow corrections network, where drugs, gang activity and violence, including sexual assaults, often go unchecked, according to a 10-month investigation by The New York Times. Perhaps the most unsettling sign of the chaos within is inmates’ ease in getting out. Since 2005, roughly 5,100 inmates have escaped from the state’s privately run halfway houses, including at least 1,300 in the 29 months since Governor Christie took office, according to an analysis by The Times.

 

 

Main Justice, PolitiFact: Chris Christie’s Town Hall Speech Cites False Statistic, Matthew Volkov, June 11, 2012. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said last week that during his time as the state’s U.S. Attorney he “wound up putting 10 percent of the state legislature in jail” over the course of his seven-year tenure. The statistic is unequivocally false, according to PolitiFact New Jersey, the fact-checking arm of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger newspaper. The percentage is closer to 3 percent, according to the group’s analysis. During the Republican governor’s time as U.S. Attorney, from 2002 to the end of 2008, 185 people served — either in the Senate or Assembly — in the state legislature. Christie’s office charged five legislators: state Sens. Wayne Bryant, Joseph Coniglio and Sharpe James and Assemblymen Mims Hackett and Alfred Steele. All five Democrats spent time in jail. The federal investigation of two other state legislators began while Christie was U.S. Attorney, but they did not serve jail time until after he left office, according to PolitiFact. “The fact remains that Christie didn’t jail 10 percent of the state legislature during his time as U.S. Attorney,” according to the PolitiFact report. Christie’s spokesman brushed the report off, telling PolitiFact that the governor was “making a rhetorical point” about his record in combating public corruption and “not … citing … some baseball statistic.”  “The governor was emphasizing, conversationally, the gravity of the corruption which in those years reached into the highest levels of the legislature as well as high-ranking party bosses and operatives,” Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman said

Star-Ledger (Newark), Solomon Dwek says Christie's nominee is corrupt; that merits testimony, Editorial Board, June 18, 2012. Solomon Dwek, the key informant in New Jersey’s big federal corruption sting, has implicated a man nominated by Gov. Chris Christie for a judgeship as corrupt. Or maybe he’s not, and Dwek is lying. Either way, we need to know more. Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), a member of the judiciary committee, is right to call for testimony from Dwek. Bring him in with this nominee, former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, to answer questions from legislators. Oxley, an attorney and outgoing Republican chairman, was nominated last month to Superior Court and has never faced any criminal charges. Yet in a hearing to confirm a judge, integrity should not even be in question. And we can only determine that after a closer look. In an FBI document recently made public, Dwek claims he got an early heads-up on potential real estate foreclosures from then-Sheriff Oxley. That let him negotiate deals before auction, evading competition and higher prices. Dwek claims he made at least three purchases with Oxley’s tips. He says he gave the sheriff money. At least that last part is proven. Campaign finance disclosures show Dwek and his wife gave at least $7,300 to Oxley’s campaigns between 2000 and 2003. Dwek made all these claims while Christie was overseeing the corruption case as U.S. attorney for New Jersey. Now, the governor’s spokesman refuses to say whether Christie was aware of them. Or to comment any further.

Asbury Park Press (New Jersey), Let Dwek testify on Oxley charge, Editorial board, June 14, 2012. Jailed con man and FBI snitch Solomon Dwek is the informer who keeps on giving.The recent release of a 6-year-old FBI document has revealed Dwek’s accusations of corruption against former and current officials — most notably former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, who was recently nominated by Gov. Chris Christie to become a Superior Court judge. The allegations are serious, and need to be addressed in a way devoid of politics. Dwek described himself as a “big fund-raiser” for Oxley, a former Middletown mayor who most recently served as Monmouth County’s Republican chairman. He claims Oxley gave him a list of foreclosed properties to be auctioned off two weeks before it became public. “This gives (Dwek) an opportunity to negotiate with the property owner before the auction and avoid competition and potentially higher prices,” the FBI report stated. These accusations need to be more fully investigated.

Louis ManzoJersey City Independent, Lou Manzo Campaigns to “Set the Record Straight” on FBI Sting, Matt Hunger, June 18, 2012. Not all 15 of the Jersey City officials – and 44 total – charged in the 2009 FBI sting known as Operation Bid Rig III were found guilty. Of them all, only former Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Lou Manzo, at left, had his case dismissed – twice. First charged with violation of the Hobbs Act, his case was thrown out when Judge Jose Lineras said the wrong charges were brought. Also charged with violating the Travel Act and two counts of failing to report others taking bribes, he was again let go when the judge said there was no evidence of illegal activity. Manzo began documenting his ordeal when he first landed in prison because, he says, he realized that if he could be an innocent man in jail, so could others. And now, nearly finished with a book on what he says will “set the record straight” on the sting, he is sharing his story. What has gone under-reported, at least in the eyes of Manzo, a Democrat, is what he calls the “political motivation” behind some of the charges. The headlines from these cases – most who were charged plead guilty or were convicted – were see as pivotal in helping catapult the career of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who headed the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the state at the time. And beginning with the U.S. Attorney’s office, Manzo says he is determined to prove that some of the charges levied at those caught in the FBI sting – namely, that action was promised in exchange for political favors – could be charged against some of the prosecutors. “Most people, what they read about in the Bid Rig 3, all they got were soundbites,” Manzo says. “I’m going to show how everyone who is a voter in Jersey City had their rights violated by the federal government.”

Star-Ledger (Newark), N.J. senator wants Solomon Dwek to appear before committee to explain foreclosure tipoff claims, Matt Friedman, June 13, 2012. A senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants federal informant Solomon Dwek to appear before the panel to discuss his claims that he was tipped off to potential real estate foreclosures by former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, who has been nominated by Gov. Chris Christie to become a Superior Court judge.

Star-Ledger, Dwek fundraising claims under the microscope, Auditor, June 17, 2012. The Auditor can’t verify the claim of FBI informant Solomon Dwek in recently unearthed files that he raised $28,000 for former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, but there are some interesting donations made to Oxley’s account at the time. Two months after Dwek and his wife donated $3,600 to Oxley in September 2000, Eli and Esther Seruya of Brooklyn each donated $1,800. Years later, Dwek claimed to have paid off Eli Seruya, comptroller of his uncle’s business, to facilitate fraudulent deals through the company. Seruya denied the allegations at the time. A message left at his home last week was not returned. Dwek made the fundraising claim about Oxley in a 2006 FBI document, along with accusations that Oxley tipped him off to foreclosure sales before they were published. Gov. Chris Christie, who oversaw the investigation as U.S. attorney for New Jersey, nominated Oxley to a Superior Court judgeship last month.

Star-Ledger / NJ.com, Solomon Dwek alleges he received political favors from Monmouth County officials, Matt Friedman, June 11, 2012. The controversial federal informer behind the biggest corruption sting in state history told investigators he was tipped off to foreclosure sales before they were made public by former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, who last month was nominated by Gov. Chris Christie to be a state Superior Court judge. The claim, detailed in an FBI document recently made public, was made by informer Solomon Dwek while Christie was overseeing the case as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. Dwek also alleged that he met with and got political favors from Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, and that he gave Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) $10,000 worth of raffle tickets to a Deal Yeshiva event, "stacking the deck" so she could win a computer, the document shows. And he claimed politically connected attorney Jerry Zaro, who later became Gov. Jon Corzine’s economic "czar," was a "big help when certain approvals were needed."  None of the officials was charged with any wrongdoing, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in court papers it could not find evidence supporting any of Dwek’s claims.

Jersey Journal, Federal judge dismisses all charges against former Jersey City Assemblyman, Michaelangelo Conte, Feb. 17, 2012. A federal judge today dismissed all charges against former Jersey City Assemblyman Lou Manzo. In a stunning blow to federal prosecutors, a federal judge in Newark has dismissed all charges against former Jersey City assemblyman Lou Manzo, one of 44 people arrested in the massive corruption sweep of July 2009. In a 60-page ruling released today,

 

Jersey Journal, Former Jersey City pol says corruption charges against him part of effort to elect Christie governor, Michaelangelo Conte, Jan. 26, 2012. The attorney representing former Jersey City assemblyman and mayoral candidate Lou Manzo argued in court today that corruption charges are bogus and was part of a conspiracy to get Republican Gov. Chris Christie elected.

 

Justice Integrity Project, Court Slaps Feds Again For Christie-Era NJ Prosecutions, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 21, 2011. In a major setback for the U.S. Justice Department and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a federal appeals court last week dismissed federal bribery and conspiracy charges against two New Jersey Democrats targeted in a trap set by Christie. Our non-partisan Justice Integrity Project has repeatedly pointed to the 46-defendant “Bid Rig III” case as one of the nation’s most scandalous political prosecutions of recent years.
 

President Obama's Slipping Support

Huffington Post, Occupy Protesters' Rights Must Be Protected, U.N. Says; U.S. Says Nothing, Dan Froomkin, June 18, 2012. Federal officials have yet to respond to two United Nations human rights envoys who formally requested that the U.S. government protect Occupy protesters against excessive force by law enforcement officials. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the two envoys called on U.S. officials to "explain the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall" and expressed concern that excessive use of force "could have been related to [the protesters'] dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms." The envoys also reminded the U.S. government of its international obligations to "take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of all peaceful protesters be respected." The letter, from Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. special rapporteur for the protection of free expression, and Maina Kiai, the special rapporteur for freedom of peaceful assembly, was sent in December 2011.

British Broadcasting Corp., World cools towards Barack Obama – survey; Confidence in Barack Obama is still high in Europe but has dropped in China and Japan, Staff report, June 13, 2012. International approval of US President Barack Obama's foreign policy has dropped sharply during his term in office, a Pew Research survey suggests. Among the 21 countries surveyed, the largest drop in approval -- from 57% to 27% -- was seen in China, the Global Attitudes Project reveals. Most respondents in almost all countries opposed US drone strikes. Despite these numbers, confidence in Mr. Obama remains high among US allies, especially in Europe. "I think where you see the real disappointment is when you deal with specific policies," said Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. He added that the survey showed big gaps between expectation levels and action over Mr. Obama's policies on climate change and treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Robero UngerHuffington Post, Roberto Unger, Obama's Former Harvard Law School Professor, Says The President 'Must Be Defeated,' Bonnie Kavoussi, June 16, 2012. One of President Barack Obama's former professors appears to have turned against him, according to a recent YouTube video. "President Obama must be defeated in the coming election," Roberto Unger, at left, a longtime professor at Harvard Law School who taught Obama, said in a video posted on May 22. "He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States." Unger said that Obama must lose the election in order for "the voice of democratic prophecy to speak once again in American life." He acknowledged that if a Republican wins the presidency, "there will be a cost ... in judicial and administrative appointments." But he said that "the risk of military adventurism" would be no worse under a Republican than under Obama, and that "the Democratic Party proposes no new direction." "Give the bond markets what they want, bail out the reckless so long as they are also rich, use fiscal and monetary stimulus to make up for the absence of any consequential broadening of economic and educational opportunity, sweeten the pill of disempowerment with a touch of tax fairness, even though the effect of any such tax reform is sure to be modest," he said. "This is less a project than it is an abdication." The professor went on to list his complaints.

OpEd News, Ten reasons why Mr. Obama will lose the Presidential race in 2012, Herbert Calhoun, June 18, 12012. 1. At best, Mr. Obama has been a lackluster and even anemic Party leader and a  weak  President. The most cynical image of Mr. Obama is one showing him hiding behind the Oval Office desk, ducking all of the tough issues that come his way. Something he has done throughout his entire four-year term. Another is that he is the opposite of Harry Truman, the man who announced that the "Buck stops at the Oval office desk." For Mr. Obama, the "buck stopped with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed," who he sent to the frontlines to do battle with the Republicans, in short to do most of his dirty work and then to take the fall for any and all his failures -- which indeed were many. 2. Mr. Obama is perceived to have double-crossed his base....[etc.].

Obama Justice Department

OpEd News, Happy Father's Day! ... and the Justice Department's War On Families, Joan Brunwasser, June 16, 2012.  My guest is Judy White, right, whose husband, Gary has been incarcerated* since September, 2010 [shown at right earlier]. Gary and Judge WhiteWelcome back to OpEdNews, Judy. What's on your mind today?

Based on many shocking and hurtful experiences during the past twenty-one months, Gary and I have come to understand that our federal government is aggressively anti-family.  And terribly dishonest.  But I suppose that with the widespread government corruption and unlimited resources -- meaning our tax dollars and the complicity of the media -- they can mislead, misinform, and manipulate public opinion however it suits their purposes, while prisoners and their families are left to suffer.  At Memphis's satellite camp in Millington, Tennessee, the prison employees really don't seem to like for the prisoners to have their family members visit, despite all the published propaganda claiming -- falsely -- an understanding of the importance of maintaining family ties.  Could it be they don't want our eyes and ears?  Visitation, the prisoners' and their families' designated time to spend together, is commonly and casually -- and illegally -- denied for the most arbitrary reasons, based on the preferences and moods of whatever prison employee happens to be sitting at the desk, and the identity and characteristics of the particular visitor.

[Editor's Note: For first-time readers, Gary White was a county commissioner in Jefferson County, Alabama. Good friends with Les Siegelman, he introduced Les's brother, [former] Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to Richard Scrushy, a local Republican businessman. Because of this, White became inextricably intertwined with Siegelman, who was one of the biggest targets of the Rove-directed, heavily politicized Department of Justice. Scrushy and Siegelman were later indicted and convicted on charges stemming from that relationship. According to affidavits provided by Gary [and Judy, who was also in the room] White was asked to perjure himself before a Grand Jury in order to make the case against Siegelman and Scrushy. White refused and the very next day, the DOJ started delivering subpoenas to build a case against him. White is now serving ten years, first in Edgefield Federal Prison in South Carolina and currently in Millington Federal Prison Camp in Tennessee. The Supreme Court recently declined to hear Siegelman's case without comment.]

 

Don Siegelman FamilyAssociated Press, Siegelman backers seek pardon for ex-Ala governor, Bob Johnson, June 18, 2012.  Some backers of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman want President Barack Obama to grant a pardon that would prevent the ex-Democratic officeholder from returning to prison for his 2006 bribery conviction. Siegelman is out of prison on an appeal bond. But the U.S. Supreme Court this month rejected his latest appeal, and he may soon face a new sentencing by U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery. Indicted in 2005 and tried the next year, Siegelman [at left with his family] was convicted of selling a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's 1999 campaign to legalize a state lottery, which failed. Pam Miles Free Don SignFormer Democratic Party executive committee member Pam Miles of Huntsville is now encouraging supporters to write Obama and urge the president to pardon Siegelman. She operates an internet e-mail network for Siegelman's backers. Miles, at right with a sign she displayed at a national policy conference this month, says followers are pursuing all avenues to prove Siegelman's innocence. Miles says she "can't bear the thought' of Siegelman returning to prison. "We can't forget about Don," Miles said. Miles and other Siegelman supporters sent a Father's Day message to Obama asking the president to pardon Siegelman. "Right now his only hope seems to be a presidential pardon. Please do the right thing and pardon this innocent man. Happy Father's Day," the letter to Obama said. Siegelman declined to comment concerning the effort to obtain a pardon.

Legal Times, Holder Seeks Meeting with Congressional Leaders to Avert Contempt Vote, June 18, 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. wants to meet with congressional leaders tomorrow, the day before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to vote on whether he is in contempt of Congress. In a letter sent today to Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Holder again agreed to meet personally with Issa and others who say the Department of Justice has not turned over key documents subpoenaed as part of an inquiry into the botched Fast and Furious gun-smuggling investigation. Holder said DOJ will provide some documents, and then make an “extraordinary accommodation” of holding a briefing with the lawmakers. “The Department has offered a serious, good faith proposal to bring this matter to an amicable resolution in the form of a briefing based on documents that the Committee could retain,” Holder said.

Eric HolderWashington Post, Who had the worst week in Washington? Attorney General Eric Holder, Chris Cillizza, June 17, 2012. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spent the week in the Washington hot seat — and there’s little evidence that his perch is going to get cooler anytime soon. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spent the week in the Washington hot seat — and there’s little evidence that his perch is going to get cooler anytime soon. Holder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to answer for a number of recent national security leaks. At issue? The fact that Holder has refused to appoint a special counsel to look into the leaking of sensitive information to reporters, instead putting two U.S. attorneys in charge of the investigation. “There are clearly people around the president leaking stories that involve highly classified information” that paints the president in a positive light, accused Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

Roll Call, GOP Smells Blood, Bores In on Eric Holder, Jonathan Strong, June 12, 2012. A top Senate Republican called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign today, even as Holder said he was ready to make major concessions to Republicans investigating “Fast and Furious,” a botched gun-smuggling operation. Holder, saying he wanted to avoid an “impending constitutional crisis,” told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I am prepared to make compromises,” but “I’ve got to have a willing partner.” However, Republicans in both chambers were in no mood to give quarter.

Legal Schnauzer, Eric Holder Is Feeling the Heat He Deserves From Republicans On Capitol Hill, Roger Shuler, June 14, 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder is under increasing fire from Congressional Republicans for a variety of alleged lapses. As a progressive blogger, I normally would come to the support of a relatively competent official in a Democratic administration. But Holder has been an abject failure as "the people's lawyer," and if right wingers can force him out, they have my full support. To put it in blunt terms, Holder is getting what he deserves for allowing a fiasco like the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to remain intact. For that matter, Holder's boss, President Obama, also is having a pretty horrific month of June--and he deserves it for failing to support investigations into gross justice-related abuses during the George W. Bush years.

Washington Post, Holder embattled on two fronts, David A. Fahrenthold and Sari Horwitz, June 13, 2012. For more than three years, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has tried to play a double role — political and apolitical at once. He has cast himself as the country’s nonpartisan top cop, but also as the Obama administration’s best weapon for a liberal view of justice.But now, more than ever, Holder is struggling to do both jobs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesselyn RaddackHuffington Post, White House Leaks: Whistleblower Jesselyn Radack Expresses Concern About Investigations (VIDEO), Jack Mirkinson, June 15, 2012. As the investigation into possible White House leaks gets underway, one notable whistleblower said on Thursday that she worries about the consequences of the controversy. The fallout from the appearance of high-level security details in a number of New York Times stories has quickly grown, with Attorney General Eric Holder opening a probe and with Republicans and conservative pundits hammering the White House for what they say are calculated leaks. (The White House has vehemently denied this.) On Thursday's "Democracy Now," Jesselyn Radack, left, who exposed flaws in the interrogation of the so-called "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, spoke about the controversy. While she said that she thought the information had been leaked "for political gain," and that the Obama administration was guilty of "hypocrisy" for also waging an unprecedented war against whistleblowers, Raddack expressed concern about the investigations. "The answer is not to have even more leak investigations," she said. "The answer is to take a serious look at what the administration discloses, both good and bad, which should be out there for public debate."

Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman Case Showdown Nov. 2 Hurts Obama, Not Rove, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 1, 2011.  A legal showdown of historic proportion unfolded Nov. 2 in an Alabama federal court. Squaring off in Montgomery Courtroom B4 were the Obama Justice Department and its most important domestic defendant, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, once the leading Democrat in his state. Siegelman wants the government to provide documents proving that Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, right, really withdrew from the case, as she claimed.

Legal Schnauzer, Is Lawsuit Cash Having a Negative Impact on Progressive Politics? Roger Shuler, April 20, 2011. Alabama lawyer G. Douglas Jones helped rake in more than $50 million in attorney fees from a lawsuit against individuals and entities connected to HealthSouth Corporation. Lawyers from California and New York were involved in the case, but Jones served as co-liaison counsel here in Birmingham, home to HealthSouth headquarters. Did Jones' access to cold, hard cash help make him a "kingmaker" with the Obama administration? Do Democrats such as Doug Jones act with progressive ideals in mind? Is George Beck the best candidate to replace Leura Canary, the abominable George W. Bush appointee who helped ramrod the Don Siegelman/Richard Scrushy prosecution?

Public Pain and Official Greed

CBS 60 Minutes, Insiders:The road to the STOCK Act, Steve Kroft, June 17, 2012. Steve Kroft reports on how America's lawmakers could legally buy stock based on non-public information simply because they wouldn't pass a law against themselves - a law they finally passed after this story first ran. Ira Rosen and Gabrielle Schonder are the producers.

Washington Post, Families see their wealth sapped, Ylan Q. Mui, June 11, 2012. The recent recession wiped out nearly two decades of Americans’ wealth, according to government data released Monday, with ­middle-class families bearing the brunt of the decline...“It’s hard to overstate how serious the collapse in the economy was,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. “We were in free fall.” The recession caused the greatest upheaval among the middle class. Only roughly half of middle­-class Americans remained on the same economic rung during the downturn, the Fed found. Their median net worth — the value of assets such as homes, automobiles and stocks minus any debt — suffered the biggest drops. By contrast, the wealthiest families’ median net worth rose slightly.  Americans have tried to re­balance the family budget but have found it difficult to reverse the damage. The survey showed that fewer families are carrying credit card balances, and those who do have less debt. The median balance dropped 16 percent, from $3,100 in 2007 to $2,600 in 2010. The Fed also found that the percentage of Americans who have no debt rose to a quarter of families.

 

 

Eric HolderFireDogLake, Holder’s DoJ Must Focus on Real Criminals Now, Teddy Partridge, June 18, 2012. Bank looters, pension stealers, and widow robbers run rampant through our Republic. So one hopes Eric Holder’s Justice Department will now focus its attention on the real crimes ruining America. They aren’t committed by baseball players lying to Congress — coals to Newcastle if ever I heard of it! — or heiresses paying hush money to a Presidential candidate’s mistress. These aren’t crimes; they are E! Entertainment News and Entertainment Tonight! fodder, not crimes worthy of federal resources ladled upon them in the millions of dollars. Enough with the circuses!  Utter lawlessness abounds throughout the land — in voter disenfranchisement, mortgage securitization and foreclosure fraud, depradation of our precious natural world, and utter bribery of public officials by faceless forces of wealth.Will Eric Holder [at left] please direct the efforts of his many attorneys to real problems plaguing real American people?

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Washington Post, U.S. outsources bulk of Africa spy work, Craig Whitlock June 14, 2012. Four small, white passenger planes sit outside a hangar here under a blazing sun, with no exterior markings save for U.S. egistration numbers painted on the tails. A few burly men wearing aviator sunglasses and short haircuts poke silently around the wing flaps and landing gear.The aircraft are Pilatus PC-12s, turboprops favored by the U.S. Special Operations forces for stealth missions precisely because of their nondescript appearance. There is no hint that they are carrying high-tech sensors and cameras that can film man-size targets from 10 miles away.To further disguise the mission, the U.S. military has taken another unusual step: It has largely outsourced the spying operation to private contractors. The contractors supply the aircraft as well as the pilots, mechanics and other personnel to help process electronic intelligence collected from the airspace over Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.In October, President Obama sent about 100 elite U.S. troops to central Africa to scour the terrain for Joseph Kony, the messianic and brutal leader of a Ugandan rebel group. But American contractors have been secretly searching for Kony from the skies long before that, at least since 2009, under a project code-named Tusker Sand, according to documents and people familiar with the operation.

 

Legal Schnauzer, Sandusky Trial Brings the Horrors of Child Sexual Abuse Into Our Living Rooms, Roger Shuler, June 18, 2012.  We had cases of child sexual abuse before Jerry Sandusky became known to more than just hard-core Penn State football fans. But I don't recall another case where the nauseating details have been brought to so many newspaper pages, TV newscasts, and computer screens. As I checked for updates each day at pennlive.com and espn.com, I was tempted to make sure I had a vomit bag nearby. Maureen Dowd, of the New York Times, provides a sobering summary in a piece titled "American Horror Story." It provides deep insights into the methods that abusers use to manipulate their victims: "The prosecution charges that Mr. Sandusky used his charity for disadvantaged kids, Second Mile, as a perverted recruiting tool, putting asterisks next to the names of boys who were fatherless and blond, making up weird contracts for boys to sign, giving them money, ostensibly for doing good schoolwork, but really as a way to keep them from fleeing -- and telling."