Media Helped Holder Burnish His Image, With Next Month's Selma March To Provide A New Stage



The big media fail to report rampant abuses at the U.S. Justice Department. Too often timid and craven, journalists protect a Puppet President, his team, and the masters they serve. Next month, President Obama and celebrities from the hit film "Selma" will attend the 50th anniversary of the 'Bloody Sunday' civil rights march in Selma, Alabama -- a state notorious also for current state and federal abuses.

How should the public react?

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder polished his legacy Feb. 17 with a National Press Club speech that illustrated the sharp limits of political accountability and media curiosity in the nation’s capital.

Eric Holder NPC Noel St. John 2 Feb. 17, 2015Holder received for the most part the standard deferential treatment accorded to high officials. Moderators screened audience questions, as commonly the case, thereby keeping discussion focused within comfortable parameters. 

Holder, shown in a photo by Noel St. John, projected a benign presence after presiding over some of America’s most controversial decision-making of the Obama administration.

He announced that his “sentencing reform” initiative has deterred federal prosecutors from advocating mandatory minimum sentences “while reserving stricter sentences for more serious offenders.”

The Justice Department billed it as one of his final public appearances before he steps down as the nation’s 82nd attorney general when his successor wins Senate confirmation, as seems likely. An official photo shows the nominee, Brooklyn-based federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch.

Loretta LynchSunday’s award of an Oscar to the film “Selma” helps underscore the positive, as does President Obama’s planned speech in Selma March 7 celebrating the iconic civil rights march in 1965. Update: The celebrity-laden positive coverage continued in such stories as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the basketball icon, reinvented as culture vulture (with the former basketball star interviewing Holder) Obama bids farewell again to Attorney General Eric Holder, (with Aretha Franklin serenading at a Holder-focused ceremony) and Holder Tears Up As DOJ Celebrates 80 years in Main Justice Buildiing.

In contrast to the professional camaraderie at the press club, New York Times investigative reporter and author James Risen, who was not present for Holder's speech, reacted from afar in revulsion by tweeting that Holder's legacy is a "wrecked First Amendment."

Risen described the Obama administration as the "worst" enemy of press freedom in American history. “Eric Holder has sent a message to dictators around the world that it is okay to crack down on the press and jail journalists,” Risen tweeted. A sample of other controversial issues and ironies is listed below in an appendix. 

Today’s column examines how the club's speaker process, like similar programs featuring government officials in Washington, side-steps blunt exchanges about sensitive issues that might better inform the public at the risk of antagonizing a speaker and reducing future appearances by similar guests.

The stakes are high. Holder, one of President Obama’s closest friends and advisors, presides over a Justice Department with vast clout over the nation’s criminal and civil law enforcement system. Its oft-discretionary and subjective application of law impacts also the economy and even foreign affairs. Thus, Holder influences jobs, savings, and national security and many individuals caught up in those vital matters.

Overview: Cozy Relationships and Cover-Up

Holder is one of just three cabinet members remaining in office from the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009. That reflects his position as a key advisor to the president. The photo at left, for example, shows a meeting in the Situation Room with intelligence community officials Jan. 8, 2014 (White House Barack Obama and Eric Holder, Jan. 8, 2014Photo by Pete Souza).

As often in recent Justice Integrity Project columns, our theme is that the public needs to demand reliable information or else suffer exploitation from all sides in a confusing situation whereby financial oligarchs control both major parties and the media as well. Years of stenography and propaganda in the guise of news increasingly hide this process and undermine the nation's constitutional rights and economic way of life. 

Cozy relationships between officials and the media play a largely hidden role regarding what the public learns. Obama's strategist and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes is the brother of CBS News President David Rhodes, for example. The cross-pollination links could not be clearer based on that alone.

Further, former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department alleging illegal surveillance. Last year, she published Stonewalled, which accused CBS of protecting the Obama administration by not adequately covering such stories as the 2012 Benghazi attack and slow initial enrollments under Obamacare.

More about news manipulation at networks is contained in The one misstatement a scribe can’t make! This was a blog post last week at Bob Somerby's Daily Howler media criticism site. Somerby alleges in regard to the Brian Williams scandal at NBC that when defense contractor General Electric owned the network it long encouraged its anchors to slant the news to achieve the political goals of the ownership, including long-running smears of Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore in 1999-2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2007-2008. 

Minimal research can show that the intelligence community wields great power over the administration on substantive matters, frequently on behalf of its allies in the financial, defense, energy and related private sectors.

For such reasons, Obama and his attorney general merely went through the motions in 2009 when they authorized Connecticut-based federal prosecutor John Durham to investigate potential CIA law-breaking for destroying evidence of Bush-era torture. Durham's probe resulted in the same kind of whitewash that his colleague Nora Dannehy achieved in her superficial, Holder-authorized internal review of the well-documented Justice Department abuses reflected in the 2007 U.S. attorney firing scandal. Dannehy did not interview witnesses even when some wanted to talk under oath to right the injustice regarding such human rights scandals as the political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. In a second trial, Siegelman was convicted of corruption charges only via flagrant abuses by prosecutors and federal judge Mark Fuller, as we have often reported here. 

As president-elect, Obama famously intoned that he would "look forward and not backward" on such matters. But as a law school instructor earlier in his career, Obama fully realized that virtually all criminal and civil litigation inevitably looks "backward" at previous events to determine accountability. Whitewashing crimes by officials while ruthlessly prosecuting whistleblowers and other small fry is the worst possible result for the public.

David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, NBC_TVThe New York Times last month reported based on leaks that career staff has recommended felony charges against former CIA Director David Petraeus for leaking classified documents to his lover and All In biographer, Paula Broadwell, shown at right.

But Holder downplayed the Times story about the still-influential Dr. Petraeus, who left office in disgrace just after the 2012 election because of his affair with Broadwell while his wife Holly continued to work for the Obama administration fulfilling her passion of helping veterans. Good relations with the Petraeus family also help Democrats keep well-positioned politically with the nation's powerful neo-con and neo-lib forces dominating modern foreign affairs, and perhaps to some extent with the veterans groups that the former general has helped lead in recent years.

Since his scandal and termination in 2012, ostensibly for the sex scandal but really for his political conniving regarding the 2012 Benghazi massacre, the former CENTCOM leader has continued his $220,000 a year government pension, kept his security clearance, and refurbished his career by such actions as:

  • Winning appointment as chairman of the KKR Global Institute, a new unit of the multibillion dollar Wall Street hedge fund KKR;
  • Resuming teaching at CUNY and the University of Southern California while also holding a fellowship at Harvard University, scene of his first encounters with Broadwell; and
  • Attending the two most recent annual meetings of the Bilderberg Group, founded in 1954 with 130 Western leaders chosen by Rockefellers and Rothschilds. 

Last month, the American Conservative magazine pilloried Holder's Justice Department by publishing David Petraeus’s Double Standard. The subtitled was While real whistleblowers go to jail, the teflon general gets made a martyr to Obama's war on leaks.

Another conservative, former Reagan Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts, wrote a similar column, Law Has Been Murdered. "Barrett Brown, Kathy Kelly, and Bonny Mahoney are the kind of people who are imprisoned in America," Roberts wrote. "It is not the perjurers and liars, the torturers, war criminals, and mass murderers. It is the good people who peacefully protest the crimes of those who control the U.S. government and its policies. Barrett Brown’s statement to the judge in his show trial shows that the US Department of Justice has been successful in preventing the system from delivering any justice."

Paul Craig RobertsRoberts, at left, holds a doctorate in political sciences. He has written books (most recently, the column collection How America Was Lost), and has held academic appointments at multiple universities and conservative think tanks. But his blunt commentaries have eliminated him from the invitation list for mainstream U.S. media.

That does not mean he is wrong in the view that our justice system, like other important institutions, has become a tool for oppression in an emerging "police/warfare state" instead of shield of due process protecting the public in the spirit of the Magna Carta against tyranny.

Paul Craig Roberts book coverWe agree. A double standard of justice exists whereby, for example, the billionaire child-sex molester Jeffrey Epstein could negotiate with federal authorities a wrist-slap plea deal, as reported in Conservative Scold Ken Starr Got A Billionaire Pedophile Off. The federal-state deal allowed Epstein to spend just nights in a county lock-up for 13 months and also win an immunity deal that protected some of the world's most famous celebrities from investigation much less prosecution. See below for more on that outrageous sellout by the Justice Department reached in 2007 but still being defended as recently as this year by Holder's Justice Department.

How Justice, Media, and Intelligence Interact

The larger context for complaints by such isolated figures as Roberts and Risen is that the Obama administration appears to be moving towards a deal with the major institutional media to exempt them on the whole from the First Amendment crackdown being imposed on whistleblowers, other government sources, and independent media. Risen, a Pulitzer-winner and former target of imprisonment threats, and Roberts are too savvy to be gulled by the Obama administration's unconstitutional divide-and-conquer tactics for the media. Both men are nearing the end of their distinguished careers, and so perhaps have more liberty than most in the financially strapped media sector to comment on historic changes in journalism. 

Thomas Paine, author of the Common Sense pamphlet selling 500,000 copies during the Revolution, was the equivalent of a blogger. There was no government credential process, corporate media or similar controls. The Justice Department and major media tend to want credentials to certify what they regard as true journalists, but which would function in the real world to suppress and control information.

As more context, the nation's largest paper during the Revolution, the Connecticut Courant, was a two-person operation selling up to 13,000 copies weekly. The Courant so freely criticized the government that its publishers were indicted and convicted of libel by the Justice Department of President Thomas Jefferson, otherwise known as a free press advocate. The publishers won freedom by a narrow Supreme Court decision in 1813, Hudson and Goodwin v. U.S., thereby helping establish protections for the public that that Holder and his team have undermined under inflated claims of national security.

These days, intelligence, defense, energy and banking sectors cross-pollinate, often in tandem major media companies in ways that are rarely mentioned in the mainstream media, except sporadically. As another way to look at it, the full-page ads in the Washington Post by defense contractors like Lockheed Martin are not to persuade ordinary readers to purchase fighter planes or even to persuade Congress for larger appropriations. There are more direct ways to influence members of congress than hoping they take time from their fund-raising to read newspaper ads. Instead, the expensive advertisements are tokens of affection, helping cement the financial relationship between the major corporations and media corporations who control much of the information flow to the public.

Let me draw a few examples much more fully documented in my book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters:

The Washington Post has duly reported that Amazon.com, the wealth source for Post owner and Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos, won a $600 million contract from the CIA in 2013. That was the same year Bezos bought the Post for a mere $250 million.

That type of relationship between the CIA and the Post's owner is enormously significant, especially since Amazon.com can reasonably expect similar government contracts from other cabinet departments if its performance for the CIA is well-regarded by the agency and by outside commentators. And few of those outside commentators would be more influential in the nation's capital than the Washington Post itself, particularly given the Post's influence over other media, including think tanks, academic, and the book industry (the latter heavily influenced also by Amazon.com also).

Those kinds of relationships are hardly new for the Post. It, like many other major news organizations, has fostered deep ties to the intelligence community for many years, including via the now-notorious propaganda program Operation Mockingbird. The Post's owners joined with other leading media owners via the long-secret Operation Mockingbird program to work closely with CIA officials to shape coverage of sensitive matters.

CIA LogoAnd since media organizations often need investment capital, especially in these times, they maintain strong links to the financial community — some of whose members were potential targets for prosecution by the Holder-Obama Justice Department for conduct leading to the 2007-2008 Wall Street financial collapse. The biggest bailout recipient, the CIA front company AIG, received some $182 billion after decades of reporting false financial figures to the public.

In another example of media/financial connections and cooperation, we can again cite the Post. Eugene Meyer, patriarch of the Meyer-Graham family that led newspaper in modern times until sale to Bezos, got his start as a financier. His appointments included chairmanship of the Federal Reserve Bank and, separately, of the World Bank.

President Obama, The CIA, And Bogus Communism Charges

Obama himself is a product of the intersection of the banking, non-government organizations (NGOs) and intelligence communities, as reported by a few trailblazers in the media like Wayne Madsen, Angelo Codevilla and Webster Tarpley with little follow-up by the traditional media.

Obama's first job out of college was with the CIA front company, Business International Corp., as reported here.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani last week made wild charges against Obama, including those summarized in a New York Post interview headlined, Giuliani: Obama influenced by communists since youth. Giuliani doubled down on his earlier claim that Obama doesn’t “love America” by citing influence on the nine-year-old Obama by family friend "Frank Marshall Davis, who was a communist.”

Presidential Puppety: Obama, Romney and Their MastesThe ex-mayor failed to address the possibility that Obama's family advanced by work in a covert environment, as books like Presidential Puppetry have  documented. The main source for claims like Giuliani's is a biography of Davis, The Communist, authored by Paul Kengor. I hosted Kengor on my former radio show, Washington Update, bought his book, and spoke with him at conservative American Survivor conferences, where Kengor is a frequent speaker stoking fears of traitors in high office.

In those encounters, Kengor conceded that he failed to research or even consider the possibility that the Obama-Dunham family had roots in the non-government organization (NGO)-intelligence-financial sectors. In that world, covert government funding and offbeat relationships were parts of their duties and means of support as they advanced under the watchful eyes of such handlers as Peter Geithner of the Ford Foundation, father of the future Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

In sum, the idea that Wall Street, the CIA, FBI and other power centers would have let a communist (or Islamist according to other alarmists) win two presidential elections is absurd, especially coming from someone with a law enforcement background like Giuliani's.  He surely knows better.

To please his law and security firm clientele and otherwise advance his own interests, Giuliani using the same kind of guile in political disinformation about Obama as he used for his now-notorious adultery while New York City's mayor.

We now know from documents and other once-secret sources that the FBI and CIA used thousands of covert operatives during the 1960s to infiltrate every significant sector. These included plants on the right in the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party and on the left within the Communist Party, the Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Panthers, among other notorious groups.

Additionally, the agencies had loyal operatives working undercover in the military, federal agencies, the White House, and major private businesses, including news organizations. This is all documented, including by The Secret Team, which in 1973 became one of first insider books about the CIA and the first to blow the whistle, although its distribution became mysteriously disrupted. The book's author was the late Air Force Col. Fletcher Prouty, a onetime high-ranking Pentagon liaison to the CIA who to his detriment failed to realize that his own publisher, Prentice-Hall, had itself become infiltrated by William Casey as a part-time Prentice-Hall senior editor. Casey, already a media tycoon separately, had been a World War II Office of Special Services officer William Casey and Harvard law graduate who would become Ronald Reagan's campaign manager in 1980 and first CIA director. 

The mainstream media, functioning all too often as stenographers for those like Giuliani and Obama, fail to inform the public on these matters even on matters so obvious as the Geithner link to the Dunham-Obama family, although former Treasury secretary undertook a limited disclosure with a one-sentence reference in his memoir last year.

Barack Obama and John Brennan, Jan. 7, 2013The reality is that Obama is amply supervised in the White House by the military-intelligence complex.

Career CIA officer John Brennan, for example, is a 25-year agency veteran who later presided over an association of defense contractors. Brennan is shown at right in the adjoining 2013 White House photo.

After guiding Obama on national security issues during the 2008 campaign, Brennan was installed at the White House during the first term for close liaison as deputy national security advisor. Brennan met daily with Obama during the first term, including on such sensitive topics as deciding during their Tuesday meetings whom to kill with CIA-operated drones in hundreds of strikes. Brennan then became CIA director and showed, among other things, remarkable truculence when CIA personnel were caught spying on staffers of their ostensible overseers from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

As for Obama's family: His grandmother, Madelyn "Toot" Dunham was a vice president in charge of escrow transfers in the Rockefeller-controlled Bank of Hawaii while she helped raise the future president in Hawaii. Her duties included responsibility for sending transfers, which were especially important during the American ramp-up of activity in Asia during such 1960s events as the Vietnam War and CIA's covert overthrow of Sukarno government in Indonesia. Although her professional capabilities are virtually ignored by standard biographies of the president, hers was a highly responsible job, especially for a woman without a college degree in the pre-feminist era.

Obama's mother Stanley Ann Dunham worked in the guise of an anthropologist for such entities as the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), each of which have historically strong connections with the CIA.

Alan Gross Dec. 17, 2014 White House PhotoAnn Dunham, in fact, once worked for Development Alternatives, Inc., the same Bethesda-based USAID contractor that employed the just-released USAID contractor Alan Gross, whom Cuban authorities imprisoned on spy charges five years ago for smuggling communications equipment to Cuba's Jewish community. A White House photo last December shows Gross talking with the president last December upon his release as part of an historic reduction of sanctions on Cuba.

The spy work of Gross for which he was paid some $600,000 is readily documented, as in Here's The Part Of Alan Gross' Story That Obama Hasn't Been Talking About. But leading news, book and other media organizations show scant interest in informing their readers and viewers of the facts about intelligence connections of those with clout even when part of a major foreign policy development.

For such reasons, the White House and Justice Department are very much part of the military-intelligence complex, as are the big media at the ownership level, with some exceptions.

So, Risen's complaint against Holder (and he is far from alone) resonates among those hungry for real questions and real answers from those like Holder.

As indicated below, brave whistleblowers and commentators risk imprisonment and career-destroying sanctions to report secret if not clandestine government activities while many of the more prestigious outlets obscure their routine deference by heavy promotion of a few stories undertaken to win journalism prizes.

Don't be fooled. Aggressive daily coverage is better for the public than journalism prizes.

Eric Holder's Career and Speech

Far more than Republicans, Democrats have found political success in elevating minorities to office. The first black, the first woman, the first Hispanic, the first gay usually arise Aldous Huxley quotationsfrom the Democratic side in recent decades. That is a natural outgrowth of progressive politics, and undoubtedly brings many benefits to both the office-holders, their families, and relevant interest groups.

But we should realize the power structure remains in control, whatever the face of the manager passing through the revolving door of government. Thus, Clarence Thomas official photoRepublicans appointed their ambitious shill Clarence Thomas, shown in his official photo, to the Supreme Court to replace the late black leader and legal scholar Thurgood Marshall.

In late 2009, Thomas and his right-wing operative wife, Virginia Thomas, attempted to cash in big by her creation of a consulting company, Liberty Central, to leverage the high court's then-forthcoming Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in January 2010 upending the nation's campaign finance laws.

Under the decision, big contributors could contribute directly to the Thomas household via the new company dispensing counsel on how to take advantage of the new election finance system. Since the decision was 5-4 with the Thomas vote crucial, the justice was in perfect position to profit from a scam best described as insider trading on Supreme Court decisions.

As we reported here and in predecessor columns, Clarence Thomas lied for years on his annual, sworn financial disclosure forms to hide his wife's income and the gifts that he himself received. He was exposed in 2011 and federally investigated. But Holder's Justice Department failed to pursue what would seem like a clear-cut case against the justice meriting at least some kind of official action, but no significant news story ever surfaced that career law enforcement personnel had undertaken an official investigation.

The lesson? Thomas remains immensely valuable on the court for his vote as a black Republican voicing ultra-conservative legal doctrines and religious pieties. The system protects its own, Democrat or Republican, aside from a few occasional scapegoats who present the appearance, but not reality, of equitable law enforcement.

As for the implications? Those small fry from historically disadvantaged groups should enjoy the success of their token representatives in high places. Everyone should realize also that the legally approved but inherently corrupt practices involved in Citizens United-type lawmaking from the bench undermine fair elections, equitable justice, civil rights, and democracy itself, as Aldous Huxley aptly predicted in his 1958 book Brave New World Revisited, excerpted at right.   

Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. took office in March 2009 following a confirmation hearing in which several senators warned him against undertaking a too vigorous agenda on behalf of the Obama campaign platform. There was little need for such concern since Obama himself was already in the process of backing away from many campaign promises to assume the role of a centrist defender of many established interests, including the CIA and major insurance companies.

Holder is the nation's first Attorney General of African-American descent, and has made protection of minority voting rights one of his major priorities.

His wife, Sharon Malone Holder, is a physician whose late sister Vivian Malone integratedVivian Malone at University of Alabama 1963 Creative Commons the University of Alabama in 1963, as portrayed in the photo at right courtesy of Wikipedia. Given the fierce opposition to integration in Alabama, it was one of the iconic moments of the civil rights struggle and underscores the Holder family's personal connection. Among Holder's other priorities have been helping implement White House priorities on gay rights, immigration, and homeland security (although many immigration and security functions are primarily under the Department of Homeland Security.

Born in the Bronx and a graduate of Columbia Law School, Holder served as a federal prosecutor from 1976 to 1988, as a Republican-appointed judge of District of Columbia Superior Court, and then as the Democratic-appointed U.S. Attorney for the nation's capital.

Later, he became Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department during the latter years of the Clinton administration. He became senior legal advisor to Barack Obama during Obama's presidential campaign, leading to his appointment. Holder announced last September that he would resign upon confirmation of a successor. On Nov. 8, 2014, the president nominated Lynch, the current U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York based in Brooklyn.

His long career has many successes, of course, which are duly honored by the Justice Department and many professional societies. Relevant also, however, were his complicity in a presidential pardon in the closing days of the Clinton administration for the wealthy fugitive commodities trader, tax cheat and major Democratic donor Marc Rich, which prompted Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen to opine in 2008 that the pardon alone undermined Holder's qualifications to become attorney general.

Separately, Holder as a high-priced lawyer in between government jobs arranged while working for Covington and Burling a lenient plea deal in 2007 for Chiquita Brands for bribing Colombian right-wing death squad members, as FireDogLake reported in Eric Holder: Lawyer For The Death Squad Terrorists’ Paymasters: Our Next Attorney General?

Alabama represents a particularly dramatic contrast between Holder's successes and failures.

In the spirit of the great civil rights battles of the 1960s, Holder's Justice Department has sued Alabama's Shelby County to overturn severe restrictions on voting registration that especially disadvantage African-Americans and other core Democratic-leaning groups. During the civil rights struggle, some Alabama jurisdictions had almost no black voters because white officials imposed a variety of transparently unfair procedures, with the threat of mob action sometimes looming in the background.

President Obama is scheduled to speak in Selma, Alabama on March 6 to commemorate the 50th anniversary weekend of the "Bloody Sunday" march in 1965 when authorities brutally beat voting rights marchers, thereby prompting national outrage resulting in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Holder will undoubtedly join the president along with celebrities augmented this year by release of the Oprah Winfrey film "Selma." I attended the 49th annual ceremonies last year for nearly a week, as reported here in a column describing also rare impact of a new civic action movement, 'Moral' Civic Reform Movement Spreads Across Deep South.

Obama, Holder, and their colleagues will undoubtedly be justly celebrated by the heavily African-American crowd for their substantive contributions and also their personal histories as first-ever blacks to hold their offices.

However, there is the other side of the story that is dramatic in Alabama. Part of it is the Obama-Holder protection of Republicans and career opportunists in the Justice Department and judiciary who framed sufficient Democrats during the Bush administration on corruption charges to help destroy the two-party system in Alabama, which had had a vibrant state and local Democratic Party until the frame-up beginning early in the Bush administration of one-term Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003). More on that controversy below.

But there were other cases also that show astounding zealotry on the one hand by the Obama/Holder Justice Department, and on the other hand a frightening capacity for cruelty and cover-up, all apparently motivated by politics and self-interest at the public's expense.

One of the best illustrations of zealotry and waste is the federal government's prosecution of defendants alleged to have bribed legislators to advance the electronic bingo sector. In two trials, the federal government failed to win a single conviction despite more than one hundred charges against the multiple defendants. The cost to taxpayers has been estimated at more than $50 million by local reporter Roger Shuler, writing Alabama's Bingo Nightmare Is Over, But We Still Need Accountability.

Mark Fuller Phil FlemingAt the behest of specially appointed judge presiding over a kangaroo court to silence Shuler, Shelby County officials later arrested the writer for his court coverage, beat him at his home, and jailed him for five months. That was a state court proceeding but points to another gross failing by the Holder Justice Department and the nation's media:

This was the tolerance through the years for mind-boggling behavior by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery, trial judge for former governor Don Siegelman, a hated nemesis of the judge. The rarely photographed Fuller is shown suppressing a smile in a formal portrait he requested in chambers moments after a near-deadlocked jury convicted Siegelman in his second federal trial on corruption charges in June 2006 (Phil Fleming Photo, used with permission).

The Justice Department received sworn evidence in 2003 that Fuller deserved impeachment for a swindling scheme but did nothing with it aside from defend the judge at every turn, even though the corruption evidence can be linked to his official duties as we at the Justice Integrity Project, Shuler, and a few others like Harper's columnist Scott Horton have often reported. Fuller's propensity for misconduct if not crime frequently arose during the Siegelman case but Holder's justice department, like the Bush department, has always defended Fuller.

The reasons are still unknown because the Justice Department keeps to the fiction that his decisions were correct and unbiased. My suspicion is that Holder's decision-making defers to the powerful intelligence ties involved in the case's background, including the judge's secret control of a defense contractor, Doss Aviation, Inc., and the role of Bush-connected advisor Karl Rove in the case.

Coincidentally but not surprisingly, Fuller has become nationally infamous after arrest last August on a wife-beating charge in Atlanta, leading to his suspension from work while he continues to draw salary for his lifetime appointment.

Most of Alabama's news organizations and congressional delegation have now called for Fuller's resignation. Holder's Justice Department allowed the situation to fester despite abundant evidence of the harm Fuller was creating even beyond the Siegelman case, as I reported in 2009 for a story about Fuller that the Huffington Post front-paged, Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power

A Farewell

Eric Holder NPC Noel St. John 1 Feb. 17, 2015The National Press Club invited Holder for in effect a farewell luncheon speech Feb. 17. The setting provides a guaranteed national audience via C-SPAN as well as other coverage for those points developed in prepared remarks and Q&A.

USA Today reporter Donna Leinwand Leger, a former club president, took the lead in arranging the speech, which was moderated by current Club President John Hughes of Bloomberg News. Among those joining Holder and Deputy Attorney Gen. Sally Quillian Yates at the head table were Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron and USA Today Editor-in-Chief David Callaway.

The talk proceeded with a four-fifths filled ballroom even though the federal government was closed for the day due to snowfall. Holder avoided the usual VIP reception for club speakers, doubtless due to security concerns. Plainclothes security guard monitored all entrances in an unusual display of strength, albeit low-key compared to the aggressive security displayed by occasional club speakers from the Mideast.

Holder's speech focused on his 18-month effort to reduce the size of the nation's prison population, which constitutes almost a quarter of the world's prisoners even though the United States constitutes just five percent of the global population. His speech is available by video and reportage via the Press club's website in a column by club volunteer Lawrence Feinberg in Attorney General Holder says federal prosecutors file fewer drug charges, pursue more serious offenders.

Holder's responses to questions prompted additional news angles, as in a piece by Post Justice Department reporter Sari Horwitz, Holder backs national moratorium on lethal injections until high court rules and by Reuters reporter Julia Edwards, DOJ May Go After Individual Bankers For Role In Financial Crisis.

The Reuters story prompts the intriguing but unasked question:

If Holder is suggesting now that prosecutors look for evidence of personal criminal liability in the 2007-2008 financial scandals doesn't that virtually guarantee that no charges will be brought because of statute of limitations and other procedural problems? It would seem Holder's call for action at this point is nothing more than a talking point to enable him to argue, wherever the revolving door leads him, that he took a look while in office at enforcing the law against financial criminals who helped destroy trillions of dollars in U.S. citizen assets often by illegal means.

A Personal View

In sum, the event was successful by conventional measures of attendance, stature-building for the club and attorney general, and media coverage.

But that's not good enough. Across the nation, many people are angry over injustice and Washington hypocrisy. They have every right to be.

Before getting to specifics, some context would be helpful, especially for new readers here.

I am an active member of the press club who has reported for its website and now-defunct newsletter on a number of featured speakers. The club's web editor invited me to cover the Holder speech several weeks ago because I'm an attorney who previously covered the Justice Department full time for five years from 1976 to 1981. I worked the Hartford Courant, renamed from the Connecticut Courant. I declined the Holder writing assignment in part because of my unpredictable schedule due to a relative's serious illness — and also because I wanted to write an opinion column like this. I have never heard of a club rule against mixing reporting and commentary for separate outlets. But common sense suggests that some readers might think commentary incongruous with straight news reporting of the attorney general's remarks.

Dr. Cyril WechtUnfortunately, research for our Justice Integrity Project stories and my books has demonstrated appalling conduct by Obama and Holder, along with certain of their subordinates and predecessors. Their conduct is incompatible with society's conventional understanding of the law and justice. A department of more than 100,000 employees is, of course, undertaking useful work for the most part, and the vast majority of employees (like those in the media and other jobs) are just trying to get through their workloads as best as possible with scant evidence or even suspicion about the kinds of wrongdoing reported here.

But the disgraces are well-known apparent to those at the top and by anyone who examines the evidence.

They include harsh, unwarranted political prosecutions blighted by official lawbreaking to secure convictions and imprisonments. At the same time, the department has engaged in official cover-ups or wrist-slaps for employees, other high-level law enforcers or military-intelligence workers, along with powerful bankers and other private sector leaders. The contrasting situations make a travesty of Holder's rhetoric of fair treatment under the law.

The specifics are too many to list. But longtime readers know that the long list of those unjustly prosecuted includes the former Alabama governor Siegelman and the famed coroner, medical school professor, and consultant Dr. Cyril Wecht, each a hero of our time.

Wecht, shown at left, had to spend $8.6 million to defend himself successfully against a cascade of felony charges from over-zealous federal prosecutors. They filed against him 43 felony counts of sending personal faxes during his 20 years as a part-time county coroner in Pittsburgh. Wecht is the author and co-author of more than 40 books and nearly 600 professional journal articles. He was age 78 when he won dismissal of all charges in 2009 from Holder's staff. He then wrote a powerful column Fight Justice Department Misconduct that every reporter covering justice issues should read to appreciate how deeply wrong it can be to rely on prosecutors for the whole story.

Don SiegelmanThe 43 felony charges of sending personal faxes cost the county an extra $3.86 total in long-distance and electricity charges. That could not possibly have justified the Justice Department's multimillion dollar jihad against such a scholar, especially since the same logic could imprison every government worker who used a government computer or phone to contact a spouse.

There had to be something more, which no one has ever asked Holder to explain to my knowledge after I covered the case extensively.

My suspicion is that the prosecution stemmed from deep resentment from authorities against Wecht because he has on occasion used his expertise to challenge official findings of death in sensitive cases. Most notably, he has disputed the Warren Commission finding that President Kennedy was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, shooting from behind, and with no outside involvement.

Wecht has bravely and expertly argued that the fatal shot came from the front. The significance resonates to the present for both law enforcement and every other American, as I argued in a lecture broadcast last fall carried by C-SPAN.

In a forthcoming essay to be published soon at the Justice Integrity Project as part of our ongoing JFK murder Readers Guide series, we shall show that Oswald had CIA or FBI-affiliated handlers for all six of his major jobs before his death in the Dallas police station at the hands of police-friendly mobster Jack Ruby. Ruby thereby thwarted a murder defense by Oswald, who was able to start his defense before his death merely by such ineffectual comments to newsmen at the police station as "I don't know what this is all about....I'm just a patsy," as shown by video

If Holder were serious about reducing prison population and taxpayer expenses he could have easily started in 2009 by halting the bogus Siegelman and Wecht prosecutions. They have exceeded $20 million in taxpayer costs by my estimate.

Siegelman, once his state's most prominent Democrat, is still imprisoned on corruption charges for 1999 conduct that 113 former state attorneys general have argued was not even a crime: Siegelman reappointed to a state board in 1999 businessman Richard Scrushy, who arranged for his company to join other Alabama companies in donations to the Alabama Education Foundation, a non-profit Siegelman helped found. The foundation's fund-raising was to advocate for a state lottery to improve public school funding. The cause proved successful in triggering ruination for the Siegelman family and Democrats generally in Alabama for reasons oft-reported here and unnecessary to repeat.

But it's worth emphasizing now that Siegelman's 1999 actions helped destroy the Democratic Party and its causes. The once-dominate state party is now sharply divided into relatively small and financially strapped black and white camps whose leaders jostle for the few perks available in a one-party state.

That is particularly ironic since Siegelman's first prominence was as the protege and later law partner of the iconic Alabama civil rights leader and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Robert Smith Vance, who was murdered at his home in 1989 with by a letter-bomb sent by a racist.

In a sense, Siegelman's own public persona had begun as long ago as 1964 when, as a student government leader at Alabama's first K-12 school to be integrated, he advocated peaceful compliance at Murphy High School in Mobile. That was also the year of the fatal church bombing of black children in Birmingham, illustrating the passions of the era.  

In 2009, just-retired Alabama federal judge U.W. Clemon wrote Holder to urge him to investigate official misconduct in the Siegelman case. Clemon, shown at right, had been the chief federal judge of the state's northern district based in Birmingham and was the first African-American federal judge in the Deep South since reconstruction.

He wrote Holder to complain that Siegelman's prosecution in his first trial was the most unwarranted federal prosecution Clemon had seen in nearly three decades on the bench. I broke the story in a front-page Huffington Post column, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, which recounted also based on whistleblowers how devious Justice Department personnel had shifted the trial away from Clemon so they could ensure conviction before a second judge, Mark Fuller.

Fuller hated Siegelman according to sworn testimony, and had reason also to fear impeachment and possibly prosecution because of corruption evidence held by the Justice Department implicating Fuller in an attempted $330,000 scam against Alabama's pension fund.

Neither Holder nor his staff made any known response to Clemon, but they did fire the next month in particularly cruel fashion a DOJ whistleblower on the case, Alabama paralegal Tamarah Grimes.

Leura CanaryGrimes had protested directly to Holder the Justice Department's irregularities, primarily by Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney Leura Canary of Montgomery, shown at left, whom the Obama administration supported as it continued the department's all out effort to imprison Siegelman despite mind-boggling evidence of Justice Department misconduct.

I reported Holder's firing of Grimes in a publication for paralegals. The purpose of From Justice Dream Job to Nightmare…Tamarah Grimes, Justice Department Paralegal…Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed  was to illustrate what public-spirited personnel could expect at the Justice Department if they spoke up about injustice on a sensitive matter. The concept of injustice is at the Justice Department is so alien to conventional wisdom, however, that few ever heard of the situation except in the independent, web media even though many related aspects of the case -- such as the use of a military base to interrogate witnesses and centralize local operations for the prosecutions -- should have provoked interest if not alarm.

Holder's team, including then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan, ruthless continued the Bush-initiated persecution-prosecution of Siegelman, as I reported two months ago in, Shackled Siegelman Typifies White House ‘Human Rights’ Charade, even though the presiding judge, Mark Fuller, was arrested last year for wife-beating and has long been exposed (including at this site) as hopelessly corrupt.

Holder and his team obviously had other agendas for Siegelman's future than even-handed justice, as too often seems except upon close scrutiny of a kind increasingly rare with the decline of independent reporting within the mainstream media.

Mark L. WolfBut there are exceptions, as I saw as law clerk a quarter of a century ago in Boston in serving as law clerk to federal judge Mark Wolf. In 2009, he used his position as chief federal judge for Massachusetts to write Holder in 2009 to urge him to rein in misconduct by federal agents and prosecutors. Wolf, shown in a file photo, had seen so much of it in a Mafia prosecution that the judge undertook his own investigation of authorities in the 1990s.

Whitey BulgerIn 1996, he published a 600-page "finding of fact" alleging serious misconduct by more than a score of FBI agents and federal prosecutors. Thanks to his pressure, the Justice Department had to take steps that led to the indictment of two FBI supervisors on murder conspiracy charges and the recent racketeering and murder convictions of onetime federal informant James "Whitey" Bulger, shown at right and accused of 19 murders. 

Expert book-length treatments like Harvey Silverglate's Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Prosecute the Innocent document the size, scope, and seriousness of the problem -- including the horrid impact on the public. Meanwhile, Holder is among the many Justice and court officials who deal with the problem by supervising whitewashes, cover-ups and relentless prosecutions of whistleblowers both within the Justice Department and elsewhere in government via the Obama administration's unprecedented spy prosecutions of whistleblowers.

Such a prosecution of suspected CIA leaker Jeffrey Sterling this year resulted in Sterling's conviction on spy charges, as described by Norman Solomon in Consortium News, Hiding the Political Subtext of Sterling Trial.  Authorities suspected Sterling of providing Risen and the New York Times details of a classified program regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions.

For seven years, the Justice Department has threatened Risen with imprisonment, creating enormous litigation costs for his newspaper and, along with similar actions, Jeffrey Sterling Consortium Newscasting a pall over investigative reporting generally throughout the financially struggling mainstream news industry already gutted by dwindling revenues and a go-along, get-along mentality with officialdom.

The real thrust of this column, however, is not so much failures by Holder and his team but the secrecy and otherwise unaccountable procedures by which they operate so long as they can arrange for compliant oversight from judges, congress, the media, and the rest of the public.

Judicial oversight is a hazard for unethical prosecutors but not as much a deterrent as the public might imagine. Few cases go to trial in part because prosecutors have many tools, such as pressuring families and using vast sums of taxpayer funds against selected targets. Moreover, judges often ascend to the bench because they have been former prosecutors and/or political donors who in effect consider themselves part of the enforcement apparatus instead of independent fact-finders. There are exceptions such as Wolf, a former prosecutor and special assistant to Attorney General Edward Levy who created the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). But judges are more likely to fall into the mold of those who rubber-stamp prosecution arguments. OPR, like other Justice Department internal investigation bodies, is another whitewash operation that provides the illusion but not the reality of a viable watchdog operation.

The topic most directly at hand, however, is the rare opportunity that arises when someone like Holder accepts or even seeks out the opportunity to receive questions in such a setting as the press club. Those involved almost inevitably welcome and protect distinguished visitors in gratitude for the access. Press clubs are not alone in functioning. So do bar association, political, academic, and other groups. I see that all the time as a member and / or Ken Starr Baylor Universityleader of such groups, and often act the same way as others.

Perhaps even worse than the lost opportunities I have observed in such sessions are the group-think on conventional wisdom regarding issues. Far too many journalists, academics and their organizations remain incurious about evidence inconvenient. Several of our recent columns here have explored such specifics, as in Let's Question All Propaganda: Left, Right and Center and U.S. Hawks Beat War Drums Over Ukraine, Where Is The Free Press? 

In another recent column here, Moralist Ken Starr Explains His Help For Billionaire Pervert Jeffrey Epstein, I was able to illuminate a major current scandal in the federal justice system, but probably only because I was able to ask a direct question of the famed former special prosecutor and current Baylor University President Ken Starr at his press club appearance instead of having my question filtered (and perhaps ignored) by a moderator, Starr himself.

During the Q&A period for Holder, I submitted several questions on such topics that were not read. More important because I can be more objective about it, I know of six questions proposed by attendee Karl Golovin that were also ignored. Golovin is a retired U.S. Customs Service agent with a career of experience in law enforcement and with a particular interest in illuminating issues in the public interest. Readers here might find interesting the type of questions he submitted in comparison with those asked:

Mr. Holder,

    • How was "Operation Fast and Furious" reconciled with licensing provisions of the Arms Export Control Act? Were other agencies mandated by statute to enforce that Act, notably investigative legacy components of the U.S. Customs Service, briefed in advance — and did they "sign off" in support — of the "Fast and Furious" investigative strategy?
    • Iceland has actively prosecuted actual bankers for fraud related to the collapse of that nation's private banks. You've publicly stated that some banks are "too big to prosecute." How does your department's inaction against the crimes of large financial institutions not constitute "misprision of felony" (18 U.S.C. 4) — fundamentally undermining even the concept of "equal justice under law?"
    • Before he died in 2007, former CIA, Bay-of-Pigs operative and Watergate convict E. Howard Hunt confessed involvement in the Kennedy Assassination conspiracy, further implicating, by name, several other CIA personnel. No one in mainstream media — not even Brian Williams — has ever shared this with America. Maybe they're afraid that Americans will just be too angry, realizing the implications, the extent and duration of related lies they've been told for 50 years. But if someone in your capacity — capable of informing the public and taking action, does not — how can anything else done "in the name of justice" amount to more than a game of "trivial pursuit?"

I know Karl Golovin from his volunteer efforts to organize vigils on major JFK anniversary building public support for release of suppressed documents regarding the JFK murder and a new investigation based on the astonishing revelations of recent years. It's a cause somewhat similar to our publication on this site of a so-far 23-part Readers Guide to the books and other research on the Kennedy Assassination. It began in neutral fashion, but has evolved over time to commentary, as in, Washington Post Still Selling Warren Report 50 Years Later.

Yet I don't think either of us would be so presumptuous as to insist that our questions were necessarily better or more important than others at the Holder lecture, which can be seen at this site or below in its nearly hour-long entirety, including Q&A.

 

 

Instead, my main purpose of this discussion is to enable you — as a reader and potential voter — to understand that government decision-makers are rarely challenged directly regarding their actions, even in seemingly open arenas such as speech Q&A.

The deference, puppetry, and other theater are too great. As another example, lawmaker questions at congressional hearings are often drafted by lobbyists. The questions in contentious matters also are primarily crafted to obtain politically partisan talking points, not to elicit facts in an objective way for public education.

All too often, if a question does not clearly benefit either Republicans or Democrats no one asks it. That is why such scandals as "Fast and Furious," the JFK murder, or "Benghazi" remain mysterious to the public.

Civic Action At Local Levels

After all this, you are probably wondering how the public officials described above — with Democratic or Republican — manage to get away with such gross injustice and what we can do about it.

First, the media and human nature have shaped our perceptions to think of nearly all political issues as Democrat versus Republican, or such divisive subdivisions as liberal versus conservative and black versus white. We therefore filter information for the most part on whether it advances "our" cause, much like we follow sports primarily to learn if "our" team is progressing.

In this instance, I know from experience that many Democrats, liberals, African-Americans, and fans of the media are going to be offended, dismissive, and perhaps angry over these descriptions of Obama, Holder, and others. The same reaction occurred for the most part when I wrote about the Bush White House and Rove-influenced Justice Department.

The master manipulators who are pulling the strings stay in the background — and keep running the show as long as the audience is distracted by such squabbles.   

Society's "neutral" watchdog organizations are weak or rare. If you want to protect your interests you have to obtain information from diverse sources, and then think and fight for yourself. Here are a couple of ways:

  • Recognizing the limitations of the political parties and the largely timid, incurious media. I can say from recent experience that few in the major media have both knowledge or curiosity about the events described here, including the pivotal assassinations of the 1960s. The parties are especially dangerous because they provide the illusion of good guys versus bad guys. On the big issues, they will put the justice system on the side of the Marc Rich, David Petraeus and Jeffrey Epstein — and not yours.
  • Edward Pinkney (Photo by Dorothy Pinkney)Instead, focus on civic groups in local regions.

About 140 miles to Michigan's northeast in Mt. Pleasant, approximately 500 attendees shared many similar concerns at a Tea Party gathering last month. Retired University of Michigan Department of Aerospace Engineering Professor William Kauffman this week shared his impressions from staffing a table to advocate against corrupt public officials. Here are excerpts from his list:

  • Many spoke of a 3rd party. It is almost like when will be the next Concord/Lexington?
  • Police brutality cannot be tolerated.
  • Law enforcement must apply also to the 1% not only the 99%.
  • It is necessary to get the $ out of politics. It is no longer one-man one-vote, but one dollar (or millions) one vote.
  • The proposed ballot initiative to increase the Michigan sales tax to 7% MUST be defeated as it gives the monkeys more bananas.
  • Some TP [Tea Party] folks would consider an alliance with Populists to save the nation.
  • Both the RINOS and DEMS will continue to serve only the elite, thus destroying the 99%.
  • It is now long past time to address these and other issues. We must organize, but perhaps this could be an oxymoron for such a group of antagonized independent folks, but it must be attempted anyhow.

"The deplorable state of our governments and those therein," Kauffman continued in his summary, "must be brought to the attention of the electorate and the taxpayers. The Mainstream Media will NOT do this as they are part of the problem. Many of you patriots have websites where you are attempting to expose the truth. The events perpetrated by our governments and officials known to you are TOTALLY unacceptable in a democracy which we once perhaps had and which we are told, deceitfully, that we still have. In our governments, there are far too many who are out and out CROOKS...many in "Law Enforcement" positions. These individuals must be outed, removed from office, prosecuted, and put into prison."

"All of you no doubt have friends and relatives who should receive this mailing," continued Kauffman, now a consultant based in the Whitmore Lake area. "Can you please forward this message to them?....We need to ignite a prairie fire of indignation which will drive the scoundrels out of our governments. If not we will certainly experience societal collapse. While we may not all agree on all issues we will agree on the freedom of speech and the identification of issues capable of the immediate destruction of America!"

Summing Up

Although I am not in a position to vouch for everything these groups have done or announced that is not much different than what each of us should feel about pronouncements from officials or any other advocacy group. Trust but verify.

Finally, some readers may believe this overview of the Justice Department unduly emphasizes problems, and not the department's many undoubted successes and vital functions.

I plead guilty to that emphasis, with the extenuating circumstance that many other organizations — including the Justice Department itself — are devoted to emphasizing the positive. 

As illustration, the web-based legal news report Main Justice focuses on the Justice Department, almost always emphasizing positive news. It reported on Feb. 18, for example, Holder Tears Up As DOJ Celebrates 80 years in Main Justice Building.

In craven fashion that illustrates reporters' powerful need to stay on good terms especially with prosecutors to ensure access, scoops and other tools of the trade, Main Justice reporter Josh Kovensky described how Holder nearly choked up with tears at contemplation the Justice Department's traditions that he supported.

"I remember being struck," Holder said, with his voice reportedly choking, "whenever I visited Main Justice — by the power of the law, and the honor of public service, as conveyed in its remarkable architecture and artwork." 

Among Holder's other reflections, he spoke of the inspirational example of former Attorney General Robert Kennedy and his reputation for justice.

Holder and his public relations enthusiasts fail to rectify the deeply flawed and still controversial murder investigations of Robert and John Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., among other widely suspected plots.

President Obama assessed Holder's performance in glowing terms here at a Feb. 27 departure ceremony at the Justice Department. On the weekend of March 7, Holder will undoubtedly join the president and many other Washington officials and media at the 50th anniversary in Alabama of the "Bloody Sunday" civil rights march in Selma. In 1965, local authorities savagely civil rights advocates marching for voting rights. The televised cruelty crystallized national momentum for congressional passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and has been recreated in the Oprah Winfrey movie Selma.

Along with tens of thousands of well-wishers converged nationally upon the poor and sleepy "Black Belt" town, the president and his attorney general can be expected to celebrate their accomplishments, basking in the reflected glory of the civil rights era and their own accomplishments.

I attended the march last year and also journeyed to the nearby Birmingham jail to persuade Alabama blogger Roger Shuler to give up his First Amendment rights, as I later reported in Jailed Journalist Released After Spiking Columns. I had found that the biggest national news organizations, including the National Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists, would do virtually nothing about gross violations of civil rights and First Amendment law that had kept Shuler in the Birmingham jail for five months on bogus contempt of court charges similar to those imposed on civil rights leaders like King in Alabama during the civil rights era.

Pam Miles Free Don Meanwhile, those like Siegelman remain in prison and those like his prosecutors and judges remain investigated and drawing salaries, with the Fuller situation especially notorious. There will be many "Free Don" signs from Siegelman supporters like that shown by Pam Miles, an Alabama resident, who has organized thousands of Siegelman supporters for over a decade on email lists.

Thus, Eric Himpton Holder Jr. will have other opportunities for reflection, just like the one last week that brought him near tears at the thought of his excellent performance.

Justice seekers can only hope he and the president think seriously also about the lives and freedoms they helped ruin, not what they should best brag about in Selma. 

 

 
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Eric Holder's Career: Selected Issues and Ironies

  • Eric HolderThe attorney general called for a major reduction in the nation’s prison population even though Holder and his team have been continually criticized for vengeful political prosecutions of whistleblowers, journalists, and others subjected to excessive sentences. Meanwhile, the president used his pardon and internal investigative powers sparingly, thereby continuing the worst abuses.
  • President Obama and Holder advocate "reform" of immigration law via executive action to help millions of illegal residents remain in the United States even though congress has not approved such steps and millions of citizens and legal residents remain jobless.
  • Holder, the nation's first attorney general of African-American descent, presides over a Bureau of Prisons and other law enforcement agencies whose targets are black in much higher proportion than the country’s general population.
  • The attorney general, like others in the Obama administration, has failed to bring significant charges against powerful targets like Wall Street bankers, CIA law-breakers, and Justice Department renegades while imposing draconian penalties on regular citizens for vastly less serious conduct.
  • As a result of the botched gun-running investigation “Fast and Furious,” Holder is the one of the first cabinet members in U.S. history whom congress has held in contempt. However, press club moderators, in a standard procedure accorded VIP speakers in Washington, spared their guest from in-depth questioning on that and most of the other topics cited above.

Related News Coverage

Eric Holder Speech and Career

Eric Holder NPC Noel St. John 3 Feb. 17, 2015Attorney General Eric Holder speaks (Photos courtesy of Noel St. John, whose copyrighted, celebrity photos are for sale on his site).

National Press Club, Attorney General Holder says federal prosecutors file fewer drug charges, pursue more serious offenders, Lawrence Feinberg, Feb. 17, 2015. Attorney General Eric Holder touted the reduction in charges for non-violent drug offenses that have allowed federal prosectors to focus on more serious offenders, during a Feb. 17 National Press Club luncheon speech. The number of persons charged with federal drug trafficking offenses dropped last year by 6 percent as part of a Justice Department effort to focus on serious offenders and reduce "unnecessary incarceration,” Holder said. Meanwhile, the federal prison population declined by about 4,800, while the overall national crime rate continued to fall. Holder said fiscal 2014, which ended Sept. 30, was the first time “in more than 40 years...[with] side-by-side reductions in both crime and incarceration.” Drug convictions account for about 45 percent of the 215,000 federal prisoners.

Michigan Chronicle via OpEd News, Will Lynch Carry on Holder's Legacy? Robert Weiner and Hannah Coombs, March 8, 2015. As Attorney General Designee Loretta Lynch prepares to move from final Senate approval to serving as the Nation's Attorney General, the question is whether Congress will allow her, the country's first African American woman Attorney General, to continue Holder's enormous legacy. The hearings were more, "You're not Holder are you?" than what she will do herself. Even after Lynch took the first step with a Senate Judiciary Committee vote by 12-8, Congress is still playing politics over a spotless nominee -- no one had any objections but Republicans still voted no -- and prolonged her assumption of the post. At a farewell speech at the National Press Club on February 17, Holder told the audience, "Real and daunting challenges lay before us". Aside from reporting his success with the Justice Department and the "Smart on Crime Initiative" to reduce unnecessary incarcerations, Holder discussed what still needs to be done.

Washington Post, Holder backs national moratorium on lethal injections until high court rules, Sari Horwitz, Feb. 17, 2001. The attorney general said a Justice Department review on the death penalty is not finished.

Politico, Risen: Obama administration is greatest enemy of press freedom, Hadas Gold, Feb. 17, 2015. New York Times reporter James Risen slammed Attorney General Eric Holder in a series of tweets Tuesday evening, calling the Obama administration “The greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation.”  “Eric Holder has been the nation's top censorship officer, not the top law enforcement officer,” Risen tweeted. “Eric Holder has done the bidding of the intelligence community and the White House to damage press freedom in the United States.” Risen was tweeting in response to a speech Holder gave earlier on Tuesday at the National Press Club, where he defended the administration’s record on prosecuting leakers, saying they could have prosecuted far more than they actually did. “We have tried to be appropriately sensitive in bringing those cases that warranted prosecution,” Holder said. “We have turned away, I mean, turned away substantially greater number of cases that were presented to us where prosecution was sought.” For seven years, Risen mounted a legal battle against government demands that he identify his confidential sources for parts of a 2006 book in which he detailed a CIA plan to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. The Supreme Court declined his request to take up the case, which left Risen with virtually no protection against being forced to identify his sources, although he vowed he would never do so. As a result, Risen became the latest face of First Amendment rights and reporter’s privilege in the United States. A New York Times spokesperson emails a comment on behalf of the paper, voicing support for Risen: "The Times is not neutral on the issue of press freedom. We have vigorously opposed actions that inhibit legitimate reporting or that raise the specter of jail for reporters who are doing their jobs." 

Eric Holder NPC Noel St. John 2 Feb. 17, 2015Washington Post, U.S. clemency effort, slow to start, will rely on an army of pro bono lawyers, Sari Horwitz, Feb. 28, 2015. More than 35,000 inmates have applied for earlier release, but only a handful had sentences commuted.

Washington Post, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the basketball icon, reinvented as culture vulture, Geoff Edgers, Feb. 27, 2015. “You are the man, Mr. Jabbar,” somebody shouts down what is normally a quiet, long hallway in the Department of Justice. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is, in fact, the man, having scored more points than anyone in National Basketball Association history, even Michael, Kobe and LeBron, nods but doesn’t break his stride. He’s on a tight schedule. First, the retired star will interview Attorney General Eric Holder for a documentary he’s making on race. After years of grumbling that he couldn’t get a head coaching gig, Abdul-Jabbar has emerged as much more than an ex-jock diagramming an inbounds pass on a clipboard. He has become a vital, dynamic and unorthodox cultural voice. “Kareem has something to say, has found a way to say it, and it’s not what you would expect him to say,” says Mike Nizza, the former editor of Esquire Digital who worked with Abdul-Jabbar before he moved his regular columns to Time. “He’s a new kind of public intellectual.”

AP via Washington Post, Obama bids farewell again to Attorney General Eric Holder, Staff report, Feb. 27, 2015.  Eyes glistening, President Barack Obama bid an affectionate farewell Friday to Attorney General Eric Holder. It was a sequel to an emotional going-away at the White House last year, but this tribute came with a soulful surprise. After the president and the attorney general had concluded their remarks, Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” made an unannounced appearance in the Justice Department hall. Holder, stunned, genuflected. And Franklin stepped behind the lectern to sing “America the Beautiful” with an homage to Holder.

Main Justice, Holder Tears Up As DOJ Celebrates 80 years in Main Justice Buildiing, Josh Kovensky, Feb. 18, 2015. The Department of Justice celebrated the 80th anniversary of the dedication of its headquarters building on Wednesday with pomp, circumstance, and an emotional speech from outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. "I remember being struck -- whenever I visited Main Justice-- by the power of the law, and the honor of public service, as conveyed in its remarkable architecture and artwork," Holder said, his voice choking.

Reuters via Huffington Post, DOJ May Go After Individual Bankers For Role In Financial Crisis, Julia Edwards, Feb. 17, 2015. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that he has given U.S. Attorneys a 90-day deadline to evaluate whether they can bring cases against any individuals for their role in the 2008 financial crisis. Federal prosecutors who previously brought charges against institutions for inappropriately marketing residential mortgage-backed securities will investigate individual employees for potential criminal or civil charges, Holder said in a public appearance at the National Press Club on Tuesday. Holder said he asked the prosecutors to report back to him in 90 days "over whether they think they are going to successfully bring criminal or civil cases against those individuals." Because Holder is expected to leave office soon, he said that the decision to prosecute would ultimately be up to Loretta Lynch, the administration's nominee to replace him if and when she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Washington Post, Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Sari Horwitz and Steven Rich, Jan. 16, 2016. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs. Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing. The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them “adopted” by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. It allowed police departments and drug task forces to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of adopted seizures, with the rest going to federal agencies.

FireDogLake, Eric Holder: Lawyer For The Death Squad Terrorists’ Paymasters: Our Next Attorney General?  Kirk Murphy, Nov. 22, 2008. Last March, Holder helped Chiquita secure a slap-on-the-wrist plea deal to charges that it had paid off the terrorists. Of course, what American Lawyer describes as "charges" are actually the acts Chiquita admitted to in court. It’s odd that Obama, a man who wants to change Washington and clean up torture: a man with close union allies, would overlook torture and assassination of labor activists funded by the company his AG chose to work for. Earlier this year Chiquita admitted one of its subsidiaries paid about $1.7 million to the right-wing paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, which is also known as the AUC. The group is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Chiquita also agreed to pay the U.S. government a $25 million fine. When Eric Holder chose to take Chiquita’s money then, he chose to enrich himself by accepting fees from admitted paymasters for terrorist death squads.

Justice Department Alabama Cases

Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman Hearing Scheduled Jan. 13 As 'Solitary' Continues, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 12, 2015. A federal appeals court in Atlanta hears on Jan. 13 the latest appeal of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, one of the nation’s leading political prisoners.

Justice Integrity Project, Shackled Siegelman Typifies White House ‘Human Rights’ Charade, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 29, 2014. Federal authorities continued this month their remarkably harsh, unjust treatment of the nation’s most famous political prisoner. The U.S. legal jihad against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman continued even as the Obama administration separately cited “human rights” as the rationale for new U.S. sanctions and other interventions overseas. Authorities shackled Siegelman during his Dec. 15 court appearance in the state capital of Montgomery, denied his request for release on bond during appeal, and reportedly are keeping him in solitary confinement over the holidays so far in a county jail while he awaits an appellate hearing next month.  The Obama administration’s hypocrisy is thus displayed as it continues Bush-Clinton policies of citing “human rights” abuses elsewhere around the world as an excuse to foment revolutions, covert paramilitary actions, and propaganda campaigns on multiple continents, including secret operations to influence United States voters.

Huffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, May 21, 2009, Andrew Kreig,  One of the most experienced federal judges in recent Alabama history is denouncing the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham calls for a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors ─ including their alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges in an effort to imprison Siegelman.

Justice Integrity Project, Alabama's Bingo Nightmare Is Over, But We Still Need Accountability, Roger Shuler, March 9, 2012. One of the most embarrassing episodes in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ended March 7 when a federal jury found that all defendants in the Alabama bingo trial were not guilty. The jury clearly reached the correct verdict -- and after two trials and a months-long, anti-bingo crusade led by former Governor Bob Riley (below right) -- citizens might be tempted to say, "Whew, thank God that's over."

Huffington Post, Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power, Andrew Kreig, June 10, 2009. The plight of litigants who face a biased judge is illustrated by the track record of a prominent Alabama federal judge, as well by major recent decisions requiring new trials in West Virginia and Georgia courts. The track record of Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery, Alabama shows that he continues to supervise cases compromised by his personal, financial or political interests despite his promise at his 2002 confirmation hearing to recuse himself from any conflicts.

Impacts On Public

Paul Craig RobertsOpEdNews, Charlie Hebdo: Report from Europe, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 17, 2015. Dr. Roberts, shown in a photo, was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration and also associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, among other posts in media, government and academia. Video: RAID officers kill Amedy Coulibaly in Paris, France. Here is a video of the execution of Amedy Coulibaly. It is from a German website with the actual live French video of the police assault on the deli. In response to my Charlie Hebdo update, European readers report that the situation in Europe is much the same as in the US and UK. The "mainstream" print and TV media parrot the official line and raise no unsettling questions. The independent Internet media is where real information is reported. The German print and TV media have suffered dramatic declines in readers and viewers. The German media have lost the intelligent part of the population and only retain the somnolent sheep.

OpEdNews, Ruin Is Our Future, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 15, 2015. Americans need to understand that the only thing exceptional about the US is the ignorance of the population and the stupidity of the government. What other country would let a handful of Wall Street crooks control its economic and foreign policy, run its central bank and Treasury, and subordinate citizens' interests to the interests of the one percent's pocketbook?

Justice Integrity Project, Common Cause Files Against Justice Thomas's Wife's Group, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 2011. Common Cause reminds the nation that the 2011 Clarence Thomas scandals remain unresolved despite the renewed focus this week on the court during its three-day special hearing on the health insurance mandate. Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS against Liberty Central, a group founded by Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, wife of the associate justice and a tea party activist. The reform group alleges that Liberty Central appears to have violated federal tax laws by advocating for the defeat of political candidates, including those supporting the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama. Its legality is now pending before the Supreme Court and widely regarded as in jeopardy from Thomas as part of an all-Republican court majority.

Obama-Holder Prosecutions of Whistleblowers

Update: Washington Post, Access denied: Reporters say federal officials, data increasingly off limits, Paul Farhi, March 30, 2015. Obama promised an era of openness, but journalists say it’s the opposite. Journalists often encounter closed doors when seeking interviews and data from the Obama administration.

Ray McGovernConsortium News, "Justice" Hidden Behind a Screen, Ray McGovern, Jan. 15, 2015. Peace activist Ray McGovern, shown in a file photo, was a career CIA analyst whose service before retirement included preparation of daily briefings for two presidents on global developments. The federal government claims it is prosecuting former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for leaking information to a journalist about a risky covert operation in which the spy agency funneled flawed nuclear-bomb schematics to Iran. But the opening days of the trial suggest that the government may be using the case more to overcome its reputation for shoddy intelligence work. In opening statements and testimony on Wednesday, prosecutors seemed more concerned about refuting journalist/author James Risen's assessment of the CIA's scheme as botched and dangerous than in connecting Risen to Sterling. Eliciting testimony from a nuclear engineer testifying behind a screen, prosecutors sought to portray the phony-blueprint gambit as meticulous and careful. But the real subtext of the Sterling case is how the politicization of the CIA's analytical division over the past several decades has contributed to multiple intelligence failures, especially efforts to "prove" that targeted regimes in the Middle East were amassing weapons of mass destruction.

New York Times, C.I.A. Officer Is Found Guilty in Leak Tied to Times Reporter, Michael S. Schmidt, and Michael D. Shear, Jan. 26, 2015. A White House radar system designed to detect flying objects like planes, missiles and large drones failed to pick up a small drone that crashed into a tree on the South Lawn early Monday morning, according to law enforcement officials. The crash raised questions about whether the Secret Service could bring down a similar object if it endangered President Obama. See also, Washington Post, Ex-CIA officer is convicted of espionage in leak, Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 26, 2015. Jeffrey Sterling, who was involved in a highly secretive operation to give faulty nuclear plans to Iran, was convicted of giving Jeffrey Sterling Consortium Newsclassified information to a reporter at the New York Times.

Jeffrey Sterling is shown in a photo via Consortium News.

Politico, Condoleezza Rice testifies in CIA leaks trial, Josh Gerstein, Jan. 15, 2015. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a highly unusual public appearance Thursday — taking the witness stand for the prosecution in a Condoleezza Ricecriminal case against a former CIA officer on trial for leaking details of a top-secret spy program. Rice, who once traveled the globe as America’s top diplomat, found herself describing another type of diplomacy to a federal court jury: the Bush administration’s effort in 2003 to kill a New York Times story that threatened to reveal a CIA effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program by secretly providing Tehran with flawed plans for an atomic weapon. Rice told jurors that she was acting on the direct orders of President George W. Bush when she asked the Times not to go forward with the article, written by veteran national security correspondent James Risen. She spoke during her nearly 45-minute stint Thursday afternoon at the trial of ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in Alexandria, Virginia. The Times ultimately declined to run the story. However, Risen published it three years later in his book State of War.

American Conservative, David Petraeus’s Double Standard, Kelley Vlahos, Jan. 22, 2015. When CIA officer John Kiriakou was convicted of revealing the name of an agent allegedly involved in the torture of a prisoner, then-CIA director David Petraeus heralded the court’s decision as “an important victory for our Agency, for our Intelligence Community, and for our country.” “Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy,” he said in a statement on Oct. 23, 2012. Less than a month later it would be revealed that former general Petraeus had broken his own oath, to his wife Holly, admitting to an affair with a woman who had once been his subordinate in the Army. In the course of the investigation that exposed the affair with Paula Broadwell—who was also his biographer—the FBI found he might have broken another oath, to the CIA (the affair supposedly began after he began his directorship there). Investigators suspected that the celebrated retired general had given her access to classified information that she was not authorized to have. This month, however, sources inside the Justice Department suddenly leaked that they have enough evidence to recommend felony charges against Petraeus for providing classified information to Broadwell. The New York Times, in breaking the news, suggested that investigators were frustrated that higher-ups had been dragging their feet on the case, that the man once called “King David,” was receiving “special treatment at a time Mr. [Attorney General Eric] Holder has led a crackdown on government officials who reveal secrets to journalists.” For his part, Petraeus has insisted all along that he did not pass along classified material to his former mistress, and according to the Times, is uninterested in making any plea “that would spare him an embarrassing trial.” Reaction has been swift and predictable. Official Washington and the elite media have rushed to Petraeus’s defense, rebuking the unnamed sources inside the Justice Department as overzealous and vindictive and possibly having ulterior motives for dragging the beloved “four star” through the mud. It is no secret that since leaving the CIA in a cloud of shame, Petraeus has nonetheless enjoyed a lucrative post-career, beginning with a $220,000 a year pension paid for by the U.S. taxpayer. He is also teaching at CUNY (he was forced to give up the six figure salary there after students and faculty protested), and the University of Southern California. He has a perch at Harvard, and was hired in 2013 by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the private equity giant best known for “large debt-fueled corporate takeovers.”

FireDogLake, Barrett Brown Went to Jail for My Sins, Peter Van Buren, Jan. 23, 2015. Barrett Brown was just sentenced to five years in jail in another step towards the criminalization of everything. The charges against Brown Peter Van Burenincluded the claim that merely linking to the leaked information was illegal, an alleged crime for which prosecutors sought decades in prison. Brown, shown in a file photo, ultimately signed a plea deal on three lesser charges: transmitting a threat (the YouTube video), trying to hide a laptop computer during a raid, and to being “accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer.” There may be other such link cases out there that we do not yet know of. They may be classified, or the parties involved may be under gag orders, as was Brown. There appears little question that the government is testing the concept, looking for a case that it can win that would criminalize Barrett Brownlinking. From the government’s point of view, the win would pay off handsomely.

Paul Craig Roberts.org, Law Has Been Murdered, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 23, 2015. Barrett Brown, Kathy Kelly, and Bonny Mahoney are the kind of people who are imprisoned in America. It is not the perjurers and liars, the torturers, war criminals and mass murderers. It is the good people who peacefully protest the crimes of those who control the U.S. government and its policies. Barrett Brown’s statement to the judge in his show trial shows that the US Department of Justice has been successful in preventing the system from delivering any justice.

The Guardian, Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months for 'merely linking to hacked material,' Nicky Woolf, Jan. 22, 2015. In a rebuke to a legion of online supporters and what the journalist and one-time member of Anonymous called a “dangerous precedent,” Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison by a federal judge in Dallas on Thursday. The judge also ordered him to pay more than $890,000 in restitution and fines. Bown, 33, is an investigative journalist, essayist and satirist who has written for the Onion, Vanity Fair and the Huffington Post, as well as for the Guardian. Brown also founded Project PM, a crowdsourced investigative thinktank dedicated to looking into abuses by companies in the area of surveillance. In October 2012, Brown was indicted on charges of making an online threat, retaliating against a federal officer and conspiring to release personal information about a government employee. Two months later, he was indicted on 12 further charges related to the hacking of private intelligence contractor Stratfor in 2011. Jeremy Hammond, the hacker who actually carried out the Stratfor breach, was sentenced to the maximum possible 10 years. Writing for the Guardian from prison in December, Hammond bemoaned that Brown “continues to await his sentencing for merely linking to hacked material.”

Prosecution Cover-Ups

Roger StoneDaily Caller via Stone Zone, The Strange Case of Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Clinton, Roger Stone (shown in a file photo), Feb. 17, 2015. Editor's Note: Despite the column's title, little of it involves Bill Clinton, who was a frequent traveling companion of Jeffrey Epstein. From 2006 to roughly 2008, hedge fund billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was the subject of extensive criminal investigations by both state and federal authorities for child sex crimes. When all was said and done, the authorities had compiled copious witness evidence establishing that Epstein had been serially molesting dozens of underage girls for years, literally as a lifestyle. For over a year, the Palm Beach Police scrupulously built a multi-layered case against Epstein centered on his repeated sexual abuse of five minor children, with a lead victim just 14 years old. Epstein’s defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz, along with a platoon of high-dollar lawyers including Kenneth Starr of Clintonian special prosecutor fame, cut a mystifying deal with federal prosecutors by which everyone in Epstein’s camp, including Dershowitz, was granted immunity from any further prosecution. Enter Michael Wolff, an Epstein confidant and supposed journalist (Wolff now writes a regular column for British GQ), who recently penned a withering, faux-flummoxed attack in USA Today pooh-poohing the “new age” media and the American legal system, along with Epstein’s persistent “Jane Doe” accusers and their pertinacious Florida attorneys. Wolff’s editorial conveniently skips right over the part about his child-molesting pal Jeffrey Epstein’s buying himself and his confederates a free-pass from any criminal punishment commensurate with the scope and extent of their heinous child sex crimes. In his op-ed published on January 11, Wolff leaps right to the offensive against those forces, he believes unduly besmirched Epstein’s elite sex cronies Alan Dershowitz and Britain’s “Prince” Andrew.

Political Prosecutions and Human Rights Violations

Edward Pinkney (Photo by Dorothy Pinkney)Truthout, Rev. Edward Pinkney Imprisoned for Fighting the Whirlpool Corporation, Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik, Dec. 16, 2014. On Dec. 15, Rev. Edward Pinkney, a leader in the struggle for social and economic justice for the residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan, was sentenced to serve up to 10 years in prison, on the basis of thin circumstantial evidence that a few dates had been altered on a recall petition against the city's mayor, James Hightower. The recall was prompted by the mayor's continued support for tax evasion by the Whirlpool Corporation, the Fortune 500 company and $19 billion global appliance manufacturer, headquartered in Benton Harbor. The politically motivated prosecution against Pinkney killed the petition to recall Hightower, who many believe would have been ousted due to his ongoing protection of Whirlpool's interests at the expense of impoverished Benton Harbor, which is over 90 percent African-American. There was absolutely no evidence to convict Pinkney, and, legally, the altering of a petition document should have been a misdemeanor offense. Instead, they charged him with felony forgery -- though no signatures were forged and all signatories testified that they signed willingly on the correct day. A forensics expert for the prosecution testified that there was no way to determine who changed the handful of dates. Incredibly, the all-white jury was urged by the prosecutor to believe that direct evidence was not required; they only had to "believe" that Pinkney was motivated to cheat and that he "could" have changed the dates while circulating the petitions. Mary Alice Adams, a Benton Harbor commissioner stated, "Rev. Pinkney was accused of writing and changing my date on a petition when, in fact, I wrote my own date and changed it after realizing I had put the wrong date down."

Justice Integrity Project, Jailed Journalist Released After Spiking Columns, Andrew Kreig, March 14, 2014, updated March 27, 2014. Jailed Journalist Sends Shocking 'Letter from Birmingham Jail,' Andrew Kreig, March 14, 2014. Alabama commentator Roger Shuler's condition has sharply worsened during his nearly five months of jailing, as I learned by visiting him in Birmingham March 10.  "It's a horrible trauma to be away from your wife, your home -- and have no idea when you can get out or how," Shuler told me in a rare interview.

Justice Integrity Project, Alabama’s Jailed Journalist Blights Anniversary of Libel, Voting Rights Protections, Andrew Kreig, March 4, 2014. March 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that protected journalists and Alabama civil rights protesters in one of the nation’s most important libel rulings ever. The decision created a tough requirement for public figures to prove liability. But that standard has not been applied to jailed Alabama journalist Roger Shuler during his five months behind bars in Shelby County.  After Shuler alleged an affair last year between the regionally prominent lawyer Robert Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke they filed a libel suit kept under seal.

Justice Integrity Project, 'Moral' Civic Reform Movement Spreads Across Deep South, Andrew Kreig, March 25, 2014. One of the nation's most innovative and so-far successful social justice reform movements in recent years is spreading in the Deep South -- including in a major test scheduled for March 25 in Alabama. A new Alabama "Moral Mondays" group that mixes advocacy and civil disobedience plans its public launch at noon on the state capitol's front steps in Montgomery. Moral Mondays takes its name from weekly demonstrations that have occurred on Mondays during recent legislative sessions in North Carolina.

Media Failings

New York Times reporter James Risen is shown at center at a 2014 announcement by Reporters Without Borders of its annual ranking country by country of world press freedom. With Risen at the James Risen, Delphine Halgand Reporters Without BordersNational Press Club announcement were two other free press advocates, including at right Reporters Without Borders USA Director Delphine Halgand (Photo courtesy of Noel St. John).

Newsmax, NYT's James Risen: Holder's Legacy Is a 'Wrecked First Amendment,' Joel Himelfarb, Feb. 18, 2015. New York Times reporter James Risen responded with fury to remarks Tuesday by Attorney General Eric Holder defending the Obama administration's record on press freedom, repeating his previously stated view that "the Obama administration is the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation." Holder, speaking at the National Press Club, said the administration was not hostile to journalists and that it could have prosecuted many more leakers than it has. Citing the example of the World War II Manhattan Project, Holder said the media needed to ask itself whether the disclosure of certain information would have "a negative impact on the security of a nation." Risen erupted in response to Holder's comments, tweeting that "Eric Holder has done the bidding of the intelligence community and the White House to damage press freedom in the United States."

Politico, Risen: Obama administration is greatest enemy of press freedom, Hadas Gold, Feb. 17, 2015. New York Times reporter James Risen slammed Attorney General Eric Holder in a series of tweets Tuesday evening, calling the Obama administration “The greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation.”  “Eric Holder has been the nation's top censorship officer, not the top law enforcement officer,” Risen tweeted. “Eric Holder has done the bidding of the intelligence community and the White House to damage press freedom in the United States.” Risen was tweeting in response to a speech Holder gave earlier on Tuesday at the National Press Club, where he defended the administration’s record on prosecuting leakers, saying they could have prosecuted far more than they actually did. “We have tried to be appropriately sensitive in bringing those cases that warranted prosecution,” Holder said. “We have turned away, I mean, turned away substantially greater number of cases that were presented to us where prosecution was sought.” For seven years, Risen mounted a legal battle against government demands that he identify his confidential sources for parts of a 2006 book in which he detailed a CIA plan to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. The Supreme Court declined his request to take up the case, which left Risen with virtually no protection against being forced to identify his sources, although he vowed he would never do so. As a result, Risen became the latest face of First Amendment rights and reporter’s privilege in the United States. A New York Times spokesperson emails a comment on behalf of the paper, voicing support for Risen: "The Times is not neutral on the issue of press freedom. We have vigorously opposed actions that inhibit legitimate reporting or that raise the specter of jail for reporters who are doing their jobs."

Daily Howler, The one misstatement a scribe can’t make! (Part 4), Bob Somerby, Feb. 20, 2015. Even Brian can’t lie about war: Was Pope John Paul II lucky enough to bless the young Brian Williams? In last Sunday’s front-page Brian Williamsreport, the Washington Post included a rundown of Williams’ shifting stories about the Pope’s 1979 visit to Catholic University, where Williams was a student. A handshake appeared, then Daily Howler Logoit became a papal blessing. Eventually, Williams marveled at the “emotional intelligence” he himself puts on display in creating such magical moments. Is Brian Williams “a little bit nutty?” The weirdness of his many stories suggests that possibility. Apparently, though, these peculiar stories were A-OK at NBC News. The Post says these stories were written off as “Brian being Brian." That said, there was one type of lie even Williams wasn’t permitted tell. He just couldn’t lie about war, David Carr seemed to say [at the New York Times]. Williams and major NBC colleagues dissembled, embellished and misstated at will all through the years. But once they got us into that [Iraq] war, their guild’s one ethical rule obtained — a journalist isn’t allowed to lie in a way which steals the glory of war. When Brian Williams was seen to do that, his house of cards came down. On this basis, these hideous people proceed along with our “national discourse.” That discourse is almost wholly faux.

Daily Howler, Lessons Unlearned: NBC News being NBC News! (Part 2), Bob Somerby, Feb. 18, 2015. Did Brian Williams really go broke, at age 22, during his year in Kansas? In Sunday’s Washington Post, the paper was sticking to that familiar old story, despite a shaky source. “Brian’s not a liar,” said an “NBC Nightly News” journalist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because network management has strongly discouraged staffers from speaking publicly about Williams. “He’s a guy who gets caught up in the story.” We can point you to tall tales Williams told on the air back in 1999 — and these tall tales did matter. In these tall tales, Brian Williams was misreporting a crucial White House campaign. Forget about “Brian being Brian.” That was also “NBC News being NBC News” at that point in time.

New York Times, For Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, A Symbiotic Relationship, Jonathan Mahler and Emily Steel, Feb. 25, 2015. When the magazine Mother Jones reported that Bill O’Reilly had engaged in self-aggrandizing rhetoric Bill O'Reilly Reality Check Fox News Channelabout his coverage of the Falklands war, he called one of the authors of the article “an irresponsible guttersnipe” and used his nightly show to fight back against his accusers. His bosses at Fox News, including the chief executive, Roger Ailes, rallied to his defense. Fox’s handling of the controversy says a lot about the network. It also says a lot about its most visible star, a man who perhaps more than any other has defined the parameters and tenor of Fox News, in the process ushering in a new era of no-holds-barred, intentionally divisive news coverage. Since dethroning CNN’s Larry King as the king of cable news almost 14 years ago, Mr. O’Reilly has helped transform a start-up news channel into a financial juggernaut, with estimated annual profits of more than $1 billion. He and Fox News have risen not on the back of big interviews or high-impact investigations but on the pugnacious brand of conservatism personified by Mr. O’Reilly. Reports have since emerged questioning some of O’Reilly’s other assertions. Most notably, Media Matters has challenged Mr. O’Reilly’s claims that he was outside the Palm Beach, Fla., home of an acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald when he killed himself with a shotgun in 1977.

Deadline.com, Jon Stewart Defends Bill O’Reilly: “No One’s Watching Him For The Actual Truth,” Lisa de Moraes, Feb. 25, 2015.  Jon Stewart rose to the defense of his friend Bill O’Reilly last night, telling The Daily Show viewers that no one should expect the truth from the Fox News Channel host. “Really? We’re going after O’Reilly for exaggerating being in a war zone?” Stewart marveled at the top of last night’s The Daily Show, in re the Mother Jones article that called into question some of O’Reilly’s reporting over the years – particularly his work in Buenos Aires at the end of the Falklands War in ’82. In the wake of Brian Williams’ suspension by NBC News over claims he made about his work, the media has glommed on to the Mother Jones investigation.

Hartford Courant space leasingHartford Courant Alumni Association and Refugee Camp, Empty Space Emptiness, Paul Stern, Feb. 16, 2015. It is sad to see how far a mighty institution has fallen financially — especially when one knows the reasons. But the good news here is that the ad is appearing in the Courant, which you might remember no longer owns the building. So as a tenant, the new potential rent revenue means nothing. The ad, however, should run long and often — at the full price. Editor's Note: The Hartford Courant, founded in 1764, was America's largest newspaper during the Revolutionary War and remains the second-largest circulation newspaper in New England. Via a special ruling by the Federal Communications Commission to help its ownership by waiver of the federal ban on cross-ownership of media properties, the Courant is now run jointly with the major Fox Network news station in Connecticut, WTIC-TV, and the company jointly controls the Advocate chain of the state's major alternative weekly newspapers. Even so, the Courant sold its longtime headquarters to raise money and is now a tenant in the building raising additional funds by selling advertising space to the new owners to secure additional tenants, as indicated by the Paul Stern news item above and the recent display ad at right.

Alan Gross Dec. 17, 2014 White House PhotoFactCheck.org via Huffington Post, Here's The Part Of Alan Gross' Story That Obama Hasn't Been Talking About, Robert Farley, Dec. 24, 2014. In accounts from both sides of the aisle, recently-freed Alan Gross has been portrayed as a humanitarian simply trying to bring Internet access to Cuba’s small Jewish community. But there’s more to the story than that shorthand suggests. Although Gross entered Cuba on a handful of occasions on a tourist visa and purported to be a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, Gross (shown in a White House photo) was actually doing work as a subcontractor for a pro-democracy program funded by the U.S. government, work for which Gross was being paid about a half million dollars. Reporting by the Associated Press revealed that Gross was covertly bringing in technology known to be illegal in Cuba — equipment such as satellite phones and a chip that allows Internet use without detection. Reports obtained by the AP also revealed that Gross knew what he was doing was “very risky business” and that detection of the equipment would be “catastrophic.” For those unfamiliar with the full story, comments by Sen. Marco Rubio and President Barack Obama might suggest a purely innocuous purpose to Gross’ mission.

Grassroots Civic Journalism

Advance Indiana, House Ways & Means Committee Says Yes To Shadowy Turkish Immigrant's Soccer Stadium Heist, Gary R. Welch, Feb. 16, 2015. Gary R. Welsh has been in the private practice Gary R. Welshof law since 1993 after working in the Illinois General Assembly as a staffer for six years. In Indiana, he is an elected precinct committeeman for the Marion County Republican Party in Center Township. Welsh authors a popular political blog, Advance Indiana, as a favorite pastime. It was a repeat of last year's charade when Ersal Ozdemir sent in to represent him a room full of high-paid influential lobbyists to ask members of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee to once again give the green light to making Indiana taxpayers fork over nearly $90 million to build a new soccer arena for his Indy Eleven minor league professional soccer team. The shadowy Turkish immigrant businessman and his bodyguards were nowhere to be seen. Ozdemir's disinformation agents announced the construction of a new downtown hotel by the Indy Eleven owner would be a part of an expanded Professional Sports Development Area ("PSDA"), a TIF-like state taxing district that allows Marion County to syphon off tens of millions of state income and sales tax dollars, hotel taxes and local income taxes annually to pay for the Capital Improvement Board's sports palaces and convention center. The paid lobbyists for this shadowy character claim state taxpayers won't be on the hook for a dime of the costs of building the arena; rather, it will be up to the team's owner and the CIB to figure out what happens when the revenues generated from the stadium prove insufficient to pay for it.

Justice Integrity Project, A Just Cause' Provides National Model For Grassroots Legal Reform, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 4, 2014. A Colorado-based legal reform group provides an effective model for other groups nationally. A Just Cause began by advocating for six software engineers serving long prison terms for disputed convictions on corruption charges. I become impressed with the leaders and their cause by meeting them in the nation’s capital this summer, reading their materials, and being hosted on their radio show Sept. 2.

Legal Schnauzer, Stupidity and dishonesty of Alabama cops is on full display for all the world to see, Roger Shuler, Feb. 19, 2015. Editor's Note: A visitor from India to Alabama was partially paralyzed when police threw him to the ground Feb. 6 while he was walking near his son's home in a suburban neighborhood. One of the policemen was arrested, India's embassy is upset, the Justice Department's civil rights division is investigating, and the family has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. The stupidity and dishonesty of Alabama police officers is on glaring display in the video that captures the body slamming of Sureshbhai Patel, a grandfather from India who was in the state to help his son and daughter-in-law take care of their newborn son. Let's consider the Patel video first, and two mind-blowing elements of it:

(1) Almost from the moment the officers confront Patel on a sidewalk in Madison, Alabama, it's clear the older gentleman does not speak English. The 10-minute video, from the first police cruiser, shows this. In the first 1:30 of the encounter, an officer says, "I can't understand you, sir," and Patel mentions India and appears to point toward his son's house, a seemingly clear sign that he is not from this country and does not speak English, but has legitimate reasons to be here.

(2) At about 2:10 on the longer video below, Officer Eric Parker tells Patel: "Do not jerk away from me again, or I will put you on the ground. Do you understand?" About four seconds later, Patel does not appear to be moving and certainly is not jerking. But Parker grabs him by the back of the neck, trips him, and thrusts him forward to violently land on his head.

(3) After all of this, the cops still don't seem to get it. "He don't speak a lick of English," one cop says. "I don't know what the problem is," another says. (See 3:26 video at the top of this post.) After the officers have almost broken Patel's neck by jamming his head into the ground, they seem amazed that he can't walk. "Stand up, stand up," one of them says.

Ukraine and Coverage

Justice Integrity Project, U.S. Hawks Beat War Drums Over Ukraine, Where Is The Free Press? Andrew Kreig, Feb. 12, 2015. President Obama held an outwardly inconclusive bilateral strategy meeting Feb. 9 at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, shown below in a White House photo, that masked a deep struggle between war hawks in the United States and European allies.

Washington Post, Cease-fire in peril as rebels trap 5,000 Ukrainian troops, Karoun Demirjian, Feb. 17, 2015. Pro-Russian separatists claimed control of the strategic railway hub at Debaltseve, where fighting continued despite the three-day-old truce.

 

Other Justice and Media News

Willard Straight Hall takeover

Justice Integrity Project, Let's Question All Propaganda: Left, Right and Center, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 3, 2015. On April 19, 1969, more than 80 African-American students at Cornell University seized a student center a day after a cross burning on campus. Last month, a journalism expert claimed publicly for the first time that black students covertly burned the cross in advance to dramatize their grievances by falsely invoking a racist symbol. "False flag" events challenge each of us to decide whether we object to such tactics by kindred spirits. (1969 photo courtesy of Cornell University's Africana Center.)

Guardian, The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site,' Spencer Ackerman, Feb. 24, 2015. ‘They disappeared us’: protester details 17-hour shackling without basic rights   Accounts describe police brutality, missing 15-year-old and one man’s death.  While US military and intelligence interrogation impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles and even a cage – focuses on American citizens, most often poor, black and brown. ‘When you go in,’ Brian Jacob Church told the Guardian, ‘nobody knows what happened to you.’  (See also 3:44 min. video. Phil Batta for the Guardian with editing by Mae Ryan).

CNN and Reuters via Huffington Post, U.S. Preparing To Sue Ferguson Police Over Charges Of Racial Bias: Report, Peter Cooney, Feb. 18, 2015. The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to sue the Ferguson, Missouri, police department over allegations of racially discriminatory practices unless the police force agrees to make changes, CNN reported on Wednesday. The network, citing sources, said the Justice Department would not charge the white Ferguson police officer involved in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last August but was expected to outline allegations of discriminatory Ferguson police tactics. CNN said the potential Justice Department lawsuit could include allegations that police targeted minorities in issuing minor traffic infractions and then jailed them if they could not pay the fines. It reported the agency would seek court supervision of changes taken by Ferguson police to improve its dealings with minorities.

Ken Starr Baylor UniversityJustice Integrity Project, Moralist Ken Starr Explains His Help For Billionaire Pervert Jeffrey Epstein, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 8, 2015. Famed educator and legal scholar Ken Starr led a forum last week at the National Press Club to inspire faith-based instruction — and then was asked to describe why he had helped billionaire Jeffrey Epstein avoid serious prison time in 2008 on allegations Epstein had molested dozens of underage girls. The president and chancellor of Baylor University, responding to a question after the close of a forum he led Feb. 4 on “The Calling of Faith-based Universities,” told me he was “very happy” to help serve a client of his former law firm, Kirkland & Ellis.

New York Post, Giuliani: Obama influenced by communists since youth, Carl Campanile and Geoff Earle, Feb. 21, 2015. Rudy Giuliani doubled down on his claims that President Obama doesn’t “love America” in an interview with The Post Friday — claiming the commander-in-chief has been influenced by communists since his youth. “From the time he was 9 years old, he was influenced by Frank Marshall Davis, who was a communist,” Giuliani said. The ex-mayor added that Obama’s grandfather introduced him to Davis, a writer and labor activist. See also, American Survival Conference, America’s Enemies in Hollywood Then and Now, hosted by American Survival President Cliff Kincaid, A press conference will be held Feb. 24 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to offer commentary on the direction of the Academy Awards and the politics of Hollywood. The event will also explore whether Congress should reinstate a committee on un-American activities and internal security – the same kind that led to the exposure and “blacklist” of Stalinist Communists in Hollywood. 

Legal Schnauzer, Joey Kennedy's firing at al.com seems to signal that Alabama's right-wing media is spinning out of control, Roger Shuler, Feb. 24, 2015. How often does a newspaper fire a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter? I've been a professional journalist for 35-plus years, and I've never heard of it happening. As nonsensical as it sounds, al.com/The Birmingham News pulled off the unusual feat by ushering reporter Joey Kennedy out the door recently. Veronica Kennedy, Joey's wife, broke the news on her Facebook page and said he received no severance pay, just a final paycheck and notice that his insurance would end on February 28.