Editor's Note: Below is a selection of significant blogs and news articles on legal reform and related political, security and media dimensions. The articles contain a sample of news, with the full article viewable by clicking the link.

ABA/USA Today, Federal Prosecutors Rarely Lose Their Jobs, Despite Misconduct Findings,Debra Cassens Weiss, Dec. 9, 2010

Justice Department investigations of prosecutor misconduct rarely result in serious sanctions for wrongdoing, according to a newspaper investigation. “Prosecutors have little reason to fear losing their jobs, even if they violate laws or constitutional safeguards designed to ensure the justice system is fair,” USA Today reports. Most violations result in reprimands, suspensions or agreements that allow lawyers to leave their jobs “with their reputations intact and their records unblemished,” the newspaper says.

The U.S. Justice Department refused USA Today’s request for a list of disciplinary actions taken against prosecutors, so the newspaper sifted through a decade of annual reports that summarize some of the cases investigated. The documents revealed just one termination. A Department of Justice lawyer was fired because she had been unlicensed for more than five years after she was suspended for failing to comply with legal education requirements, according to the 2009 report. The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had recommended the firing of four other lawyers, but they either resigned or retired. According to the reports, OPR has investigated 756 complaints from 2000 to 2009 and found misconduct in 196 cases. Justice officials say they can’t release investigation details because of privacy laws.

 

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Joe Lauria, the Wall Street Journal's United Nations correspondent, says most of his fellow UN correspondents are delighted with the revelations from secret U.S. documents released by Wikileaks and its partners from its recent stash of 250,000

secret papers. Speaking on the weekly Washington Update public affairs show that I co-host with Scott Draughon, Lauria, left, said the leaks tend to confirm U.S. intelligence-gathering of a kind that are suspected of all major nations, but are hard to prove. Especially interesting, he said, was disclosure that the State Department has sought DNA and other personal information about diplomats from many nations for unknown purposes.

Another guest on the show was Craig Corrie, the father of Mideast peace proponent Rachel Corrie, right, an Evergreen State College student who was killed at age 23 in Palestine on March 16, 2003 trying to prevent the demolition of the home of a Palestinian family. 

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The Washington Post published two articles about its Kaplan subsidiary on Dec. 7 that illustrate themes we addressed in our blog the same day, which we entitled, "The Washington Post's Hidden Agenda?" Our colum addressed the inherent conflict when the Kaplan subsidiary provides 62% of the Post's revenue, with some methods allegedly so deceptive they are being aggressively investigated by state and federal authorities and other methods government funded or otherwise controversial. A newspaper's watchdog function on behalf of its readers, who contribute 4% of the Post's revenue via circulation and some 15% via advertising, is inevitably compromised when the lion's share of revenue is from another source.
 
In a related matter, the prominent Democratic lawyer and political commentator Lanny Davis founded a firm that represents the for-profit education industry, of which Kaplan is a prominent part. The news media, including the Post, frequently quote Davis regarding his views, which tend to espouse similar policies as the Post's editorial page. Melanie Sloan, longtime executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Reponsibility in Ethics in Washington (CREW), has joined the Davis firm. She and CREW wrote a letter to Congress last summer suggesting that critics of the for-profit education sector were overzealous. Her letter followed a political column by Davis in a Capitol Hill newspaper making similar points. She and Davis say they came to independent conclusions, and decided only afterward to work together.
 
The new Post articles are excerpted below, with the full stories available by clicking the links:
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Investigative reporter Lucy Komisar today illustrates the kind of tough questions that reporters at corporate-owned outlets are increasingly reluctant to ask public officials and former public officials for fear of creating antagonism against the reporter, media organization and/or affiliates of the media outlet. Komisar reports her question here, followed by its convoluted answer:

George W. Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations Friday and used the occasion to attack WikiLeaks. I used the occasion — an HBO History Makers Series moderated by TV anchor Katie Couric– to ask her a question.

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By Andrew Kreig /JIP Executive Director's Blog

The Justice Integrity Project announced last month that we could fulfill our mission of legal reform only if we expanded our commentary to include media trends that curtail aggressive reporting of documented abuses. Today, we’ll examine how the Washington Post's revenue stream from its Kaplan subsidiary creates a hidden agenda that undermines the paper's coverage of sensitive issues involving government officials.

Kaplan provides 62% of Post revenue. Its educational services include those from government-supported initiatives in both K-12 and advanced education, such as for-profit colleges and various test-preparation courses. This Kaplan-generated revenue compares to just 4% from newspaper circulation, which is augmented by about 15% in newspaper advertising, according to recent quarterly reports.

On Dec. 6, Dr. David Goodstein published a column in the Daily Censored entitled, “So You Want To Blow Your Whistle?”  Goodstein, 72., described how the Kaplan-owned CHI Institute in Broomall, PA promptly fired him from his position as director of education in 2006 after he expressed reluctance to bribe hospital CFOs to place two externs in a program. The program cost students $18,000 per year in tuition, 90% of it funded with federal grant money. Students and state investigators suspected that the program failed in suspicious ways to provide adequate preparation for a good job.

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By Andrew Kreig

In the Justice Integrity Project's most current national round-up of news about misconduct allegations involving law enforcement, a Georgia stripper further implicated a disgraced federal judge. Also, a former Wall Street Journal editor decried U.S. State Department lawlessness apparent from the most recent Wikileaks release. 

Additionally, a New Jersey radio station will host the Project today in discussing our latest report on the national implications of an official corruption trial unfolding in Newark's federal court. Excerpted below are columns by Alabama legal commentator Roger Shuler, left, and former Journal associate editor and Reagan assistant Treasury secretary Paul Craig Roberts:

Legal Schnauzer, Did Drug Abuse and Racism Effect a Federal Judge's Rulings? Roger Shuler, Dec. 6, 2010. Jack T. Camp (right) recently pleaded guilty to federal drug charges related to his relationship with a stripper and resigned as a U.S. district judge in Atlanta. The Camp investigation produced evidence that indicates he was not an impartial arbiter on the bench, according to an article in the Newnan (GA) Times-Herald.

OpEd News, Western Civilization Has Shed Its Values, Paul Craig Roberts (below), Dec. 5, 2010. In my opinion, the most important of all the cables leaked [in Wikileaks] is the secret directive sent by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to 33 US embassies and consulates ordering US diplomats to provide credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers, frequent-flyer account numbers and biographic and biometric information including DNA information on UN officials from the Secretary General down, including "heads of peace operations and political field missions."

The directive has been characterized as the spy directive, but this is an unusual kind of spying. Usually, spying focuses on what other governments think, how they are likely to vote on US initiatives, who can be bribed, and on sexual affairs that could be used to blackmail acquiescence to US agendas. In contrast, the information requested in the secret directive is the kind of information that would be used to steal a person's identity. (Emphasis in original.)

The Project's radio interview will be New Jersey’s WRRC 107.7 FM on the Carson’s Corner show at 3:30 p.m., available through much of the central part of the state. We'll focus on our latest report, “Christie's Corruption Case Shows Horrid Legacy of 'Loyal Bushies, Cover-ups.'" The report draws national implications from the ongoing corruption trial in Newark’s federal court of former New Jersey state assemblyman Harvey Smith.

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