Remembering 9/11, Imprisoning Don Siegelman
Questions are becoming increasingly mainstream about two events occurred Sept. 11. One concern is, of course, the circumstances of the muderous attacks eleven years ago. The other is the imprisonment that resumed of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, 66, described by the American Trial Lawyers Magazine as the nation's leading political prisoner.
Nearly every American is thinking about the horrific hijackings and lost lives in 2001. New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald published, The Deafness Before the Storm. It is a major report based on declassified documents showing Bush national security officials' cavalier reactions to warnings.
Some grieving families and intellectually brave scientists, government leaders, and other commentators are taking the risk of voicing doubts about official versions of 9/11 events. One of those is former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, at right before his 2005 retirement. He appeared on my radio show earlier this spring to voice his concerns about mysteries remaining involving the attack -- even after he led a key probe. He called on Sept. 11 for a new investigation.
Another is Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. He is a former Reagan administration assistant Treasury secretary and longtime Wall Street Journal editor who put his relationships at risk with high-level former colleagues by publishing such hard-hitting essays as: The 11th Anniversary of 9/11. His is a powerful, patriotic attack on conventional wisdom. Separately, Roberts has written that unemployment statistics are regularly falsified for political effect, and that Don Siegelman was framed by the Bush administration.
Each matter seems entirely different. Yet persistent questions lead to similarly high levels of the federal government, as indicated by a collection below of these and other recent commentaries. Remarkably enough, evidence is even being reported that Mohamed Atta, at left, the reputed lead hijacker for 9/11 terrorists, received at least a small part of his flight training in Alabama from Professional Aviation, Inc. The company's affiliate, Doss Aviation Inc., was led by Mark E. Fuller. In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Fuller to the federal bench. He presided over Siegelman's 2006 trial in Montgomery, making many pro-prosecution rulings while being enriched with $300 million in non-bid contracts for Doss between 2006 and 2009 by the Bush administration for Doss work in such fields as pilot training and refueling Air Force planes.
Wayne Madsen is the investigative reporter and former Navy intelligence analyst who first reported the Atta connection in Federal judge's firm trained lead 9/11 hijacker (subscription required). Among his other topics have been important revelations beginning in 2007 about the Siegelman case. I am among others to document massive irregularities. The mystery is why official bodies do nothing with such information except ignore it.
Madsen also linked Fuller's curious remarks at Siegelman's resentencing August 3 to one of Siegelman's investigations two decades ago. As Alabama attorney general, Siegelman had probed Iran-Contra smuggling allegations, which involved Deep South airports. The CIA organized arms and drug smuggling between such locales and Latin American destinations.
It was one of the darkest and most secretive chapters of the country's recent political history. President George H.W. Bush, a former CIA director, pardoned those indicted. That Madsen story, Retaliation against Siegelman has roots in Bush '41 crimes, also is excerpted below.
Alabama blogger Roger Shuler amplified the Madsen column and its link of the Siegelman prosecution to the murder conspiracy against federal appellate judge Robert Vance, Siegelman's former law partner. Shuler heroically illuminates Deep South official corruption on his Legal Schnauzer blog on a near-daily basis. His reports, several excerpted below regarding Bush-era mysteries still in the news, surpass those of his rivals at conventional news outlets too timid to raise questions, much less try to answer the most obvious.
How can we learn the facts of such complex, tragic, and still-secret matters? It is an incremental process. I interview the experts, such as Graham, the Florida Democrat who co-chaired the joint Senate House investigating committee. On my radio show, he told me its investigation was inadequate, and deep secrets remain that he and other investigators believe must still be answered. Ironically, Graham and other government investigators remain bound by confidentiality restrictions with agencies. These prevent even high-ranking officials from being more specific about their worries, unless new inquiries remove at least some of the restrictions. Graham has told me of a Who's Who of former congressional colleagues who want the public to learn more answers.
The purported Atta flight training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama is just one of the many mysteries that remain as the years pass. Authorities appear far from eager to discuss new questions arising about Atta and others.
Similarly, Fuller, at left in a photo by freelancer Phil Fleming the day of the Siegelman verdicts, has declined to respond to several of my requests this summer for comment on controversies surrounding him. Fuller, Siegelman's judge, is the largest shareholder by far of the privately held Doss Aviation. Last December, Fuller participated in the Doss sale to J.F. Lehman and Co. That company is controlled by former 9/11 Commission member John F. Lehman, a pro-war hawk who is now a prominent foreign policy advisor to the Romney campaign. This is truly a small world.
Siegelman reports to federal prison in Louisiana Sept. 11 to resume a seven-year prison sentence interrupted in 2008 when national outrage prompted his release on appeal bond. This followed disclosure of massive irregularities in the Bush-era prosecution of Alabama's leading Democrat on charges that were obviously trumped up.
On the Amy Goodman radio program Sept. 11, Siegelman cogently explained how he was framed by a federal prosecution growing out of Karl Rove's effort to to use the Justice Department for political prosecutions around the country. Fox News, for whom Rove is a featured, high-profile employee, aired a similarly sympathetic interview of Siegelman by Neil Cavuto, as noted below.
Similarly, Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power, a new book by Craig Unger, describes why Rove's Alabama accuser Jill Simpson remains more credible than Rove. This is despite all the latter's power, wealth and status as a pundit and GOP money-man. Simpson, a rural Republican lawyer, blew open the case with claims against Rove in 2007.
Rove has denounced Unger, Simpson and even Siegelman's daughter, Dana, in recent days, as indicated below. Rove attended last week's Democratic National Convention with a press pass issued via his Fox News connections, and shouted at defendant's daughter that he was sick of allegations against him. Simpson and other longtime observers of Rove believe he becomes unhinged whenever confronted by those who know his secrets and tactics. I am among those who have studied him closely, and believe he is inclined to accuse others of the same kinds of things he does himself.
Alabama blogger Shuler has published many trenchant commentaries recently describing how several federal appellate judges presiding over the Siegelman case have suspicious backgrounds. He provides a number of examples, including from his personal experience, of their irregularities. Independently, I have looked at some of their background, and believe that at least one of them has been blackmailed for years while maintaining a pious front.
Nonethless, Rove, Fuller, and other pro-conviction authorities are portrayed these days by the conventional media as vindicated. A large part of this is because of appellate decisions vindicating Fuller. Fuller has remained on the case as the Obama Justice Department and appellate courts fought Sieglman continuously, leading to his unjust return to prison today. Former Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig is now working with Siegelman's family and thousands of supporters to secure relief from President Obama.
From a Louisiana hotel room, Siegelman gave perhaps his final broadcast interview. It was on Amy Goodman's show. Siegelman urged signatures for his pardon petition. Fox News has provided at least two recent sympathetic interviews with Siegelman. Cavuto underscored Siegelman's argument that many donors to candidates could be at risk because of Siegelman's case.
The former governor aptly noted on the Goodman interview that he was never accused of receiving "a penny" from the donations of a businessman to a non-profit that Siegelman supported in 1999. The case, Siegelman rightfully stated, "is bigger than me."
Related News Coverage
New York Times, The Deafness Before the Storm, Kurt Eichenwald, Sept. 10, 2012. It was perhaps the most famous presidential briefing in history. On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal. On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.
Huffington Post, Re-Open the 9/11 Investigation Now, Bob Graham and Sharon Premoli.Sept. 11, 2012. The passage of time since September 11, 2001, has not diminished the distrust many of us feel surrounding the official story of how 9/11 happened and, more specifically, who financed and supported it. After eleven years, the time has come for the families of the victims, the survivors and all Americans to get the whole story behind 9/11. Yet the story of who may have facilitated the 19 hijackers and the infrastructure that supported the attacks -- a crucial element of the narrative -- has not been told. The pieces we do have underscore how much more remains unknown. [Editor's Note: Bob Graham is a former U.S. Senator from Florida, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-Chair of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11. He is the author of two books on 9/11. Sharon Premoli, a survivor of the attack on the North Tower of the World Trade Center, now runs the website Justiceagainstterrorism.net.]
Huffington Post, Libyan Consulate Attack: Who's to Blame? Kristen Breitweiser (9/11 widow and activist), Sept. 11, 2012. Yesterday, I spent the day walking the beach and quietly reflecting about my husband, who was killed on September 11th. Eleven years later, I am finally able to find my own peace. By stark contrast, I woke up this morning to the news of four Americans killed in Libya and protests in Cairo. And, I asked myself "how could this have happened?" Many people will assuredly believe that the only people to blame for this deadly violence are the Muslims who did it. And undoubtedly, those who carried out this horrendous act are guilty. But please remain mindful that the Muslims might not be the only ones responsible. After reading reports including Al Jazeera's coverage below, some immediate questions came to my mind and I hope all Americans will demand the answers to these questions:
1. Who are the alleged "over 100 Jewish donors" who financed this film? Will they be sending their condolences to the families of the four Americans killed because of their film? Will they in any way be publicly held accountable for their support of this film and its message?
2. Will Sam Bacile, the filmmaker, and Morris Sadek, the film's promoter, be held accountable for their seeming incitement of terrorist acts against U.S. interests abroad?
3. Who allegedly translated this film into Arabic since it was originally not available in Arabic?
4. Specifically, how did this film get released and made available to Libyan and Egyptian youth on September 11th, particularly since it was apparently not readily available to them online in its full form? In effect, in my opinion, somebody "pushed" this film out there to incite and spread hatred and rage in the Middle East on September 11th, and the identity of the person or organization behind this plot should be exposed and held accountable.
5. Given the broad and sweeping powers of the U.S. Patriot Act (an Act that I despise), will the U.S. government be electronically "backtracking" and investigating who is responsible for the creation, translation, and distribution of this film that has incited the senseless killings of four Americans? And will the families of those killed be able to hold any and all of these individuals or organizations accountable in an open court of law?
Journal of 9/11 Studies, The 11th Anniversary of 9/11, Paul Craig Roberts, right, Sept. 11, 2012. The article below was written for the Journal of 9/11 Studies for the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, the day that terminated accountable government and American liberty. In order to understand the improbability of the government’s explanation of 9/11, it is not necessary to know anything about what force or forces brought down the three World Trade Center buildings, what hit the Pentagon or caused the explosion, the flying skills or lack thereof of the alleged hijackers, whether the airliner crashed in Pennsylvania or was shot down, whether cell phone calls made at the altitudes could be received, or any other debated aspect of the controversy. You only have to know two things.
One is that according to the official story, a handful of Arabs, mainly Saudi Arabians, operating independently of any government and competent intelligence service, men without James Bond and V for Vendetta capabilities, outwitted not only the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency, but all 16 US intelligence agencies, along with all security agencies of America’s NATO allies and Israel’s Mossad. It is hard to image a more far-fetched story – except for the second thing you need to know: The humiliating failure of US National Security did not result in immediate demands from the President of the United States, from Congress, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and from the media for an investigation of how such improbable total failure could have occurred. No one was held accountable for the greatest failure of national security in world history. Instead, the White House dragged its feet for a year resisting any investigation until the persistent demands from 9/11 families for accountability forced President George W. Bush to appoint a political commission, devoid of any experts, to hold a pretend investigation. [Editor's Note: Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, above right has been a noted conservative scholar for many years. He was assistant Treasury secretary during the Reagan administration and later associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, with responsibilities over its opinion pages. Currently, he leads the Institute for Political Economy.]
WhoWhatWhy. The Real Reason For The Afghan War? Russ Baker, Sept. 10, 2012. When the United States decided to invade Afghanistan to grab Osama bin Laden—and failed, but stayed on like an unwanted guest—could it have known that the Afghans were sitting on some of the world’s greatest reserves of mineral wealth? We’ve raised this topic before (see here)—where we noted the dubious 2010 claim, published by the New York Times, that “the vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was [recently] discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” Other evidence, and logic, point to the fact that everyone but the Western public knew for a long time, and before the 2001 invasion, that Afghanistan was a treasure trove. So we were interested to see a new piece from the Times that emphasizes those riches without stressing the crucial question: Was the original impetus for the invasion really Osama—or Mammon?
Justice Integrity Project, Ex-Senators, Reporters Again Question Saudi Innocence in 9/11 Attacks, Andrew Kreig, March 21, 2012. Did operatives from Saudi Arabia play a vital role helping the 19 known hijackers who died on 9/11? High-ranking former U.S. government leaders, 9/11 victim families and investigative reporters increasingly seek answers. Last November, a federal appeals court opened the door for families of victims to reinstate their multi-billion dollar damage suit against Saudi defendants despite years of objections by Bush and Obama officials eager to keep good relations with the wealthy kingdom, a key ally for the United States in the Mideast. Saudis have denied complicity and also claimed that key U.S. officials have exonerated them. But former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham -- shown at right in a photo from the years when he was a U.S. Senator and Senate Intelligence Committee chairman -- denied that a major investigation he led in 2002 cleared the Saudis. "I am convinced," Graham says in an affidavit recently filed by the 9/11 plaintiff families, "that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia."
Democracy Now!, Video interview and transcript of Interview with Don Siegelman and author Craig Unger, Amy Goodman, Sept. 11, 2012. Don Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, returns to federal prison today to resume his six-and-a-half-year sentence on a controversial bribery conviction that has been compared to a political witch hunt. Siegelman and his supporters say he was the target of a plot, in part orchestrated by former Bush administration deputy Karl Rove, for belonging to the Democratic Party in a state with a Republican majority. "No one wants to go to prison for something that is not a crime, and especially one orchestrated by Karl Rove," Siegelman said. "Everyone remembers the eight U.S. attorneys who were fired by Rove during the Bush administration because they would not pursue political prosecutions. Well, the U.S. attorney in Alabama, appointed by Bush, vetted by Rove, pursued a political prosecution." Sign the petition: www.change.org/pardondon.
Legal Schnauzer, Did Judge on Siegelman Appellate Panel Act Out of Fear From a Failed Attempt on his Life? Roger Shuler, Sept. 11, 2012. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is due to report to federal custody today in Oakdale, Louisiana, providing absolute proof that large chunks of Americans are perfectly willing to accept the idea of political prisoners in our "democracy," circa 2012. We have written probably several hundred posts about the Siegelman travesty, and you might think that we wouldn't have anything left to say at this point. But you would be wrong, and that's largely because the case was so profoundly screwed up on so many levels that the news just keeps on coming. In fact, the following question is on our mind today: Was the appeal in the Siegelman case botched in part because one member of the three-judge panel operates out of fear from being the target of a failed assassination attempt more than 20 years ago?
Fox News, Former Gov. Don Siegelman: I’m Here Seeking My Freedom, Neil Cavuto, Sept. 4, 2012. Former Gov. Don Siegelman, (D-Ala.), on being sentenced to prison for bribery. Cavuto: "This judge had it in for you from the beginning."
Guardian (United Kingdom), Former governor Don Siegelman lobbies for presidential pardon at DNC, Andrew Gumbel, Sept. 5, 2012. The former Alabama governor was perhaps the highest profile victim of Karl Rove's political machine, sentenced to six years for bribery. Now his last hope for freedom is a presidential pardon. Siegelman is in Charlotte at the pleasure of a federal judge, and is just days away from resuming a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence, following a widely publicised conviction on bribery charges stemming from his time in office more than a decade ago. His goal at the convention is to drum up support for a presidential pardon, which he knows can come only once President Obama is safely back in the White House for a second term. It's not as much of a long shot as it may sound, because Siegelman is no ordinary felon. The magazine of the American Trial Lawyers Association has described him as "America's No 1 political prisoner", and his well-connected friends and supporters include more than 100 former state attorneys general and former Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry.
Huffington Post,The Curious Case of Don Siegelman, Mimi Kennedy, Sept. 3, 2012. Don Siegelman should be a star in the Democratic Party. Instead, he's a former elected official sentenced to prison by a right-wing judge in Alabama.
Legal Schnauzer, Karl Rove Acts Like a Jackass to Don Siegelman's Daughter at Democratic National Convention, Roger Shuler, Sept. 7, 2012. Dana Siegelman, the daughter of Alabama's former governor, approached Karl Rove this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Showing Rove more politeness than he deserved, Ms. Siegelman introduced herself and tried to ask if there is anything Rove could do to help her father. After all, Don Siegelman is due to report to federal custody next Tuesday as the victim of perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in American history. Did Karl Rove care about the human costs of gross injustice? Not on your life. What did Dana Siegelman get for her trouble? An epic lesson in Republican rudeness. The TYT Network interviewed Dana Siegelman about her brief experience in Rove's orbit, and you can view the full video at the end of this post. If you ever have asked yourself, "Just how big a jackass is Karl Rove?" Dana Siegelman provides the answer with the following words: "I had no idea that Karl Rove would dare step in this building. And when I found out this morning that he was here, I sort of felt . . . I need to meet this person and let him know what he's done to my family."
Fox News, Former Gov. Don Siegelman Petitions President for Pardon, Neil Cavuto, Aug. 13, 2012. (Video). Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on the petition for the President to pardon him from his prison sentence for bribery. Host Neil Cavuto describes Siegelman treatment as unfair, and worrisome to business executives from either party making donations.
Pam Miles List Serve (Alabama), This is Pure Meanness, Pam Miles, Aug. 28, 2012. On August 3, our Governor Don Siegelman was resentenced to serve the balance of a 78 month term. Don’s reporting date is September 11th. At the sentencing in 2007 Judge Fuller had the Governor hand-cuffed and shackled with chains around his legs and waist -- and taken from the court room and put into solitary confinement in the basement of a maximum security prison in Atlanta at 1 AM. On August 3rd at resentencing, Judge Fuller granted a motion for Don to self-report and said that he would request that the BOP place Don at a facility “as near Alabama as he can be designated.”
While Talladega is only 49 miles away and Maxwell Air Force base only 97 miles, Judge Fuller must have thought that Don’s enthusiastic supporters like me would be viewed as way too much of a distraction if Don were in Alabama. Pensacola, however, is only 251 miles away, about a 4 and ½ hour drive for Don’s wife, Lori. But oh no, apparently even Pensacola is too near Alabama for the Judge, because Don just received notice that he is assigned to Oakdale, Louisiana, a 17-18 hour, 900+ mile round trip. As you may remember Lori, Don’s wife, lost an eye in a horrific automobile accident with a drunk driver in 1984. She would have difficulty driving the 17-18 hour, 900+ mile round trip to Oakdale and back. It would be very dangerous and nearly impossible for her to drive it alone. This is nothing but punitive. It is outrageous that the Judge is sending Don to prison at all for something that wasn’t a crime. It’s never been a crime to appoint a contributor to something. Where do Ambassadors come from? From people who raise money for whomever is elected president! If it was not for Richard Scrushy being the contributor and for the government pressuring Nick Bailey, who was facing 40 to 100 years in prison, to lie there would not have been a conviction.
Here's How I Got Screwed by the Same Appellate Court In Atlanta That Cheated Don Siegelman, Roger Shuler, Sept. 6, 2012. We have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is filled with judges who are crooked. Their hatchet jobs on the Don Siegelman case and the Alabama hunting-club cases have been laid bare for the public to see. But now we have a third case that might represent the most blatant example yet of corruption in the Atlanta-based court. And this case hits close to home. We are talking about my lawsuit against the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and various individuals over my unlawful termination after 19 years on the job as an editor at UAB. A three-judge panel from the Eleventh Circuit butchered the appeal on at least a half dozen key points of law. But for now, we will focus on only one issue. It involves a simple concept of law, one that must be taught in Law School 101: Summary judgment cannot be granted, or even considered, when the non-moving party (me, in this case) has been given no opportunity to conduct discovery. In fact, summary judgment cannot be considered on an incomplete record, as happens when one party tries to stonewall the other in discovery.
Wayne Madsen, Retaliation against Siegelman has roots in Bush '41 crimes, Wayne Madsen Report, Sept. 4, 2012. (Subscription required.) The re-imprisonment of former Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman by George W. Bush-appointed U.S. Judge Mark E. Fuller is part of a political retaliation process that has its roots in the Iran-contra scandal, according to a high-level WMR source.
Harper's No Comment, Boss Rove: Six Questions for Craig Unger, Scott Horton, Sept. 3, 2012. After four years in the political penalty box, Karl Rove has returned as the undeniable mastermind of the G.O.P.’s electoral effort. Vanity Fair contributing editor Craig Unger, left, has just published a new book, Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power, that focuses on Rove’s fall from grace during the Bush years and his remarkable political resurrection. It shows how Rove’s tactics are remaking the nation’s political landscape and explains why, win or lose in 2012, he is likely to be a dominant force in Republican politics for some time.
Wayne Madsen Report, Federal judge's firm trained lead 9/11 hijacker, Aug. 3, 2012 (subscription required). Judge Mark Fuller's former firm trained Mohammed Atta. U.S. Judge for the the Middle District of Alabama Mark Fuller, scheduled to re-sentence former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman on August 3 in Montgomery, was the previous owner of a firm that trained accused 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta. The information on Fuller's links to the 9/11 attack were uncovered by a former Republican Party campaign aide in Alabama who spoke to WMR on background. WMR previously reported on Fuller's financial dealings with Doss Aviation, which, among other government business, had the contract to re-fuel Air Force One. Having had trained Atta, as well as Saudi, Iranian, and other Egyptian pilots to fly aircraft, the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Doss Aviation was in a position to help carry out threats against Air Force One that were received by the presidential airplane's pilot on 9/11, specifically "Angel is next." Angel was the classified code word used at the time to denote Air Force One.
Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman Resentencing Serves as a Grim Reminder That His Prosecution Was Bogus from the Outset, Aug. 3, 2012. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was resentenced today to serve five years and nine months on top of the time he already has served in federal prison -- plus three years of probation, a $50,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service. All of this for committing what we have termed a "crime that doesn't exist." And that is an accurate statement because U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller did not include the "explicit agreement" language that is required by law to form an illegal quid pro quo in the context of a campaign contribution. But today's events are disturbing for reasons that go way beyond legal lingo. Lost in all of the reporting about what does or does not constitute bribery in the political realm, is this undisputed fact--the charges against Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy were barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
OpEd News, What Federal Judge Fuller's Ugly Divorce Has to Do with Don Siegelman, (Interview of Andrew Kreig by Joan Brunwasser), May 25, 2012. The government's frame-up of Siegelman, Alabama's most popular Democrat, was the culmination of a two-decade plan by Karl Rove and his business allies to transform Alabama state politics and courts from historically Democratic to overwhelmingly Republican. Parallel developments occurred also in Mississippi and Louisiana, but it was most dramatic in Alabama, where Rove and the Bush family have longstanding ties and where the historically Democratic black population is the smallest of any Deep South state. This rout of Democrats has left the party so enfeebled that the national party has in effect ceded to Republicans much of the control over the justice system in these regions, as otherwise in the guts of government. For example, the Obama administration left in office until last spring the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney who helped frame Siegelman, and then named as her successor a man who as a defense attorney represented the chief witness against Siegelman. This created a perverse incentive to keep a lid on the scandals. Further, Congress is abandoning its watchdog role except in a few partisan matters. In this case, we now know that some prominent Democrats from Alabama in effect sold out Siegelman for their own selfish purposes by bad-mouthing him and trial critics behind-the-scenes in Washington.
Montgomery Independent / Wetumpka Herald, Fuller’s ethics called into question in suit, Bob Martin, May 16, 2012. The past judicial record of U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery has demonstrated his failure on many occasions to step aside from cases thought by lawyers to be compromised by his personal, financial or political interests. This past month personal interests came to the forefront of Fuller’s life with the filing of divorce papers by his wife, Lisa. The long term abuse of trust by Fuller, described to me from sources inside the U.S. Courthouse in Montgomery and others continues today and has lasted at least 4 years. It involves a former female courtroom deputy in her late 30s with children ages 9 and 14. Her husband obtained a divorce several months ago.
United Press International, Equity acquires Doss Aviation, Dec. 23, 2011. A Colorado provider of aviation support services to the U.S. government and military has been acquired by private equity firm J.F. Lehman and Co. The equity company, in announcing the agreement, didn't disclose the terms of the acquisition of Doss Aviation Inc. "Doss Aviation is an ideal fit with J.F. Lehman," said Stephen Brooks, a partner at J.F. Lehman. "Doss Aviation has strong, long-standing relationships with its customers, an outstanding workforce and a reputation for delivering exceptional customer service. "We look forward to partnering with the management team to achieve the company's strategic goals." Doss, with 14 locations worldwide, engages in aircraft crew training and aircraft maintenance as well as military base logistics. "This marks the beginning of a new and exciting era for the company," said Ken Smith, president and chief executive officer of Doss Aviation. "As a firm focused on the defense and aerospace markets, J.F. Lehman will augment our team with a group of experienced investment professionals and industry experts with a proven track record of creating value by helping its portfolio companies meet their goals for growth and profitability."
Colorado Springs Gazette, Doss Aviation sold to private equity group, Wayne Heilman, Dec. 22, 2011. Colorado Springs-based Doss Aviation has been acquired by a New York-based private equity firm that specializes in buying and growing companies in the aerospace, defense and maritime industries. J.F. Lehman & Co., headed by former Navy secretary and 9-11 Commission member John Lehman, announced Thursday that it had acquired Doss for an undisclosed price, with debt financing arranged by BNP Paribas, Abacus Financial Group LLC and Babson Capital Management LLC. “Doss Aviation is an ideal fit for J.F. Lehman,” Stephen Brooks, a J.F. Lehman partner, said in a press release. “Doss Aviation has strong, long-standing relationships with its customers, an outstanding workforce and a reputation for delivering exceptional customer service. We look forward to partnering with the management team to achieve the company’s strategic goals.” He was not available for further comment.
Legal Schnauzer, George Will, Of All People, Stands Up for Justice in the Don Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, Feb. 12, 2012. Who could have imagined that George Will would prove to be more progressive than Barack Obama on fundamental matters of justice? Will, probably the nation's foremost conservative columnist, writes in his most recent piece that the U.S. Supreme Court should review the convictions of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy to ensure that overzealous prosecutors are not criminalizing standard political behavior.
CBS 60 Minutes, Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal? Scott Pelley, Feb. 24, 2008. Is Don Siegelman in prison because he's a criminal or because he belonged to the wrong political party in Alabama? Siegelman is the former governor of Alabama, and he was the most successful Democrat in that Republican state. But while he was governor, the U.S. Justice Department launched multiple investigations that went on year after year until, finally, a jury convicted Siegelman of bribery.
Harper's No Comment, The Pork Barrel World of Judge Mark Fuller, Scott Horton, Aug. 6, 2007. For the last week, we’ve been examining the role played by Judge Mark Everett Fuller in the trial, conviction, and sentencing of former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman. Today, we examine a post-trial motion, filed in April 2007, asking Fuller to recuse himself based on his extensive private business interests, which turn very heavily on contracts with the United States Government, including the Department of Justice. The recusal motion rested upon details about Fuller’s personal business interests.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
Legal Schnauzer, Why Does the Public Tolerate Corrupt Judges Who Steal From Them? Rogert Shuler, Sept. 10, 2012. If I ran a video of a bank executive stealing money from a vault, it probably would go viral--and the public, understandably, would be outraged at what it was seeing. I ran the judicial equivalent of such a video last week, presenting irrefutable evidence of judges in the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals committing what amounts to flagrant theft. So, where is the outrage? Why the double standard? One could argue that the behavior of the judges actually is worse than that of our mythical banker. The banker likely would be paid via private funds while acting as a crook. The judges, on the other hand, are paid with public funds; they are using our own money to steal from us. And make no mistake about it . . . corrupt judges, such as Gerald Bard Tjoflat, left, and J.L. Edmondson of the Eleventh Circuit, are stealing. They are thieves who happen to wear robes. My anger on this subject is palpable because Tjoflat and Edmondson directly cheated me on the case in question -- a lawsuit over my wrongful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). (You can read my response to UAB's Motion for Summary Judgment at the end of this post, and that document explains the relevant law; UAB's motion could not lawfully be granted, but it was, and the trial court's bogus ruling could not lawfully be upheld, but it was.) While I was the direct victim in this instance, all citizens are indirect victims of judicial thievery--and it's not just my opinion that Tjoflat and Edmondson are thieves; that's the term federal law uses to describe their actions.
Institute for Political Economy, The Republicans Cross the Rubicon, Paul Craig Roberts, Sept. 4, 2012. Does anyone remember when National Public Radio was an independent voice? During the 1980s NPR was continually on the case of the Reagan administration. NPR certainly had a Democratic slant, and a lot of its reporting about the Reagan administration was one-sided. Yet, NPR was an independent voice, and it sometimes got things correct.Today the entire “mainstream media” is closed to truth-tellers. The US media is Washington’s propaganda ministry. The US media has only one function – to lie for Washington. What reminded me of NPR’s surrender was NPR’s August 31 report with its two regular talking voice political pundits discussing the Republican Convention and Romney’s speech. After witnessing the Republicans at their nominating convention at Tampa violate all their own rules and ride roughshod over the Ron Paul delegates, one expected some discussion of the Republican Party’s refusal to allow Ron Paul to be placed in nomination or his delegate account to be announced. The operative question was obvious: How can the American people trust the Republicans with the awesome power of the executive branch when the Republican Party just finished demonstrating for all to see its Stalinist qualities by crushing the anti-war, anti-police state wing of its party?
Legal Schnauzer, Spotlight on Joe Scarborough: Arrest Is Made In Case of Human Remains at Florida Storage Unit, Roger Shuler, Sept. 10, 2012. A former medical examiner has been arrested on charges related to the discovery late last month of human remains at a storage unit in Pensacola, Florida. Michael Berkland faces a felony charge of improper storage of hazardous waste, a misdemeanor charge of nuisance injurious to public health, and driving with a suspended license. We have yet to see any references in the mainstream press to the fact that Berkland essentially closed the books on an investigation into the death of Lori Klausutis, who was found dead in summer 2001 in the office of then U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough. Now the host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Scarborough largely has escaped scrutiny in the Klausutis case since Berkland ruled her death an accident, stemming from a cardiac arrhythmia that caused her to fall and strike her head on a desk. Several online news sources have raised questions about Berkland's findings in the Klausuits case, saying they are not supported by relevant scientific literature. The recent grisly discovery at a Pensacola storage unit raise new questions about Berkland's competence -- and perhaps his sanity.
Truthout / Huffington Post, John Cusack Interviews Law Professor Jonathan Turley About Obama Administration’s War On the Constitution, Sept. 1 ,2012. Now that the Republican primary circus is over, I started to think about what it would mean to vote for Obama...Since mostly we hear from the daily hypocrisies of Mitt and friends, I thought we should examine "our guy" on a few issues with a bit more scrutiny than we hear from the "progressive left," which seems to be little or none at all. Three markers — the Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the escalation speech at West Point, and the recent speech by Eric Holder — crossed that Rubicon line for me...Mr. Obama, the Christian president with the Muslim-sounding name, would heed the admonitions of neither religion's prophets about making war and do what no empire or leader, including Alexander the Great, could do: he would, he assured us "get the job done in Afghanistan." And so we have our democratic president receiving the Nobel Peace Prize as he sends 30,000 more troops to a ten-year-old conflict in a country that's been war-torn for 5,000 years.
Legal Schnauzer, Why Were No Opinions Issued On Appeals of Alabama Hunting-Club Lawsuits? Roger Shuler, Sept. 4, 2012. The legal profession reeks of dirty secrets, and one of my favorites is this: Many federal judges do not write the opinions they issue. Attorney William Domnarski shined light on the subject in a recent op-ed piece for The New York Times, noting that ghost-written judicial opinions raise serious questions about the integrity of federal courts -- as if federal courts had any integrity to begin with. Law clerks write the opinions for almost all federal appellate judges, Domnarski writes, and it stands to reason that the practice also is common in federal trial courts. Domnarski says members of the legal tribe rarely discuss the issue because it "raises too many embarrassing questions." Domnarski goes on to write: "We have become too comfortable with the troubling idea that judging does not require that judges do their own work." So what is the public to make of instances where federal appellate judges do no work at all on a case before them? That apparently is what happened on a pair of lawsuits that originated in Birmingham, alleging that corrupt lawyers and judges used a hunting club as a place to fix Jefferson County divorce cases.
New York Times, Judges Should Write Their Own Opinions, William Domnarski, May 31, 2012. There is a crisis in the federal appellate judiciary. No, I’m not referring to the high number of judicial vacancies or overloaded case dockets — though those are real problems. The crisis I have in mind rarely is discussed because it raises too many embarrassing questions. I’m talking about the longstanding and well-established practice of having law clerks ghostwrite judges’ legal opinions. We have become too comfortable with the troubling idea that judging does not require that judges do their own work.