Our Project reports this week prompted extraordinary reader interest on independent websites about the Obama transition team's post-election fear of a "revolt" by authorities if President Obama vigorously probed Bush-era war crimes. But the corporate-controlled media reported nothing, as far as we can tell. Our information came entirely on the record from University of California at Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley, Jr. And he was in a position to know such things as the sixth highest-ranking member of the 2008 post-election transition team preparing for the Obama’s administration.
What's next? I suggest building on what we now know about the Obama team's early fears, and pushing for at least one intrepid MSM mainstream reporter to explore the story for wider audiences. My piece on OpEd News quickly gained more than 15,000 page views and 100 reader comments thanks to prominent placement by publisher/editor Rob Kall and alerts via Facebook alerts by the equally tireless Michael Collins, founder of The Money Party commentary site. But this kind of information needs to be part of the larger dialogue about who should lead the United States. It's less than impressive if a leader seeking an Obama-sized mandate is intimidated by the military/CIA and NSA as well as by the other major party.
Listed below are multiple versions of the story, including by such other bloggers as Roger Shuler and David Swanson. Multiple listings enables sampling of reader comments. We can see that Obama's positions on torture and political prosecutions has cost him support of some former backers, whereas others forgive him. Our review below also recaps recent news on related justice issues, including political prosecutions in New Jersey and Alabama and the secret escalation of war-making power by the CIA, which was organizing originally as an intelligence operation and not a war-making unit.
Obama Team Fear of 'Revolt' and Republican Reprisal
For those who missed our first Justice Integrity Project column this week or who would like a briefer recap, the gist is in Obama Team Feared Revolt If He Prosecuted War Crimes, published by Connecticut Watchdog late Sept. 8. That column noted also our revelations last year about the Justice Department whitewash under Attorney Gen. Eric Holder of Bush-era torture and political prosecutions arising out of the U.S. attorney purges. We most recently reported on that July 21 in Holder's CIA Probe Prompts Disputes. The separate probes of torture and political prosecutions were led by the prominent Connecticut federal prosecutors John Durham and Nora Dannehy, respectively.
My own conclusion is that the U.S. president should be a fearless leader who enforces our laws with a passion for justice to the very best of his ability. Many who are protecting our liberty – including soldiers on the front-lines, government undercover agents, first responders, and taxpayer-protecting whistleblowers – are risking their health, money, family future and even their lives on a frequent basis. Why shouldn’t those at the top take some risks?
To that end, President Lincoln is reputed to have said during the Civil War that he’d rather risk death than give up one star of the nation’s flag. As one who works in the nation’s capital a block from the site on Pennsylvania Avenue where his assassins plotted their crime and four blocks from Ford’s Theater, it seems appropriate to me that any conspirators against today’s elected leadership should be prepared, as he was, to pay the ultimate price.
Report on Obama Transition Team Fears of Revolt
Justice Integrity Project (With Thanks to Michael Collins)
Other Authors Roger Shuler
San Francisco Chronicle / Politics Blog, Obama ally says torture probe could have prompted CIA 'revolt''
Commentary by Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman
Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman: What Happened to President Obama's Moral Compass? Roger Shuler, Sept. 14, 2011. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, the most high-profile victim of a Bush-era political prosecution, had a strong reaction to recent news that advisors to Barack Obama feared a coup if the administration pursued prosecutions for war crimes. ”Clearly if one's moral compass is locked in, the decision is easy to make that the United States does not tolerate torture as a means of interrogation.”Spy vs. Spy
New York Times, Leak Offers Look at Efforts by U.S. to Spy on Israel, Scott Shane, Sept. 5, 2011. When Shamai K. Leibowitz, an F.B.I. translator, was sentenced to 20 months in prison last year for leaking classified information to a blogger, prosecutors revealed little about the case. They identified the blogger in court papers only as “Recipient A.” After Mr. Leibowitz pleaded guilty, even the judge said he did not know exactly what Mr. Leibowitz had disclosed. Mr. Leibowitz, a contract Hebrew translator, passed on secret transcripts of conversations caught on F.B.I. wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Those overheard by the eavesdroppers included American supporters of Israel and at least one member of Congress, according to the blogger, Richard Silverstein. In his first interview about the case, Mr. Silverstein offered a rare glimpse of American spying on a close ally.
More Alabama Gambling News
Legal Schnauzer, Choctaws Faced Huge Debt Payment When Bob Riley Launched Bingo Raids in Alabama, Roger Shuler, Sept. 6, 2011. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians were facing about $80 million in looming debt when former Alabama Governor Bob Riley launched a series of raids against bingo facilities in his state. Was Riley trying to help the Choctaws by stamping out competitors in Alabama? Given that Riley reportedly benefited from at least $13 million of Mississippi gaming money in the 2002 race for governor, the likely answer is yes. And that means the federal bingo trial that recently ended with no convictions--but is scheduled to be retried--almost certainly was driven by Riley's efforts to harm businesses in his own state.
Legal Schnazuer, Bob Riley's Bingo Raids Cost Alabama Taxpayers Almost $4 Million, Roger Shuler, Sept. 9, 2011. In the kind of real journalism that is all too rare in Alabama, Jon Paepcke of Birmingham's WVTM reveals that Riley's anti-gambling task force spent $3.95 million -- and asks, "Was that money well spent?" Former Alabama Attorney General Troy King has a ready answer: “I guess it depends on what they wanted. If they wanted fireworks and theatrics and they wanted to see state troopers swarming into business parking lots. If that's what they wanted, then they got it in spades,” King argued.
Expanding War Powers
Harper’s, An Army in the Shadows, Scott Horton, Sept. 2, 2011. In Friday’s Washington Post, Greg Miller and Julie Tate published a must-read study tracing the evolution of the Central Intelligence Agency from an intelligence-collection and -analysis operation into a shadow military force: In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the agency has undergone a fundamental transformation. Although the CIA continues to gather intelligence and furnish analysis on a vast array of subjects, its focus and resources are increasingly centered on the cold counterterrorism objective of finding targets to capture or kill.
New Jersey Official Corruption Prosecutions In 'Bid Rig III' 2009 Cases
Jersey Journal, Former Jersey City council candidate indicted on fraud charges, Terrence T. McDonald, Sept. 7, 2011. Former Jersey City City Council candidate LaVern Webb Washington was indicted today for defrauding her campaign fund in connection to payments she accepted from federal informant Solomon Dwek, federal officials said. Webb Washington, 63,was one of several council candidates whose original corruption indictments were tossed out in 2010 by a federal judge. She, as a failed council candidate, could not be convicted of the corruption charge she pleaded guilty to. If convicted, Webb Washington faces up to 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
Newark Sar-Ledger, U.S. Attorney's Office asks judge to revoke bail of ex-Jersey City deputy mayor, send her to prison, Jason Grant, Sept. 7, 2011. A day after former deputy Jersey City mayor Leona Beldini lost her appeal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office today asked a federal judge to revoke her bail and send her to prison. Beldini, 76, was convicted in February 2010 of two counts of bribery after a nine-day federal trial in Newark. She was later sentenced to three years in prison, but U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares allowed her to remain free on bail while she appealed.
Statement by Bid Rig III Defendant Louis Manzo, Sept. 12, 2011. The misprision of felony charge alleges that by concealing the information of Dwek's payment to my brother on my New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) I committed a crime. How am I responsible to report money which I refuse to accept on an ELEC form? There is no requirement under NJ ELEC statutes. And if I did, than why was the mail fraud charge against me dropped? The use of the ELEC document in my case and the innovative mail fraud charges just announced in the indictment against BR III defendant Laverne Webb-Washington establish a dangerous precedent. Allowing the federal government to use a states ELEC laws for the purpose of prosecuting a mail and wire fraud, or other crime, would now subject to federal criminal prosecution any candidate for office, who uses the mails to file a State's ELEC report, which is incorrect. The ELEC enforcement and penalty for this type infraction, and for failing to report donations, is typically a fine and a need to remedy the impropriety on an ammended ELEC form. The federal government is now attempting to make the same offence a federal crime subject to a potential 20 year jail sentence. Election bribery (NJSA 19:34-25 ) is a distinct State statute that is enforceable under other NJ State Election laws, and, again, never contemplated the penalty accompanying the federal statutes being utilized in this prosecution....The government charged me with the same crime under a similar absurd theory in their second indictment against me. When my attorney John Lynch pointed out the absurdity and Constitutional impropriety of the charge at my second arraignment, the mail fraud charge was mysteriously dropped from my third indictment. Now they bring the same charge against a candidate with limited resources for a defense. I invite journalists to call NJ ELEC and see just who NJ's most prolific violaters of NJ ELEC filings are. Under the USAO theory being proffered in the charges against Webb-Washington, they too would be subject to federal prosecution if they used the mails to file their incorrect ELEC reports....
FBI Anti-Terror Spending and Surveillance
Mother Jones, The Informants, Trevor Aaronson, September/October, 2011. The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them? Over the past year, Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley have examined prosecutions of 508 defendants in terrorism-related cases, as defined by the Department of Justice. Our investigation found: 1) Nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violations. 2) Sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that total, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur—an FBI operative instigating terrorist action. 3) With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.
New York Law Journal, Last Defendant in FBI Sting Gets 25 Years for Bomb Plot, Mark Hamblett, Sept. 8, 2011. The last of four men convicted in a 2009 FBI sting for attempting to bomb Riverdale synagogues and shoot down military planes with missiles was sentenced to 25 years behind bars yesterday. Southern District Judge Colleen McMahon ordered Laguerre Payen to prison for his role in the Riverdale bombing plot, but not before she again criticized the government for creating a crime of terrorism where one did not exist through the instigation of a confidential informant.
Voter Suppression Challenged in Wisconsin
Daily Kos /OpEd News, Wisconsin wanders into poll tax territory, Chris Bowers, Sept. 11, 2011. A Wisconsin official has discouraged state workers from volunteering information about free IDs available under a controversial voter identification law that critics complain is designed to suppress votes, a memo leaked on Wednesday showed.The memo, provided to the press by Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach, was likely to fan concerns among critics of the Republican-backed law that it aimed to suppress votes of thousands of otherwise eligible Wisconsin voters. The 24th amendment to the Constitution made it illegal to deny or abridge a citizen's right to vote in federal elections due to their failure to pay a poll tax or any other kind of tax. Now that Wisconsin, along with several other states, requires official state identification in order to vote, those states are constitutionally required to provide citizens with a free version of the ID.Corporate Fraud Immunity Reversed
Thomson Reuters, Ex-Petters execs must face Ponzi claims lawsuit, Jonathan Stempel) Sept. 6, 2011. Two former executives who worked for convicted Ponzi scheme operator Thomas Petters can be sued by an investment firm victimized in his $3.65 billion fraud, a federal appeals court ruled. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday revived a civil racketeering and fraud lawsuit against Mary Jeffries, who was president of Petters Group Worldwide Inc, and Camille Chee-Awai, who was chief executive of its Petters Capital LLC unit. Ritchie Capital Management LLC, a private equity and asset management firm, had accused the defendants of conspiring with Petters to fraudulently extract more than $100 million of loans. It said the defendants had represented that the money would be secured by assets of camera company Polaroid Corp, which Petters owned and where Jeffries was also chief executive. A federal judge in Minneapolis had dismissed Ritchie's case in 2010, citing a bankruptcy court ban on new lawsuits that interfered with the assets or documents of Petters' companies, which had been put in receivership. But Judge Kermit Bye wrote for the 8th Circuit that the ban was not meant to cover the lawsuit by Ritchie against other defendants it believed were actively involved in the fraud.
PBS Frontline / WGHB-V (Boston), An extended conversation with Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who was at the center of the 9/11 investigations, Martin Smith, Sept. 13, 2011 (Video 28:25 min.).
Assange / WikiLeaks Prosecution
Professors Blogg (Sweden and Italy), A forensic scenario in the Swedish case against Assange, Marcello De Ferrada De Noli, Sept. 8, 2011. Reports in the Swedish case against Julian Assange indicate that a "triumph card" in possession of Prosecutor Marianne Ny is forensic certificate issued to one of the women-accusers. That the state funnels expenditures to clinics for the psychiatric health of its citizens is just. Likewise, that the state would try to increase the juridical security of its citizens by helping them objectively to document sustained psychic injury. But what if such clinics are transformed -- or were so devised -- to run an ideological agenda to favor interests of a selected group against the interest of the principle justice for all?
GOP Probe of Obama Fast-Tack for $535 Million in Solar Dollars
Center for Public Integrity, / iWatch News, Solyndra Saga Continues, Matthew Mosk and Ronnie Greene Sept. 14, 2011. The ill-fated and bankrupt solar company Solyndra is still in the news, thanks to more exclusive coverage from iWatch News. This week, the Center and partner ABC News obtained emails that showed White House officials had been closely watching the company’s fortunes in 2009 and indicated it may not be the best bet for federal loan guarantees. Too late, by then the Department of Energy had jumped to make Solyndra the poster child for the Obama administration’s new green-jobs stimulus program. Last week, we discovered the California-based outfit had received a special 1 percent loan, backed by $535 million in taxpayer-funded guarantees.