June News Reports 2011

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on June 1, 2011

Listed below is the Justice Integrity Project's monthly archive of cutting-edge news excerpts for October 2011.
 

 

 

June 30

Legal Schnauzer, Ronnie Gilley's Attorney Has a Drug-Trafficking Conviction In His Past, Roger Shuler, June 30, 2011. The attorney representing Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley in the Alabama bingo trial has a federal drug-trafficking conviction on his record. David J. Harrison, of Geneva, was convicted in March 1997 of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Veteran investigative journalist John Caylor, editor of insider-magazine.com, has provided documents and other evidence to Legal Schnauzer, showing that a federal jury in Dothan found Harrison guilty and his appeal was unsuccessful. Harrison entered an appearance as one of Gilley's attorneys in the bingo case on April 21, 2011. Gilley entered a guilty plea the next day, and he has been testifying this week--although he did not take the stand yesterday because of an illness.

The attorney representing Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley in the Alabama bingo trial has a federal drug-trafficking conviction on his record. David J. Harrison, of Geneva, was convicted in March 1997 of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Veteran investigative journalist John Caylor, editor of insider-magazine.com, has provided documents and other evidence to Legal Schnauzer, showing that a federal jury in Dothan found Harrison guilty and his appeal was unsuccessful. (See court documents at the end of this post.) Harrison entered an appearance as one of Gilley's attorneys in the bingo case on April 21, 2011. Gilley entered a guilty plea the next day, and he has been testifying this week--although he did not take the stand yesterday because of an illness.

June 29

Wiliam BulgerBoston Globe, It’s still Whitey’s world, and maneuvers keep justice a long way off, Kevin Cullen, June 29, 2011. Last Friday, when he walked into a Boston courtroom for the first time in a half-century, he scanned the audience and quickly picked out his younger brother Billy, the guy who used to be one of the most powerful politicians in Massachusetts. This case is going to unfold in the same way Whitey is accused of disposing more than a few of his victims: slowly and torturously. Mark Wolf, the federal judge who has done as much as anyone to see that the FBI’s enabling of their rat Whitey Bulger was brought into the full light of day, sounded almost wistful as he began to say goodbye to the case he would have relished finishing. “It looks like Mr. Bulger wanted to say something,’’ Wolf said at one point, hopefully. Whitey shook his head. He doesn’t appear to be in any rush.

Boston Globe, It’s not a crime to love a sibling, Harvey Silverglate, June 29, 2011. The public outrage and media onslaught about William Bulger’s refusal to betray his brother, James “Whitey’’ Bulger needs to stop. Bill Bulger is criticized because he continues to love his brother, and that he hopes never to have a part in Whitey Bulger’s downfall. And for this he is vilified.

Boston Globe, His loyalty trumps morality, Scott Lehigh, June 29, 2011. Please, spare me any misplaced sympathy for William M. Bulger. Certainly Whitey Bulger’s monstrous criminality put his brother, the state’s one-time Senate president and later university chief, in a difficult position. But a recognition of William’s unenviable plight shouldn’t obscure this truth: Faced with a moral dilemma, William repeatedly made the wrong choice, putting loyalty to his felonious brother over responsibility to his neighborhood, his constituents, or the larger public community whose university he led.

Newark Star Ledger, Solomon Dwek loses allowance following jail sentence for lying to FBI, Ted Sherman, June 29, 2011. Having lost his freedom, federal informant Solomon Dwek is also about to lose his allowance. Abruptly sent to jail Tuesday for lying to the FBI, Dwek was receiving a $12,500 monthly stipend from the federal bankruptcy trustee trying to sort out the remains of his failed real estate empire later found to be built upon massive fraud. That allowance expires today, as does an agreement to pay Dwek’s expenses in connection with the bankruptcy case — including the cost of a $100-an-hour private security contingent. Dwek, 38, was using the money to support his wife and six children — including a son born just weeks ago. His family, shunned from their Orthodox Sephardic community in Deal, now lives in Baltimore. The key figure in a sweeping federal corruption and money laundering sting, Dwek began cooperating with the government after being charged in an unrelated $50 million bank fraud.

Rod BlagojevichForbes, Blagojevich Convicted, But Was He Really Guilty? Harvey A. Silverglate,Harvey Silverglate June 29, 2011. The peanut gallery hasn’t stopped cheering since news broke of the conviction of former-governor Rod Blagojevich. I have written a column for Forbes.com arguing that what Blagojevich, right, was convicted of was being a not-uncommon, even if not successfully shrewd politician, who did what many other pols in his shoes would have done and have quite frequently done. But due to a combination of prosecutorial overreach, the use of vague statutes, and a dose of opportunism at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago, Blagojevich is likely to find himself behind bars.

June 28

New York Times, The Judge Who Cracked the Bulger Case, Editorial Board, June 28, 2011.  For anyone trying to fathom James (Whitey) Bulger’s long, pathological career on both sides of the law, a 661-page opinion by Mark Wolf, chief judge of the Federal District Court in Massachusetts, tells the inside story.  In 1998, the judge held a 10-month hearing on the F.B.I.’s failure to tell the United States attorney in Boston that Mr. Bulger and Stephen (the Rifleman) Flemmi were their informants against organized crime.Judge Mark Wolf

The Wolf opinion is famous in the world of criminal justice. It led to high-profile hearings in Congress on “The F.B.I.’s Use of Murderers as Informants.”  The only time Judge Wolf commented publicly about this saga was a decade ago when he sentenced Mr. Flemmi to life in prison for his part in 10 murders. He said that “the F.B.I.’s relationship with Bulger and Flemmi was not an isolated, aberrant occurrence” when it came to the Top Echelon informants program. He found “a long pattern of the F.B.I.” ignoring the Constitution’s requirement that it be “candid with the courts” and prosecutors. Judges are supposed to dispense justice but rarely root out crimes. As a result of Judge Wolf’s courage and persistence, the government has paid more than $100 million in claims to families of people murdered by informants shielded by the F.B.I. There is no good evidence that the F.B.I. has set up independent oversight of its informants program like what the judge called for. It’s high time.

Allan LengelTickle the Wire, Could Blago Verdict Put U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald Back in Running for FBI Director? Allan Lengel, ticklethewire.com, June 28, 2011. It’s not that Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has to worry about his career. But on Monday, he got some redemption when a federal jury convicted the ever-too chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 17 of 20 public corruption charges. It was the second trial. The first had a rather embarrassing outcome. The jury convicted Blago on only 1 of 24 counts, and that was for lying  to the FBI, a charge that was not really central to the meat of the case. What made matters worse, before the first trial, Fitzgerald held a press conference after arresting Blago in December 2008 and displayed a lot of swagger. Some thought he was a little over the top. Could this redemption help Fitzgerald’s chances of becoming the next FBI director when the job comes up in a couple years? Possibly.

Brothers BulgerJustice Integrity Project, FBI Confronts Its Demons By Busting Mobster Whitey Bulger, Andrew Kreig, June 28, 2011. The FBI’s capture of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger in California last week on 19 murder charges shows impressive commitment. Agents used a $2 million reward and an innovative publicity campaign to locate the former FBI informant even though his prosecution could bring the FBI new embarrassment. Two top FBI agents have already been accused of murder in the shocking tale of Bulger’s reign as a stone-cold killer protected both by law enforcement and his brother, William “Billy” Bulger, the longtime president of the Massachusetts senate and a powerbroker with national-level clout.

Los Angeles Times, Whitey Bulger's victims have been 'denied justice,' deserve swift trial, prosecutors say, Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton, June 28, 2011. Federal prosecutors said Tuesday they want to get James "Whitey" Bulger on trial "as soon as possible," saying the families of the 19 people he's accused of killing deserve justice. U.S. Atty. Carmen Ortiz said in court papers filed in Boston that there was "substantial public interest in ensuring the defendant faces the most serious charges before the end of his natural life.

Boston Herald, Weld, Dukakis and others deserve blame, Howie Carr, June 28, 2011. It takes more than two guys, no matter how monstrously evil they are, to terrorize and corrupt a city as big as Boston for 25 years. It takes a lot of craven enablers, hacks who were always available to avert their gaze, investigators who would leave no stone unturned, except of course the one the Bulgers were hiding under. Many of these people are now deceased, but not all.

  • Mike Dukakis: Remember the “reform” governor, who did whatever Billy told him to do, on whose watch the honest state cop was transferred from Logan after having the audacity to try to stop Whitey from taking $100,000 cash out of the country to Montreal. The cop later killed himself. Dukakis also appointed any number of Bulger’s cronies to judgeships.
  • Bill Weld: He was another “reform” governor, first ran in 1990 against Billy and Whitey, then became the Corrupt Midget’s boon companion. He even sang a pleasant little ditty at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast about Whitey after he “won” the Mass Millions lottery.

Boston Globe, Bulger tells of armed visits to Hub, Milton Valencia and Shelley Murphy, June 28, 2011. Whitey Bulger returned to Boston in disguise and “armed to the teeth’’ several times during his 16 years on the run because he had “to take care of some unfinished business,’’ prosecutors said in court documents yesterday.

Los Angeles Times, Whitey Bulger's victims have been 'denied justice,' deserve swift trial, prosecutors say, Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton, June 28, 2011. Federal prosecutors said Tuesday they want to get James "Whitey" Bulger on trial "as soon as possible," saying the families of the 19 people he's accused of killing deserve justice. U.S. Atty. Carmen Ortiz said in court papers filed in Boston that there was "substantial public interest in ensuring the defendant faces the most serious charges before the end of his natural life.

Justice Integrity Project, NJ Court Weighs Arrest of Star DOJ Anti-Corruption Witness, Andrew Kreig, June 28, 2011. A New Jersey judge interrupted a corruption trial June 28 in Newark to hold without bond the Justice Department’s now-disgraced former star witness, Solomon Dwek, who was recently arrested in Maryland on stolen car charges. U.S. District Judge José Linares is separately considering whether to permit former Secaucus Mayor Thomas Elwell to call Dwek as defense witness. The judge told Elwell June 27 that he must have substantive questions for Dwek, and not simply call him to discredit him and the government.

June 27

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, U.S., Israel escalate threats against flotilla
, including U.S. citizens, including U.S. citizens, Glenn Greenwald, June 27, 2011. A co-founder of the right-wing blog RedState (and former Bush speechwriter) created a mini-controversy over the weekend when he issued a sociopathic endorsement of Israel's possible shooting of his fellow unarmed citizens on a flotilla currently sailing to Gaza; that flotilla is trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gazans and protest the ongoing Israeli blockade. Also, the Clinton State Department is now explicitly threatening Americans who participate in the flotilla with criminal prosecution. The United States on Friday warned activists against plans to send a new aid flotilla to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it would be irresponsible and dangerous...."We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration," State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

ForHarvey Silverglatebes, Federal Prosecutors, John Edwards, and God’s Law, Harvey Silverglate, June 27, 2011.  Federal prosecutors have indicted former Senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards for violating God’s law. Such indictments, regardless of how despicably the defendant acted, pose disturbing civil liberties threats likely to go unnoticed as Edwards is led to the humiliating, and arguably deserved, conclusion of his ill-starred climb to the pinnacle of power. But given the vagueness of the charges, citizens from all walks of life should shudder at the precedent this case could set.

Associated Press / Newsmax, Jury Convicts Ex-Ill. Gov. Blagojevich at Retrial, June 27, 2011. Rod Blagojevich, who rode his talkative everyman image to two terms as Illinois governor before scandal made him a national punch line, was convicted Monday of a wide range of corruption charges, including the incendiary allegation that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's Senate seat. The verdict was a bitter defeat for Blagojevich, who had spent 2 1/2 years professing his innocence on reality TV shows and later on the witness stand. His defense team had insisted that hours of FBI wiretap recordings were just the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud. He faces up to 300 years in prison, although sentencing guidelines are sure to reduce his time behind bars.

Bob Riley

WFSA-TV, Gov. Riley's attorney files notice of unavailability, John Shryock, June 27, 2011.  Former Alabama Governor Bob Riley's attorney Monday filed paperwork stating Riley, right, would be temporarily unavailable as a witness should he be called to testify in the ongoing federal gambling corruption trial. The notice comes one day after Riley crashed his motorcycle in Fairbanks, Alaska while enjoying a cross-country motorcycle trip.

Legal Schnauzer, The Road from Clarence Thomas to Harlan Crow Runs Close to Home, Roger Shuler, June 27, 2011.  Mounting evidence indicates Justice Clarence Thomas is so ethically compromised that he should be removed from the U.S. Supreme Court. The latest evidence comes from a New York Times piece about Thomas' ties to a Texas real-estate baron named Harlan Crow.  We have discovered that the Thomas/Crow story, in a roundabout way, links to one of our storylines here at Legal Schnauzer. In fact, our story is about judicial chicanery in Alabama, the kind that favors the wealthy over regular citizens. That theme should sound familiar if you have been following the trail of Clarence Thomas' numerous ethical lapses. And it raises this question: How far will some wealthy Americans go to buy justice?

June 26

Boston Herald, Let’s talk, Whitey, Howie Carr, June 26, 2011. Whitey, can I give you some advice? Plead guilty.  You’re not going to like the Howie CarrPlymouth County House of Correction. You thought there was nothing to do at Alcatraz? At least there you had a cell with a view.

Association Press / Huffington Post, New England Mafia Is Weakened But Still Pursued, Laura Crimaldi, June 26, 2011. When James "Whitey" Bulger ruled the streets of South Boston, the New England crime scene was a battleground for a bloody turf war between the Italian Mafia and Irish street crews. But some observers say the organized crime landscape that took shape during Bulger's 16 years on the lam – ending with his capture days ago in California – is a shell of its former self, hobbling along with "old men."

Nieman Watchdog, In Des Moines, Gannett’s cuts are devastating, Michael Gartner, June 25, 2011. The latest round of layoffs at The Register is devastating. The layoffs are devastating for those involved, of course – for those whose lives have been jolted by sudden joblessness, for those who survived but now have new uncertainties about their own futures, and for those who had to make the excruciating decisions about who would stay and who would go. Editor’s Note: For those who depend on the Register to tell them what is going on in Iowa, writes former editor and NBC News president Michael Gartner, 'what matters is all the news that we won't know. And, of course, we don't know what we won't know.'

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Congress v. the President on war powers, Glenn Greenwald, June 25, 2011.  Yesterday's strange House vote -- rejecting an authorization for the war in Libya but then also rejecting a bill to partially de-fund the war -- has produced substantial commentary, much of it misguided.  The so-called "de-funding" bill the House rejected yesterday was not really a de-funding bill.  It would have barred the spending of money for some war purposes, but explicitly authorized it for others.  That's why dozens of anti-Libya-war members in both parties voted NO on the de-funding bill. They they were worried (appropriately so) that had that "de-funding" bill passed, Obama lawyers would have exploited it to argue that Congress, by appropriating some money for the war, had implicitly authorized Obama to wage it. The vote failed 180-238 - but, in fact, there were more than enough lawmakers to pass the measure. Of the 149 Democrats who stuck with the president, up to 70 of them are totally opposed to the Libya intervention and want to see it completely defunded as soon as possible.

June 25

Street Soldier CoverWhitey Bulger Wanted PosterCBS News, Bulger: The "Hannibal Lecter of South Boston," David Morgan, June 25, 2011. The prosecution of James "Whitey" Bulger, who faces a host of charges -- including racketeering and 19 counts of murder -- could also bring embarrassment and public humiliation for corrupt public officials, says a former associate of the Boston crime boss. On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," Eddie MacKenzie, who was an enforcer for Bulger and the author of "Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob" (Random House), said he believes "there's a hole dug with a big portfolio full of a lot of dirty public officials and maybe some dirty law enforcement officials that 'Whitey' Bulger has had for years, waiting for this day of his capture, so that he can use it for some sort of bargaining tool."

Boston Herald, Whitey Bulger’s lawyer tab is in Billy’s court: Feds believe brother should shell out for defense, Dave Wedge June 25, 2011. Former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger, the recipient of one of the largest pensions in state history, could see his wallet take as hard a hit as his reputation if prosecutors succeed in forcing him to foot the bill for his accused serial killer brother’s defense. The elusive William Bulger — once the state’s most powerful lawmaker — finally came out of hiding yesterday and found himself face-to-face with his crime boss older brother, James “Whitey” Bulger, in U.S. District Court. Whitey Bulger’s court-appointed attorney said the South Boston mob kingpin, who reportedly had $800,000 stashed in his Santa Monica, Calif., hideout, was broke and needed taxpayer dollars to fund his defense.

Chicago Tribune / Boston Herald, Former media mogul Conrad Black sent back to prison for 13 months, Ameet Sachdev,  June 25, 2011.  Prison has not eased Conrad Black’s contempt for the federal government’s prosecution of him, and the former media mogul will have 13 more months to seethe behind bars. Black, the onetime jet-setting chief executive of a vast newspaper empire, appeared in a Chicago courtroom Friday to see if he would return to prison. He had exhausted his legal appeals, including a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, in fighting his 2007 conviction for defrauding shareholders of Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc., former owner of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Nieman Watchdog, In Des Moines, Gannett’s cuts are devastating, Michael Gartner, June 25, 2011. The latest round of layoffs at The Register is devastating. The layoffs are devastating for those involved, of course – for those whose lives have been jolted by sudden joblessness, for those who survived but now have new uncertainties about their own futures, and for those who had to make the excruciating decisions about who would stay and who would go. Editor’s Note: For those who depend on the Register to tell them what is going on in Iowa, writes former editor and NBC News president Michael Gartner, 'what matters is all the news that we won't know. And, of course, we don't know what we won't know.'

Mobile Register /AL.com, Boeing projects $300 million overrun on tanker contract, George Talbot, June 24, 2011.  Boeing Co. is projected to exceed its cost ceiling by as much as $300 million on the initial contract to develop and build U.S. Air Force aerial refueling tankers, Bloomberg News reported today. Air Force officials this month briefed congressional defense committees and Pentagon officials on the projected 6 percent increase on what’s now a $4.9 billion engineering, manufacturing and development contract that includes four tanker aircraft. The contract calls for 14 more tankers to be delivered by September 30, 2017. Boeing in February beat out the European Aeronautic, Defence and Space Co., ending an almost 10-year process for deciding who would build the new tankers. EADS, which had proposed to build its tankers at a $600 million assembly plant in Mobile, did not protest the decision. EADS North America Chairman Ralph D. Crosby in March said “what determined the outcome here was price,” calling Boeing’s bid “an extremely low-ball offer.”

Associated Press / Washington Post, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s capture could cause trouble inside the FBI, Denise Lavoie, June 24, 2011. James “Whitey” Bulger’s capture could cause a world of trouble inside the FBI. The ruthless Boston crime boss who spent 16 years on the lam is said to have boasted that he corrupted six FBI agents and more than 20 police officers. If he decides to talk, some of them could rue the day he was caught. “They are holding their breath, wondering what he could say,” said Robert Fitzpatrick, the former second-in-command of the Boston FBI office.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Congress v. the President on war powers, Glenn Greenwald, June 25, 2011. Yesterday's strange House vote -- rejecting an authorization for the war in Libya but then also rejecting a bill to partially de-fund the war -- has produced substantial commentary, much of it misguided.  The so-called "de-funding" bill the House rejected yesterday was not really a de-funding bill.  It would have barred the spending of money for some war purposes, but explicitly authorized it for others.  That's why dozens of anti-Libya-war members in both parties voted NO on the de-funding bill. They they were worried (appropriately so) that had that "de-funding" bill passed, Obama lawyers would have exploited it to argue that Congress, by appropriating some money for the war, had implicitly authorized Obama to wage it. The vote failed 180-238 - but, in fact, there were more than enough lawmakers to pass the measure. Of the 149 Democrats who stuck with the president, up to 70 of them are totally opposed to the Libya intervention and want to see it completely defunded as soon as possible.

June 24

Black Mass

CNN’Dick Lehrs In the Arena, Lehr: Gangster 'Whitey' Bulger, feared leg-breaker and enforcer, killed his way to the top, Jay Kernis . June 24, 2011.  Answering today’s OFF-SET questions is Dick Lehr, left, co-author with Gerard O’Neill of “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob.”  The book was a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Award. Both authors were reporters at The Boston Globe. Lehr is also a professor of journalism at Boston University.

CNN Question: Why do you think it took so long to capture Whitey Bulger?

Lehr: To me, big reasons are Bulger's age -- he's an old man now, and when you look at him you don't see the cold-blooded killer that he was during his rule of Boston's underworld. Then there's his self-discipline; he's not flamboyant and would be the last person to draw attention to himself.

Forbes, Revolving Door at the Department of Justice, Harvey A. Silverglate, June 24, 2011. It is not unusual for a prosecutor to call a company he or she is prosecuting evil, unseemly, or some other moralistic epithet. But what happens when that prosecutor turns around and begins to defend the very company he disparaged? And what is the impact, more generally, of the current revolving door syndrome by which so many former federal prosecutors become “white collar defense lawyers” immediately after leaving the Department of Justice?

Associated Press / Yahoo News, Conrad Black faces resentencing in Chicago, Michael Tarm, June 24, 2011. The long-running legal saga of a once-powerful media mogul whose newspaper empire spanned several continents reaches a climax on Friday when a federal judge decides whether to send him back to prison or let him remain free based on time served. Prosecutors who brought the fraud case against Conrad Black, 66, have depicted him as a devil-may-care elitist who looks down his nose at the rest of humanity. The defense counters he is actually a gentleman, unbowed by adversity, who quietly goes about helping others.

Tri-City News, GigaPixel Images, Ronnie Mianda, June 24, 2011. This is the photo taken by Port Moody photographer Ronnie Miranda that appeared in the Tri-City News Friday 24 June. You can see perfectly the faces of every single individual - and there were thousands. Just think what the police and the military have at their disposal. Notice how many people are talking on their cell phones. The photo is actually made from several photos stitched together over a 15 minute period giving a super high resolution of over 2000
megapixels.

 

Washington Post, Publicity campaign led to mobster’s arrest, FBI says, Jerry Markon, June 24, 2011.   For 16 years, the FBI had pursued James “Whitey” Bulger, chasing the elusive Boston mobster across five continents. On Tuesday, agents tried a new approach: They blasted photos of Bulger’s longtime girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig, across television screens and Twitter. Federal officials in Boston say a tip led the FBI to begin surveillance on former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger's apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., Wednesday afternoon.

June 23

 

NeJames Whitey Bulgerw York Daily News, James 'Whitey' Bulger, infamous Boston mobster on the lam for 16 years, busted outside Los Angeles, Lukas I. AlJames "Whitey" Bulger as young manpert, June 23, 2011.  Notorious Boston Mob kingpin James "Whitey" Bulger has finally been busted near Los Angeles, ending a 16-year manhunt that had proved a major embarrassment for the FBI. The Feds finally caught up with the 81-year-old fugitive Wednesday at a Santa Monica home where he was living with his long-time gal-pal Catherine Greig. [Bulger is shown at right and left, with photos courtesy of Wikipedia via Creative Commons license, like most in this column.]

Washington Post, Publicity campaign led to mobster’s arrest, FBI says, Jerry Markon, June 24, 2011.   For 16 years,

Associated Press / Kennebec Journal (Maine), Fugitive gangster 'Whitey' Bulger nabbed in California, Brian Melley and Greg Risling, June 23, 2011.  Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger was captured near Los Angeles after spending the last 16 years on the run during an epic manhunt that served as a major embarrassment to the FBI and made the fugitive a global sensation as he constantly found a way to elude authorities. The FBI finally caught the 81-year-old Bulger Wednesday at a residence in Santa Monica along with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig just days after the government launched a new publicity campaign to locate the fugitive mobster, said the FBI.  [Bulger is shown at right and left, with photos courtesy of Wikipedia via Creative Commons license, like most in this column.] The arrest was based on a tip from the campaign, he said.  The arrest brings an end to a manhunt that received worldwide attention as the FBI received reported sightings of Bulger and Greig from all over the United States and parts of Europe. The investigation also touched the highest level of Massachusetts politics. Bulger's younger brother, William, was one of the most powerful politicians in the state, leading the Massachusetts Senate for 17 years and later serving as president of the University of Massachusetts for seven years.

Reason, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: The peril of vague criminal statutes, Harvey Silverglate, July 2011. The Soviet Union enacted an infamous law in 1922 that criminalized “hooliganism.” The crime was in the eye of the beholder, the beholder of consequence being the Soviet secret police. Because it was impossible for dissidents to know in advance whether they were violating this prohibition, they were always subject to arrest and imprisonment, allHarvey Silverglate ostensibly according to law. One of the gravest threats to liberty today is the federal government’s ability to prosecute the innocent under hopelessly vague statutes and laws. Far too many federal laws leave citizens unsure about the line between legal and illegal conduct, punishing incorrect guesses with imprisonment. The average working American adult, going about his or her normal life, commits several arguable federal felonies a day without even realizing it. Entire lives can change based on the attention of a creative federal prosecutor interpreting vague criminal laws.

Boston Phoenix, Curbing Corruption with a Catch All, Harvey Silverglate, June 23, 2011.  The recent conviction of former Massachusetts Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi has been celebrated by press and public alike. Although his actions were dishonest, I argue that they were not (but should have been) illegal. This case is yet another example of dangerous over-reaching by the Department of Justice,  using vague statues to “get their man” after he’s been targeted. The problem is that they can actually get any man, or woman, they target, and therein lies the danger to liberty and Due Process.

Salon /Unclaimed Territory, Climate of Fear: Jim Risen v. the Obama administration, Glenn Greenwald, June 23, 2011. The Obama DOJ's effort to force New York Times investigative journalist Jim Risen to testify in a whistleblower prosecution and reveal his source is really remarkable and revealing in several ways; it should be receiving much more attention than it is.  On its own, the whistleblower prosecution and accompanying targeting of Risen are pernicious, but more importantly, it underscores the menacing attempt by the Obama administration -- as Risen yesterday pointed out -- to threaten and intimidate whistleblowers, journalists and activists who meaningfully challenge what the government does in secret.

June 22

New York Times, Free to Search and Seize, David K. Shipler, June 22, 2011 This spring was a rough season for the Fourth Amendment. The Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court to allow GPS tracking of vehicles without judicial permission. The Supreme Court ruled that the police could break into a house without a search warrant if, after knocking and announcing themselves, they heard what sounded like evidence being destroyed. Then it refused to see a Fourth Amendment violation where a citizen was jailed for 16 days on the false pretext that he was being held as a material witness to a crime. The Fourth Amendment is weaker than it was 50 years ago, and this should worry everyone. "Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government," Justice Robert H. Jackson, the former chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, wrote in 1949. "Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart."

Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Inspector General’s Report Backs NSA Whistleblower’s Allegations of Waste, June 22, 2011. Many of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake’s allegations of waste and an ineffective intelligence program at the NSA were backed up in a Department of Defense Inspector General’s (DoD IG) report, which the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) received today. The report is dated December 15, 2004, and has not been previously been made public in any form until today.

June 21

Romanesko / Poynter Institute, Gannett lays off 700 newspaper division employees, Jim Romenesko, June 21, 2011.  That’s about 2 percent of the workforce, according to Gannett US Community Publishing division president Bob Dickey. “The economic recovery is not happening as quickly or favorably as we had hoped and continues to impact our U.S. community media organizations,” he says in a memo that’s posted below. “Publishers will notify people today and we will make every effort to reach everyone by end of day.” In March it was disclosed that Gannett CEO Craig Dubow received a $1.25 million cash bonus and had his salary doubled.

June 20

MSNBC-TV, Crooked Politicians, Businessmen, & Bankers Pilfer Town Causing Massive Layoffs and Tax Hikes. Cenk Uygur, June 14, 2011. Transcript posted June 20 by Accountants CPA Hartford, CT.)  We’ve all heard the stories of Wall Street Greed but wait till you hear about how it affected one community in Alabama. We’re talking about Jefferson County, Alabama. Back in 1995 the local government planned to put a new sewer system in. The price tag was supposed to be $250 million.  But then the bankers came in. They paid off local politicians and businessmen to let them sell the County fancy synthetic swaps and other financial weapons of mass destruction. The eventual absurd price tag of the project became $3 billion. Twenty local officials and so-called consultants were convicted of corruption in Federal court.  Now how many bankers got convicted? You guessed it: none. They paid a comically low fine of $25 million and restitution of $50 million, a fraction of what they made off the deal, and they were free to go. And what happened to Jefferson County in the meanwhile? Well, they’re still saddled with the debt. So today 1,000 workers are being forced to take leave without pay. Sheriff Mike Hale said that his deputies will not be responding to traffic accidents because of budget problems  And where the hell is our Justice Department? I thought they were supposed to be on top of things like this.

Bergen Record, Dwek arrested; Witnesses switched, Stephanie Akin, June 20, 2011. Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell is waiting for opening arguments to begin on the first day of his federal corruption trial, but the big question on everyone’s mind is how will the recent arrest of key witness Solomon Dwek figure into the government’s case. Elwell’s attorneys learned just Friday that Dwek was charged on May 31 with stealing a rental car in Baltimore, MD. During the same phone call, prosecutors informed Elwell’s defense team that they were pulling Dwek from his marquee spot as the first witness to take the stand, putting former Elwell co-defendant Ron Manzo in his place.  Opening statements will be postponed while Elwell’s attorneys, Thomas Cammarata and Jeffrey Carrigan, argue a pre-trial motion they submitted in light of the switch: a request to gain access to presentencing reports from a 2004 charge against Manzo for insider trading in Manhattan.The switch could also indicate that federal prosecutors are trying to put less weight on Dwek’s testimony in light of his recent arrest. 

Associated Press / NJ.com, Dwek charged in Maryland, misses opening of former Secaucus Mayor Elwell's corruption trial, June 20, 2011. Solomon Dwek, the star undercover witness at the center of several cases in the wide-ranging corruption probe has been charged with failure to return a rental car and was not in court today to testify in the trial of former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell.  Elwell is charged with accepting $10,000 through Ronald Manzo and Dwek, who was posing as a developer.

New York Times, War Evolves With Drones, Some Tiny as Bugs, Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker, June 20, 2011. From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars.  The Pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones, compared with fewer than 50 a decade ago. Within the next decade the Air Force anticipates a decrease in manned aircraft but expects its number of “multirole” aerial drones like the Reaper — the ones that spy as well as strike — to nearly quadruple, to 536. Already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined. The Pentagon has asked Congress for nearly $5 billion for drones next year, and by 2030 envisions ever more stuff of science fiction: “spy flies” equipped with sensors and microcameras to detect enemies, nuclear weapons or victims in rubble.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Public opinion and Endless War, Glenn Greenwald, June 20, 2011. If Obama succeeds in entrenching the notion that drone attacks are not "wars" or even "hostilities," he and future presidents will be able to bomb other countries with even fewer constraints than they have now. This state of Endless War continues despite the fact that, as a new poll shows, 72% of Americans believe the U.S. is fighting too many wars.  The poll itself is revealingly amusing: in what other country could that question -- are we fighting too many wars? -- even be meaningfully asked?  It's also striking that almost 3 out of 4 Americans -- not exactly renown around the world for being war-shy -- believe the U.S. is fighting too many wars given that their country is ruled by a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner.

June 19

Rob KallOpEd News, Obama's John Yoo Moment -- Cherry Picking Lawyers to Break a Major Law, Rob Kall, June 19, 2011. Bush and Cheney searched around until they found an attorney who would vet torture. Now we have the news that Obama did the same thing to start an illegal war in Libya. The thin veils are dropping away. The smoke is clearing. The chimera of democracy is eroding. There is a bi-partisan effort to challenge Obama. Too bad the Republicans aren't impeaching him for his violation of the war powers act. Lawyers can't just say it's okay and that makes it okay. I say impeach Obama. Force a primary or get him off the ballot altogether. My choice for the Democratic candidate -- Elizabeth Warren.

OpEd News, Supreme Scumball -- Clarence Thomas -- More Ethical Issues Emerge, Rob Kall, June 19, 2011. The NY Times reports another example of what has become a cascade of reports of Clarence Thomas' unethical behaviors. Real Estate Magnate Harlan Crow has done a lot of expensive kindnesses for Thomas. Crow gave Justice Thomas a $15,000 bust of Lincoln, gave Thomas wife Virginia $500,000 to help her start a Tea-party group that has opposed Obamas health care program and Crow  helped finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Thomas. And there's more.  It's time the media put pressure on whatever powers Obama in the White House, the majority Dems in the senate and Eric Holder in the DOJ can exert to investigate Thomas and his unethical pattern of operating.

June 18

Ralp NaderOpEd News, Waging Another Unconstitutional War, Ralph Nader, June 18, 2011. In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama stated that "the president does not have any power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." You see, the widespread daily bombing of Libya, the strict naval blockade of Muammar Gadhafi-controlled Libya, the destruction of Gadhafi's family compound and tent encampment in the desert -- killing his son and three grandchildren -- and the deployment of special forces inside Libya is not a "War." It is, in the Obama White House's evasive nomenclature, just a "time-limited, scope-limited military action" Can you find that phrase in the Constitution? 

Desperately seeking legitimacy, Mr. Obama cites the UN resolution, NATO, and the Arab League instead of seeking it from Congress. [But] all treaties with foreign countries, including the UN Charter, are trumped by the US Constitution (Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957)). As a former teacher of constitutional law, the president knows this basic principle but then, as Lord Acton declared: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Clarence ThomasNew York Times, Clarence Thomas’s Friendship With Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics, Mike McIntire, June 18, 2011. A multimillion-dollar project to preserve a seafood cannery in Pin Point, Ga., highlights an unusual, and ethically sensitive, friendship between the Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, and Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and a major contributor to conservative causes. Since the two men met, Mr. Crow has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia. In several instances, reports of Mr. Crow’s largess has provoked controversy and questions, adding fuel to a debate about Supreme Court ethics. But Mr. Crow’s financing of the cannery museum, his largest and previously unreported act of generosity, raises the sharpest questions yet — both about Justice Thomas’s extrajudicial activities and about the extent to which the justices should remain exempt from the code of conduct. Although the Supreme Court is not bound by the code, justices have said they adhere to it. Justice Thomas, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. Mr. Crow also would not comment.

FireDogLake, Obama Ignored Advice of Top Legal Advisors, OLC in Waging War in Libya, David Dayen, June 18, 2011. During the Bush Administration, mid-level functionaries would be found to write legal justifications for waging war, committing acts of torture, or what have you. Now, during the Obama Administration, the top lawyers are free to give their considered opinion on these issues. But the President will simply overrule them.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Obama rejects top lawyers' legal views on Libya, Glenn Greenwald, June 18, 2011. The growing controversy over President Obama's illegal waging of war in Libya got much bigger last night with Charlie Savage's New York Times scoop.  He reveals that top administration lawyers --  Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson -- all told Obama that his latest, widely panned excuse for waging war without Congressional approval (that it does not rise to the level of "hostilities" under the War Powers Resolution (WPR)) was invalid and that such authorization was legally required after 60 days: itself a generous intepretation of the President's war powers.

Justice Integrity Project, New York Times Reports White House, Supreme Court SNAFUs, Andrew Kreig, June 18, 2011. Three major news reports by the New York Times since June 17 about dubious legal conduct at the White House and Supreme Court illustrate why the mainstream media remains irreplaceable in our democratic discourse. Reporters can break courageous, careful and vital work in the independent media on these topics but it's largely without impact unless and until the corporate-owned media make the news available to millions.

June 17

New York Times, 2 Top Lawyers Lost to Obama in Libya War Policy Debate, Charlie Savage, June 17, 2011. President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations. Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20. But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

Washington Post, Libya and the Potemkin Alliance, George Will, June 17, 2011. After America’s intervention in Libya’s civil war, the most protracted and least surreptitious assassination attempt in history, was supposed to last “days, not weeks,” but is in its fourth month and has revealed NATO to be an increasingly fictitious military organization. Although this war has no discernible connection with U.S. national security, it serves the national interest, in three ways. It is awakening some legislators to their responsibilities. It is refuting the pretense that the United Nations sets meaningful parameters to wars it authorizes — or endorses, which is quite different. And it is igniting a reassessment of NATO, a Potemkin alliance whose primary use these days is perverse: It provides a patina of multilateralism to U.S. military interventions on which Europe is essentially a free rider.

New York Times, U.S. Pressing Its Crackdown Against Leaks, Scott Shane, June 17, 2011. Stephen J. Kim, an arms expert who immigrated from South Korea as a child, spent a decade briefing top government officials on the dangers posed by North Korea. Then last August he was charged with violating the Espionage Act — not by aiding some foreign adversary, but by revealing classified information to a Fox News reporter. Stephen Kim, an arms expert, is accused of violating the Espionage Act by giving classified information to a reporter. Mr. Kim’s case is next in line in the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on leaks, after the crumbling last week of the case against a former National Security Agency official, Thomas A. Drake. Accused of giving secrets to The Baltimore Sun, Mr. Drake pleaded guilty to a minor charge and will serve no prison time and pay no fine.

June 15

War is a Crime, Congress Members Sue Obama to End Libya War, David Swanson, June 15, 2011. On Wednesday in federal court, 10 members of the U.S. Congress sued President Obama in an attempt to end U.S. involvement in a war in Libya. These are the plaintiffs: Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Walter Jones (R-NC), Howard Coble (R-NC), John Duncan (R-TN), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), John Conyers (D-MI), Ron Paul (R-TX), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Tim Johnson (R-IL), and Dan Burton (R-IN).  According to a statement from Congressman Kucinich, "The lawsuit calls for injunctive and declaratory relief to protect the plaintiffs and the country….”

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Rep. Brad Sherman on the illegality of the Libyan War, Glenn Greenwald, June 15, 2011.  When I wrote earlier this week of a potential left/right coalition emerging against the National Security State, a commenter replied -- a bit snidely but mostly accurately -- that I've "been predicting a 'bipartisan coalition emerging . . . for five or more years now."  Most significantly, on Tuesday night, an amendment sponsored by the Democratic hawk and AIPAC loyalist Rep. Brad Sherman of California -- to cut off funds for the war in Libya unless and until the President complies with the War Powers Resolution -- passed the House by a substantial majority, with roughly equal support from both parties, though with the leadership of both parties (Pelosi, Boehner, Hoyer, Cantor) in opposition.

FireDogLake, Prison Privatization as Political Payback, Lee A. Saunders, June 15, 2011. Across the country, politicians have been selling off public assets to private businesses in exchange for hefty campaign contributions and sweetheart deals. The politicians claim they are saving tax dollars, but when the real costs are examined, it’s only the corporations – who back them financially at election time – who are making a financial killing on the deals.  This kind of corrupt pay-back to wealthy corporate-CEOs has produced numerous disasters for taxpayers, who end up paying more in the long run. Nowhere has this “pay and play” scandal been more outrageous than in the recurring efforts of some governors to privatize their state prisons.  They sell the prisons to private contractors – including the GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America, and the Management & Training Corporation – who then cut corners on safety, health and services.  Some contractors refuse to take the most hardened criminals or those who are in need of medical and psychological services.  Even without those prisoners, they run up costs to increase their profits.

IWatch News / Politico, Obama donors net government jobs, Fred Shulte, John Aloysius Farrell and Jeremy Borden, June 15, 2011. More than two years after Obama took office vowing to banish “special interests” from his administration, nearly 200 of his biggest donors have landed plum government jobs and advisory posts, won federal contracts worth millions of dollars for their business interests or attended numerous elite White House meetings and social events, an investigation by iWatch News has found. These “bundlers” raised at least $50,000 — and sometimes more than $500,000 — in campaign donations for Obama’s campaign. Many of those in the “Class of 2008” are now being asked to bundle contributions for Obama’s reelection, an effort that could cost $1 billion.

Jay CarneyPolitico, Carney defends jobs for donors, Carrie Budoff Brown and Abby Phillip, June 15, 2011. Donors to President Barack Obama’s campaign did not receive special treatment in winning jobs, advisory positions and contracts with the administration, the White House said Wednesday, pushing back on a report that many top fundraisers have enjoyed the spoils of his victory.  “We stand by all of our appointments,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, left, told reporters at his daily briefing. “We believe they are enormously qualified for the jobs.” POLITICO published an investigation Wednesday by the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News that found that, less than three years into the Obama administration, nearly 200 of the president’s biggest donors have landed plum government jobs and advisory posts, won federal contracts worth millions of dollars for their business interests or attended numerous elite White House meetings and social events. By contrast, former President George W. Bush had appointed only about 200 so-called bundlers to administration posts over his eight years in office.

June 14

Justice Integrity Project, Let’s Question Questionable Federal Anti-Corruption Tactics, Andrew Kreig, June 14, 2011. Major developments during recent days in federal anti-corruption probes in Maryland, North Carolina and Alabama underscore the scandalous conditions within the Justice Department that most Democrats and Republicans dare not to address.

Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Minor sentencing: Reduction is apt, Editorial board, June 14, 2011.  U.S. District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate reduced the fHenry Wingateederal bribery conviction of ex-attorney Paul Minor on Monday to eight years from 11. A federal appeals court had vacated the bribery convictions of former Gulf Coast attorney Minor and former Harrison County judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield but upheld the guilty verdicts on corruption charges. Wingate denied requests by Minor, Teel and Whitfield to be re-sentenced to time served. But he reduced their sentences, with Teel to four years and Whitfield about six, all less than previous. The crux of the argument for Minor and the others is that while they may have violated federal laws, they may have been operating legally under state laws. The confusion comes about since Mississippi law is so lax: Giving cash and loans to judges - as "campaign contributions" - is legal. The 11-year sentence given to Minor by Wingate originally was especially harsh. The reduction in light of the vacated charges was merited, but the sentences remain tough.

Legal SPaul Minorchnauzer, Judge In Paul Minor Case Continues His Evil Ways, Roger Shuler, June 14, 2011. The biggest problems with our justice system involve people, not process. For the most part, the actual law makes sense, at least to me. Our system has become a sewer because of the people--lawyers; judges; even clerks, in some cases--who are supposed to apply the law, but instead act in a corrupt fashion. That's not to say, however, that the system itself doesn't have some perverse qualities. And two of them are on display this week in the Paul Minor case in Mississippi.

Cato / On Liberty, FBI’s New Guidelines Further Loosen Constraints on Monitoring, Julian Sanchez, June 14, 2011. The New York Times‘s Charlie Savage reports that the FBI is preparing to release a new Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), further relaxing the rules governing the Bureau’s investigation of Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. This comes just three years after the last major revision of FBI manual, which empowered agents to employ a broad range of investigative techniques in exploratory “assessments” of citizens or domestic groups, even in the absence of allegations or evidence of wrongdoing, which are needed to open an “investigation.” The FBI assured Congress that it would conduct intensive training, and test agents to ensure that they understood the limits of the new authority—but the Inspector General found irregularities suggestive of widespread cheating on those tests.

Oliver DiazSun Herald (Biloxi-Gulfport, MS), Oliver Diaz’s story featured in HBO documentary, Anita Lee, June 14, 2011. Oliver Diaz Jr., right, remembers the moment he realized judicial races had changed for good in Mississippi. He was watching morning television, probably as he dressed for a day of campaigning in his state Supreme Court race. The announcer said, “Oliver Diaz is taking thousands of dollars from Mississippi trial lawyers,” as bags filled with money landed on a judge’s bench. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored the ad, he noted at the time. The 2000 campaign, and Diaz’s subsequent legal ordeal, are featured in a documentary that will air June 27 on HBO. The documentary, called “Hot Coffee,” attempts to show how corporate America distorted the image of justice in a concerted campaign to limit jury awards against businesses, and to limit individual access to the courts.  Diaz’s experience illustrates the money and energy corporate America has spent to elect sympathetic judges. Novelist John Grisham also is interviewed for “Hot Coffee.” The native Mississippian based his best-selling novel, “The Appeal,” on Diaz’s 2000 Supreme Court race. It tells the story of an incumbent Supreme Court candidate beaten by a newcomer whom a businessman backed, in order to prevail in a pollution case.

Twin Cities Business, Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from Petters’ Victims, June 14, 2011.  Investment funds that together lost $165 million in Tom Petters’ massive fraud scheme sought repayment of their losses, but the Supreme Court rejected an appeal that challenged a federal judge’s order denying restitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has reportedly upheld a federal judge’s order and rejected an appeal from victims of Tom Petters’ $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

June 13

Legal Schnauzer, Bob Riley Might Not Be Out of the Woods on Testifying About Abramoff in Alabama Bingo Trial, Roger Shuler, June 13, 2011. In a decision that should surprise no one, a federal magistrate ruled yesterday that former Alabama Governor Bob Riley will not have to testify in the federal bingo trial that heats up today with the calling of the first witness in Montgomery. Could this be another step in a high-level effort to make sure the public never knows the full extent of the Jack Abramoff scandal? At first glance, Sunday's ruling smells of the usual political maneuvering and judicial corruption that has come to mark federal courts in Alabama. But upon further review, the finding from U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer might not be a complete victory for Riley. The bingo trial is a national story because it grew largely from $13 million that Mississippi Choctaw gaming interests spent to help get Riley elected in 2002. Those funds reportedly were laundered through Republican felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, meaning the bingo trial touches heavily on perhaps the worst political scandal in American history.

CTV-TV- Vancouver, GigaPan creates 'Where's Waldo' of Canucks fan zones, Peter Grainger, June 13, 2011. A Vancouver photographer is documenting the fan experience of the Canucks' Stanley Cup run using a unique technology that lets viewers see both the big picture and the smallest details. Ronnie Miranda is using the robot-like GigaPan camera attachment to create giant panoramic photographs of the downtown Vancouver fan zones that allow users to zoom in and find small details with the click of a mouse. "If you zoom in you see people doing things at different times. If you pan around the image there's another story going on. So it is about telling a story, both as a big picture and also in smaller elements in the image," Miranda told CTV News. Take a look around his gigapixel photo of the Georgia Street fan zone before the start of Game 5, and you'll see one lonely Boston fan standing out amidst a sea of Canucks blue. Pan a little further down, and you'll find a group of Vancouver boosters tossing around a beach ball to pass the time. With the GigaPan attached, Miranda is able to take hundreds of images over a period of 10 or 15 minutes. The pictures are then stitched together in a virtual grid of eight rows by 32 columns. Using the same technology as Google Earth to track you, you can zero in on any one specific single face. The clarity is unbelievable. This is the crowd before the riots in Vancouver. Just double click on any face and it will continue to enlarging. ut your cursor anywhere in the crowd and double-click a couple of times.? To further help with image, use the scroll button in the center of your mouse, or pan with your mouse?

Huffington Post, White House Poised To Take On Judicial Vacancy 'Crisis,' Jennifer Bendary, June 13, 2011. In February, White House counsel Bob Bauer warned that the political standoff over judicial nominees was threatening the very fabric of government. There are nearly 90 federal court vacancies, some of which have been empty for more than three years. The result is a judiciary so bogged down with delays, particularly along the Southwestern border, that the quality of proceedings is suffering and judges are routinely putting civil cases on the back burner in order to try to clear their criminal dockets.

Huffington Post, Cass Sunstein: The Obama Administration's Ambivalent Regulator, Dan Froomkin, June 13, 2011. When President Barack Obama let it be known in January 2009 that he had selected Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein to be his regulatory czar, it was an early example of how some of his staffing decisions would undercut his lofty campaign promises.  The 56-year-old is an old friend of Obama from the days when they both taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, a pre-eminent egghead, the country's most cited law professor and an expert in behavioral economics.  But he's hardly an activist regulator, something the Wall Street Journal editorial board immediately recognized when it called his selection "a promising sign."

Washington Post, Activists cry foul over FBI probe, Peter Wallsten, June 13, 2011.  FBI agents took box after box of address books, family calendars, artwork and personal letters in their 10-hour raid in September of the century-old house shared by Stephanie Weiner and her husband. The agents seemed keenly interested in Weiner’s home-based business, the Revolutionary Lemonade Stand, which sells silkscreened infant bodysuits and other clothes with socialist slogans, phrases like “Help Wanted: Revolutionaries.” The probe — involving subpoenas to 23 people and raids of seven homes last fall — has triggered a high-powered protest against the Department of Justice and, in the process, could create some political discomfort for President Obama with his union supporters as he gears up for his reelection campaign.

CBS 42 (Birmingham, AL), Judge: Gov. Riley can't be subpoenaed for trial, Associated Press, June 13, 2011. A judge has blocked efforts by casino owner Milton McGregor to subpoena former Gov. Bob Riley to testify in the government corruption of McGregor and eight others. U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer issued his order Sunday night in Montgomery. The judge ruled McGregor's lawyers failed to show the relevancy of Riley's testimony, but he left open the possibility that they could try for another subpoena later if trial testimony shows Riley might have relevant testimony. Riley's attorney, Matt Lembke, says the judge's order confirms there was no reason to subpoena Riley. He said the investigation was begun by the Justice Department under President Obama's administration and the former Alabama governor had nothing to do it. The judge also blocked efforts to subpoena three state police officials from Riley's administration.

June 12

New York Times, F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds, Charlie Savage, June 12, 2011. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention. The F.B.I. soon plans to issue a new edition of its manual, called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, according to an official who has worked on the draft document and several others who have been briefed on its contents. The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity.

Washington Post, Elite Justice team walks prosecutorial tightrope, Jerry Markon, June 12, 2011. The Justice Department’s decision to charge former presidential candidate John Edwards with campaign finance violations drew criticism from legal experts, including some former prosecutors, that the case was too aggressive. In the months before the indictment, the Justice Department took flak from government watchdogs for dropping corruption investigations of members of Congress. They argued that the government was not aggressive enough, and gun-shy from the collapse of its case against the late senator Ted Stevens.

Associated Press / Tuscaloosa News, Defense seeks Riley in bingo trial; Testimony wanted due to investigation, casino shutdown overlap, Phillip Rawls, The Associated Press, June 12, 2011. A defense attorney said Saturday he wants to call former Gov. Bob Riley as a witness in the trial of indicted casino owner Milton McGregor as he tries to show that Riley’s efforts to shut down electronic bingo casinos were coordinated with the FBI’s investigation of McGregor and others accused of buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation. “We’ve got a lot of information on these things being tied together,” attorney Joe Espy told U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer. Attorneys for Riley and the state attorney general’s office opposed Espy’s efforts to subpoena the former governor to testify. They said a governor’s discussions with law enforcement are privileged and can’t be brought out in court.

New York Times,The Obama Administration's "Shadow" Internet, James Glanz and John Markoff, June 12, 2011.  The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy "shadow" Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks. The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype "Internet in a suitcase."   Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.

June 11

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, In a pure coincidence, Gaddafi impeded U.S. oil interests before the war, Glenn Greenwald, June 11, 2011. When the war in Libya began, the U.S. government convinced a large number of war supporters that we were there to achieve the very limited goal of creating a no-fly zone in Benghazi to protect civilians from air attacks, while President Obama specifically vowed that "broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." This no-fly zone was created in the first week, yet now, almost three months later, the war drags on without any end in sight, and NATO is no longer even hiding what has long been obvious: that its real goal is exactly the one Obama vowed would not be pursued -- regime change through the use of military force.  We're in Libya to forcibly remove Gaddafi from power and replace him with a regime that we like better, i.e., one that is more accommodating to the interests of the West.  That's not even a debatable proposition at this point.

June 10

Washington Post, Conflict in Libya: U.S. oil companies sit on sidelines as Gaddafi maintains hold, Steven Mufson, June 10, 2011. Even before armed conflict drove the U.S. companies out of Libya this year, their relations with Moammar Gaddafi had soured. The Libyan leader demanded tough contract terms.

Harpers / No Comment, Prosecution of NSA Whistleblower Collapses, Scott Horton, June 10, 2011. The Obama Administration’s highly touted effort to prosecute Thomas A. Drake, a former senior National Security Agency official, for violations of the Espionage Act due to his disclosure of pervasive fraud, waste, and abuse connected with a $1-billion surveillance-technology contract has collapsed in a federal court in Baltimore. The Justice Department’s use of the Espionage Act to menace legitimate whistleblowers raises troubling questions about its ability to make reasoned prosecutorial judgments in this area. Its actions reveal contempt for whistleblowers and the statutes Congress enacted to protect them, and a posture of servility towards the government’s national security apparatus. The department’s failure to investigate fraud and abuse in this sector, and its decision to lavish precious resources on the persecution of those who spotlight corruption suggests that its clientism has supplanted its fidelity to the Constitution and laws.  But its ability to salvage a misdemeanor plea from the collapsed Drake case also demonstrates the tremendous power that it wields—a power sufficient to compel an innocent and righteous man to plead guilty to a charge of which he is obviously innocent. The judge should reject the plea bargain and dismiss the case. And the Justice Department should take this as an opportunity to reassess its failed strategies in the troubled area where civil liberties and national security interests converge.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, George Holding Resigning: John Edwards Investigation Prosecutor Quitting After Indictment, Emery P. Dalesio, June 10, 2011. A federal prosecutor announced his resignation Friday after staying in his North Carolina post three years into President Barack Obama's administration to avoid disrupting investigations into former presidential candidate John Edwards and former North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley. George E.B. Holding will step down as U.S. attorney for eastern North Carolina on July 8 after five years in the office, according to a statement by his office. He had previously been the first assistant U.S. attorney in the office for four years. U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., had agreed on Holding's replacement but wanted the appointee of former President George W. Bush to stay in office until the investigations into the two high-profile Democrats were complete.

Below are significant articles on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by clicking the link. June 9

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Thomas Drake Gets Plea Deal In NSA Classified Leaks Case, Douglas Birch and Pete Yost, June 9, 2011. A former senior official with the National Security Agency reached a plea agreement Thursday with the Justice Department, bringing a quick end to a case that pitted the government's need to keep secrets against the public's right to know. Thomas Drake will plead guilty to exceeding authorized use of a computer, a misdemeanor, and the government will drop 10 felony counts that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, according to court documents. In return, prosecutors say they won't oppose a sentence that spares the 54-year-old Maryland man a prison term.

Washington Post, Ex-NSA manager has reportedly twice rejected plea bargains in Espionage Act case, Ellen Nakashima, June 9, Thomas Drake2011.  Thomas A. Drake, right, the former National Security Agency manager who is facing trial on Espionage Act charges in what appears to be a greatly weakened government case, has refused twice to accept the government’s offers of a plea bargain, according to people following the case. Drake, 54, on Wednesday morning rejected prosecutors’ offers to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with no jail time — just a few days before the trial is set to begin Monday. He turned down another offer late Wednesday night, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the case. That prosecutors were willing to let him plead to a misdemeanor reflects the weakness of their case, which has in the past week been significantly weakened, experts say.

Daily Kos, Case Against NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake Imploding, Jesselyn Radack, June 9, 2011.  WaPo and The New Yorker are reporting that the prosecutors have offered NSA whistleblower Tom Drake, right, a plea to reduced charges, but that Drake is refusing. Jane Mayer reports that the government has been scrambling to find a way to avoid the trial but that Drake is refusing, so far, to plead guilty to any wrongdoing, arguing that it is a lie, and he won’t compromise the truth.

Salon Unclaimed Territory, WikiLeaks Grand Jury investigation widens, Glenn Greenwald, June 9, 2011. Last month, I reported that the FBI had served a Cambridge resident with a subpoena compelling his testimony in the active Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and that the subpoena revealed a very broad scope to the criminal investigation.  This latest subpoena reveals how active the criminal investigation is and how committed the Obama administration is to criminally pursuing the whistleblowing site. It is not hyperbole to say that the Obama administration is waging an all-out war against transparency and whistleblowing.

June 8

Washington Post, Case against ex-NSA manager accused of mishandling classified files narrows, Ellen Nakashima, June 8, 2011. Federal prosecutors will withdraw key documents from their case against a former National Security Agency manager charged with mishandling classified material, a move that experts say could signal the unraveling of one of the Obama administration’s most prominent efforts to punish accused leakers.  Prosecutors informed U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett this week that they would withhold documents they had planned to introduce as evidence to keep from disclosing sensitive technology. Former NSA executive Thomas A. Drake is charged with unlawfully retaining classified information at a time when he was in touch with a Baltimore Sun reporter who later chronicled mismanagement at the agency.

George HoldingMain Justice, Behind John Edwards Indictment, A Prosecutor's Political History, Channing Turner, June 8, 2011. The North Carolina U.S. Attorney behind the campaign finance indictment of John Edwards has a history of financial contributions and support for Edwards's political opponents, according to Main Justice review. The prosecutor is U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding for the eastern district of North Carolnia, right, a former aide to the state's late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, a Republican who insisted that Holding be named a federal prosecutor.  As part of the fall-out from the Edwards scandal, the state's Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagen has asked that President Obama keep Holding in place even though his term expired last fall and presidential appointees as U.S. attorneys normally resign upon a change of administration.

June 7

Glenn GreenwaldSalon /Unclaimed Territory, The joys of repressed voyeuristic titillation, Glenn Greenwald, June 7, 2011. There are few things more sickening -- or revealing -- to behold than a D.C. sex scandal.  Huge numbers of people prance around flamboyantly condemning behavior in which they themselves routinely engage.  Media stars contrive all sorts of high-minded justifications for luxuriating in every last dirty detail, when nothing is more obvious than that their only real interest is vicarious titillation.  Reporters who would never dare challenge powerful political figures who torture, illegally eavesdrop, wage illegal wars or feed at the trough of sleazy legalized bribery suddenly walk upright -- like proud ostriches with their feathers extended -- pretending to be hard-core adversarial journalists as they collectively kick a sexually humiliated figure stripped of all importance.  The ritual is as nauseating as it is predictable. What makes the Anthony Weiner story somewhat unique and thus worth discussing for a moment is that, as Hendrick Hertzberg points out, the pretense of substantive relevance (which, lame though it was in prior scandals, was at least maintained) has been more or less brazenly dispensed with here.

Anthony WeinerDaily Howler, Crackpot Unbound, Bob Somerby, June 7, 20111.  I honestly haven't seen a Hardball this turgid and throbbing since some time in 1998. Matthews is positively beaming. Digby found an excellent word—“decadent”—for what was occurring on yesterday’s Hardball. She was right about something else; Matthews was in a truly remarkable state on yesterday’s ludicrous program. Most disgustingly, he tried to drag Weiner’s wife into the stew, suggesting several times that she too might be culpable in this ridiculous mess. This ugly suggestion produced that rarest of Hardball moments. Instantaneously, two of Matthews’ famous trained seals rejected his line of attack. Let’s compliment Digby for this description of yesterday’s loud, screeching Hardball:

Apparently this sending pictures of your dick to women thing is a common habit among men who see themselves as players, but it reveals that they don't understand women very well….But listening to Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman crow and strut about cornering [Weiner] into admitting his "crime" is far worse. This is the essence of the Village folks. We are about to be treated to endless nauseating lectures about propriety from a bunch of wealthy, decadent, television celebrities who will be rending their garments over the allegedly shocking sexual behavior of politicians as if they are the elders of a small American town circa 1957—as they pore over every. single. detail. Nothing could be more revolting, not even unpleasant pictures of a politician's erect member.

Legal Schnauzer, Ohio State Football and Our Broken Justice System Have a Lot in Common, Roger Shuler, June 7, 2011.  Enough sleaze already has surfaced in the Ohio State University football program to force long-time coach Jim Tressel to resign. Tressel won championships at Ohio State, and in his previous stop at Youngstown State, so administrators were happy to look the other way, ignoring clear signs that the coach's programs were built on a foundation of non-compliance with NCAA rules. In that respect, and several others, the Ohio State football story reminds me of the U.S. justice system -- another mammoth enterprise that chugs along, while those in authority ignore obvious signs of decay.

DLarry Craigaily Beast, Which Political Party Has the Most Sex Scandals? SodaHead Politics, June 7, 2011.  On the one hand, Republicans seem to be the reigning champs. From former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's secret love child to former New York Rep. Chris Lee's Craiglist topless pics and flirtations, foot-tapper Larry Craig, left, eight-term Indiana Rep Mark Souder's resignation after an admission of an affair with a staffer (not to mention Sen. John Ensign's similar indiscretion) and notorious tickle-loving Rep. Eric Massa [sic] [Editor's note: Massa was a Democrat].  Democrats are no slouches, either, counting among their ranks former Pres. Bill Clinton, two-time White House washout John Edwards and his secret baby, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's sext bomb and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's hooker-gate.

Newsmax, Rasmussen Poll: Disgusted Voters' Approval of Congress Plunges to 9%, David A. Patten, June 7, 2011. Just when it seemed as if voters’ antipathy toward Congress couldn’t get any worse, a Rasmussen survey reports that the approval rating of Congress has slipped into single digits. It now stands at just 9 percent, tying an all-time low.  A lackluster economy, high unemployment, high gas prices, and the ongoing stalemate over raising the federal debt are among the factors contributing to the abysmal ratings.  “Congress is totally discredited as an institution,” Democratic pollster and Fox News commentator Doug Schoen tells Newsmax. “I never thought it could go this low."

Wall Street Journal, Too Big to Prosecute? Not in His Office, Says Preet Bharara, Michael Rothfeld, June 7, 2011. As we’ve seen, there are some corporate giants the U.S. government believes are too big to fail.  But are they also too big to prosecute? Not so, says Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, right, whose district encompasses Wall Street. “In my view, we should not be telling any institution that it is too big to prosecute,” Bharara (pictured) said in remarks at the New York Financial Writers’ Association in midtown Manhattan Monday evening. “There should never be a presumption of immunity based on size.” The question of too-big-to-prosecute has been raised of late in the context of Goldman Sachs in the wake of a 639-page report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that criticized the investment bank’s bets against the housing market. The committee referred its findings to the Department of Justice. Goldman intends to push back at the committee, citing inaccuracies and saying it overstated Goldman’s bets against the housing market and minimized those the bank made in favor of it.

Law360.com, Goldman Undervalued EToys' $178M IPO: Atty, Eric Hornbeck, June 7, 2011. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. undervalued a $178 million initial public offering at the height of the dot-com bubble so its other clients could cash in, an attorney for a now-defunct online retailer told a New York state appeals court Tuesday. The investment bank undervalued the stock when it served as the underwriter for the IPO of eToys Inc., an online retailer that went bankrupt after the dot-com bust and is now owned by Toys “R” Us Inc.,  according to Stanley M. Grossman of Pomerantz Haudek Grossman.

Legal Schnauzer, Ohio State Football and Our Broken Justice System Have a Lot in Common, Roger Shuler, June 7, 2011. Enough sleaze already has surfaced in the Ohio State University football program to force long-time coach Jim Tressel to resign. Tressel won championships at Ohio State, and in his previous stop at Youngstown State, so administrators were happy to look the other way, ignoring clear signs that the coach's programs were built on a foundation of non-compliance with NCAA rules. In that respect, and several others, the Ohio State football story reminds me of the U.S. justice system -- another mammoth enterprise that chugs along, while those in authority ignore obvious signs of decay.

Justice Integrity Project, Shame on Weiner, Congress and the Media, Andrew Kreig, June 7, 2011. New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s pathetic Twitter scandal perfectly illustrates why Congress has just a 9 percent approval rating according to a new Rasmussen poll, with approval of the news media doubtless only slightly higher. Revelations that the House Judiciary Committee member Weiner, age 46, repeatedly sent lewd pictures of himself to young women both before and after his marriage last summer exemplify also why our Justice Integrity Project expanded our focus last year beyond our original mission of documenting injustice around the nation. All too many officials in Congress, courts and the executive branch show that they care too little about their duties.

June 6

Michaek CollinsOpEd News, The Edwards Prosecution -- They have better things to do, Michael Collins, left, June 6, 2011. The Edwards prosecution is a mockery of justice.  The cast of characters consists of people who should have recused themselves rather than bringing a prosecution. Like the nonstop assault on Don Siegelman, it suggests other motives.  Why don't they go after the Wall Streeters and big banks?

Legal Schnauzer, Bush-Era U.S. Attorney Is the Target of a Federal Investigation, Roger Shuler, June 6, 2011. Leura Canary, the notorious Bush-appointed prosecutor who was at the heart of the Don Siegelman case, is the focus of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, sources tell Legal Schnauzer.  Canary announced her retirement as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama on May 26. But sourcesLeura Canary say the ongoing federal investigation is the real reason Canary stepped down, even though Obama nominee George Beck has not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Louis Franklin will serve as acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District, pending Beck's confirmation. A long-awaited Alabama federal bingo prosecution, featuring gambling magnate Milton McGregor and a number of state legislators, begins today in Montgomery. It is expected to last about two months and figures to be the biggest story of the summer in Alabama. But the investigation of Canary could prove to be the far bigger story, with potentially major ramifications on the national stage.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Is a bipartisan coalition emerging to oppose the National Security State? Glenn Greenwald, June 6, 2011. When Dennis Kucinich earlier this month introduced a bill to compel the withdrawal of all American troops from Libya within 15 days, the leadership of both parties and the political class treated it the way they do most of Kucinich's challenges to establishment political orthodoxy:  they ignored it except to mock its unSeriousness.  But a funny thing happened: numerous liberal House Democrats were joined by dozens of conservative GOP members to express support for his bill, and the White House and GOP House leadership became jointly alarmed that the bill could actually pass; that's why GOP House Speaker John Boehner introduced a Resolution purporting to rebuke Obama for failing to comply with the War Powers Resolution, but which, in fact, was designed to be an utterly inconsequential act.  Its purpose was to protect Obama's war by ensuring that Kucinich's bill failed; the point of Boehner's alternative was to provide a symbolic though meaningless outlet for those House members angry over Obama's failure to get Congressional support.

June 5

Washington Post, Political sex scandals: Who survives, who crashes and burns? Roxanne Roberts, Amy Artslinger, June 5, 2011. How is it that some political sex scandals are so ruinous — and others are magically survivable? Surely we can craft a formula.  Adultery, money and legal probes: The common denominators in the career-ending sex scandals of former Sens. John Edwards (love child coverup) and John Ensign (affair with aide), former N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer (high-priced call girls), and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros (lied about payments to mistress).

Washington Post, Recipient of lewd tweet criticizes New York Post story via Twitter, Paul Farhi, June 5, 2011. Gennette Cordova tried, really tried, to hold her tongue when the news media began stampeding her way last week. After word broke that she was the recipient of a now-infamous photo from Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account, Cordova was suddenly in demand. No interviews, said the 21-year-old college student. No comments about congressmen’s crotches, either. Stop asking and go away, she said. Only the media wouldn’t. The New York Post apparently found a way around Cordova’s defenses: One of its reporters, Reuven Fenton, apparently tagged along on what Cordova thought was a student photo shoot and casually chatted her up while a photographer snapped away.

June 4

OpEd News, Warning: This Message Contains Democracy, Susan Lindauer, June 4, 2011. No great civilization is ever destroyed or conquered by external forces, until it first destroys itself from within. America's leaders should have considered this before voting to extend the Patriot Act last week. The Patriot Act is more dangerous to our way of life than any foreign enemy. Most ominously, entire sections of the Patriot Act are verbatim identical to two of the most frightening laws in World History: The 1929 Bolshevik Communist Criminal Act established Communist control in the age of Joseph Stalin. It's hard to say if that's worse than Germany's Enabling Act in 1933. Despite the comforting words, "the Enabling Act" established the legal framework for Nazi Fascism. According to historian Alan Batterman, the German word for "Gestapo " is an acronym of GEheim STAadt POlezi. Translation: "Homeland Security." Sadly, Batterman is correct. Paragraph for paragraph, clause for clause, laws establishing fascist control over the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany are replicated in the Patriot Act today.

John EdwardsAssociated Press / Huffington Post, John Edwards Case: Pitfalls Abound For Prosecutors, Mike Baker and Nedra Pickler, June 4, 2011. The daring indictment of two-time presidential candidate John Edwards, left, has pitfalls at every turn for federal prosecutors, adding strain to a Justice Department section still trying to recover after botching its last major political case. Government attorneys are relying on an untested legal theory to argue that money used to tangentially help a candidate – in this case, by keeping Edwards' pregnant mistress private during his 2008 presidential run – should have been considered a campaign contribution. Edwards' attorneys counter with an argument that's reprehensible but could raise reasonable doubts with a jury: He was only interested in hiding the affair from his cancer-stricken wife, who died in December.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, WashPost: Criminal law is not for political elites, Glenn Greenwald, June 4, 2011. The Washington Post Editors work in a city and live in a nation in which huge numbers of poor and minority residents are consigned to cages for petty and trivial transgressions of the criminal law -- typically involving drugs -- and pursuant to processes that are extremely tilted toward the State.  Post Editors virtually never speak out against that, if they ever have.  But that all changes -- that indifference disappears -- when political elites are targeted for prosecution, even for serious crimes. In some of these cases (Libby, Mubarak), the Post couches its defense of political elites in terms of concerns about the process while claiming they're receptive to the possibility of punishment.  In others (Edwards), the concerns they raise are not invalid.  But whatever else is true, Post Editors are deeply and almost invariably disturbed when political elites are subjected to criminal accountability for their wrongful acts, but wholly indifferent -- if not supportive -- when ordinary Americans are mercilessly prosecuted for far less serious wrongdoing. And it's not just Post Editors, but their stable of Op-Ed columnists, who reflexively defend political elites when they break the law.

June 3

Washington Post, For-profit education companies’ stock up as regulation pared back from early draft, Steven Munson and Jia Lynn Yang, June 3, 2011. For nearly a year, for-profit colleges have been battling the Obama administration over a key rule designed to keep the schools from saddling students with more debt than they can repay.  On Thursday, the stock market declared a winner: the industry and its network of lobbyists. Investors greeted the Education Department’s new “gainful employment” regulation with a collective sigh of relief, driving up the shares of the leading for-profit education companies from 3 percent to nearly 27 percent. The stock of the biggest player in the business, Apollo Group, owner of the University of Phoenix, jumped more than 11 percent, adding more than $700 million to its market value.

June 2

Politico, Judge plans to shield unclassified info in NSA leak case, Josh Gerstein, May 31, 2011.  A federal judge is apparently pressing forward with plans to keep certain unclassified information about the National Security Agency secret from jurors and the public during the upcoming trial of a former NSA official suspected of leaking to a journalist.  Court filings this week in the case against Thomas Drake indicate that Judge Richard Bennett has agreed with a prosecution request to delete "protected information" from certain exhibits to be presented during Drake's trial, which is set to begin June 13. The "protected information" is distinct from classified national security information. In one instance, Bennett said the change the government wanted would produce "absolutely no prejudice to this defendant."

Washington Post, In the House, a challenge on Libya, David A. Fahrenthold, June 2, 2011. On Wednesday, 74 days after U.S. forces joined the military operation in Libya, President Obama seemed to run out of goodwill on Capitol Hill. A group of both liberals and conservatives — defying the leaders of both parties — threw their support behind a bill to pull the U.S. military out of the Libya operation. That prospect led GOP leaders to shelve the bill before it came to a vote.

Paul Craig RobertsOpEd News, Hail Caesar, Paul Craig Roberts, left, June 2, 2011. If the President can declare on his own authority, without statutory basis and in defiance of the US Constitution, that he can assassinate US citizens who he considers to be a threat to national security, he certainly can declare that default is a threat to national security and that it is within his powers as commander-in-chief to ignore the debt ceiling.

War is a Crime, Is That Even Legal? David Swanson, June 2, 2011. Take the example of U.S. warmaking in Libya. Is that legal? The U.S. Constitution says Congress must decide where and when to make war. Congress has not declared a war since 1941. Is the law what the Constitution says, how the Constitution was interpreted for the first two-thirds of our national history, what presidents have gotten away with in recent decades, or what a president can get away with today?

Salon Unclaimed Territory, The WH/Politico attack on Seymour Hersh, Glenn Greenwald, June 2, 2011. Seymour Hersh has a new article in The New Yorker arguing that there is no credible evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. This, of course, cannot stand, as it conflicts with one of the pillar-orthodoxies of Obama foreign policy in the Middle East (even though the prior two National Intelligence Estimates say what Hersh has said).  As a result, two cowardly, slimy Obama officials ran to Politico to bash Hersh while hiding behind the protective womb of anonymity automatically and subserviently extended by that "news outlet." But the most hilarious part of this orgy of cowardly anonymity comes at the end, when Politico explains what is supposedly the prime defect in Hersh' journalism: “Hersh has faced criticism for his heavy reliance on anonymous sources, but New Yorker editor David Remnick has repeatedly said he stands by his reporter’s work.” That's the criticism that ends an article that relies exclusively on anonymous government sources, appearing in a D.C. gossip rag notorious for granting anonymity to any powerful figure who requests it for any or no reason.

June 1
Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Criminalizing Fee Speech, Glenn Greenwald, June 1, 2011. Wednesday, Jun 1, 2011. Alex Seitz-Wald of Think Progress rightly takes Sen. Rand Paul to task for going on Sean Hannity's radio program -- one week after commendably leading opposition to the Patriot Act on civil liberties grounds -- and advocating the arrest of people who "attend radical political speeches."  After claiming to be against racial and religious profiling, Paul said:  "But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that's really an offense that we should be going after -- they should be deported or put in prison."  Seitz-Wald correctly notes the obvious:  "Paul’s suggestion that people be imprisoned or deported for merely attending a political speech would be a fairly egregious violation on the First Amendment, not to mention due process."