DC Politics Author, NJ Crime Writer Share Insights

By Andrew Kreig

The Washington Update radio show I co-host on July 7 featured Michael J. Kerrigan, author of Politics With Principle: Ten Characters with Character and New Jersey crime reporter Terrence T. McDonald. They provided enlightening perspectives on topics featured heavily on this site during recent days.

Michael J. KerriganKerrPolitics With Principleigan, right, focuses upon 10 civic leaders from around the country who exemplify virtue in public life.  One of them is former Massachusetts State Senate President William Bulger, brother of accused Boston mob leader and murderer James “Whitey” Bulger.  Kerrigan described his reasons for maintaining his extraordinary respect for the former legislator when so many others have turned their backs on him. Kerrigan described also his other selections and his passion for chronicling what he regards as under-appreciated lessons in character observable in the nation’s capital. McDonald analyzed a July 6 jury verdict convicting a former Secaucus mayor for receiving a $10,000 cash payment from a government informant in a major federal sting. The defendant was acquitted of two other charges in a major case that helped propel Republican former New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie to his state's governorship in 2009. The reporter's view is that only a few readers have much time or interest in analyzing the politics of such trials, aside from the basics of whether a jury found guilt. .

Scott Draughon, founder of the My Technology Lawyer radio network, co-hosted the live call-in show. It may be heard nationally also by archive.

Michael Kerrigan is an advocate, author and public speaker. Terrence McDonaldHe has over 33 years of Washington experience working closely with the government, political, corporate, and technology sectors. He is the founder and principal of Kerrigan & Associates, Inc., a Washington-based management consulting and advocacy firm focused on creating business opportunities in the private-public sector. Details. Terrence McDonald, right, is a reporter for the Jersey Journal, based in Jersey City, NJ. Follow here on Twitter.

We expect another strong show on the July 14 edition, which will cover several of our inevstigative stories published earlier in the week. Also, scheduled guests include author Donald W. Tucker, former chief of court security for the U.S. Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. His autobiography, The Tw-Edged Sword) was recently published. His career includes nearly three decades as a Secret Service agent and as the  U.S. Marshal for Arizona.

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Below are significant articles for this two-week period 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.

New Jersey Corruption Trial

Newark Star-Ledger, Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell found guilty of bribery, not guilty of two extortion counts, Jason Grant, July 6, 2011.  A federal jury in Newark today found former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell guilty of bribery and not guilty of attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.

Jersey Journal, Former Secaucus mayor found guilty of bribery charge, not guilty of two extortion charges, Terrence T. McDonald, July 6, 2011. Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell was found guilty today on a bribery charge, but was cleared of two extortion counts. Thomas J. Cammarata, one of Elwell's attorneys, said he was confused by the "inconsistent" verdict.

Newark Star-Ledger, Editorial: N.J. needs guidelines for law enforcement agencies to bargain with informants, Editorial Board, July 5, 2011. As the New Jersey ACLU revealed in a report released last month, there are virtually no rules or reliable data on the murky underworld where police officers — often accountable to no one — cut deals with criminals, offering all sorts of unholy incentives for being a snitch. While informants have been valuable law enforcement tools, they come with a price: the integrity of the criminal justice system. Each year, thousands of offenders provide all levels of law enforcement with information in order to save themselves. Sometimes, the information is reliable. Often, it’s not.

Alabama Corruption Trial & U.S. Attorney Appointment

Legal Schnauzer, The Tale of Bob Riley's Motorcycle Crash Gets Stranger and Stranger, Roger Shuler, July 7, 2011. http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2011/07/tale-of-bob-rileys-motorcycle-crash.html  The story of Bob Riley's motorcycle crash in Alaska has taken a peculiar twist, with news that the man who rescued him said he did not realize at first that the former Alabama governor was even hurt. Steve DeMolen, a sales representative for Caterpillar, and his friend, Delany Smith, came upon the site of Riley's crash on a remote highway north of Fairbanks. During a two-hour drive to the nearest hospital, the only injury DeMolen noticed on Riley was a cut hand. According to news reports, doctors later determined that Riley had a broken collarbone, several broken ribs, and a punctured lung. None of that, however, was apparent to DeMolen: DeMolen, a retired master sergeant and a Harley-Davidson rider, said he came upon the accident as he crested a hill and saw wavy bike tracks on the downhill slope. The couple then saw the bike, another motorcyclist and a man trying to right himself, DeMolen said.

Thom Hartmann Program, Andrew Kreig describes George Beck Senate confirmation controversy, Thom Hartmann, July 6, 2011. The high-rated, nationally syndicated TV and radio host , left, interviews the Justice Integrity Project director about the Project's latest scoop regarding the federal prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

Associated Press / Daily Oklahoman, George Beck sworn in as US attorney in Alabama, Phillip Rawls, July 6, 2011. A  lawyer who has handled some of Alabama's best known cases waited longer to become the chief federal prosecutor in Montgomery than he may get to serve if President Obama is a one-term president.  George Beck, 69, of Santuck took the oath of office Wednesday as U.S. attorney for Alabama's Middle District. The length of time he will be in office depends on whether Obama is re-elected next year.

Connecticut Watchdog, Strong Senate Oversight Is a Consumer Issue, Andrew Kreig, July 5, 2011. The U.S. Senate approved by voice vote June 30 a new U.S. attorney for Alabama, thereby raising media watchdog issues for the federal justice system in that state and nationally.  Confirmation hearings are one of the few times in our political system when the public can learn – through the expert questions of Senators, who serve as our surrogates – about sensitive matters in such fields as law enforcement. Here, the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to require Beck to appear at a hearing and answer any questions, including about the Siegelman case and several other major disputes.

Murdoch Hacking Scandal

Washington Post, Phone-hacking scandal is biggest PR disaster of Murdoch’s career, William Booth and Paul Farhi, July 7, 2011.  Media baron Rupert Murdoch shuttered one of his signature British newspapers Thursday amid a spreading phone-hacking scandal that has damaged his reputation and threatened the globe-spanning conglomerate he has assembled over nearly six decades.  Murdoch’s News Corp. took the extraordinary step of announcing the closure of the News of the World, the company’s racy Sunday tabloid, in an attempt to stem the fallout from the newspaper’s prying into the voice-mail and cellphone accounts of hundreds of British citizens.  The 168-year-old News of the World, the widest-read paper in the English-speaking world, has acknowledged that it hired “investigators” who hacked into the phone accounts of politicians, celebrities and ordinary Britons in an attempt to develop stories. The targets of the paper’s hacking apparently included the families of British troops killed in Afghanistan, victims of the 2005 London transit bombings and a 13-year-old missing girl who was later found dead.

AlterNet, Murdoch Named Architect of PATRIOT Act to Mop Up Eavesdropping/Phone-Hack Scandal, Adele M. Stan, July 6, 2011. A scandal involving phone-hacking by a right-wing newspaper tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is threatening the administration of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Now the scandal is boomeranging back to New York, engulfing the top executive at the largest-circulation newspaper in the United States, the Wall Street Journal. To clean up some of the mess, Murdoch has called upon the talents of former Bush administration Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, whose views on privacy are enshrined in the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, and Joel Klein, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's union-bashing former schools chief, known for his phony claims of test-score gains.

CNN International, Hacking scandal exposes secrets at Murdoch's tabloid, Peter Wilkinson, July 6, 2011. Police launched a new investigation this year into hacking by journalists in response to widespread complaints from politicians, celebrities and other high-profile figures who fear they have been targets. News of the World's parent company News International paid out compensation to various victims, including actress Sienna Miller and publicist Max Clifford, and issued a public apology in April. The growing scandal implicates London's police force and now threatens one of the biggest assets of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. News of the World.

Surveillance & Detention News News

FireDogLake, The FBI Gets a “Bigger, Better, Faster” Database – but Who Gets to Use It? Sunita Patel, Gitanjali Gutierrez, Travis Hall, July 6, 2011.  Since 2006, the FBI has been quietly creating a massive new biometric database that is, in their words, “Bigger- Better- Faster.” Known as the “Next Generation Identification” program, or NGI, this new system marks a dramatic leap in the FBI’s ability to collect, store and share identifying information across government agencies. Alarm bells should ring for all Americans concerned with their privacy. Relying on “state of the art” biometric technology, NGI will use your physical traits (like eye scans and facial characteristics) to create identifications at lightning speed. While this may not seem terrible on its face, the real thrust of NGI is for multiple federal agencies to share your personal information without your knowledge. Through a series of disclosure programs, the FBI’s NGI database, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration database and the Department of Defense’s biometric database can now search and share matches. Moreover, the FBI hopes to expand the use of “Mobile” biometric units, which are biometric scanners that will send personal identifying information to all participating federal agencies, even for people who have not been arrested.