USA TODAY: Misconduct Series Continues

The Dec. 29 news reports most relevant for our Justice Integrity Project (JIP) included the continuation of USA TODAY’s important investigative series, “Misconduct at the Justice Department” with another installment and Harper’s commentary listed below. The Justice Department has reacted with a response, which we’ll provide at length since the Department often simply ignores criticism:

Once again, USA TODAY misleads readers by providing a statistically inaccurate representation of the hard work done by federal prosecutors daily in courtrooms across the country by cherry-picking a handful of examples dating back to the 1990s and confusing cases where attorneys made mistakes with cases where actual prosecutorial misconduct was involved. An internal review conducted by the department last year found prosecutorial misconduct in a small fraction of the 90,000 cases brought annually. When mistakes occur, the department corrects them as quickly and transparently as possible.

Those checking the links below will see how Harper’s contributing editor Scott Horton demolishes this DOJ response as entirely inadequate.
Additional columns on other law enforcement topics excerpted below illustrate that a deep divide is growing between a complacent legal establishment and a group of expert commentators identifying horrifying long-term trends in the outlook for due process in this country. Those raising the alarm include former GOP Congressman and U.S. Attorney Bob Barr of Georgia, who’s became a third-party presidential candidate in 2008, former Reagan Assistant Treasury Secretary and author Paul Craig Roberts, and progressive attorney Glenn Greenwald.

Several of these reports involve the Justice Department’s investigation of spy charges against WikiLeaks, along with the performance of the media in covering these developments and the implications for reporters elsewhere around the world who may find themselves in precisely the same kind of legal jeopardy as WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange. Legal affairs commentator Roger Shuler and I have been exploring separately the implications for this investigation in former Bush White House advisor Karl Rove’s years of advice for Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredric Reinfeldt. Shuler broke the story, which I followed up in a Huffington Post expansion, more recently amplified by Shuler’s commentaries on his Legal Schnauzer blog and several other sites, including OpEd News, Daily Kos, and FireDogLake. Stay tuned for further developments involving very deep and potentially relevant ties between Assange’s accusers and Swedish media and diplomatic titans.  For now, we believe these columns are worth excerpting and your attention: 

USA TODAY, Misconduct at the Justice Department: Prosecutor misconduct lets convicted off easy, Brad Heath and Kevin McCoy, Dec. 29, 2010.  . What happened to [James] Strode underscores one of the least recognized consequences of misconduct by Justice Department attorneys in charge of enforcing the nation's laws. Although those abuses have put innocent people in prison, misconduct also has set guilty people free by significantly shortening their prison sentences.

Harper’s No Comment
, How Prosecutorial Misconduct Helps Criminals Get Off, Scott Horton, Dec. 29, 2010.
The USA Today series on the systematic misconduct of federal prosecutors continues today, with an examination of the consequences that prosecutorial misconduct has for criminal defendants.

Legal Schnauzer, Rove Might Be Trying To "Pull A Siegelman" With Julian Assange, Roger Shuler, Dec. 28, 2010. Is Karl Rove helping to export American-style political prosecutions to Scandinavia? Is "Bush's brain" trying to fashion a bogus criminal case in Sweden against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, much like the one he helped build against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman? 

FireDogLake, The Unlikely Story of Adrian Lamo, Bradley Manning, Wired Magazine and the Federal Government, Jane Hamsher, Dec. 28, 2010. I’ve now gone through just about everything I can find of various accounts of what transpired between Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo, Wired and the federal government….And having reviewed all the material, I cannot tell you how implausible I find the cover story to be (Wired 6/6/2010, CJR 6/18 2010). Furthermore, I cannot believe that anyone of any journalistic standing has not seriously questioned it before going into print using Lamo as a source.

AlterNet, Parents Were Executed Under the Unconstitutional Espionage Act -- Here's Why We Must Fight to Protect Julian Assange, Rosenberg Fund for Children, Robert Meeropol, Dec. 29, 2010.
The Espionage Act is a huge danger to our open society; it's been used to send hundreds of dissenters to jail just for voicing their opinions, transforming dissent into treason.

Salon/Unclaimed Territory, The merger of journalists and government officials, Glenn Greenwald, Dec. 28, 2010. Over the last month, I've done many television and radio segments about WikiLeaks and what always strikes me is how indistinguishable -- identical -- are the political figures and the journalists.  There's just no difference in how they think, what their values and priorities are, how completely they've ingested and how eagerly they recite the same anti-WikiLeaks, "Assange = Saddam" script.

OpEd News/Barr Code, WikiLeaks may spawn new sedition act, Bob Barr, Dec. 27, 2010. The infamous Sedition Act, which criminalized speech critical of the federal government and which was passed by the Federalists during another of America’s undeclared wars (that time, against France), lasted only three years, from 1798 to 1801.  However, if the congressional critics of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have their way, a new and revised version of the Sedition Act may be in the offing. 

OpEd News, 2011, Paul Craig Roberts, Dec. 28, 2010. The year 2011 will bring Americans a larger and more intrusive police state, more unemployment and home foreclosures, no economic recovery, more disregard by the US government of US law, international law, the Constitution, and truth, more suspicion and distrust from allies, more hostility from the rest of the world, and new heights of media sycophancy….If not already obvious, 2010 has made clear that the US government does not care a whit for the opinions of citizens.

Reason TV, Why the Feds Banned Four Loko (And is your favorite drink next?) Dec. 22, 2010. On December 21, Ramiro Diaz was arrested for selling eight cans of Four Loko to an undercover agent from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Diaz faces up to a year in jail for the offense, but just a few months ago Four Loko was perfectly legal. What happened? Video (3:30 min.).