Holiday Greetings and New Year Renewals

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Washington Botanical GardensThe Justice Integrity Project thanks our readers for your interest and inputs. We share our hopes for a happy holiday season and a New Year of health and happiness in a just, prosperous and peaceful society.

To that end, we are going to be describing shortly a plan for readers to enhance effectiveness in fighting for justice. This draws on proven methods so that we can together spend more time during 2014 in success for the reform goals we share, and less time chronicling injustice.

A promising omen was a review of my new book, Presidential Puppetry, that syndicated columnist and intrepid reporter Andy Thibault published Dec. 31 in the Journal-Register consortium of Connecticut newspapers. His column, Kreig’s ‘Presidential Puppetry’ gives road map to master manipulators, argued for a path to reform via investigative reporting and blunt commentary, much as we seek to achieve via this site.

The U.S. Capitol is portrayed at left in an arrangement at the U.S. Botanic Gardens on the Washington Mall in a photo courtesy of a friend of the Justice Integrity Project.

In the spirit of our mission, we convey also below several compelling holiday messages.

Jeanne BishopThe first is a column by my friend Jeanne Bishop. She describes in powerful terms her visit to the prisoner who murdered her sister, brother-in-law and their unborn child in what was undoubtedly Chicago's most notorious crime two decades ago when I met Jeanne.

The second is the holiday message by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. He sacrificed his future to try to bring the gift of privacy to the United States and world population. His message was conveyed by a British television station, Channel Four.

Next we have holiday messages from the best-known United States political prisoner, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003). He is serving a long prison sentence centered on his 1999 reappointment to a state board of a major donor to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation.

Another column is by former Alabama Republican political operative Jill Simpson, who blew the whistle in 2007 on the Republican frame-up Siegelman, her state's best-known Democrat.

She interrupted her honeymoon in Europe with her husband and co-author, Jim March, to write with him about the ongoing injustice of Alabama's continued jailing of the corruption-fighting journalist Roger Shuler. An arrogant judge who disregarded settled law about libel law jailed Shuler on contempt charges for failure to spike his stories involving the son of Siegelman's gubernatorial rival in Alabama.

We at the Project helped break the Shuler story in October. Appended below is recent coverage by others of his plight in the context of the world's second worst year on record for jailing journalists globally.

Finally, we share messages from liberal pundit Bill Moyers, who describes the appalling imprisonment statistics for Black males, and from conservative columnist George Will, who protests the massive imprisonment across the nation of those convicted of possessing small amounts of drugs.  

Even (or especially) on holiday, these are reminders of the important work that remains after we renew our bonds and spirits.

Looking ahead, we'll be drawing on proven methods for enhancing our effectiveness in reform. This includes tips drawn from the work of organizational strategist Sarah Robinson, author of Fierce Loyalties: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities. I've heard her speak at the National Press Club, and can recommend her book as a practical tool for this and similar groups.

Until then, with best regards,

-- Andrew Kreig



Related News Coverage

Jeanne BishopHuffington Post Singing Carols to Jesus in Prison t, Jeanne Bishop, right, Huffington Post, Dec. 23, 2013. I was sitting in the visiting room at a prison in downstate Illinois on a bitingly cold December day. The room is as stark as you'd expect: bare linoleum floor, plain white walls, a series of cubicles. Visitors sit across from inmates, separated by glass. I had come to see the man who had murdered my sister, her husband and their baby years ago. He killed them at the beginning of Holy Week, a time that marks death and resurrection. Our visit took place during Advent, a time that awaits a birth. He had apologized; I was there to try to reconcile. With Christmas approaching, I asked him what that day would be like for him. Would there be anything special to mark the day?

New Haven Register, Kreig’s ‘Presidential Puppetry’ gives road map to master manipulators, Andy Thibault, left, Dec. 31, 2013. Andrew Kreig covered federal courts in the 1970s for The Hartford Courant. Kreig seemed like he knew what Andy Thibaulthe was doing, so I followed him around for a bit. The guy wore a nice suit, white shirt and a skinny tie. He was well over six-feet tall and trim. He moved swiftly and deliberately. I learned some time later he had been a boxer at Cornell, reaching the heavyweight finals of the Niagara Region AAU Golden Gloves. In federal court, the clerks and even the judges were friendly to him. I didn’t know what I was doing, but that didn’t really matter. I was a cub reporter for the Norwich paper, and most days started that way. By the end of the day, I was sort of supposed to know what I was doing. His reporting on the 2008 and 2012 elections inspired him to probe who really pulls the strings in Washington. The result is a most provocative book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. Kreig broke the story of how President-elect Obama’s transition team feared a revolt if the new commander in chief pushed prosecution of CIA officials for torture and other crimes. “Presidential Puppetry” documents how Obama is among all recent U.S. presidents who have fostered confidential relationships with the CIA or FBI before they entered politics. For example, Obama’s first job out of college was for Business International Corporation, revealed by The New York Times as a CIA front.

Edward SnowdenPC World, Edward Snowden's Christmas message: a child born today will have no conception of privacy, Peter Sayer, Dec. 26, 2013. ”A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” Edward Snowden warned Wednesday in a message broadcast to U.K. television viewers. ”They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought,” said Snowden, famous for leaking documents from the U.S. National Security Agency that reveal just how much of what we say, write and do is already recorded and analyzed. ”That’s a problem because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are, and who we want to be,” Snowden said in “video message” recorded for Channel 4, a commercially funded public service broadcaster. The video, one minute 43 seconds in duration, was produced by Praxis Films, the production company of freelance journalist Laura Poitras, who has worked on a number of stories about NSA surveillance based on the documents Snowden leaked.

New York Times, TV Message by Snowden Says Privacy Still Matters, Channel 4, Stephen Castle, Dec. 25, 2013. In a message broadcast Wednesday on British television, Edward J. Snowden, the former American security contractor, urged an end to mass surveillance, arguing that the electronic monitoring he has exposed surpasses anything imagined by George Orwell in “1984,” a dystopian vision of an all-knowing state. “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” Mr. Snowden said in a Christmas Day message shown by Channel 4. “They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.” Washington Post, Snowden says spying worse than Orwellian, Griff Witte, Dec. 25, 2013. In Christmas video, the NSA whistleblower says government surveillance has destroyed privacy. 

OpEdNews, Holiday Greeting From Prison, Don Siegelman, Dec. 23, 2013. At left, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is shown in a February 2008 CBS 60 Minutes story about his frame-up on corruption charges that seemed likely at one point to free him from prison on trumped up charges. His 2013 holiday message follows: "My Dear Friends: This has been my third Holiday Season in federal prison. If the Creator set a purpose for everything, then I know my job: To fight for justice! He has given me a personal, hands-on view of the tragedies created by our criminal justice system. It is not balanced or fair. It is not seeking truth or justice. Our system pursues convictions with an "anything goes" attitude! The President and the Attorney General have spoken out, allowing changes for let's encourage them to be even bolder, to seek justice for all...Oh, yes we can! We cannot give up on true justice."

Roger ShulerOpEd News, Let Roger Shuler Go Before Christmas -- The Only Journalist Held Indefinitely In The US, Jill Simpson and Jim March, Dec. 23, 2013. The Committee to Protect Journalists who are defending journalists worldwide recently announced their 2013 list of reporters imprisoned illegally around the world. As to be expected Turkey, Iran and China were at the top of the list but shamefully this time the US of A made the list as well due to the jailing of an Internet blogger named Roger Shuler in the state of Alabama.

Committee to Protect Journalists, Second worst year on record for jailed journalists, Elana Beiser, Dec. 18, 2013. For the second consecutive year, Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China. The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs. Turkey, Iran, and China accounted for more than half of all journalists imprisoned around the world in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census, CPJ identified 211 journalists jailed for their work, the second worst year on record after 2012, when 232 journalists were behind bars. The single journalist behind bars in the Americas was in the United States. Roger Shuler, an independent blogger specializing in allegations of corruption and scandal in Republican circles in Alabama, was being held on contempt of court for refusing to comply with an injunction regarding content ruled defamatory.

Think Progress, Ten Travesties Of Justice In 2013, Nicole Flatow, Dec. 23, 2013, also via Alternet. Every year, stories emerge that serve as a reminder that the American system of justice means injustice for too many, with some receiving little or no punishment for egregious offenses, while others receive harsh or faulty punishment for much less. Here are some of the worst injustices of 2013. 

Bill Moyers and Company via Huffington Post, Watch: Incarceration Nation an interview with Michelle Alexander, Bill Moyers, Dec. 23, 2013. There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. According to the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group dedicated to changing how we think about crime and punishment, "More than 60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their thirties, one in every ten is in prison or jail on any given day." Because of the 40-year war on drugs and get tough sentencing policies, the American prison population has exploded from about 300,000 in the 1970s to more than 2 million today. The United States has a higher rate of incarceration than any other nation and spends billions every year to keep people behind bars. The cost on democracy is immeasurable. 

Washington Post, Sledgehammer justice Sledgehammer justice, George F. Will, Dec. 25, 2013. How the government uses mandatory minimum sentences to gut constitutional rights.