Reporters Allege Criminal Ties By Siegelman Judge

Two investigative reporters alleged on Aug. 14 serious wrongdoing decades ago by the Alabama federal trial judge who presided over the 2006 trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges.

Mark E. FullerRoger Shuler published a column, Siegelman Case Has Roots in the Iran-Contra Scandal and the Assassination of a U.S. Judge in the 1980s. It amplified allegations Aug. 10 by author Wayne Madsen against U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller, left, who re-sentenced Siegelman on Aug. 3 to 6 1/2-years in prison on corruption convictions in a trial before Fuller in 2006. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Smith Vance is the judge who is referenced in the Shuler headline and Madsen story. Vance was killed at his home by a letter-bomb on Dec.16, 1989. A white racist is serving a life term for the murder of Vance, a former law firm colleague of Siegelman's.

In general, the recent reporting stems from independent reporters who have long suspected that Fuller must have had powerful reasons and protectors for his trial conduct. The judge refused to recuse himself and permitted Bush prosecutors to engage in vast numbers of irregularities to obtain Siegelman'sconviction on bribery charges for reappointing a rich man to a state board in 1999 after he donated to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation, whose mission the governor supported.

Now, Madsen alleges that the CIA protected Fuller. Madsen is editor of the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), author of a new book, The Manufacturing of a President, and a former Navy intelligence officer. Madsen accuses Fuller of involvement in 1980s Iran-Contra drug and gun-smuggling and then retaliating against Siegelman, Alabama's attorney general from 1987 to 1991, for authorizing an investigation.

Fuller has not responded to requests for comment.

Madsen, who began covering the Siegelman case in 2007 from his base in Washington, DC, made several other significant allegations against Fuller in columns this month.

Mohamed AttaOne Madsen column reported extensively the corporate history of Doss Aviation, Inc., whose website formerly described its work refueling Air Force planes, and training Air Force and international pilots. One of its affiliates is Professional Aviation, Inc.

Madsen reported Aug. 3 that one of the company's trainees at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery was Mohamed Atta, reported later to be a lead hijacker during 9/11. Atta, shown at right, primarily trained in Florida.

Even so, such training would add yet-another remarkable dimension to the judge's vastarray of controversial pursuits. Former Reagan Navy Secretary John F. Lehman, a member of the 9/11Commission, acquired Doss last December via an investment company he controls. The result was to keep Doss finances secret in advance of a messy divorce action Fuller's wife filed this year alleging a sex scandal. Also, her suit implied drunkenness and drug abuse by the judge, who obtained an order sealing the divorce file.

Madsen is conversant with extensive literature describing the 1980s arms for hostages scandal. This month, he wrote:

The fear of the Bush administration was that its network of CIA-linked drug and weapons runners would be exposed. Of particular concern to the conspirators was the activities of a group of CIA shell companies, all mostly dealing with millions of dollars of cash transactions, including air transport firms incorporated mostly in the small southeastern Alabama town of Enterprise would be exposed.

Shuler, based in Birmingham, wrote:

Those behind Iran-Contra never have been held fully accountable. But Madsen's report reminds us that a few serious journalists have tried to enlighten the public. The Associated Press' Robert Parry, now at Consortium News, helped break the story in the mid 1980s. Gary Webb, of the San Jose Mercury News, produced a groundbreaking series showing that CIA-backed drug smuggling helped fuel the American crack-cocaine epidemic of the 1980s.

 

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Related News Coverage

Wayne Madsen Report, Judge Fuller's "smoking gun" statement at Siegelman re-sentencing, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 10, 2012 (Subscription required). Judge Mark E. Fuller opened up a can of worms at hearing and implicated himself in a long-forgotten murder conspiracy. Madsen reported: "The fear of the Bush administration was that its network of CIA-linked drug and weapons runners would be exposed. Of particular concern to the conspirators was the activities of a group of CIA shell companies, all mostly dealing with millions of dollars of cash transactions, including air transport firms incorporated mostly in the small southeastern Alabama town of Enterprise would be exposed." Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst who has long studied crime and cover-ups in Alabama, continued: "As district attorney and federal judge, Fuller has been entrusted by the CIA to ensure that the illegal operations involving the agency's drug and weapons smuggling operations remain a secret. In addition, Fuller has ensured that anyone who is believed to be a threat to the secrecy of the operation, is dealt with harshly, and that includes the Attorney General who first caught wind of the Enterprise operation, Siegelman."

Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman Case Has Roots in the Iran-Contra Scandal and the Assassination of a U.S. Judge in the 1980s, Roger Shuler, Aug. 14, 2012. The roots of the Don Siegelman prosecution can be traced to the Iran-Contra scandal and the assassination of a federal judge in the 1980s, according to a new report from a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist. The Siegelman case also has connections to a lawsuit styled Avirgan v. Hull, which was dismissed in curious fashion--an action that might have been a forerunner to the rampant judicial corruption we see today, especially in the Deep South. Siegelman trial judge Mark Fuller long has been involved in efforts to cover up massive CIA drug- and gun-smuggling operations that are tied, in part, to Iran-Contra, according to the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR). Fuller also has been involved in a cover up involving the 1989 mail-bomb assassination of federal judge Robert S. Vance in Birmingham. How did Fuller become connected to such nefarious activities? His hometown of Enterprise, Alabama, is home to a prime airfield that has been used in the smuggling operations, Madsen reports.

Associated Press / WAAY-TV, Don Siegelman prays for a longshot, Staff report, Aug. 18, 2012.  Several thousand people have signed a petition asking President Barack Obama to keep former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman from spending the next few years in prison. But Siegelman realizes the odds of getting a presidential commutation are about the same as winning a state lottery. More than 5,700 people convicted of federal crimes have asked Obama for a commutation of their sentences. He's granted one.
Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, approved 11 commutation requests out of 8,576 received during his two terms. Those seeking but not getting a commutation included former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who appealed his racketeering and fraud convictions. Despite the long odds, Siegelman said he's proud of his daughter, Dana, for starting the online petition at Change.org. She launched the effort after a federal judge rejected her request to sentence her father to community service. "The only hope I have — my last chance for freedom — lies in the people signing this petition to the president for a commutation," Siegelman said. The Justice Department reports that 5,739 people have asked Obama for a commutation of their federal sentences. The only one granted was to a drug offender. Of the remainder, 3,793 cases have been denied, and 982 others were closed without presidential action. Petitioning for a presidential commutation is more difficult than getting a presidential pardon. The Justice Department reports Obama has approved 22 pardons out of 1,143 requests. But pardons can't be issued until after a federal prisoner has completed a sentence, which wouldn't do Siegelman any good at this point.

Legal Schnauzer, Judge in Siegelman Case Owned a Company That Helped Train 9/11 Terrorist Mohamed Atta, Roger Shuler, August 7, 2012. The judge in the Don Siegelman prosecution owned a company that helped train 9/11 pilot Mohamed Atta, according to a report from a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller owned a 43.75 percent stake in Doss Aviation, a Colorado firm that has received lucrative federal contracts. Doss Aviation helped train Mohamed Atta, according to a new article from Wayne Madsen Report (WMR). Atta is believed to have piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Multiple reports in the mainstream press have stated that Atta trained at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, where Fuller has served as a judge in the Middle District of Alabama since his 2002 appointment by President George W. Bush.

Consortium News, The Warning in Gary Webb’s Death, Robert Parry, December 9, 2011. Special Report: Modern American history is more complete because journalist Gary Webb had the courage to revive the dark story of the Reagan administration’s protection of Nicaraguan Contra cocaine traffickers in the 1980s. However, Webb ultimately paid a terrible price. Every year since investigative journalist Gary Webb took his own life in 2004, I have marked the anniversary of that sad event by recalling the debt that American history owes to Webb for his brave reporting, which revived the Contra-cocaine scandal in 1996 and forced important admissions out of the Central Intelligence Agency two years later. But Webb’s suicide on the evening of Dec. 9, 2004, was also a tragic end for one man whose livelihood and reputation were destroyed by a phalanx of major newspapers – the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times– serving as protectors of a corrupt power structure rather than as sources of honest information. In reviewing the story again this year, I was struck by how Webb’s Contra-cocaine experience was, in many ways, a precursor to the subsequent tragedy of the Iraq War.

WhoWhatWhy, Senator’s Lonely Battle For Public’s Privacy Rights, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 6, 2012. During the Bush administration, it seemed that nary a Republican—and just a handful of Democrats in Congress—spoke out about the government’s crackdown on civil liberties. Since a Democrat took power, the silence has spread. One notable exception is Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wyden continues a lonely battle to generate discussion and accountability where there is virtually none. Among his concerns are how Executive Branch officials resist providing meaningful estimates of whether it is only a few Americans–or vast numbers—who are being monitored without warrants. For example, while the public is generally aware that judges authorize limited numbers of wiretaps each year, it remains largely in the dark about newer and far more prevalent techniques, such as the routine use of cell phones as sophisticated tracking devices.  Wyden’s most recent effort involves placing a “hold” on the Senate’s reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court system—until he is able to learn more about how, post-9/11, the Executive Branch is using its powers.

Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman Sentence Cements Judicial Scandal In History, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 6, 2012. The country’s most notorious federal judge Aug. 3 sentenced former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to 78 months more in prison on trumped-up corruption convictions. The proceedings cement into history a national disgrace for the justice system. The infamy is parallel on the world stage to France's sentence of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus to Devil's Island on phony charges more than a century ago. U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery, a longtime Republican partisan, also imposed a $50,000 fine payable immediately by a man who has already spent vast amounts on legal bills to defend himself from a prosecution that cost United States taxpayers an estimated $100 million.

Washington Post, Campaign contribution or bribe? Robert Barnes, Aug. 12, 2012. Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman heads back to prison next month, contrite about and embarrassed by his bribery conviction. Siegelman’s long and tangled legal journey — the charges date back to a 1999 state referendum — appears to be over. But the debate over “the line where a campaign contribution becomes a bribe,” especially relevant in a year when campaign spending has become a paramount issue, shows no signs of fading away. Not long before Siegelman learned his fate, a different federal judge who had presided over a different public corruption trial in the same Montgomery courthouse issued his own demarcation plea. “The Supreme Court needs to address this issue and provide guidance to the lower courts, prosecutors, politicians, donors and the general public,” wrote U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1980.