Solving the Siegelman/Obama Mystery – and Learning Its Lessons

Don Siegelman

Washington Post, Senators delay vote on Brennan, seek more information about drone campaign, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Feb. 14, 2013. A Senate confirmation vote on John O. Brennan as CIA director has been postponed for at least two weeks as lawmakers step up pressure on the Obama administration to provide more information about its drone campaign against terrorism suspects. In particular, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that she is seeking seven Justice Department memos related to the administration’s targeted killing program, in addition to four the committee has been allowed to view.

Huffington Post, Chuck Hagel Confirmation: Senate Vote Fails To End Filibuster On Obama Pick, Sabrina Siddiqui, Feb. 14, 2012. Senate Republicans successfully foiled attempts to confirm Chuck Hagel for the post of defense secretary on Thursday, by denying him the 60 votes needed for the nomination to proceed. Democrats ultimately came up short of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and end the Republicans' filibuster, with a final vote count of 58 to 40. Republican Sens. Mike Johanns (Neb.), Susan Collins (Maine), Thad Cochran (Miss.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats in their failed effort to end debate. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) voted present. The nomination is hardly dead. In fact, it looks increasingly likely that Democrats will be able to muster the needed votes to confirm Hagel's nomination after a 10-day recess.

Associated Press/Washington Post, AP Exclusive: Documents sketch close dealings of Nixon, Clinton, on Russia, foreign affairs, Feb. 14, 2013.  In the final months of his life, Richard Nixon quietly advised President Bill Clinton on navigating the post-Cold War world, even offering to serve as a conduit for messages to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other government officials, newly declassified documents show. Memos and other records show Nixon’s behind-the-scenes relations with the Clinton White House. The documents are part of an exhibit opening Friday at the Nixon Presidential Library, marking the centennial of his birth. Clinton has talked often of his gratitude to Nixon for his advice on foreign affairs, particularly Russia. In a video that will be part of the exhibit, Clinton recalls receiving a letter from the 37th president shortly before his death on April 22, 1994, at a time when Clinton was assessing U.S. relations "in a world growing ever more interdependent and yet ungovernable." At left, Richard Nixon meets Bill Clinton at the White House in 1994 (Richard Nixon Foundation Photo).

Huffington Post, Law Enforcement Alliance Of America, NRA Front-Group, Spends Millions To Elect Pro-Gun Judges, Christina Wilkie, Feb. 14, 2013. The National Rifle Association has spent more than $2 million to fund a group that helps elect conservative pro-gun judges and state attorneys general, people likely to rule in court and try cases that will be favorable to the gun lobbying interests. The group is called the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA), and details of the NRA's funding are laid out in a new report issued Thursday by the nonprofit Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-leaning think tank. The LEAA does not disclose its donors, but CAP researchers analyzed NRA tax returns and public records to determine that the group was founded in 1991 with money from the NRA, and has received a steady stream of payments from the nation's largest gun lobbying group ever since. The report found that the LEAA also has received money from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Institute for Political Economy, While Left And Right Fight, Power Wins, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 14, 2013. We have a government whose elected members are beholden to a private oligarchy, consisting of the military/security complex, Wall Street and the financial sector, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, and the energy, mining, and timber businesses, with the power to shut down people’s protests at their exploitation by robber barons and government alike. Vast amounts of government debt have been added to taxpayers’ burdens in order to fight wars that only benefit the military/security complex and the Israel Lobby. More vast amounts have been added in order to force taxpayers to cover the reckless gambling bets of the financial sector. Taxpayers are denied interest on their savings in order to protect the balance sheets of a corrupt financial sector. Legitimate protestors are brutalized by police and equated by Homeland Security with “domestic extremists,” defined by Homeland Security as a close relation to terrorists. Today Americans are not safe from government or private power and suffer at the hands of both. What can be done? From within, probably very little. The right blames the left, and the left blames the right.

Black Agenda Report, Obama’s State of the Corporate Union, Glen Ford, right, Feb. 13, 2013. President Obama’s State of the Union address makes it official: the 2012 election has brought us back to 2011, when the outlines of his grand bargain with the Republicans became clear. In his vision for future, “austerity in people’s programs is traded for tax breaks for corporations that will, in totally discredited theory, bring back the jobs they had outsourced overseas.” It was an impassioned performance by a cynical politician who offers little but corporate tax incentives and continued austerity. Barack Obama peppered his State of the Union address with up-tempo buzzwords about illusory “progress,” but the president’s substantive message was that he is determined to complete the austerity bargain he struck with the Republicans in 2011. Thus, it is a sign of “progress” that “we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances” – meaning, he will collaborate with the GOP in cutting almost $2 trillion more. The big cuts will come from those programs that enjoy overwhelming support among Americans. He claims to be with them in spirit while opposing them in practice. “Those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms – otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.” His reasoning is identical to the Republicans, who say these programs must be bled, or die.

One of today's most intriguing mysteries in criminal law is why President Obama and his administration have so harshly supported the Bush-era corruption prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, his state’s most prominent Democrat.

The issue comes into focus yet again Jan. 13 when a federal appeals court in Atlanta hears Siegelman’s argue that he should have had the right to discover whether his Republican prosecutor truly recused herself, as she claimed, because of a conflict of interest from her husband’s campaign efforts to defeat Siegelman at the polls. Siegelman, currently imprisoned for his 1999 reappointment of a donor to a state board, has appealed also his long prison sentence in 2007 based in part on charges for which the jury acquitted him.

Our most recent columns, Shackled Siegelman Typifies White House ‘Human Rights’ Charade, reported how many ways through many years that Bush and Obama authorities have treated Siegelman, his co-defendants, and their families with extraordinarily harsh and legally dubious procedures, thereby making him a leading symbol nationally of a political prosecution so mind-boggling as to become a global symbol of human rights abuse.

The symbolism, the politics and what currently amount to at least 200,000 letters and phone calls to Washington protesting his treatment suggest that powerful and mysterious factors are preventing the Obama administration from cutting its losses by exercising prosecutorial discretion or similar procedures, which could be as simple as halting its nearly nine years of obstruction fighting production of recusal evidence.

 

 

 

 

Why have President Obama and his administration fought so hard to imprison former Alabama Gov.Don Siegelman?

Aldous Huxley on Democratic InstitutionsOur previous column, Shackled Siegelman Typifies White House ‘Human Rights’ Charade, documented how the Obama administration has gone out of its way to fight Siegelman's appeals from trumped up corruption charges and mind-boggling legal irregularities by the Justice Department and presiding judges. Why foster such a disgrace, especially when Republicans launched the case against Alabama's leading Democrat?

The brief answer, as I described in my book “Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney, and Their Masters,” is that Obama is an a controlled asset of the nation’s banking, munitions, mining, oil and intelligence sectors. They elevated him to the presidency with a phony persona as an advocate of the constitution, community organizing, and “hope.”

The answer is that Obama officials really don't care. Their attention is elsewhere. based on on Siegelman? Many prominent legal experts and journalists have long argued that the Democrat’s prosecution begun during the Bush administration disgraced the Justice Department and the nation.

The reasons explain many other mysteries about the current administration. They are based on five years research of the kinds of abuses documented in

That column ended with the assessment by the White House correspondent Helen Thomas that the president was “weak” and a “coward.”  That tells part of the story that a close observer like her could see and in her case had the nerve to say.

What deadline reporters at the White House would not necessarily know without exhaustive research for which they are not paid is the rest of the story:

The president is essentially an actor portraying laying a certain type of president, and independent thinking on such a sensitive issue is not part of his script.

More specifically, Obama was elected in 2008 after playing the role of a committed Constitutionalist and reformer.

Far more important to his success than that public role, however, was his secret grooming by powerful banking, defense industry and intelligence interests, along with their allies in the media and the non-profit world of foundations, think tanks and universities.

White Deep South moderates like Siegelman are essentially a lost cause to Obama and others at the top of his administration.  


 


 
 
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Editor's Recommendations

 

Barack Obama and John Brennan speak at White House in 2012 (White House photo)

Editor's Note: A White House photo in 2012 shows President Obama with then-aide and now CIA Director John O. Brennan. At the White House, Brennan managed the “kill lists” for drone strikes. Brennan was a career CIA officer and then head of a defense contractors association before becoming Obama's top national security advisor during the 2008 campaign. Given Obama's background documented in the book "Presidential Puppetry," Brennan might be regarded as a presidential "control officer" or "handler" as much as an "advisor."

 

Editor's Recommendations

RT via OpEdNews, Florida congressman barred from seeing classified sections of 9/11 inquiry, Staff report, Dec. 30, 2014. A request by U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson to access a portion of a 2002 congressional report on the Alan GraysonSept. 11, 2001 attacks was denied by the House Intelligence Committee based on political reasons, the Florida Democrat said. Grayson's request pertains to 28 pages of Congress' Joint Inquiry that were ordered to be redacted by then-President George W. Bush. The congressman said his search stemmed from proposed legislation in the House that seeks to release the classified section to the public. Grayson, shown in a file photo, told BrowardBulldog.org that the House Intelligence Committee's vote to block his access of the classified sections amounted to a political attack.

The Hill, Incoming Oversight chairman ponders information technology, Mario Trujillo, Dec. 18, 2014. The incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee announced the creation of a new information technology subpanel. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) vowed to reorganize the entire subcommittee structure when he takes over the gavel from current Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) next year. The information technology subcommittee with focus on cybersecurity, intellectual property, energy technologies, IT infrastructure and federal IT procurement. GOP Rep.-elect Will Hurd (Texas), a former CIA officer, was picked to lead the IT panel. According to his biography, Hurd worked for the cybersecurity firm Fusion X for the past four years, focusing on issues related to manufactures, financial institutions, retailers and infrastructure.

AP via Yahoo! Protests erupt after Putin foe found guilty, Nataliya Vasilyeva, Dec. 30, 2014. President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.

Hollywood Reporter, Oliver Stone on Ukraine Protests: "The Truth Is Not Being Aired in the West," Ryan Gajewski, Dec. 30, 2014. The Savages director wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency contributed to the ouster of former president Viktor Yanukovych, whom Stone recently interviewed for the documentary he's directing about Russian president Vladimir Putin.

See also, Politico, The Police Are Still Out of Control; I should know, Frank Serpico, Oct. 23, 2014. Former New York City police detective Frank Serpico's heroic story as a corruption-fighting policeman was Al Pacino in "Serpico" posterdocumented by the 1973 Hollywood film Serpico starring Al Pacino (shown in a poster) based on a best-selling biography by the late Peter Maas. Serpico, now 78, refused to take bribes and then battled with corrupt and complacent superiors.

OpEdNews, The Outlook for the New Year, Paul Craig Roberts, Dec. 29, 2014. Today the Russian government no longer has any illusion that Europe is capable of an independent foreign policy. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated publicly that Russia has learned that diplomacy with Europe is pointless, because European politicians represent Washington's interest, not Europe's.

Washington Post, Report says 120 Islamic State fighters executed — by Islamic State, Adam Taylor, Dec. 29, 2014. According to a new report from the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, at least 120 members of the Islamic State have been "executed" since the group proclaimed its caliphate in June. The purported number killed is large even when compared with reports of other executions carried out by the Islamic State. In total, SOHR says it documented at least 1878 executions by the Islamic State in the past six months. The vast majority of those killed were civilians, the group said, while 502 were soldiers of the Syrian regime and 81 were members of other rebel or Islamist groups.

ISIS Raqqa, Syria, Jan. 14, 2014This photo released via social media purportedly shows ISIS warriors in the Syrian city of Raqqa near the border of Iraq on Jan. 14, 2014.

National Press Club, More lowlights than highlights for press freedom in 2014, John M. Donnelly, Dec. 27, 2014. Press freedom and government transparency in 2014 regressed more than it progressed, according according to a year-end review by the National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee. "While December saw flickers of progress for press freedom, the year mostly saw backsliding worldwide," NPC President Myron Belkind said. "Let's hope 2015 brings more respect for human rights in general and in particular for the right of the press to report freely on what people everywhere need to know."
On the plus side, the U.S. Department of Justice decided in December to end its long campaign to force New York Times reporter James Risen to reveal a confidential source. That same month, an appellate court overturned a lower court ruling that would have forced Joseph Hosey, a Patch.com reporter in Illinois, to identify an anonymous source.

The Hill, Secret Service allows unpaid volunteers to drive in president's motorcade, Meghashyam Mali, Dec. 27, 2014. The Secret Service regularly relies on unpaid, volunteers to drive vehicles in the president's motorcade, a practice critics warn posses a serious safety threat. The bulletproof vehicles at the front of the motorcade are staffed with Secret Service agents and the convoy is followed by local law enforcement and an ambulance. But the New York Times reported Friday that the motorcade vans used to transport staffers and reporters are often driven by young volunteers who lack any specialized training. The Secret Service defended the use of volunteer drivers, saying it has been practice since the 1980s. The drivers are "briefed by the Secret Service agent responsible for the motorcade prior to any movements," a spokesman told the paper.

Washington Post, Critical decisions after 9/11 led to slow, steady decline in quality for Secret Service, Carol D. Leonnig, Dec. 27, 2014. The Secret Service began struggling to carry out its most basic duties after Congress and the George W. Bush administration expanded the elite law enforcement agency’s mission in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The recent string of security lapses at the White House resulted from a combination of tight budgets, bureaucratic battles and rapidly growing demands on the agency that have persisted through the Bush and Obama administrations in the 13 years since the attacks. The agency assumed new responsibilities monitoring crowds at an increasing number of major sporting events and other large gatherings seen as potential targets for terrorists.

George OrwellNew York Times, Christie Roams, and Popularity Suffers at Home, Kate Zernike, Dec. 27, 2014. With Governor Christie again considering a run for president, his constituents appear to be tiring of the whole routine. Christie’s Chris Christie Shankbonefavorability is at its lowest point, with more voters disapproving than approving of his job performance. New Jersey residents think he is making decisions with an eye on his national standing rather than on what is good for their state. They do not think he should run for president — they are, as the slogan goes, ready for Hillary — but most expect he will, and want him to resign if he does. Christie has begun living a life that is strikingly apart from the state he governs. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association over the last year, he spent 152 days, or 42 percent of his time, outside New Jersey.

After Scrutiny, C.I.A. Mandate Is Untouched, Mark Mazzzetti, Dec. 26, 2014. The scathing report the Senate Intelligence Committee delivered this month is unlikely to significantly change the role the C.I.A. now plays in running America’s secret wars. A number of factors — from steadfast backing by Congress and the White House to strong public support for clandestine operations — ensure that an agency that has been ascendant since President Obama came into office is not likely to see its mission diminished, either during his waning years in the White House or for some time after that. The Church Committee’s revelations [in the mid 1970s] about the abuses committed by the intelligence community — and a parallel House investigation led by Representative Otis G. Pike of New York — came at the end of America’s wrenching military involvement in Vietnam, and during a period of détente with the Soviet Union. The disclosures of C.I.A. assassination schemes and spying on Vietnam War protesters fueled a post-Watergate fury among many Americans who had grown cynical about secret plots hatched in Washington. By contrast, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recent report on C.I.A. excesses since the Sept. 11 attacks arrived in the midst of renewed fears of global terrorism, the rise of the Islamic State and grisly beheading videos of American hostages. A CBS News poll released last week found that though 69 percent of those asked consider waterboarding to be torture, 49 percent think that brutal interrogation methods are sometimes justified. More than half, 57 percent, believe that the tactics are at least sometimes effective in producing valuable intelligence to help stop terrorist attacks.

Washington Post, The movie ‘Selma’ has a glaring flaw, Joseph A. Califano Jr. Dec. 26, 2014. Joseph A. Califano Jr. was President Lyndon Johnson’s top assistant for domestic affairs from 1965 to 1969. The makers of the new movie “Selma” apparently just couldn’t resist taking dramatic, trumped-up license with a true story that didn’t need any embellishment to work as a big-screen historical drama. As a result, the film falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself. In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted — and he didn’t use the FBI to disparage him.

Huffington Post, NSA Fesses Up To Improper Surveillance Of U.S. Citizens, Igor Bobic, Dec. 26, 2014. The National Security Agency released hundreds of pages of heavily redacted documents Christmas Eve detailing instances of NSA Official Logoimproper surveillance on U.S. citizens in the last 12 years.  The batch of documents, stretching from the fourth quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2013, was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The reports shed more light on instances in which NSA employees either intentionally or unintentionally violated the law and collected the private data of American citizens.

Justice Integrity Project response comment to news media:

Advocates of due process and other freedoms should applaud NSA’s admissions of privacy violations while remembering also that spy agencies have long traditions of minimizing such admissions. “Limited hang-out” is the term they use. Courageous and well-qualified whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have described electronic surveillance and retrieval capabilities vastly greater than NSA has ever admitted. No oversight body has dared address the evidence in a public and thorough manner. Retrieval and reprisal are especially insidious tools since they can be used against anyone, including judges, legislators, and businesses, in ways almost undetectable by victims. In sum, piecemeal disclosures are better than nothing. But that is only a part of the story. 

Washington Post, Obama hopes to enlist GOP in push for trade pact despite Democratic resistance, David Nakamura, Dec. 26, 2014. President Obama is preparing a major push on a vast free-trade zone that seeks to enlist Republicans as partners and test his premise that Washington can still find common ground on major initiatives. It also will test his willingness to buck his own party in pursuit of a legacy-burnishing achievement.

HuffPost Live, Obama's Cowardly Response to Torture Revelations, Alyona Minkovski, Dec. 12, 2014. After taking office in 2009 President Obama did ban the use of torture through an executive order, and to this day says that Alyona Minkovskithe practice was inconsistent with our values as a nation. But that one stroke of the pen doesn't match up with the rest of his actions. The ethos of this administration has been to look forward and not backwards. This has meant letting the architects of the Bush torture regime escape prosecution and any semblance of accountability despite clear violations of international law. In the days since the report's release, the president has provided comments in which he praised the intelligence community as "heroes" and "patriots," and implored us to believe that agonizing choices were made in haste in response to 9/11. An official statement from the White House called the CIA's program "troubling" and the methods "harsh." Telling someone they've put on a few pounds is harsh. Anal rape, sleep deprivation, and dehumanizing psychological abuse are war crimes. The only man to go to prison in relation to torture is John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower who was the first to inform the public that the program existed. This administration has repeatedly used the states secrets privilege in court to prevent victims of extraordinary rendition from finding justice, and has allowed military commissions to supercede our federal court system.

Esquire, The Torture Report, Part Two: What It Means, Charles P. Pierce, Dec. 9, 2014. Today, with the release of the executive summary of the congressional investigation into the American torture program, we have lost forever the right to moral leadership that we claimed at Nuremberg, and at the tribunals that investigated the actions of the Japanese in the Pacific. Those proceedings were based in two fundamental beliefs: a) that there are some activities that are beyond the law, even in wartime, and b) that the people responsible for those activities, even the worst of them, deserve a fair trial, and a trial that is open to the world.

After Scrutiny, C.I.A. Mandate Is Untouched, Mark Mazzzetti, Dec. 26, 2014. The scathing report the Senate Intelligence Committee delivered this month is unlikely to significantly change the role the C.I.A. now plays in running America’s secret wars. A number of factors — from steadfast backing by Congress and the White House to strong public support for clandestine operations — ensure that an agency that has been ascendant since President Obama came into office is not likely to see its mission diminished, either during his waning years in the White House or for some time after that. The Church Committee’s revelations [in the mid 1970s] about the abuses committed by the intelligence community — and a parallel House investigation led by Representative Otis G. Pike of New York — came at the end of America’s wrenching military involvement in Vietnam, and during a period of détente with the Soviet Union. The disclosures of C.I.A. assassination schemes and spying on Vietnam War protesters fueled a post-Watergate fury among many Americans who had grown cynical about secret plots hatched in Washington. By contrast, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recent report on C.I.A. excesses since the Sept. 11 attacks arrived in the midst of renewed fears of global terrorism, the rise of the Islamic State and grisly beheading videos of American hostages. A CBS News poll released last week found that though 69 percent of those asked consider waterboarding to be torture, 49 percent think that brutal interrogation methods are sometimes justified. More than half, 57 percent, believe that the tactics are at least sometimes effective in producing valuable intelligence to help stop terrorist attacks.

The Hill, Incoming Oversight chairman ponders information technology, Mario Trujillo, Dec. 18, 2014. The incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee announced the creation of a new information technology subpanel. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) vowed to reorganize the entire subcommittee structure when he takes over the gavel from current Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) next year. The information technology subcommittee with focus on cybersecurity, intellectual property, energy technologies, IT infrastructure and federal IT procurement. GOP Rep.-elect Will Hurd (Texas), a former CIA officer, was picked to lead the IT panel. According to his biography, Hurd worked for the cybersecurity firm Fusion X for the past four years, focusing on issues related to manufactures, financial institutions, retailers and infrastructure.

AP via Yahoo! Protests erupt after Putin foe found guilty, Nataliya Vasilyeva, Dec. 30, 2014. President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.

Related News Coverage

Siegelman Case News

Justice Integrity Project, Shackled Siegelman Typifies White House ‘Human Rights’ Charade, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 29, 2014. Federal authorities continued this month their remarkably harsh, unjust treatment of the nation’s most famous political prisoner. The U.S. legal jihad against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman continued even as the Obama administration separately cited “human rights” as the rationale for new U.S. sanctions and other interventions overseas. Authorities shackled Siegelman during his Dec. 15 court appearance in the state capital of Montgomery, denied his request for release on bond during appeal, and reportedly are keeping him in solitary confinement over the holidays so far in a county jail while he awaits an appellate hearing next month.  The Obama administration’s hypocrisy is thus displayed as it continues Bush-Clinton policies of citing “human rights” abuses elsewhere around the world as an excuse to foment revolutions, covert paramilitary actions, and propaganda campaigns on multiple continents, including secret operations to influence United States voters

Al.com, Obama refuses to pardon Siegelman for acts less egregious than the president's, John Farmer, Dec. 24, 2014. John J. Farmer, Rutgers Law School, shown in a photo at left, is a professor of law at Rutgers University, and a former attorney general for John Farmerthe state of New Jersey.  President Obama has acted like every one of his predecessors in rewarding his biggest political contributors. But if this time-honored tradition of appointing ambassadors and other officials based largely on political support is so obviously permissible, the question that should trouble the president's conscience is why, if he is willing to make such appointments, he is also content to leave people like [former Alabama Gov.] Don Siegelman in prison. Don SiegelmanA bipartisan and nonpartisan group of over 100 former state attorneys general -- myself among them -- participated as friends of the court in an unsuccessful effort to persuade the federal appeals court and U.S. Supreme Court to reverse Siegelman's conviction. More recently, as Dean of the Rutgers School of Law, I worked with law students from the Constitutional Litigation Clinic to look at every federal official corruption prosecution over the prior decade. The students' conclusion, as stated nearly two years ago in a Jan. 7, 2013, letter to Obama and the pardon attorney seeking a commutation of Siegelman's sentence, was stark:  "the Siegelman conviction is readily distinguishable from every other contemporaneous corruption prosecution .... 'No charges have been brought against a politician where the quid pro quo is as far attenuated as in the present case.'"

Editor's Note: Siegelman is shown in a file photo at right. One the nation's best-known political prisoners was kept in prison garb and shackled during his appellate hearing this month, in which his attorney, former Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig, argued unsuccessfully that Siegelman should be granted appeal bond while courts weigh his request for a new trial . He is serving a 78-month prison sentence largely for a 1999 appointment to a state board a donor to a non-profit. The one-term governor from 1999 to 2003, his state's most prominent Democrat, has been continuously investigated and prosecuted since 1999, resulting in convictions in 2006 and his 78-month prison sentence. 

Other Obama Policies and Results

Washington Post, Obama hopes to enlist GOP in push for trade pact despite Democratic resistance, David Nakamura, Dec. 26, 2014. President Obama is preparing a major push on a vast free-trade zone that seeks to enlist Republicans as partners and test his premise that Washington can still find common ground on major initiatives. It also will test his willingness to buck his own party in pursuit of a legacy-burnishing achievement.

New York Times, Joining International Criminal Court Wouldn’t Guarantee Palestinians a War Crimes Case, Jodi Rudoren, Jan. 2, 2015. The political fallout from the Palestinian move Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court is likely to be swift and profound. Israel is expected to withhold tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, restrict officials’ travel and possibly advance settlement activity in sensitive spots in the West Bank. The United States Congress may cut off $400 million in aid to the Palestinians. The already dim prospects for renewing peace talks now seem null. But legal repercussions from last summer’s war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, or Israel’s settlements, would take longer and face many hurdles.

Bloomberg, China Steps In as World's New Bank, William Pesek, Dec. 25, 2014. Beijing's move to bail out Russia, on top of its recent aid for Venezuela and Argentina  marks the beginning of the end for America's linchpin role in the global economy and Japan's influence in Asia. China stepping up its role as lender of last resort upends an economic development game that's been decades in the making. The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank are bloated, change-adverse institutions. Chinese President Xi Jinping's government cares about loyalty. The quid pro quo: For our generous assistance we expect your full support on everything.

AP via Yahoo News, Americans appear comfortable with political dynasties, Nancy Benac, Dec. 25, 2014. Again? Really? What If It's Bush-Clinton in 2016? The possibility of a Bush-Clinton matchup in 2016 is increasingly plausible. After months of hints and speculation, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he's actively exploring a bid for the Republican nomination. Hillary Rodham Clinton is seen as the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination. Between them, the two potential rivals have three presidents and a U.S. senator in the branches of their family trees. And three governors, as well. A Sept. 8, 2014, file photo shows former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as they laugh together during the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program Launch at The Newseum in Washington.

Cold War Initiatives

Alan Gross Dec. 17, 2014 White House PhotoAlan Gross talks on the phone with President Barack Obama onboard a government plane during the flight from Cuba to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released after five years in a Cuban prison. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson.)

FactCheck.org via Huffington Post, Here's The Part Of Alan Gross' Story That Obama Hasn't Been Talking About, Robert Farley, Dec. 24, 2014. In accounts from both sides of the aisle, recently-freed Alan Gross has been portrayed as a humanitarian simply trying to bring Internet access to Cuba’s small Jewish community. But there’s more to the story than that shorthand suggests. Although Gross entered Cuba on a handful of occasions on a tourist visa and purported to be a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, Gross (shown in a White House photo) was actually doing work as a subcontractor for a pro-democracy program funded by the U.S. government, work for which Gross was being paid about a half million dollars. Reporting by the Associated Press revealed that Gross was covertly bringing in technology known to be illegal in Cuba — equipment such as satellite phones and a chip that allows Internet use without detection. Reports obtained by the AP also revealed that Gross knew what he was doing was “very risky business” and that detection of the equipment would be “catastrophic.” For those unfamiliar with the full story, comments by Sen. Marco Rubio and President Barack Obama might suggest a purely innocuous purpose to Gross’ mission.

Jerusalem Post, Analysis: Alan Gross put Cuba’s Jews in awkward position, Yossi Melman, Jan. 4, 2015. The activities of the  American Jew Alan Gross, who was released from prison by Cuban authorities three weeks ago, put the Cuban Jewish community in a precarious position, jeopardizing its relations with the Castro regime. Just prior to his arrest, Gross worked as a subcontractor for USAID, helping to install communications equipment for various organizations. His job was to undermine the communist regime in Cuba and to help nongovernmental organizations and dissidents of the government to evade detection by authorities who closely watch and listen to all communications on the island. Development Alternatives, the contracting company that employed Gross, received a $6 million contract from USAID. Gross himself earned a salary of $500,000 for his efforts. His activities violated Cuban law, which forbids smuggling of the kind of equipment that he had in his possession. The Jews of Cuba number 2,000 people, most of which live in the capital. Havana is home to a number of synagogues, and Cuban Jews enjoy complete freedom of worship. The Gross case could have led foreign governments to suspect that the Jews in their midst who have ties with Jewish organizations in the US are acting as emissaries for American espionage.

Christic Institute Poster

A poster of the defunct Christic Institute is shown at right. Led by noted public interest litigator Daniel Sheehan, the institute revealed the CIA's Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan-Bush administration but suffered court reverses and unprecedented courtroom and IRS sanctions soon afterward during the Bush administration.

Los Angeles Times, Charges Unproven, Judge Says, June 24, 1988. A federal judge threw out a $24-million damage suit Thursday against former CIA officials, Contra leaders and cocaine traffickers accused of running an arms-for-drugs smuggling scheme. Chief U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King dismissed the case against Iran-Contra figures Richard V. Secord and Albert A. Hakim; Theodore G. Shackley, former CIA deputy director of operations; former Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub, and 25 other defendants, including leaders of Colombia's violent Medellin cartel. The suit was filed two years ago by the liberal Washington-based Christic Institute on behalf of journalist Tony Avirgan, who was injured in the 1984 Nicaragua bombing aimed at maverick Contra leader Eden Pastora. King said the plaintiffs failed to prove their basic contention that a wide-ranging conspiracy was responsible for the La Penca bombing that injured Avirgan and for later threats aimed at covering up their involvement.

Ronald Reagan, Rupert Murdoch, Charles Wick, Roy Cohn 1983President Reagan meets with publisher Rupert Murdoch, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick, lawyers Roy Cohn and Thomas Bolan in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library.)

Consortium News, Murdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda, Robert Parry, Dec. 31, 2014. Special Report: The rapid expansion of America’s right-wing media began in the 1980s as the Reagan administration coordinated foreign policy initiatives with conservative media executives, including Rupert Murdoch, and then cleared away regulatory hurdles. The Reagan administration pulled right-wing media executives Rupert Murdoch and Richard Mellon Scaife into a CIA-organized “perception management” operation which aimed Cold War-style propaganda at the American people in the 1980s, according to declassified U.S. government records.  Although some records relating to Murdoch remain classified, several documents that have been released indicate that he and billionaire Scaife were considered sources of financial and other support for President Ronald Reagan’s hard-line Central American policies, including the CIA’s covert war in Nicaragua.

Washington Post,The story of one of the Cold War’s greatest unsolved mysteries — and the new effort to solve it, Ishaan Tharoor, Dec. 30, 2014. Around midnight on Sept. 18, 1961, a plane carrying U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold crashed nine miles from its intended destination, the town of Ndola in Northern Rhodesia, now the independent republic of Zambia. The 56-year-old Swede and 15 other people aboard the aircraft perished. On Monday, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a motion asking current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint an independent panel of experts to investigate new evidence that has come to light regarding the 1961 plane crash.