GOP 2012 Contender Roemer Decries Corruption, Free Trade

Gov. Buddy RoemerRepublican 2012 Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer brought his unique pro-growth and anti-corruption reform message to my Washington Update radio show Oct.13. Co-host Scott Draughon and I quizzed the former Louisiana governor and four-term congressman, who sharply criticized U.S. "free trade" bills with South Korea, Panama and Colombia that Congress passed this week with President Obama's encouragement. Roemer, a Harvard MBA degree-holder, called the agreements bad for the U.S. economy and workforce, and typical of special interest control of Washington.

Roemer, a Republican businessman who says he's helped create a new kind of successful community bank since leaving politics, described how he made the decision with his family to return to politics for the Presidential race "because our country is in trouble." He decided also to forego any contributions over $100 and all political action committee (PAC) donations from corporations, unions, etc.  He is the only prominent Presidential candidate from either major party to take the pledge.

It's that kind of free-swinging commentary along with his varied record that prompts me to share these comments here. After all, there are lots of candidates giving interviews. But Roemer is the only one this cycle who, for example, has been both a governor and a congressman. More important, he is pounding at many of his own party's standard positions as well as the opposition's, but isn't included in the TV debates.

Organizers of Republican TV debates have excluded him for what he describes as shifting reasons largely unknown to him. As a recent guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he tries to find humor in the way some pollsters exclude him from their surveys. He calls that a "Catch 22" since TV debate organizers usually cite poll results to justify their debate line-ups.

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Post Puff Piece on Maryland Prosecutor Raises Question

Rod J. RosensteinThe Washington Post published Oct. 10 a highly flattering profile of Maryland's U.S. attorney without mentioning two newsworthy national security cases -- one of which resulted in vast embarrassment for the Justice Department last summer. The Post published its page-one Metro-section profile of U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, left, headlined, A Poster Child for the…Fair-minded. Reporter Ruben Castaneda's story lived up to that hype by such flattering insights as, "Even courtroom adversaries talk about the career prosecutor as if he were the real-life version of a Jimmy Stewart character." The reporter puts a positive spin on Rosenstein's work with Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's failed investigation of Thomas Drake the Clintons for Whitewater, and even finds time to report on the two kinds of coffee mugs that prosecutor uses. As a finale, he quotes one of prosecutor's daughters, age 11, and touts her acumen as boding for her future success as a lawyer in the tradition of her father.

That's heartwarming, except to those who might wonder whether the government doesn't have enough spin-artists already on payroll. The newspaper profile contains not a hint of criticism from anyone. Nor does it even mention the two national security cases. In one case, the Baltimore prosecution of former National Security Agency (NSA) executive Thomas Drake collapsed in shambles earlier this summer as federal prosecutors were forced to drop the most serious charges. CBS 60 Minutes and the New Yorker helped expose to national audiences this travesty of justice. Our Justice Integrity Project was among other groups providing coverage of the case and of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the lead watchdog group helping Drake. The defendant's ordeal began when he tried to expose to the Baltimore Sun millions of dollars in wasteful if not corrupt government spending. But prosecutors threatened him with charges that could have forced him to spend the rest of his life in prison as a spy. He fought them, and ultimately won a plea deal to a trivial misdemeanor of having unauthorized material on his computer. He is shown at right in a Wikipedia photo, courtesy of Steven DePaulo.

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Rightist Sparks DC Police Reprisal at Museum Protest

Reporters from the progressive websites OpEd News and FireDogLake have taken a lead in documenting how a right-wing agent provocateur created a violent police reaction Oct. 8 against peaceful Occupy Occupy DCWashington antiwar protesters. This shut down a Smithsonian museum and led to arrests. Furthermore, the role of the disrupter from The American Spectator was ignored by most mainstream news coverage until the next day. Instead, establishment reporters initially relied on police and museum spokespeople for spin-filled, dubious accounts of a demonstration that occurred in plain view near the center of the historic Mall.

Rob Kall, publisher of OpEd News, and his colleague Cheryl Biren have shocking photos of the event to illustrate their account. She was pepper-sprayed three times despite her credentials as a journalist and such important work as her photo at left. They and other journalists below have helped piece together an account of how the confrontation escalated because of a pre-planned stunt by an American Spectator editor identified as Patrick Howley, left. Howley is partly obscured in Biren's photo just behind another and larger unidentified demonstrator in the black tee-shirt. Biren says she compared her photos of the unidentified, heavyset man carefully with the mug shot of a New Jersey rightist reputed on some websites to be him, but believes they are not the same person. Over the past week, FireDogLake's Charlie Grapski did most of the detective work, and published an updated report on Oct. 10 called, Anatomy of a Deception: How a Conservative Magazine Attempted to Discredit the Occupy Movement, Read his coverage and that at OpEd News in such columns as, "Occupy" Participants Beware: Agents Provocateur Like The One at Air Space Museum Are Threat. Then help report the news widely through your Facebook, Twitter and other accounts.

Update: Park Police offers 4-month extension to Freedom Plaza permit: Organizer. The Park Police offered protest organizers a four-month extension to their permit at Freedom Plaza, according to an Occupy DC organizer.

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Ex-Justice Slams Bush Appeal

John Paul StevensFormer Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens writes in his new memoir, Five Chiefs, that the George W. Bush campaign's 2000 appeal to the United States Supreme Court over the Florida recount was "frivolous" and never should have been granted, according to news reports excerpted below.

President Obama's order to kill a U.S. citizen in Yemen with a drone attack was among the topics in our Justice Integrity Project round-up of significant developments last week. Other stories include increased criticism of Justice Clarence Thomas and disputed media coverage of the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration and similar ones around the United States. See below for details.

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Support Widens for Thomas Probes

Bob Edgar Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar on Oct. 6 ramped up his group's call for a Justice Department probe of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Speaking on the Washington Update weekly radio show that I host Scott Draughon, Edgar cited new evidence to argue that federal judicial authorities should refer the matter to the DOJ.

Meanwhile, 46 Democratic members of congress wrote House Judicairy Committee leaders to request a hearing on alleged ethics violations by Thomas revealed earlier this year. As the Huffington Post reported in, Democrats Ramp Up Calls For Ethics Probe Of Clarence Thomas, the Democrats seek a formal investigation of Thomas for failing to disclose information relating to his wife's earnings -- as much as $1.6 million over the past 13 years -- on his annual financial disclosure forms.

Common Cause and Alliance for Justice, like those in Congress, are seeking the probeon ethics issues. They said that emerging details about gaps in annual financial disclosure reports filed by Thomas suggest that he deliberately withheld information required by federal ethics laws. “There is now more than enough evidence to merit a formal inquiry as to whether Justice Thomas willfully failed to make legally required disclosures, perhaps for as long as 13 years,” said Edgar. New developments are described below. The Washington Update show heard live nationally on the My Technology Lawyer radio network can now be heard archive here. Mac users need “Parallels.”

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Reform Teams Must Fight for the Dream, But Much Better

Supreme CourtAs the Supreme Court began its annual term on Oct. 3, I'd like to share suggestions below on how legal reformers -- our team, in other words -- can be much more effective in achieving results. That’s the dream. But the reality is that we face huge challenges that require new approaches to fight due process violations and other wrongdoing that appears to extend high into the legal system. These days, the general principles converge in the person of Clarence Thomas -- associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and someone whom the FBI should vigorously investigate.

Like many, I thought about due process issues after Georgia executed Troy Davis on Sept. 21 despite powerful evidence casting doubt on the witness identifications prompting his conviction for a fatal shooting of an off-duty policeman. I published a column, Troy Davis, Clarence Thomas and Georgia on Our Minds.” Organizers of an Oct. 1 street rally in Washington, DC then asked me to suggest practical next steps following hundreds of thousands of petition signatures protesting the execution. The next day, I reflected more about this during annual Red Mass ceremonies in Washington celebrating the law's spiritual dimensions. Led by Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Catholic church leaders hosted six of the nine Supreme Court Justices – including Thomas and a likely majority of those who allowed Georgia to execute Davis. Other guests included White House Chief of Staff William Daley, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

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