Editor's Choice: Click below for the Justice Integrity Project's monthly archive of cutting-edge news excerpts for February 2012.

 

Catching Our Attention:

New York Times, Saudi Arabia May Be Tied to 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say, Eric Lichtblau, Feb. 29, 2012.  For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats. Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks. “I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks. His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.'

Russia Today / Goodbye, First Amendment: 'Trespass Bill' will make protest illegal, Feb.  29, 2012. The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it. The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House. Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.

ABC News (Australia), Greens call for details on secret Assange charges, Feb. 29, 2012. 'We will not tolerate his transfer to the United States to face charges that could potentially land him in prison or in a hole like Guantanamo Bay, as David Hicks did, potentially for decades.' The Greens have called on the Federal Government to reveal whether it knew about secret United States charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. An email from staff at private US intelligence agency Stratfor, released by WikiLeaks, refers to an indictment on Assange. "We have a sealed indictment on Assange," said the short email from Stratfor's vice-president of intelligence Fred Burton to analysts at the security firm. The information comes with the request to protect the information and not to publish. Greens Senator Scott Ludlam wants Prime Minister Julia Gillard to say whether the Government will defend the Australian against possible extradition to the US.Justice Dept. to review NYPD over Muslim spying, Feb. 28, 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Tuesday that, months after receiving complaints about the New York Police Department's surveillance of entire American Muslim neighborhoods, the Justice Department is beginning a review to decide whether to investigate civil rights violations... Holder responded under questioning by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who as an infant was sent with his parents to a Japanese internment camp during World War II and has compared that policy to the NYPD's treatment of Muslims. Holder did not suggest that a Justice Department investigation of the NYPD was imminent.

Rolling Stone, WikiLeaks Stratfor Emails: A Secret Indictment Against Julian Assange? Michael Hastings, Feb. 28, 2012. On January 26, 2011, Fred Burton, the vice president of Stratfor, a leading private intelligence firm which bills itself as a kind of shadow CIA, sent an excited email to his colleagues. "Text Not for Pub," he wrote. "We" – meaning the U.S. government – "have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect." The news, if true, was a bombshell. At the time, the Justice Department was ramping up its investigation of Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which over the past few years has released hundreds of thousands of sensitive government documents. An indictment under the 1917 Espionage Act would be the most serious action taken to date against Assange, possibly paving the way for his extradition to the U.S.

Telegraph, The (United Kingdom), Stratfor: executive boasted of 'trusted former CIA cronies,' Alex Spillius, Feb. 28, 2012. A senior executive with the private intelligence firm Stratfor boasted to colleagues about his "trusted former CIA cronies" and promised to "see what I can uncover" about a classified FBI investigation, according to emails released by the WikiLeaks. Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at the Texas firm, also informed members of staff that he had a copy of the confidential indictment on Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. The second batch of five million internal Stratfor emails obtained by the Anonymous computer hacking group revealed that the company has high level sources within the United States and other governments, runs a network of paid informants that includes embassy staff and journalists and planned a hedge fund, Stratcap, based on its secret intelligence. It operates something of an employment revolving door with branches of the Washington establishment. Burton was previously deputy chief of the counter-terrorism division in the state department's diplomatic security service. The emails indicated that the company pays for information. One email released by WikiLeaks described a £4,000-a-month payment made to a Middle Eastern source, and another carried bits of gossip dropped by a retired spy. Derided as a "shadow CIA" by Assange, one email from chief executive George Friedman also suggested it used methods redolent of spy agencies.

WikiLeaks, Global intelligence files in relation to Sam Kent and Halliburton from Wikileaks, Press release, Feb. 27, 2012. Today, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods....The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks / Global Intelligence Files / Citizens for Legitimate Government, STRATFOR: 'Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist,' Feb. 28, 2012. Confidential emails obtained from the US private intelligence firm Stratfor show that the United States Government has had a secret indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for more than 12 months. Fred Burton, Stratfor's Vice-President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security, is a former Deputy Chief of the Department of State's (DoS) counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). In early 2011, Burton revealed in internal Stratfor correspondence that a secret Grand Jury had already issued a sealed indictment for Assange: "Not for Pub - We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect." (375123) According to Burton: "Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist." (1056988)... Emails from Fred Burton reveal that the US Government employs the same counterterrorism strategy against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as against Al Qaeda: "Take down the money. Go after his infrastructure. The tools we are using to nail and de-construct Wiki are the same tools used to dismantle and track aQ [Al Qaeda]. Thank Cheney & 43 [former US President [sic] George W. Bush]. Big Brother owns his liberal terrorist arse."

Atlantic, The Collapse of Print Advertising in 1 Graph, Derek Thompson, Feb. 28, 2012.  Call it creative if you want, but this is what economic destruction looks like. Print newspaper ads have fallen by two-thirds from $60 billion in the late-1990s to $20 billion in 2011. You sometimes hear it said that newspapers are dead. Now, $20 billion is the kind of "dead" most people would trade their lives for. You never hear anybody say "bars and nightclubs are dead!" when in fact that industry's current revenue amounts to an identical $20 billion.

WikiLeaks / Global Intelligence Files / Citizens for Legitimate Government, STRATFOR: 'Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist,' Feb. 28, 2012. Confidential emails obtained from the US private intelligence firm Stratfor show that the United States Government has had a secret indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for more than 12 months. Fred Burton, Stratfor's Vice-President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security, is a former Deputy Chief of the Department of State's (DoS) counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). In early 2011, Burton revealed in internal Stratfor correspondence that a secret Grand Jury had already issued a sealed indictment for Assange: "Not for Pub - We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect." (375123) According to Burton: "Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist." (1056988)... Emails from Fred Burton reveal that the US Government employs the same counterterrorism strategy against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as against Al Qaeda: "Take down the money. Go after his infrastructure. The tools we are using to nail and de-construct Wiki are the same tools used to dismantle and track aQ [Al Qaeda]. Thank Cheney & 43 [former US President [sic] George W. Bush]. Big Brother owns his liberal terrorist arse."

Feb. 27

Associated Press / CBS, WikiLeaks publishes emails on private Intel firm, Feb. 27, 2012. WikiLeaks said Monday it was publishing a massive trove of leaked emails from the geopolitical analysis firm Stratford, shedding light on the inner workings of the Texas-based think tank that bills itself as a leading provider of global intelligence to a range of clients. The online anti-secrecy group said it had more than 5 million Stratford emails and it was putting them out in collaboration with two dozen international media organizations. The small selection so-far published to WikiLeaks' website gave a rare look at the daily routine at a private Intel firm: One described a $6,000-a-month payment made to a Middle Eastern source, another carried bits of gossip dropped by a retired spook, and many were filled with off-color office banter.

Legal Schnauzer, Is Bob Riley Finally About to Come? Roger Shuler, Feb. 27,2012. Is Bob Riley Finally About to Come Under Scrutiny? Former Alabama Governor Bob Riley is under investigation by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, according to a new report from The Montgomery Independent.  The news comes as defendants in the federal bingo trial have stated they will not call any witnesses, meaning closing arguments are expected tomorrow and Riley will not be called in the case. That comes as no surprise to those of us who have watched Riley give new meaning to the term "Teflon governor."  But Ellen Brooks, who has been Montgomery County DA since 1993, might try to put a few scratches in Riley's protective coating. We have only one question for Ms. Brooks: What took you so long?  On the premise that late is better than never, let's take a look at the The Montgomery Independent's report:

Ted StevensNew York Times, Justice and Open Files, Editorial Board, Feb. 27, 2012.  Prosecutors have a constitutional duty to disclose significant evidence favorable to a criminal defendant. But too often that duty, as laid out by the 1963 Supreme Court decision Brady v. Maryland, is violated. To help ensure compliance, some prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers and legal scholars have sensibly concluded that prosecutors’ files, as a general rule, should be made open to defendants. In cases where turning over evidence might endanger a witness, for example, a judge could allow an exception. A small number of state and local governments have adopted open-file policies that require prosecutors to make available well before trial all information favorable to the defense, without regard to whether such information is likely to affect the outcome of the case. The Justice Department should join this movement and set a national example. But instead, it continues to take half-measures in response to its own failures to meet disclosure requirements. It responded to several cases of Brady violations by its attorneys — including egregious misconduct in the case of the late Senator Ted Stevens [right]— by providing more training and by directing each United States attorney’s office to set forth clearly its version of the department’s Brady policy, which is to turn over favorable evidence only if it is “material,” meaning likely to make a difference in the case’s outcome.

Feb. 25

Birmingham News, Alabama bingo trial: Prosecution rests in vote-buying case, Kim Chandler Feb. 25, 2012. Federal prosecutors rested Friday in the State House vote-buying case after presenting jurors with a case that was dramatically shortened and streamlined since last year's trial, which ended with a mostly hung jury. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson instructed lawyers for VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and the other defendants to tell him by noon today whether they plan to call any witnesses. "Everybody will sleep on it and make that decision," said defense lawyer Susan James. James represents former casino spokesman Jay Walker. "Everybody I think feels pretty good where we are right now, and we are looking forward to moving to the next phase," James said. Thompson dismissed four counts of honest services fraud against McGregor and one against lobbyist Tom Coker. The counts involve telephone calls that McGregor made while vacationing in Las Vegas, and prosecutors did not offer any evidence about those calls. Prosecutors this go-around presented an abbreviated and repackaged case. They put on just two weeks of evidence, compared to seven weeks when the case first went to trial last summer. They also did not call three of their previous star witnesses, whose credibility was battered by defense lawyers last summer.

Feb. 24

Washington Post, Washington Post Co. fourth-quarter earnings drop 22 percent, Steven Mufson, Feb. 24, 2012. The Washington Post Co. reported Friday fourth-quarter 2011 net income of $61.7 million, or $8.03 a share, down 22 percent from $79.0 million or $9.42 a share a year earlier as its Kaplan education division and flagship newspaper operations continued to shrink.  Profits at the company’s cable television unit and local television broadcast stations remained relatively stable. The trials of Kaplan — and the education of The Washington Post Co.: The success of the Kaplan education division has brought unwelcome scrutiny to a family-run company that has long prided itself in serving the public interest. Operating profits at The Post Co.’s once high-flying Kaplan education division sank to $32.3 million in the fourth quarter, down 51 percent from $66.2 million the year before. Revenue for the education division fell but still accounted for nearly 60 percent of the company’s revenue during the fourth quarter and the year.

Feb. 23

Jersey Journal, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez discusses reports of NYPD monitoring Muslim and immigrant communities, M.G. De Guzman, Feb. 23, 2012. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) addressed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and CIA Director David Petraeus today, calling for an investigation on reports that the New York Police Department was monitoring Muslim and immigrant communities. In the letter, Menendez expressed grave concerns “about any program that targets communities with no credible law enforcement intelligence and with no oversight of the operation.” According to the press reports, the NYPD has been described as collecting information from communities in Newark, NJ and monitoring student groups at Rutgers University as well as other Northeastern colleges.

Feb. 22

Business Insider, New WikiLeaks Drop Alleges That Sweden’s Foreign Minister Has Been a U.S. Spy, Adam Taylor, Feb. 22, 2012. WikiLeaks is said to be preparing a release that will allege Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has been a US informant since the 1970s.  The news was broken by Swedish newspaper Expressen, who have access to an internal Wikileaks memo. The memo says that the allegations are supposedly based on a US diplomat's report, and will be politically explosive. "He will be forced to resign", one source told the paper. Bildt is alleged to have reported to Karl Rove, the former advisor to George W. Bush, in the document — Bildt has publicly admitted he meets with Rove but in an informal manner. However, the document reportedly reveals he has acted as an "informer" to the US government since 1973.

Bildt Wikipedia bio and photo below: Nils Daniel Carl Bildt KCMG, born in 1949, is a Swedish politician and diplomat. Formerly Prime Carl BildtMinister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994 and leader of the liberal conservative Moderate Party from 1986 to 1999, Bildt has served as Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs since 6 October 2006.

He has also been noted internationally as a mediator in the Balkan conflict, serving as the European Union's Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia from June 1995, co-chairman of the Dayton Peace Conference in November 1995 and as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from December 1995 to June 1997 immediately after the Bosnian War. From 1999 to 2001, he served as the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Balkans.

Salon, Various matters, Glenn Greenwald, Feb. 22, 2012. The always-tenacious Jake Tapper (see this superb grilling of White House spokesman Jay Carney about the Awlaki assassination) sat in the White House briefing room today. He watched as Carney praised the heroism of two reporters killed this morning in Syria and then waxed poetic on the Vital Importance of Journalism. That led Tapper to want to know how the White House can reconcile its claimed reverence for journalism with its unprecedented war on whistleblowers: "How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistleblowers to court?" That question is unanswerable, but see the transcript here as Carney struggles to provide a response while Tapper repeatedly insists on an actual answer.

FireDogLake, Marie Colvin, 1946-2012, Jane Hamsher, Feb. 22, 2012. I met Marie Colvin briefly in 2005 at the Full Frame film festival in Durham, North Carolina. She and Molly Bingham (who went on to become a friend of the blog) were both featured in Barbara Kopple’s documentary about women journalists in Iraq, Bearing Witness. Marie’s hotel room was next door to mine and her celebration party was loud and long, lasting into the wee hours of the morning.  She was a remarkable woman who knew how to enjoy life. She was killed in Syria today. David Remmick writes an apt tribute to her in The New Yorker.  I also came across the video above in which Marie spoke about the responsibility she felt to ask questions that made the powers that be uncomfortable, and to publish what she learned — even when she was asked to do otherwise.  She was one of the rare people who made it incredibly difficult to pasteurize and homogenize the story of war with embedded reporters and a steady stream of feel-good propaganda. She dedicated her life to making the world look at the realities of war, and the integrity she brought to the reporting profession will be sorely missed.Feb. 21

Washington Post, Chief Justice Roberts rejects request for code of conduct, Robert Barnes, Feb. 21, 2012. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told a group of Democratic senators that the Supreme Court is not going to formally adopt a judicial code of conduct that governs the actions of other federal judges. Roberts told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) in a one-paragraph letter that he had already explained in his year-end report on the judiciary why the Code of Conduct for United States Judges was not applicable to the Supreme Court. In the report, the chief justice had defended his eight colleagues as “jurists of exceptional integrity and experience” and said it was a misconception that they do not follow the same set of ethical principles as other judges.

Washington Post, Charges dismissed against 16 accused of bribing foreign official in sting, Del Quentin Wilber, Feb. 21,  2012. A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed all charges against more than a dozen people accused of bribing a foreign official in a high-profile Justice Department sting that has suffered setbacks in court. In a sharply worded ruling from the bench, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon of the District’s federal court applauded federal prosecutors for seeking dismissal of the charges but also criticized them for engaging in what the judge called a “long and sad chapter in the annals of white collar criminal enforcement.” The judge said, “I, for one, hope this very long, and I’m sure expensive, ordeal will be a true learning experience for both the [Justice] Department and the FBI.” The reiterated concerns that he had expressed during two trials about “how this case was investigated and conducted.” The judge specifically criticized how prosecutors handled evidence, managed their key informant and pushed an “aggressive” interpretation of conspiracy charges.

Washington Post, Rep. Issa has been busy as oversight panel, Ed O'Keefe, Feb. 21, 2012. Rep. Darrell Issa is trying to make good on his promise to keep close tabs on the Obama administration. Since assuming the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in January 2011, the California Republican has held hundreds of hearings, made more than 700 requests for information and issued almost two dozen subpoenas. But for every line of inquiry that led to a public hearing or legislation, administration supporters and critics alike complain privately — White House and agency officials especially fear upsetting the chairman — that many of the efforts by Issa’s staff resulted in no follow-ups, no hearings or no reports. Essentially, some complain, there have been too many instances in which there was more show than substance.  Issa issued 22 subpoenas and published 11 investigative GOP staff reports, and the panel sent 748 letters seeking information from the White House and federal agencies in his first year, according to the panel’s records.
Salon, Justice Kagan sides with the Right on Miranda, Glenn Greenwald, Feb 21, 2012.  Although I praised and vigorously defended President Obama’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court, I argued vehemently against his appointment of Elena Kagan to replace Justice John Paul Stevens. Thus far, it’s been far too early to know what type of Justice she will be — in part because she recused herself from so many important cases (because she had worked on them as Obama’s Solicitor General) and because the wheels of justice grind especially slowly on the Supreme Court level. Today, although the overall picture is still incomplete, we have probably the clearest — and definitely the most troubling — sign yet. In Howes, Warden v. Field, released today, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which (along with the federal district court hearing the case) had held that a prisoner’s Constitutional rights had been violated when prison officials interrogated him for five to seven hours without advising him of his Miranda rights.

Feb. 20

Paul Craig RobertsPaul Craig Roberts.com / OpEd News, Silencing The Critics, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 20, 2012. In 2010, the FBI invaded the homes of peace activists in several states and seized personal possessions in what the FBI -- the lead orchestrator of fake "terrorist plots" -- called an investigation of "activities concerning the material support of terrorism." Subpoenas were issued to compel antiwar protestors to testify before grand juries as prosecutors set about building their case that opposing Washington's wars of aggression constitutes giving aid and comfort to terrorists. The purpose of the raids and grand jury subpoenas was to chill the anti-war movement into inaction. Last week in one fell swoop, the last two remaining critics of Washington/Tel Aviv imperialism were removed from the mainstream media. Judge Napolitano's popular program, Freedom Watch, was cancelled by Fox TV, and Pat Buchanan was fired by MSNBC. Both pundits had wide followings and were appreciated for speaking frankly. The idea that the US is a democracy when it most definitely does not have a free watchdog press is laughable. But the media is not laughing. It is lying. Just like the government, every time the US mainstream media opens its mouth or writes one word, it is lying. Indeed, its corporate masters pay its employees to tell lies. That is their job. Tell the truth, and you are history like Buchanan and Napolitano and Helen Thomas.

Crooks and Liars, What Michelle Rhee and Foster Friess Have In Common, Karoli Blog, Feb. 20, 2012. At first, you might just think they were at a fundraiser for an education project or something, right? Wrong. Michelle Rhee and her new husband Kevin Johnson were honored, along with Gary Sinise and NRA President Wayne LaPierre by the Joe Foss Institute for being "outstanding Americans". Friess was the chairman of the event. "The Joe Foss Institute was created to work with youth in schools and youth groups across America—with those who will defend our freedoms in the future—encouraging & teaching democracy, patriotism, integrity, and public service. We help our audiences understand—and stand up for—the ideals upon which this country was founded, as reflected in our Founding Documents: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence."

Feb. 18

Jersey Journal, Federal judge dismisses all charges against former Jersey City Assemblyman, Michaelangelo Conte, Feb. 17, 2012. A federal judge today dismissed all charges against former Jersey City Assemblyman Lou Manzo. In a stunning blow to federal prosecutors, a federal judge in Newark has dismissed all charges against former Jersey City assemblyman Lou Manzo, one of 44 people arrested in the massive corruption sweep of July 2009. In a 60-page ruling released today, Judge Jose Linares granted Manzo’s motion to dismiss all counts in his indictment. Manzo is accused of accepting more than $20,000 from a government informant, Solomon Dwek, who was posing as a developer seeking favors. Manzo, who was not an elected official at the time, but was running for mayor of Jersey City, was charged with two counts of extortion of under the Hobbs Act and two counts of violating the Travel Act, meaning he crossed state lines to commit a crime.

Jersey Journal, Political Insider: Manzo talked back to feds from beginning -- and is off the hook,  Agustin C. Torres,  Feb. 18, 2012. "The Ghost Who Walks" is also known in comics as "The Phantom." It could also apply to former Assemblyman Lou Manzo of Jersey City. Today, Manzo is no longer under indictment on corruption charges.  While the longtime Jersey City politician won, it cost him his home, insurance business and savings to defend himself -- this after he spent a ton of money running for office. During his legal battles, Manzo was unable to find even a part-time job because the issue of his indictment would pop up.
 
Associated Press, Federal judge dismisses all corruption charges against former NJ state Assemblyman, Feb. 18, 2012. A federal judge has dismissed all charges against a defendant in New Jersey's largest corruption case.  It was the second major legal victory in the case for former state Assemblyman Louis Manzo, who had run unsuccessfully for Jersey City mayor when he was arrested in July 2009. He was among 44 people charged in a sweeping federal investigation into international money laundering and political corruption. Manzo initially faced counts of extortion conspiracy, but those charges were dismissed after a federal appeals court ruled Manzo had been improperly charged under rules meant for public officials.  Federal prosecutors then brought new charges against him, including two counts of violating the federal Travel Act by meeting in Staten Island with an undercover informant who posed as a corrupt developer and one count of not reporting federal offenses committed by others in the alleged scheme. He also was charged with mail fraud.

Feb. 17

Marcello Ferrado de NoliAugosto Pinochet Professors Blogg, Sweden and Pinochet: On torture crimes, extradition lawyers, and politically designed judges, Marcello Ferrada de Noli, at left, Feb. 13, 2012. “U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder does not prosecute U.S. torturers; he prosecutes those who speak out about U.S. torture. Will Julian Assange be next?” says human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, legal advisor to Assange. "The analysis of this blog," Dr. Ferrada de Noli writes, "reviews in similar fashion the historical background of Swedish policy regarding extradition of political prisoners. We revisit the risks as to whether Swedish authorities would give their prospective prisoner Assange -- already accused by high-profile U.S. politicians of being a terrorist -- to the United States. Sweden undertook a shameful and largely hidden policy during and after World War II, for example, to return political refugees to Russia. In 1998, pro-USA Swedish officials declined to support the extradition to face trial in Spain of CIA-installed dictator Augusto Pinochet, then in London and shown at right in a Wikipedia photo. Spain, then as now, asserts universal jurisdiction on crimes involving politically motivated torture and assassination. Spanish authorities documented how Pinochet's forces had inflicted these crimes in Chile on hundreds of political prisoners later living in exile in Sweden, including this author."

BradBlog, New Numbers in Maine Reveal Romney's Reported 194 Vote 'Win' Over Paul Shrinking to Just 157; Fox19: 'After Saturday, there may be a different winner'; State GOP Chair hiding results, sliming Paul supporters, Brad Friedman, Feb. 17, 2012.  "The fight for Maine is far from over," says Cincinnati's Fox19 reporter Ben Swann, as he reported new numbers for Maine's 2012 GOP Caucuses last night. The State's GOP Chairman Charlie Webster had announced last Saturday night that Mitt Romney had won Maine's caucuses by just 194 votes over Ron Paul. But, as we've been reporting, several counties had yet to even cast their votes at that time and, as we detailed in a follow-up report last night, the results of caucuses in dozens of towns across the state had simply been zeroed out in the state GOP's officially published results.

Politicker, Winners and Losers: Week of Feb. 13th, Politicker Staff, Feb. 17, 2012. Winners: Lou Manzo. It took two and a half years, but the former assemblyman from Jersey City today finally beat the rap as a federal court dismissed all corruption charges against Manzo. "The truth is the truth," the unsuccessful 2009 candidate for mayor told The Jersey Journal,who was charged with extortion as part of the infamous Jersey Sting corruption bust.

Washington Post, An unfair forfeiture; Motel owner faces asset forfeiture despite innocence, Editorial Board, Feb. 17, 2012.
The Motel Caswell, a modest motel just outside of Boston, has been owned by proprietor Russell H. Caswell’s family for 60 years. Now he may lose it, if the Justice Department gets its way. The motel is the target of an asset forfeiture proceeding that entitles the federal government to seize property that has been used in the commission of a crime. This is true even if the owner is not accused of criminal wrongdoing. Local law enforcement groups that team up with the federal government may be awarded up to 80 percent of the proceeds from such seizures. According to the Institute for Justice, which is representing Mr. Caswell, such “equitable sharing” payments from the federal government to states have increased dramatically in recent years, from $200 million in 2000 to roughly $400 million in 2008.

Feb. 16

SCOTUS Blog / Bloomberg Law, Supreme Court Argument Briefing, Feb. 16, 2012, National Press Club, Washington, DC. Video of forum on upcoming Supreme Court arguments on the constitutionality of the health care reform law. Featuring Paul Clement, counsel to the plaintiff States; Michael Carvin, counsel to plaintiff National Fedederation of Independent Business; Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar; and moderated by SCOTUS Blog founder Tom Goldstein.

Feb. 15

Wall Street Journal, Peace, of sorts, has broken out at Bumi PLC, Andrew Peaple, Feb. 15, 2012. The coal miner's major Indonesian shareholders have dropped their call for an extraordinary general meeting to push through sweeping changes to its board and management, including the ousting of Co-Chairman Nat Rothschild.

Feb. 14

OpEd News, NGOs Explain Away Egyptian Indictments, Michael Collins, Feb. 14, 2012. During the 2011 Egyptian protest movement, United States government had its stealth agents in place. It also had its proxies in worldwide democracy movement, the non-government organizations (NGOs) operating with funding from the neoconservative leaning National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The International Republican Institute started up in Egypt in 2005. Its counterpart, the National Democratic Institute has been there since 1995. For two decades, the Chamber of Commerce Center for International Private Enterprise and the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center carried out their work in Egypt under one name or another. Here's how it works. A sovereign state receiving aid or otherwise under the influence of the United States is required to open up to NGOs from the United States funded by the U.S. government. The pass through organization, NED, serves as the cutout that allows the various NGOs to look independent. But they're not. These organizations would be out of business exist without your tax dollars.

Feb. 13

Rickey Stokes News (Dothan, Alabama), Rickey Stokes, Feb. 13, 2012.  I can no longer just sit by. The banner of so called Washington D.C. “public integrity” and justice must be addressed. It should have already been addressed by all of the major media, WSFA, WAKA, Montgomery Advertiser, Dothan Eagle, WTVY and others all across Alabama. On October 4, 2010,a press release from the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. announcing the arrest in the bingo probe, a statement was made by one of the Washington D.C. Public Integrity people. At the beginning of the 2011 Federal Bingo Trials in Montgomery started, Judge Wallace Capal, Jr. threatened sanction against the Washington D.C. Special Prosecutor Peter Ainsworth. The quote from Judge Capal “the Justice Department sent an elite group from D.C. to prosecute the case but it’s conduct has been ridiculous.”

Feb. 11

New York Times, Hacking Cases Focus on Memo to a Murdoch, Sarah Lyall and Ravi Somaiya, Feb. 11, 2012. As dozens of investigators and high-powered lawyers converge on Rupert Murdoch’s News International in the phone hacking scandal, attention has focused on the printout of an e-mail excavated three months ago from a sealed carton left behind in an empty company office. Addressed to Mr. Murdoch’s son James, it contained explosive information about the scale of phone hacking at The News of the World tabloid — information James Murdoch says he failed to take in because he did not read the whole e-mail chain. The e-mail returned to cause trouble for News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of News Corporation, several weeks ago when the company said that it had been deleted from Mr. Murdoch’s computer. Even as people familiar with the investigations said the e-mail and its convoluted history will form a crucial part of the inquiry into allegations of a cover-up, the scandal appeared to be widening on Saturday, as senior journalists at News Corporation’s Sun tabloid were arrested.

AGI (Italy), Anonymous attacked Putin's Party, raising havoc on Webpage, Feb. 11, 2012. The Anonymous hacker group, now very active, attacked 2 regional offices of United Russia, Vladimir Putin's party. The hackers raised havoc in Moscow's regional er-region.ru Webpage and the party's udm-er.ru page in the Udmurt Republic. The hacking was reported by the group through a now customary message on its Twitter profile. It is Anonymous' 3rd attack on Russia, which they blame of having tampered with the final results of last December's parliamentary elections. Two Webpages of the Russian Premier's party have been blacked out since Wednesday while the Website of the party's branch office in Kaluga, a city close to Moscow, was put out of service on Thursday.

Independent (United Kingdom), Rothschild loses libel case, and reveals secret world of money and politics, Tom Peck, Feb. 11, 2012.
Thanks to billionaire's legal battle, we now know a lot more about how the super-rich work. With his long limbs and delicate gait, Lord Mandelson could no doubt manage a quite convincing turn in Thunderbirds. He'd find Jeff Tracy most convivial: a billionaire astronaut with his own Pacific island, and now, it seems, he even has his own camera-shy friend to pull the strings. According to the High Court, Nathaniel Rothschild, scion of the banking dynasty and friend of seemingly everyone in the spheres of finance, business and politics, is indeed "puppet master" to the Baron of Hartlepool and Foy.  The banker and Bullingdon boy has lost his libel case against the Daily Mail, which he sued for "substantial damages" over its account of his and Mr Mandelson's extraordinary trip to Russia in January 2005.

Daily Mail (United Kingdom), The Russian oligarch, the Old Etonian billionaire and deeply disturbing questions about Lord Mandelson's integrity, Richard Pendlebury, Feb.11, 2012.

Feb. 10

Washington Post, Is it bribery or just politics? George F. Will, Feb. 10, 2012. All elected officials, and those who help finance elections in the expectation that certain promises will be kept — and everyone who cares about the rule of law — should hope the Supreme Court agrees to hear Don Siegelman’s appeal of his conviction. Until the court clarifies what constitutes quid pro quo political corruption, Americans engage in politics at their peril because prosecutors have dangerous discretion to criminalize politics. Siegelman, a Democrat, was elected Alabama’s governor in 1998 and was defeated in 2002. In 2006, he and a prominent Alabama businessman — Richard Scrushy, former chief executive of HealthSouth — were convicted of bribery. Here is why:

Siegelman argues that political contributions enjoy First Amendment protection, and seeking them is not optional for a politician in America’s privately funded democracy. Furthermore, elected officials must undertake official acts; some will be pleasing or otherwise beneficial to contributors. (See Solyndra.) Often this is nothing more than keeping campaign promises: People contribute because they endorse a candidate’s agenda. But if bribery can be discerned in a somehow implicit connection between a contribution and an official action, prosecutorial discretion will be vast. And there will be the political temptation to ascribe unspoken but criminal mental states to elected officials. The Supreme Court can circumscribe this dangerous discretion by affirming the principle that the quid pro quo standard for bribery requires proof, not a mere inference, of an actual communication. In the law’s current, contradictory condition, the line is blurry between the exercise of constitutional rights and the commission of a crime.

CNN, Sun newspaper staff among eight arrested in police probe, Per Nyberg and Laura Smith-Spark, Feb. 10, 2012.  Authorities arrested eight people Saturday -- including five journalists of Britain's bestselling Sun newspaper -- as part of an inquiry into alleged illegal payments to police and officials. The other three are a police officer, an employee of the Ministry of Defense and a member of the armed forces, the Metropolitan Police said. A search was carried out at News International's offices in east London, the police said, as well as the homes of those arrested. News International, which owns the Sun, is a U.K. subsidiary of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Following the arrests, Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp, issued a personal assurance to one of his executives to continue to own and publish The Sun newspaper, according to an internal staff memo sent by News International Chief Executive Tom Mockridge. Mockridge also said he was "very saddened" by the arrests of deputy editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker, and John Sturgis, who is a news editor. The five journalists were arrested at their homes, police said.

Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 'Scott Rothstein Speaks: The Sequel' coming in June, Jon Burstein, Feb. 10, 2012. The first time that Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein answered attorneys' questions he savaged former friends and associates, serving up tales of greed, corruption and prostitutes. Get ready for the sequel. The mastermind behind the largest financial fraud in South Florida history will spend another 10 days testifying starting June 4, an encore to his December deposition.

FireDogLake, Criminal Deterrence: To Lanny Breuer, It Means Pretending to Investigate, David Dayen, Feb. 10, 2012. The lack of deterrence implied by this [bank foreclosure] settlement is absolutely corrosive for the future. A failure to hold people responsible for crimes creates a decay at the heart of our politics.This idea of criminal deterrence came up at a spirited debate at NYU between Eliot Spitzer, former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White, former head of SIGTARP, Neil Barofsky, and Lanny Breuer, the Justice Department official who has happened to be on the Financial Fraud Task Force the past couple years, and who is a co-chair of the “Schneiderman panel,” the RMBS working group that is supposed to be the next step on this fight against the banks, where we’ll REALLY nab the perpetrators. Lanny Breuer thinks that investigations where no prosecution results are deterrence enough. He thinks that “mortgage fraud is a top priority of this Administration.” He thinks that the system is working. It’s just a different worldview. And it’s one that furthers this decay in our politics, namely the lack of accountability and justice.
 
AntiWar.com, Notes in the Margin, Justin Raimondo, Feb. 10, 2012. Bad news: it looks like Judge Andrew Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch” – one of the most popular programs on Fox Business News – has been axed by Roger Ailes and his neocon friends. Fox Business has some other libertarian and quasi-libertarian commentators, but — unlike the Judge — they rarely bring up foreign policy from a non-interventionist perspective. Napolitano’s radical libertarianism, which owes more to Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises than to the US Chamber of Commerce, was apparently too much for Ailes to put up with, and the final straw was no doubt the Judge’s unbridled enthusiasm for Ron Paul.There is reportedly an effort among some Republican members of Congress to restore the program, and I have no doubt libertarians will be writing and calling Fox to protest the decision. You can call, email, or fax: Irena Briganti, Senior Vice President, Media Relations, Phone: 212-301-3608. However, I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you. The Judge violated the first commandment of Fox News commentators, which is to always and in every instance support the War Party to the hilt. The Judge not only refused, he denounced the warmongers at every turn. I’m not surprised he’s out, but that doesn’t detract at all from my disappointment and anger.
 
Feb. 9
WBHM-FM Public Radio (Birmingham), Prison Overcrowding in Alabama, Andrew Yeager, Feb. 9, 2012. Alabama faces a potential $400 million shortfall in the general fund budget this year. And that could leave the state’s already-strapped prison system at a tipping point -- so overcrowded Alabama could face the possibility of a federal lawsuit. As WBHM’s Andrew Yeager reports lawmakers are searching for ways to fix a system bursting at the seams. Click here to listen to the story. Most people probably don’t have first-hand knowledge of life inside an Alabama prison. But we do get a glimpse through a lawsuit filed over conditions at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Jefferson County. "Over 620 men were packed into open dorms often supervised by just two roving officers.”  Sarah Geraghty is a senior attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. The organization filed the lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at Donaldson in 2009.  "Inmate on inmate assaults with knives occurred roughly once every 10 days and men were regularly rushed to the hospital with serious injuries."
 
Feb. 8
Los Angeles Times, Ted Stevens case: Probe of prosecutor misconduct will go public, Feb. 8, 2012. A judge has rejected efforts by federal prosecutors in the botched prosecution of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to keep secret a 500-page investigation into allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the case. Instead, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered that the entire special prosecutor's report be made public March 15, promising to shed new light on a case that toppled the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate and affected the way in which federal prosecutions are conducted across the U.S. "To deny the public access to [the] report ... would be an affront to the 1st Amendment and a blow to the fair administration of justice," Sullivan said in his ruling. "It is not an overstatement to say that the dramatic events during and after the Stevens trial, and particularly the government's decision to reverse course and move to vacate the verdict, led to a continuing national public discourse on prosecutorial misconduct," the judge said. "Withholding the report from the public ... would be the equivalent of giving a reader only every other chapter of a complicated book," he added.

Feb. 7

New York Times, Release the Stevens Report, Editorial board, February 7, 2012 Last November, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the Federal District Court in Washington said that an investigation he ordered into prosecutorial misconduct in the case involving the late Senator Ted Stevens had found “systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence.” Judge Sullivan said then that he would make the confidential 500-page report public. It is time to release the report. The Justice Department, which said it does not intend to comment on the report, should be calling for its release. The Stevens debacle stained the department’s reputation and will continue to do so unless there is full disclosure of the investigation. The department issued new guidance for all federal prosecutors on how to handle “criminal discovery” in the wake of the Stevens case. But neither Congress nor the public will be able to tell if those standards are sufficient without a full understanding of what happened in the Stevens prosecution.

Harper's No Comment, All the Missing Souls: Six Questions for David Scheffer, Scott Horton, Feb.7, 2012. Ambassador David Scheffer steered America’s engagement with the concept of war-crimes accountability throughout the Clinton years, and has been one of the nation’s leading observers and commentators on the subject since then. He has now published a major work, All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals, that chronicles America’s pursuit of war criminals during the Nineties and offers clear insights into the issues these efforts raised for future generations. I put six questions to Scheffer about his book:

Boston Pheonix, Kevin White, the Feds, and the press, Harvey Silverglate, Feb. 7, 2012. Some thoughts are dashing around in my mind about a topic that thus far has gotten little play in the aftermath of Kevin White's death. Since the Phoenix did so much of the best reporting on the White political era, I figured I'd post my thoughts on the website.  Little has been said about the role the press played in keeping Kevin White from running for a fourth term as mayor, and in keeping him from moving into national politics....I love many things about the Globe and the Times; I am a loyal reader of the newsprint editions of both papers; but they still do a terrible job of reporting what federal prosecutors really do and how they "make" their criminal cases -- some involving true crime, but too many involving innocent victims of unsavory prosecutorial tactics that distort rather than uncover truth.

Jersey Journal / NJ.com, Decision on motion to dismiss corruption charges against Lou Manzo is delayed, Michaelangelo Conte, Feb. 7, 2012. The federal judge presiding over the Operation Bid Rid III corruption cases said this morning that he needs more time to decide if the remaining charges against former assemblyman and unsuccessful Jersey City mayoral candidate Louis Manzo will be dismissed, Manzo's attorney said. John Lynch, Manzo's attorney, met with federal prosecutors and Judge Jose Linares in Newark this morning. Lynch said that Linares told the parties involved that he expected to make a decision next week.

Feb. 6

Washington Post, Public Projects, Private Interests; Some lawmakers have used earmarks to direct millions of dollars infederal money to prjects that are near properties they own, David S. Fallis, Scott Higham and Kimberly Kindy, Feb. 6, 2012.  Thirty-three members of Congress have steered more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or near the lawmakers' own property, according to a Washington Post investigation. Under the ethics rules Congress has written for itself, this is both legal and undisclosed. In the first review of its kind, The Post analyzed public records on the holdings of all 535 members and compared them with earmarks members had sought for pet projects, most of them since 2008. The process uncovered appropriations for work in close proximity to commercial and residential real estate owned by the lawmakers or their family members. The review also found 16 lawmakers who sent tax dollars to companies, colleges or community programs where their spouses, children or parents work as salaried employees or serve on boards.

Legal Schnauzer, Why Did Karl Rove and His GOP Thugs Target Don Siegelman in Alabama? Roger Shuler, Feb. 6, 2012. (1) Why did Karl Rove and his pro-business GOP thugs target Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman? (2) Why did the Bush administration proceed with what has become the most notorious political prosecution in American history? Those questions are particularly powerful now because Siegelman last week filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court for review of his 2006 convictions on bribery and obstruction of justice charges. This appears to be Siegelman's last crack at appellate review, and if it is denied, he probably is headed back to federal prison. I've probably written more words about the Siegelman affair than just about anyone on the planet, so I might as well take a crack at answering those questions.

Feb. 5

Salon, U.S. drones targeting rescuers and mourners, Glenn Greenwald, Feb. 5, 2012. On December 30 of last year, ABC News reported on a 16-year-old Pakistani boy, Tariq Khan, who was killed with his 12-year-old cousin when a car in which he was riding was hit with a missile fired by a U.S. drone. As I noted at the time, the report contained this extraordinary passage buried in the middle: "Asked for documentation of Tariq and Waheed’s deaths, Akbar did not provide pictures of the missile strike scene. Virtually none exist, since drones often target people who show up at the scene of an attack." What made that sentence so amazing was that it basically amounts to a report that the U.S. first kills people with drones, then fires on the rescuers and others who arrive at the scene where the new corpses and injured victims lie. In a just-released, richly documented report, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, on behalf of the Sunday Times, documents that this is exactly what the U.S. is doing — and worse.

Feb. 3

Raul LabradorKTVB.COM (Idaho), Labrador, tells AG to resign during heated exchange on Capitol Hill, Sue Turner, Feb. 2, 2012. There was a heated exchange on Capitol Hill Thursday between U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador, a freshman Republican from Idaho shown at left. Labrador is on a House committee that's asking questions about Operation Fast and Furious -- a program that allowed people to buy illegal weapons and take them across the Mexican border. Operation Fast and Furious caused U.S. law enforcement to lose track of 3,400 weapons. Some of those weapons were found at the murder scene of U.S. border agent Brian Terry.  Members of Congress don't think the attorney general has done enough to make sure something like this doesn't happen again. "I have asked for your resignation and I believe that because you have been grossly incompetent in the way that you have prepared before coming to Congress, I think you should resign," said Labrador. "That was among the worst things I think I've ever seen in Congress.  And maybe this is the way you do things in Idaho or wherever you're from," replied Holder. Holder says before arrests can be made they have to make sure their investigation is complete and they go into court with everything they need.

Feb. 2

Chuck GrassleyUSA Today, DOJ paying legal fees for prosecutors who botched case, Brad Heath, Feb. 2, 2013.  The U.S. government has spent nearly $1.8 million defending prosecutors from allegations that they broke the law in the botched corruption case against former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, Justice Department records show. The case against Stevens fell apart three years ago when the Justice Department admitted its attorneys had improperly concealed evidence that could have helped his defense. A court-ordered investigation concluded in November that prosecutors had engaged in "significant, widespread, and at times intentional misconduct," but that they should not face criminal contempt of court charges. Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the department paid about $1.6 million since 2009 to private lawyers representing the six prosecutors targeted by that court investigation. It paid an additional $208,000 to defend three prosecutors from a separate finding that they had committed civil contempt of court. "Unfortunately, it's the taxpayers who are losing twice," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, above right, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. "First, the Justice Department committed serious legal errors and ethical missteps in its taxpayer-funded investigation and trial against Sen. Stevens. And second, this is an unseemly high amount of money being spent by the taxpayers to defend what appears to be egregious misconduct."

Salon, ACLU sues Obama administration over assassination secrecy, Glenn Greenwald, Feb. 2, 2012. The ACLU yesterday filed a lawsuit against various agencies of the Obama administration — the Justice and Defense Departments and the CIA — over their refusal to disclose any information about the assassination of American citizens. In October, the ACLU filed a FOIA request demanding disclosure of the most basic information about the CIA’s killing of 3 American citizens in Yemen: Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan, killed by missiles fired by a U.S. drone in September, and Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, killed by another drone attack two weeks later. The ACLU’s FOIA request sought merely to learn the legal and factual basis for these killings — meaning: tell us what legal theories you’ve adopted to secretly target U.S. citizens for execution, and what factual basis did you have to launch these specific strikes? The DOJ and CIA responded not only by refusing to provide any of this information, but refused even to confirm if any of the requested documents exist; in other words, as the ACLU put it yesterday, “these agencies are saying the targeted killing program is so secret that they can’t even acknowledge that it exists.”

Newark Star-Ledger, Conflict between N.J. politics, justice at heart of ex-Hunterdon prosecutor's lawsuit, Bob Braun, Feb. 2, 2012. Prosecutions and politics make a toxic soup. The mix endangers civil liberties and degrades support for the rule of law. When the power to prosecute is thought to be used for political purposes, who can trust anyone in authority? Just think of what is happening in Hunterdon County. Wednesday, one of New Jersey’s leading law enforcement authorities — granted, not a household name — sued in state court in Trenton, contending he had been fired 18 months ago because he opposed the prosecution’s dismissal of indictments brought against the then Hunterdon County sheriff and two of her employees. Bennett Barlyn, a former deputy attorney general and executive director of the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing, says he lost his job as an assistant prosecutor in Hunterdon in August 2010, because, he contended, "the Attorney General’s dismissal of the indictments was improper, unlawful and motivated by a corrupt  political purpose." Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, called the allegations "ridiculous."

Hunterdon County Democrat, Former assistant prosecutor files lawsuit against Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office, N.J., various officials, Lillian Shupe, Feb. 2, 2012. Another former assistant prosecutor has filed a lawsuit against the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office. Ben Barlyn, who was hired as an assistant prosecutor in 2007, is taking the action. He claims he was fired Aug. 24, 2010 after he complained about the dismissal of criminal charges against Sheriff’s Office personnel. Arnold Lakind, of the law firm, Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein & Blader, on Wednesday, Feb. 1 filed suit in Superior Court of Mercer County in Trenton on Barlyn’s behalf. Besides the Prosecutor’s Office, listed as defendants are Paula Dow, who was state attorney general at the time; then acting Hunterdon prosecutor Dermot O’Grady; Hunterdon County; the state; the state Division of Criminal Justice; the Attorney General’s Office and up to 25 other people whose identities are not known at this time.

Feb.1

Slate, Is Chicago really planning on detaining anyone who records protestor arrests at the G-8 summit? Dahlia Lithwick, Jan. 31, 2012.  When it comes to recording police behavior, current Illinois law does not consider whether the interaction occurs in public or private  In three months, thousands of reporters from around the globe will descend on Chicago for the G-8 summit. Part of what they will chronicle is the protests and police crackdowns that have made each annual meeting so newsworthy. Sadly for all these reporters, and for all the American journalists with plans to film the protestors and cops, any effort to audiotape police activity on public streets or in parks is a crime in Illinois—a crime punishable by 15 years in prison. Illinois, like Massachusetts and Oregon, is famous for having one of the most draconian eavesdropping laws in the country. The New York Times recently profiled two Illinois citizens who ran afoul of the law that makes it a Class 1 felony to audio record a law-enforcement officer, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney, attorney general, assistant attorney general or judge in the performance of his or her duties. It is a crime to use any device “for the purpose of hearing or recording all or any part of any conversation … unless [done] with the consent of all of the parties to such conversation or electronic communication…”

Montgomery Advertiser, Don Siegelman asks U.S. Supreme Court to review bribery conviction, Brian Lyman, Feb. 1, 2012.  Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his 2006 conviction on bribery and obstruction of justice charges. The 116-page petition for writ of certiorari requests the court to consider when a political contribution becomes a bribe, a key element of the former governor’s case. In their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Siegelman’s attorneys ask the court to settle the matter, citing different rulings by different U.S. circuit courts on the issue.  “We are asking the Supreme Court to clarify what the law is as to when, if ever, a campaign contribution, or in this case, a contribution to a referendum campaign, can be called a bribe for purposes of criminal law,” said Sam Heldman, a Washington-based attorney representing Siegelman. “The law about this is unclear at the moment.” Siegelman’s attorneys are also raising a question on the governor’s separate conviction on an obstruction of justice charge, over a transaction prosecutors said covered up $9,200 given to Siegelman by business associate Lanny Young. Siegelman argued the evidence was insufficient for conviction, but the appeals court disagreed, saying the jury “believed” the testimony of Young and former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey on the matter. Siegelman requested the U.S. Supreme Court consider whether the facts of the transaction amounted to violation, claiming the 11th Circuit used an overly-broad interpretation of the relevant statute. Heldman said he hoped the high court would reach a decision by the summer.

FireDogLake, Julian Assange Appeals His Extradition in British Supreme Court, Kevin Gosztola, Feb. 1, 2012. The first day of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s appeal hearing in the British Supreme Court has been unfolding for hours now. The hearing is being broadcast live by Sky News, which makes this stage of Assange’s case significant. Here is the first time the world can tune in and begin to understand the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system, which Assange’s lawyers are challenging. Specifically, they are appealing the extradition by challenging the “judicial authority” that issued the warrant.

Legal Schnauzer, Artur Davis Must Be the Sorest Loser In the History of American Politics, Roger Shuler, Feb. 1, 2012.  Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis has been conducting a world-class whine fest ever since he got spanked in the 2010 Democratic primary for governor. Davis has bolted to Virginia and supposedly started a law practice, but he can't seem to resist taking shots at his home-state liberals, whom he blames for costing him the governorship. Never mind that Davis repeatedly sided with corporate interests and insulted his own party's progressive base in the weeks leading up to the election. Davis says standing up for Siegelman made him appear soft on crime, and by questioning the actions of the Bush Justice Department, Davis called his own integrity into question. If you are a coherent, rational human being, that paragraph will leave you scratching your head. Davis, in so many words, is saying that he now regrets appearing to have principles -- he now regrets suggesting that federal prosecutions should focus only on actual crimes, not the political affiliation of the accused. Artur Davis is saying that he regrets standing up for due process and equal protection under the law -- that if a man has to choose between fundamental constitutional rights and his own political career, he should choose the career stuff every time.