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Jailed Journalist Sends Shocking 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Kreig     Permalink
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In somewhat similar fashion, I am a messenger delivering Shuler's words to you now via rough notes from the jailhouse, where Shuler is being held and silenced.

These notes portray a shocking picture, including a massive failure by the nation's news media.

"I was surprised," as Alabama's ACLU Director Randall Marshall told me two weeks ago, "that there wasn't more of an outcry from the media world when this first happened." The ACLU filed a friend of the court brief, but is not representing Shuler.

What's At Stake

"I see this more as a kidnapping than a defamation case," Shuler told me from a visiting room in the jail. Let's examine why:

The younger Riley, co-plaintiff with Duke against Shuler in the libel suits, is the son of two-time GOP former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (2003-2011). Riley defeated Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003), who is scheduled to serve more than four years for corruption charges stemming from 1999 conduct. 

In hundreds of blogs, Shuler -- along with many others, including here at OpEd News -- has repeatedly documented how Siegelman was framed by federal and state authorities, initially by Republicans but now in an ongoing whitewash by national Democrats.

Siegelman's crime? The gist is that the governor in 1999 asked one of the richest men in the state, businessman Richard Scrushy, to donate to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation. The governor then re-appointed Scrushy to an unpaid state hospital board upon which Scrushy had served under three Republican governors.

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The removal of Siegelman from public life enabled the Riley family and their allies such as Karl Rove to operate with a free hand in Alabama, where Siegelman was the leading Democrat.

Regarding Shuler's own case, he cited to me this week major violations of precedent and procedure, such as prior restraint, secret proceedings, jailing without bond, and lack of an arrest warrant.

Shuler has no lawyer or any funds for a lawyer. He says he fears for his life after seeing the mayhem that can occur in jail.

"I've been treated fairly well by fellow prisoners," Shuler told me. "But some of them come in hyped up on drugs, and I've barely escaped some vicious fights, typically over some little thing like who gets to use a phone for a 15-minute call. Anybody can get killed, and I saw it happen."

Media Indifference

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I have previously written about Shuler's arrest in a half dozen columns, such as Alabama Court Again Hammers Blogger As NY Times Flubs Libel Story.

Most in the national media have abandoned Shuler and implicitly such First Amendment precedents as Sullivan that should have protected him along with the rest of the public.

From my experience reading Shuler's blogs since 2009, I regard him as a courageous, corruption-fighting writer.

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Andrew Kreig is an investigative reporter, attorney, author, business strategist, radio host, and longtime non-profit executive based in Washington, DC. His most recent book is "Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters," the (more...)

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