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Jailed Journalist Sends Shocking 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'

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He has gained a national audience with a number of important scoops, albeit with some questionable stories that are impossible for a reader to assess fully.

He writes about specifics in sex scandals, for example, far more than I would. Few of us are in the hotel rooms when politicians travel with their aides, and so we have little means to judge whether his claims are true. 

That said, political insiders in Alabama and nationally find such tales of great interest in their private conversations. Mainstream journalism organizations ignore such matters except when an "accidental" scandal erupts and the safety of pack journalism can justify reporting to the public.

Even then, the public is rarely informed that some such sex scandals arise as deliberate hit jobs by political opposition researchers who store up dossiers for use when helpful in a political blackmail process. That part of the massive dark world of politics exists and tends to remain off limits for the media, especially since at least a few journalists are complicit.

Instead, reporters pursue more routine fare from staged events whereby reporters function more as stenographers than independent, pro-consumer watchdogs. Wall Street Journal editors have said 90 percent of their stories begin from a press release.

Industry events seek to retain some vestige of glamor by self-congratulatory awards ceremonies, participation by government, entertainment and media celebrities (especially in Washington) -- and, of course, high-minded rhetoric about the nation's free press and First Amendment freedoms. 

The National Press Club, for example, has scheduled in cooperation with government officials a number of Sunshine Week and Freedom of Information events over the next month. But the club has not bestirred itself to write even a simple letter protesting Shuler's treatment despite many requests by me.

Similarly, the Society of Professional Journalists has done nothing in its array of venues despite at least ten requests by me to various officials nationally, in Alabama, or in my Washington, DC region. The Online News Association , founded to advance blogging and other online news, pleads poverty and other priorities when I have asked them to do something about Shuler's plight.

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Worst of all in my opinion has been Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. I have yet to receive a single response as a member to my emails directed to several IRE executives on behalf of Shuler, an alumnus of the prestigious school.

Recapping Shuler Case Background

Shuler and his wife, Carol, have virtually no funds. Roger Shuler said his wife has lost 30 pounds from stress as she hides in their home in fear of being arrested on a pending contempt order, which Roger Shuler says is unjustified because she had nothing to do with his reporting before his arrest.

Riley is a wealthy wheeler-dealer who recently shared in the legal fees from helping win a $500 million settlement of a fraud case against businessman Richard Scrushy, Siegelman's co-defendant.

Scrushy received a seven-year prison term, which he valiantly served rather than accept a plea deal requiring him to testify -- falsely in his view -- against Siegelman as part of the frame-up. Meanwhile, Riley and Siegelman's former defense counsel Doug Jones helped win the $500 million civil fraud judgment against Scrushy in a separate matter while he was behind bars.  

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Last year, the younger Riley was reputed to be a likely candidate for the Birmingham region's congressional seat. Then came Shuler's columns claiming the married Riley had had an affair with Duke resulting in an abortion and dissolution of her marriage.

Further details are available by searches on my website, the Justice Integrity Project, and my recent book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. The gist is available also in OEN archives documenting in many ways by many authors how political prosecutions can be a tool for Republican and Democratic operatives alike in certain circumstances.

The goal? Career opportunities, including riches for insiders involved in government jobs, contracts, court decisions and regulations benefiting cronies.

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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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