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Is Bush Able to Blackmail Obama Into Ignoring Justice Issues?

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
The George W. Bush White House ordered electronic surveillance of Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election in an effort to gather information that could be used to blackmail the new administration into ignoring Bush-era crimes.

According to a new article at the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Obama and prospective chief of staff Rahm Emanuel were included in surveillance that led to the indictment of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The operation apparently yielded damaging information about Team Obama, including Emanuel's ties to the Chicago gay community. But the Obama administration took steps to ensure that the information gathered under Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald would focus on Blagojevich and not them.

Was the Bush effort at blackmail successful? Does it explain the Obama administration's reluctance to investigate justice-related matters, such as the political prosecutions of Don Siegelman in Alabama and Paul Minor in Mississippi? The answer, according to WMR, appears to be yes. Reports Wayne Madsen:

Bush and his team, according to WMR's sources sought to obtain information on Obama and Emanuel that could be used to "blackmail them" in order to ensure that there would be no investigations of the Bush administration's complicity in torture, political prosecutions throughout the United States of Democrats, and other illegal activities.

Blagojevich essentially has become a fall guy for the Obama White House. Reports WMR:

Although the Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney for northern Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald and his team of prosecutors captured "thousands of phone calls" in their investigation of Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris, they chose to only concentrate on those intercepted phone calls that were used to indict Blagojevich and Harris. In fact, WMR has learned that when Obama and Emanuel became aware that their phone calls were intercepted by the FBI, they moved fast to have Fitzgerald arrest Blagojevich in the early morning of December 9, 2009. The White House transition team wanted to ensure that it was Blagojevich who was at the center of the FBI wiretaps.

The WMR report dovetails with recent reports that Blagojevich's lawyers are seeking to subpoena Obama for testimony in the former governor's corruption trial. That also could include Emanuel, who said yesterday that he has not yet received a subpoena in the Blagojevich case.

Fitzgerald's willingness to look the other way on the Obama/Emanuel information has given him extraordinary power over the White House, Madsden reports. And it might explain why Fitzgerald, and perhaps other Bush-appointed U.S. attorneys, remain in office:
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WMR has been told that Emanuel was aware of the damaging nature of the "thousands" of FBI intercepted phone calls to him and Obama and wanted to divert Fitzgerald and the FBI away from he and the president-elect to Blagojevich and Harris. Fitzgerald, known as the man who covered up key elements of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and saw to it that the legal ground was laid for a commutation of the prison sentence of Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby in the Bush administration's cover-up of the outing by the media of CIA non-official cover agent Valerie Plame Wilson, decided to seek authorization for the early morning arrest of Blagojevich to protect Obama and Emanuel, as well as Bush.

Fitzgerald lived up to his part of the bargain with Emanuel by interviewing Obama, Emanuel, and Jarrett in mid-December 2008 and then green lighting Obama's selectee as White House chief counsel, Greg Craig, to issue a report stating that there was "no inappropriate contact" between Obama, Emanuel, or Jarret with Blagojevich. Emanuel quickly left the United States for a vacation in Africa. Fitzgerald cautioned Obama, Emanuel, Jarrett, adviser David Axelrod, Craig, and transition team spokesman Robert Gibbs to remain silent and not disclose anything to the press. The diversion of attention by the public and the media to Blagojevich and Harris was successful.

Why, in fact, are so many Bush-appointed U.S. attorneys still in office? And why are Obama appointees acting mostly in an impotent fashion? WMR provides a possible answer:

On July 29, 2009, WMR reported: "If the Fitzgerald prosecution of Blagojevich is any indication, some GOP U.S. Attorneys may have decided to trade knowledge and influence in return for keeping their jobs. In Fitzgerald's case, it was possibly information he had on convicted Chicago political kingpin Antoin 'Tony' Rezko's links to Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel that made Blagojevich a useful "sacrificial lamb" to send a message to the Obama camp. In any event, Fitzgerald's plan worked--he remains secure as Obama's U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois."

Much of the information in the Blagojevich indictment remains sealed. And that is not by accident, Madsen reports:

The reason behind U.S. Judge James Zagel's order that many of the documents related to the Blagojevich indictment remain redacted is that the documents show the extensive nature of the FBI's surveillance of many of those connected to the Obama campaign, including Obama, Emanuel, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, and others. . . .

Fitzgerald is adamantly opposed to unsealing the redacted documents lest his complicity in a Bush-ordered wiretap of Obama and Emanuel becomes known to the public. Fitzgerald's knowledge of "smoking gun" evidence against Obama and Emanuel ensured that Obama renominated Fitzgerald as U.S. Attorney for northern Illinois. By focusing his criminal probe on Blagojevich and Harris, Fitzgerald is also providing protection for Bush, Dick Cheney, and then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey from potential repercussions from a White House-ordered electronic surveillance program directed against a presidential candidate/president-elect and his top political adviser.

Bush might have been a terrible president, but his White House apparently was pretty good at surveillance. And that probably explains why Obama and Emanuel don't want to touch justice-related issues. Reports WMR:
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The word from federal national security officials is that the outgoing Bush administration picked up a wealth of blackmailable intelligence on Obama and Emanuel from their wiretaps of the now President and his chief of staff. Obama's sleazy deals with Rezko and his shopping of his Senate seat and Emanuel's contacts with Israeli intelligence officials and his penchant for bizarre behavior at Chicago gymnasiums frequented by the city's professional and affluent gay community reportedly stand at the top of the FBI's "catch."

 

I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
 

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