President Obama by White House
Federal authorities this month continued their remarkably harsh, unjust treatment of the nation's most famous political prisoner.
The U.S. legal jihad against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman persists even as the Obama administration separately cites "human rights" as the rationale for new U.S. sanctions, bombing, revolutions, and other foreign interventions.
Authorities shackled Siegelman during his Dec. 15 court appearance in the state capital of Montgomery. They denied his request for release on bond during appeal. They are reportedly keeping him in solitary confinement cramped in a tiny cell without a change of clothes while he awaits his federal appellate hearing Jan. 13.
The Obama administration's hypocrisy is thus displayed as it continues Bush-Clinton policies of citing "human rights" abuses elsewhere around the world. Evidence is increasing that many of these are being used as pretext for covert actions and propaganda campaigns on multiple continents.
With that context, we update OEN's long-running coverage of the Siegelman case to survey recent court and commentary developments.
Several legal experts have recently published powerful analyses documenting the injustice of Siegelman's imprisonment for 1999 fund-raising of a kind not treated as criminal when performed by other politicians, including President Obama. Siegelman urged wealthy businessman Richard Scrushy to contribute to a fund advocating for a state lottery to help fund better education. The Democratic governor then reappointed Scrushy to a state board.
Most significantly, Rutgers Law School professor John J. Farmer published on Dec. 24 an oped on Al.com, Alabama's biggest news site, Here's why President Obama should pardon Don Siegelman. Farmer was dean of the school from 2009 until last July. A Republican, Farmer is a former New Jersey attorney general, senior counsel for the 9/11 Commission, and acting governor of New Jersey.
Farmer has been part of a bipartisan, unprecedented petition to the U.S. Supreme Court by 113 former attorneys general from 40-plus states arguing that Siegelman's actions were not a crime. The court rejected Siegelman's request for a new trial.
Separately, the non-partisan, DC-based Project on Government Oversight (POGO) published this month another important column attacking the fairness of the current administration. POGO researcher Adam Zagorin wrote Justice Department Downplays Evidence of Politics in Probe of Governor.
Most vividly, film maker Steve Wimberly unveiled last month on Kickstarter a powerful 12-minute video, Killing Atticus Finch. It illustrated how legal experts from across the country have rallied to Siegelman's defense. Atticus Finch is a fictional character in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird and in a 1962 film starring Gregory Peck. Finch was a lawyer who humanely represented despised black criminal defendants in a small Alabama town.
The judges presiding over Siegelman's case have failed to operate in a just, humane manner.
Nor have Obama, his Justice Department, and his Bureau of Prisons.
Some might argue that Obama merely lets the justice system run its course and that he has scant role in Siegelman's ordeal.
Not true. Our more than five years of reporting on the case indicates many ways in which Obama and his close advisors have tipped the justice scales against Siegelman. Most obviously, Obama has not used his presidential pardon power under the Constitution, or similar clemency measures.