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Siegelman Appeal Shines Spotlight on Obama's Dismal DOJ

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 1/19/11

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

Attorneys for Don Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy will present oral argument this afternoon before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing their clients' convictions on corruption charges should be reversed.

Siegelman, the former Democratic governor of Alabama, was at the heart of the most notorious political prosecution of the George W. Bush era. A three-judge panel will hear oral argument at 1 p.m., CST, today at the federal courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida.

It's fitting that the Siegelman hearing comes as a former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) official launched a blistering attack on the Obama administration's "look forward, not backwards" approach to the apparent crimes of the Bush administration. J. Gerald Hebert said former Bush officials had received "get out of jail free cards," meaning those responsible for the Siegelman prosecution and other legal atrocities have not been held accountable.

Hebert, who served in multiple supervisory roles in a 20-year career with the Justice Department, says the Obama administration has a "disturbing pattern" of failing to pursue corruption cases. In a wide-ranging interview with Raw Story, Hebert said the current DOJ has disregarded its fundamental mission:

The 20-year DOJ veteran also criticized the administration's refusal to investigate or prosecute any serious criminal activities from the Bush-era, such as sanctioning the waterboarding of military detainees and directing the political firings of US Attorneys. These "at a minimum deserve complete investigation," he said.

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The Obama administration's excuse "to look forward and not backward" fails to fulfill the agency's "duty" to investigate, he said--a charge that includes "any federal office holder who violates the Constitution or federal law."

Hebert now serves as executive director of the Campaign Legal Center and is an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law School. He points to the conviction of former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay in Texas state court as an example of the Obama DOJ's weakness:

On the heels of the successful prosecution of DeLay for money laundering and conspiracy in Texas, Hebert said he hoped it was clear that the Department of Justice had nothing to do with that conviction.

Rather, the Obama administration's Justice Department in August closed down a six-year investigation into DeLay--without filing a single charge.

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He said that the success of the Travis County District Attorney's office, which had DeLay sentenced to three years in jail, not only highlighted the Justice Department's "unfathomable" failure in one prosecution, but also a "disturbing pattern" of less vigorous pursuit in congressional corruption cases since Obama took office.

Federal prosecutors are "gun shy," Hebert says, in the wake of a botched prosecution involving the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in Alaska:

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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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