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Siegelman Case Comes Back to Life With Alabama Arrests--Under Obama

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Headlined to H3 10/6/10

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

If the people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 were sending one central message, it probably went something like this: "Whatever you do, don't act like George W. Bush."

Those voters must feel like they've been stabbed in the back after recent events in Alabama. The Obama Department of Justice arrested 11 individuals on Monday in a gambling-related investigation that has been heavy handed, misguided, politically motivated, and strategically timed to affect an election--all of the attributes we came to expect from the Bush DOJ.

In fact, the Obama operation has striking similarities to the Don Siegelman case, the best-known political prosecution of the Bush era.

One possible difference: The Birmingham News is showing signs of actually practicing some real journalism on the bingo story. More on that in a moment.

Consider just a few obvious similarities between the two cases:

* Both originated in the Middle District of Alabama;

* Both originated under the direction of U.S. attorney Leura Canary, a Bush appointee who inexplicably has remained in officer under Obama;

* Louis Franklin and Stephen Feaga, two of Canary's prime henchmen, have been involved in both cases;

* The U.S. Public Integrity Section, riddled with corruption of its own, has been involved in both cases.

The most intriguing connection, however, comes from the recurring role of Montgomery-based FBI agent Keith Baker. In the Siegelman case, Baker was like Forrest Gump with a badge, showing up in all sorts of places, at all sorts of times. He already has a starring role in the bingo case.

Perhaps the most interesting moment of Monday's arrests came when FBI agents appeared at the home of VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor. A security guard told agents that he thought McGregor was not home, but the agents entered the house, found McGregor, and informed him that he was being arrested.

Surprisingly, that information did not put McGregor into a swell mood, and he reportedly informed one of the agents that he was "making the biggest mistake of his life." That agent was Keith Baker.

You might think that an FBI agent would be used to such comments, especially from people who might have reason to believe they have committed no crime. But Baker apparently considered it a threat, and that's why McGregor now is subject to electronic monitoring. (Memo to Baker: If you are that sensitive to a comment from a 70-year-old grandfather being placed under arrest, perhaps you should find another line of work.)

According to The Birmingham News, McGregor might have had special reason to be unhappy about seeing Baker:

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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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This is the most depressing news all day. How can ... by Mari Eliza on Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010 at 8:23:24 PM
This case makes more sense when we remember that t... by Josh Mitteldorf on Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010 at 8:35:27 PM
Holder 's job performance can be compared to Summe... by Marika on Thursday, Oct 7, 2010 at 9:28:28 AM