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The Hypocrisy of Bernie Kerik, the Hypocrisy of a Broken System of Justice

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It has long been recognized that views or opinions are often situational and subject to change depending upon where one might currently be ensconced. Former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo famously quipped, "A conservative is a liberal who got mugged the night before." With the proliferation of the prison state and its corresponding mass incarceration, the 21st century version of Rizzo's observation is, "A liberal is a conservative who just got arrested." 

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Arch conservative former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo observed how quickly one's political opinions can be reshaped


Former New York City police chief, Bernard Kerik, recently completed a four year federal sentence after pleading guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and other charges. Kerik was a high profile acolyte of Rudy Giuliani, who was, perhaps, single-handedly responsible for taking him from obscurity to international recognition. After serving as New York City's police commissioner, Kerik was appointed by George W. Bush as Iraq's interim Minister of the Interior.  In that capacity, he was primarily responsible for rebuilding the Iraqi national police force. His time in Iraq was brief, and his grand promises of "stability" and "restoration of order" went entirely unfulfilled. Kerik's tenure in Iraq was, in the end, roundly criticized, despite a lengthy honeymoon period initially bestowed by a fawning press. 

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Bernard Kerik's precipitous fall from grace appears to have awakened his "compassionate" side


Retired Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, the top military leader in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004, blasted Kerik for failing to produce results while the former police commissioner was the interim Minister of the Interior. "I would be hard-pressed to identify a major national-level success that his organization accomplished in that time," Sanchez said. "He is a very energetic guy. He is very confident - overconfident to an extent - and he is very superficial in his understanding of the requirements of his job," Sanchez stated. "His whole contribution was a waste of time and effort." Sanchez also claimed that Kerik's shortcomings in Iraq endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers. 

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General Ricardo Sanchez blasted Kerik's tenure in Iraq, identifying him as a "very superficial," shameless self-promoter


Despite Kerik's failings, George W. Bush nominated him to become the Secretary of Homeland Security. Seasoned Kerik observers were puzzled by the nomination, and some even predicted with amazing prescience his confirmation would never come to pass. It soon became obvious Kerik's various ethical lapses were a poorly kept secret within the local New York media. 

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George W. Bush foolishly relied upon Rudy Giuliani's false assurances in selecting Kerik for a cabinet position  


The nomination quickly unraveled as numerous disturbing facts about Kerik began to surface. A few days of digging by news organizations revealed Bush had planned to entrust one of the most sensitive jobs in his cabinet to a man who had failed to report lavish gifts he received as a New York City official, had declared personal bankruptcy and was the subject of an arrest warrant in a civil case involving unpaid condominium fees. Kerik promptly withdrew his nomination under a quickly concocted cover story about tax problems regarding a nanny who worked for Kerik. The nanny story soon unraveled, though, as it became apparent no nanny worked for Kerik. A New York Times story ran with the headline "Not even those who lived nearby can shed light on nanny's identity." That Kerik's unsuitability for a cabinet position was premised upon wrongdoing much more serious than merely hiring undocumented household help was now becoming clear.

It was reported Kerik's patron, Rudy Giuliani, vouched for Kerik and convinced the Bush White House the normal vetting process for a cabinet nominee was not required. Giuliani likely was well aware of what would have been revealed, but in his zeal to install a loyal underling who could have greatly aided Giuliani's consulting business, personal assurances were given, and Bush's people were at least temporarily satisfied. 

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9/11 self-aggrandizer, Rudy Giuliani, vouched for Kerik's trustworthiness, allowing him to at least initially escape the normal vetting process for a cabinet nominee


The Bush White House was embarrassed by the Kerik debacle and the finger pointing soon began. "When you believe you are invulnerable, you will always take a step too far, and this was it," said one unnamed source. Political strategist Marshall Wittman said, "The most cursory checking would have shown this guy has more skeletons than a haunted house." Even Giuliani publicly severed his business ties with Kerik as rumors of pending federal charges began to circulate.  

The rumors proved to be true. On November 8, 2007, Kerik was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, fraud, and making false statements. Prosecutors say Kerik received free renovations to his home from a company seeking to do business with the city of New York. This income was then concealed from the Internal Revenue Service.  The indictment also charged that Kerik made several false statements to White House and other officials during the nomination process for Secretary of Homeland Security.

On October 20, 2009, Kerik's bail was revoked after he was found to have violated the terms of his bail conditions by releasing information that was under seal.  While angrily revoking Kerik's $500,000 bail, USDJ Stephen C. Robinson delivering what the NY Times called "a withering criticism of Mr. Kerik from the bench, describing him as a 'toxic combination of self-minded focus and arrogance.'" 

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USDJ Stephen Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, surprised Kerik with a sentence that was nearly twice that called for by the federal Sentencing Guidelines 

On November 5, 2009, Kerik pleaded guilty to eight felony counts. The offenses were likely to result in a sentence of a little more than two years under the federal Sentencing Guidelines, but District Judge Robinson sentenced Kerik to four years, departing from the guidelines, because of what the judge called "the almost operatic proportions of this case." Kerik was ordered to serve his sentence at the federal prison camp at Cumberland, MD.

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Barry Scott Sussman- Born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Sociology. Graduated with a JD from the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law specializing in Federal Criminal Procedure and Federal Prosecutorial (more...)

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