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Our Political Prisoners

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message David Swanson     Permalink
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9:59 Charles "Champ" Walker, Jr., business executive and son of imprisoned former George State Sen. Majority Leader Charles Walker, Sr., owner of the Walker Group and Augusta Focus newspaper. Describes a "war against Democrats," hundreds of cases around the country of local prosecutions of Democrats, people like Paul Minor. Prosecutor Richard Thompson investigated on behalf of a Republican politician (who has since made him a judge) four top Democrats in Georgia, including Walker Sr. Numerous attempts to charge Walker Sr. with made-up crimes failed. Judge with conflicts of interest refused to allow defense to raise prosecutorial misconduct, and removed black jurors, changed jury from 65% urban black to 65% rural white with jurors from outside district. Walker had led the fight to take Confederate flag out of state flag. See: http://politicalprosecutions.org

10:22 Bruce Fein, author of "Constitutional Peril," and former Reagan Administration Associate General Counsel of the Justice Department and General Counsel of Federal Communications Commission: Fein denounces corruption of our system in recent years. No principles. Partisan loyalty. Assumption of guilt. Destruction of lives with baseless public accusation. Complete immunity for prosecutors. Culture must change. Education must change. And Congress must step up and create statutes.

10:31 Bill Yeomans, Legal Director, Alliance for Justice, worked 26 years at DOJ and 3 years at Senate Judiciary Committee for Kennedy. He notes accurately that we seem to be concluding each discussion by deferring to a pending report by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). This is the office through with the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates itself. Alberto Gonzales began the practice of sending really big projects to OPR, knowing it did not have the resources. The OPR investigation of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos on torture is five years old. The OPR shared responsibility with Inspector General (IG) for report on US Attorney firings, and that report got done. OPR is overtaxed and also NOT independent. OPR answers to attorney general who can approve an investigation or its results, or not. So we should stop accepting that sending a problem to OPR takes care of it. We should question how and whether OPR should exist. -- Then Horton said that on April 21 Holder met with chief judges from around the country who all raised impassioned complaints about failures of OPR.

10:36 Cliff Arnebeck, Chair, Legal Affairs Committee, Common Cause Ohio, National Co-Chair, Alliance for Democracy and 2004 Ohio election voting litigation expert: Ohio was ground zero in 2000 for judicial independence on state supreme court. $7 million of illegal corporate money ran ads attacking Justice Alice Robie Resnick. Whole court now Republican. Arnebeck and others litigated successfully. FBI investigated, but in 2004 DOJ dropped prosecution just before election -- did not want to prosecute Republicans, a nationwide pattern. Arnebeck also recounted election fraud investigations closed down. These investigations should be reopened.

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10:44 Former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver E. Diaz, Jr., acquitted, had -- according to Horton -- been prosecuted for purely political reasons. There are many hundreds of these cases around the country, Diaz says, and people falsely convicted. Project Save Justice took report by U of Missouri on prosecutions of Democrats. Gail Sistrunk, Executive Director, Project Save Justice (Producers of the video, "Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove") has interviewed these people who have never heard of each other all tell the exact same story, and the video is stunning, Diaz says rightly.

Sistrunk described the video and hands them out. See: http://www.politicalprosecutions.org

She describes prosecuting grown children and elderly parents, investigating clients to destroy businesses, and other abuses used rampantly. She calls OPR the Bates Motel: cases go in and never come out. And the statistics show improbably high rates of prosecution for moderate Republicans as well as Democrats. This is not a Republican crime wave but a Federalist Society crime wave.

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Diaz points out Paul Minor's daughter here, Kathryn. He also credits Harper's and Raw Story (Scott Horton and Larisa Alexandrovna) for their reporting on these stories.

10:58 Diaz describes Paul Minor's father Bill Minor a newspaper man who spoke up for civil rights in Mississippi in the 1950s. As a child, Paul Minor saw crosses burned on his lawn. He went and killed Asians in Vietnam. He came back and took an interest in politics. (All of this is told as if it's good, including the fighting in Vietnam.) Paul Minor gave money to candidates. He was the single largest contributor to Democrats in Mississippi and one of the biggest nationally. Diaz served in the Mississippi legislature as a Republican and knew Minor as a friend and ally. Minor supported Diaz in campaigns for judgeships including for the Mississippi Supreme Court. The US Chamber of Commerce spent millions against Diaz. So, Minor contributed and raised contributions from others for Diaz. A US attorney indicted Minor and Diaz for bribery. But Diaz had refused to vote on a single case brought by Minor. That, he says, is why he's free to stand here today. Yet, there is almost always a conflict in every case and he could very well have voted on some of those cases. Diaz was dragged through a 3-month prosecution. His wife Jennifer who is here was indicted too. For what, it was not clear. They faced over 30 years in prison. DOJ told wife she could plead guilty to an unrelated tax charge and stay home with her children if she turned evidence against her husband. He told her she had to do it and should give them every scrap of info. But there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. So she was not called as a witness.

Diaz refers to Paul Minor's case as the Ted Stevens case on steroids. Prosecutor Welch is now appropriately the target of a criminal investigation at the instigation of a federal judge. He withheld evidence from the defendants, known as Brady violations. Diaz was acquitted. Others got hung juries. Minor was re-indicted. Diaz points out that everyone accepts that prosecutors were fired for not bringing political prosecutions, but not enough attention is paid to the fact that some prosecutors were not fired, because they DID bring political prosecutions. Paul Minor has been in prison these past 3 years. He was denied the right to visit his wife as she fought cancer and died a couple of months ago. He is a political prisoner. DOJ refused to allow him to attend his wife's funeral. We need investigations and we need them now. Very well said.

11:12 Puerto Rico State Senator & Minority Whip Eduardo Bhatia (D), representing former Gov. Anibal Acivedo, acquitted. Another similar story of abuses, bogus charges, leaks manipulating the press to damage a public figure, a trial with no evidence, immediate acquittal, and $3 million in legal fees still unpaid by innocent defendant.

If any of this disturbs you, please click the links in this blog, learn more, and make your opinions known to Attorney General Eric Holder 202-514-2001, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers 202-225-5126, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy 202-224-4242.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)

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