A legal showdown of historic proportion unfolded Nov. 2 in an Alabama federal court. Squared off in Courtroom B4 beginning at 10 a.m. in Montgomery were the Obama Justice Department and its most important domestic defendant, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, once the leading Democrat in his state.
Siegelman wants the government to provide documents proving that Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary really withdrew from the case, as she claimed. The government contends he is not entitled to confidential government documents. After five years Siegelman has finally won a hearing on a request for documents that are central to the 2006 convictions on corruption charges. Middle District U.S. Magistrate-Judge Charles S. Coody presides, sitting under the authority of the district's Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller.
Siegelman is in the rare position of having witnesses step forward with
evidence that his prosecutors and trial judge framed him. Meanwhile, Siegelman
has been tried and sentenced to a lengthy prison term in what our Justice
Integrity Project, among others, has described as the nation's most notorious
political prosecution in decades.
The more novel and important focus of my column today is how this case exemplifies others around the nation whereby the Obama administration fails to protect our nation's precious legacy of due process. Already, this disgraceful pattern has deeply damaged Obama's reputation and re-election chances.
believe that? I can understand. I repeatedly encounter in Washington and
elsewhere well-informed professionals in journalism, law or politics who have
barely, if ever, heard of Siegelman and his ordeal. Many of them are immersed
in mainstream political punditry, typified by the chatter on Sunday morning
news talk shows. Their lack of awareness of the dark and dirty secrets in
political prosecutions doesn't surprise me.
The Washington Post has never
published an in-depth story on the Siegelman case despite what must be many
scores of thousands of citizen protests to the White House, DOJ and news
organizations. The important but far-from-definitive reporting by the New York
Times and CBS News in 2007-2008 has long since disappeared. Most other news
organizations spend scant resources to report on Alabama. So, the mainstream
media rely on skimpy wire service summaries of local news reports and official
Beyond that, busy professionals tend to assume that Democrats in an
Obama administration along with the inherent fairness of our legal system would
correct any partisan irregularities. Sadly, that's wrong, as OEN readers see here on a regular basis.
Support for Siegelman primarily developed among progressive blogs in 2007 because of corruption allegations that tied the prosecution to Karl Rove's political pressures on the Justice Department to advance Republican goals. That two-party drama climaxed in February 2008 in a CBS 60 Minutes report. But CBS omitted sworn documentation of recusal battles and government contract deals that involve both parties. With the current and more complex storyline, the mainstream media have lost interest.
Even so, scandal revelations about Obama DOJ malfeasance resonate with new and largely sub rosa blog and activist audiences across the political spectrum. This is because a crime case has inherent drama when it includes mind-boggling legal irregularities, plus high-level political and corporate intrigue. Moreover, this coincides with more pervasive public discontent with jobs, savings, foreclosure, tax, student debt and war woes, plus more generalized fears -- whether of Big Government or big corporations, and whether visible in Occupy Wall Street or Tea Party protests.
Illustrating this are several powerful perspectives published below for the first time. That you must go to here to see this kind of information discredits Congress, the courts and the mainstream media. Oversight bodies could easily invite these civic-spirited experts to share their views in high-visibility hearings that the media would cover. But that doesn't fit the format of two-party shadow-boxing that distracts the public from the real wheeler-dealers.
Here's a better way to understand what's going on:
Political strategists at the top of the Obama administration apparently have decided to let Republicans in several of the Deep South states do pretty much what they want in the criminal justice system in major political cases, according to Bill Barnes, Alabama's most recent Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. He believes Obama officials have written off his and other red states in his region, and hope to wheedle concessions from powerful Republican senators on matters elsewhere.
shocking if true -- and stupid as well. Someone's due process rights in
Alabama, especially the right not to be framed and unjustly imprisoned, is not
a possession of the Obama strategy team to barter away -- any more than it was
the right of the Bush White House to purge nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 for
political reasons, thereby leaving in place "loyal Bushie"
prosecutors who would imprison opponents for trumped-up reasons.
Most notorious among those remaining was Alabama's Canary, whom Obama retained until late last spring. Yet I've documented how the Obama DOJ sabotaged its own probes of Bush administration wrongdoing, and I've quoted a top Obama transition executive, law school dean Christopher Edley, Jr., as saying they feared GOP reprisals especially if they investigated security issues.
Let's now go
beyond the injustice factor. There's a high probability that any deal would be
corrupt on the part of Democrats if it had to be done so secretly. But even if
a deal were simple wheeler-dealing, what kind of idiots would think Republicans would fulfill their part of any such
At issue on
Nov. 2 is whether Canary recused herself from Siegelman's decade-long prosecution.
Siegelman want the case thrown out if the government won't produce its
evidence. Canary is shown below at left early in her tenure that began in 2001.