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Oral Arguments Scheduled in Jailed Vet Case, Harper's Mag Blasts Biskupic

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Message Michael Leon

By click here Leon at Mal Contends - Oral arguments in [U.S. v. Roberts, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Docket 05-CR-118 ; U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, docket number 07-1546.] are scheduled for:

Oct 25, Thursday, (fourth case heard that day) at approximate 9:30 AM
Dirksen Federal Building
Chicago, Illinois
219 South Dearborn
[Corner of Dearborn and Jackson]

The case will be heard by a three-judge panal composed of:
- the Hon. Terence T. Evans
- the Hon. Joel Martin Flaum
- the Hon. Daniel Anthony Manion


Scott Horton’s erudite column today in Harper’s takes full aim at US Atty. Stephen Biskupic in Wisconsin. Excerpts below:

Harper's has been running a series involving the Don Siegelman case in Alabama that has the fetid reeking of Karl Rove and DoJ corruption.

U.S. Attorneys Scandal–Milwaukee
by Scott Horton

At present the House Judiciary Committee has picked two cases for closer scrutiny. Both are cases in which the taletell signs of political manipulation can be found right at the surface. And, in an amazing comment on the state of justice in America today, both produced convictions of clearly innocent defendants. They are the corruption prosecutions of Georgia Thompson in Wisconsin and Don Siegelman in Alabama. So far, the Justice Department has complied to an extent with the Committee’s document production demands respecting the Thompson case, but is now one month and counting past due on Siegelman.

Yesterday, Chairman Conyers released a handful of documents from his preliminary look into the Thompson case. These documents reflect exactly what has been suspected from the beginning: career prosecutors simply couldn’t understand why the prosecution was being pushed. “How in the heck did this case get brought?” asks one career prosecutor at main Justice in an email. That, indeed, is the exact question that the Judiciary Committee will be asking. But in fact the answer is completely apparent from the context of the case. Mr. Biskupic was very eager to save his job, and he knew he needed to do Karl Rove’s bidding to do so. That included bringing a prosecution of a state official, synchronized to match the election campaign, and hyped so as to furnish grist for the Republican party’s effort to retake the Madison statehouse.

In addition to the Thompson case, take a look at another prosecution brought in Wisconsin against a wounded vet, whose claims for benefits was turned into a criminal prosecution for wire fraud. As Wisconsin Public Radio reports, Keith Roberts, a Navy veteran got into the U.S. attorney’s crosshairs by filing a claim for benefits

related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosed as occurring because he witnessed and tried to prevent his friend from being crushed to death by a C-54 airplane while stationed at a Naval air base in Naples, Italy 1969, and unrelated assault by the Navy Shore Patrol—granted and then denied, has not yet been decided by the CAVC. But the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after being accused of fraud in 2003 by Roberts ignored the CAVC process and investigated and asked that Roberts be prosecuted for fraud by the US Attorney’s office.

The prosecution smacks of retaliation and a plan to suppress veterans claims—Roberts was prosecuted for tenaciously pursuing a claim for benefits, which VA resisted and which is still in the benefits review process. It may be that the veteran is making claims which shouldn’t be granted, but the decision to resist them by a criminal complaint is very heavy handed. What happens if the Veterans’ Appeals process rules for Roberts? As I read these papers, that seems certainly not a far-fetched possibility. And if it happens, Biskupic will have egg on his face a second time.

In any event, the mystery in Milwaukee continues to be a simple one: how on earth does Biskupic continue to serve as a U.S. Attorney in light of his record of abuse of office for political purposes? The Thompson case indicates much worse than bad judgment. It needs to be the subject of a criminal probe, and a disciplinary inquiry by the Wisconsin bar.

But here’s a first step: Biskupic, Canary and Martin, among the group of U.S. Attorneys who have sold their professional souls, need to be put in a jail cell for thirty days to read Robert H. Jackson’s “The Federal Prosecutor.” It’s still the best statement of the ethical and professional responsibilities of a prosecutor that we have, and this crew make plain from their conduct that they haven’t an inkling of what their obligations to the country are. At this point I don’t know how many rotten eggs are out there, but one thing’s for certain: it’s not the dozen cashiered prosecutors we need to be worried about, but the more than eighty who were retained.

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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at
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