Mukasey’s reputation is on the line in the Siegelman case

If you didn’t see the 60 Minutes report on the Don Siegelman case, go to TPM Muckraker to check it out. In an Internet full of must sees, this is a MUST SEE.
There is simply no room left for doubt that the Bush Administration, in a glaring violation of well established ethical precepts, not to mention common decency, used the Justice Department to take down the Governor of Alabama for political reasons. And in the process, it appears very likely they sent an innocent man to prison.

I don’t practice criminal law, but I’ve been involved in peripheral ways in cases where the feds have been out to get someone, and I have to tell you, it’s a terrifying specter. The raw power, not to mention bottomless resources, the federal government can bring to bear against a citizen who’s subject to a criminal prosecution, or even just an investigation, is almost a force of nature. It’s like having an F-5 tornado bearing down on you, except this tornado is much more dangerous, since it’s being driven by human intelligence. 

To misuse such power in a calculated effort to game the democratic process would be one of the worst public crimes imaginable.
All of which leads us directly to the doorstep of Michael B. Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States. Remember that Mukasey, whose nomination was, of course, extremely controversial, was confirmed by the Senate based largely upon his pledge to keep politics out of the Department of Justice.

Well, Mr. Attorney General, it’s fish or cut bait time.
I don’t think that it’s too strong a statement to suggest that Mukasey’s entire professional reputation is on the line here. If he acts dishonorably, the rest of his very successful (if radically conservative) career will disappear into the fog of disrepute.

Mukasey is left with two choices: first, he can order a full, aggressive and independent investigation into the department’s actions in the Siegelman case and, if appropriate, go into court and move to have the conviction set aside; or, second, he can allow the ongoing cover-up and associated rot at Justice to continue, then pay the price in the damage to his own reputation.
What might seem like the obvious third option — a successful cover-up — just isn’t in the cards on this one. The noble stand taken by the 52 former attorneys general, representing 40 states and both political parties, who are demanding action in response to this injustice makes that impossible.

This from Scoot Horton’s blog at Harper’s Monthly discussing the 60 Minutes broadcast (Horton deserves tremendous credit for driving this story):

But the show was dominated by one of 52 former attorneys general from 40 of the 50 states who have called for a Congressional probe of the conduct of the Siegelman case, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. He leveled a series of blistering accusations at the Bush Administration’s Justice Department. With the Alabama G.O.P. this evening issuing a near-hysterical statement in which it characterizes the CBS broadcast—before its transmission—as an anti-Republican attack piece, it was notable that Woods, like the piece’s other star witness, is a Republican. Not just any Republican, either. Grant Woods is co-chair of the McCain for President leadership committee, and a lifelong friend and advisor to the presumptive 2008 G.O.P. presidential candidate. Woods is also godfather to one of the McCain children.

This then is a cover-up with a fairly short shelf life: in less than a year a new boss takes over. If it’s Obama or Clinton, say goodbye to the stonewalling. And if it’s McCain, given that his close friend and campaign supporter is one of the prime movers among the complaining former AGs (and McCain, as a new president, wouldn’t want to inherit a cover-up anyway), it will probably be the same story.

So that’s the deal, Mr. Attorney General: you can try looking the other way and then wait for history (and perhaps worse depending on the level of your involvement) to hunt you down — and it won’t be much of a wait. Or you can do the right thing, and earn yourself a page in some future book celebrating profiles in legal courage.

It’s your call, General. Choose well.  

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10 Responses to “Mukasey’s reputation is on the line in the Siegelman case”

  1. Chuck Says:

    He’ll order an investigation. It won’t really be impartial, but it will drag on & on.

    And remember too, if the innocent prisoner was a “black”, he wouldn’t stand a chance. And yes I do harp on the subject a lot.

  2. alwayshope Says:

    I saw that program. We’ve seen 60 minutes break a story before and it was made to “go away” even though it was all true. I don’t have any faith in the news or the courts or the DOJ or Mukasey. So what if they investigate? No one will cooperate. Rove and the rest will just refuse the subpoenas, will refuse to turn over evidence and will deny the charges. End of story?
    I hope not but I am not expecting justice. Hell, I was sure that Plamegate would take Rove down. HA! I can be so stupidly naive. Not this time. Low expectations are my new mindset. I’m tired of saying, “If a Democrat had done that, they’d hang him by his thumbs”, because the truth is ….if a republican does it, he gets away with it and they still hang the dem by his thumbs.
    Yes, the awesome power of the gov’t to investigate and prosecute anyone that gets in their way should be a terrible crime, but just like torture……..
    it’s not a crime when THEY do it.

  3. Says:

    Mukasey’s reputation is on the line in the Siegelman case…

    There is simply no room left for doubt that the Bush Administration, in a glaring violation of well established ethical precepts, not to mention common decency, used the Justice Department to take down the Governor of Alabama for political reasons. And…

  4. columbuscharlie Says:

    I don’t care if you are a republican or a democrat, when is enough, enough?????

  5. richl Says:

    Shades of Sacco and Vanzetti.

  6. kouka96792 Says:

    When will we do something, other than complain about what “WE ARE ALLOWING TO HAPPEN?”

  7. alwayshope Says:

    CONVINCE me that there is no way this gets buried and K rove walks away laughing and carrying a “Free Don Siegelman” banner. (Harper’s-pic)
    What are the options if they stall? If they refuse to testify? They haven’t gotten ANY cooperation from him nor have they been able to charge him with anything. He’s free to lie on Fox news! Would he be able to back that talk up under oath? Would he take an oath?

    I don’t know beans about legalese.
    From where I sit, they just refuse to cooperate, claim it’s a political witchhunt and stall until the SC or the POTUS let them off the hook.
    How is this any different or easier to prosecute? Is it because of Thompson’s testimony? I hope it’s because the 52 noble AGs and Woods won’t let it go.
    I hope they are determined to clean up the DOJ but that Mukasey …….I don’t know…..he’s there to protect the criminals, how can we trust him to go after a big fish like “Moby Dick”.(Scott Horton said he also calls himself Grendel and Lord Valdemort)

    From Steve: I don’t trust Mukasey, but I also don’t write him off. As an old retired judge he does care about his reputation: he cares about it a lot — bank of it. And hopefully this will spur him to action. If not, one thing’s for sure: the walls of deceit come tumbling down in January of 2009 when Bush goes back to doing whatever he goes back to doing. Too many high profile people are on top of this for it to simply go away. Unfortunately, that could leave what is probably an innocent man sitting in prison for another year at least, not a happy thought. 

  8. FreeDem Says:

    Who out there would have the gumption and energy to clean out the nest of vipers and restore the political prisoners from the wide range of gulags, particularly in the face of “Coddling terrorists and criminals” swiftboating that is as sure as mud from a rainstorm? Such lists should be compiled and vetted now so that a complete Justice Department could be in place, with people generally recognized as ideal from day one rather than some group put togeather by a key insider of any campaign. No one person knows enough, but an open discussion should bring the best to light.

    I suppose such talk should start for the rest of the Cabinet, no matter who is elected. It is well past time that such jobs were filled with those who would do the peoples business, and not some shady business. The entire Bureaucracy is packed deep with the Gang Of Pirates and it will take the best people possible to make any traction at all to accomplish anything.

    I do not say this with any outstanding confidence that the Democrat will win the election, or even (unfortunately ) that there will even be on. But while we must prepare to address the bad possibilities, we really need to spend the time to make sure the good outcomes are as good as possible as well.

  9. alwayshope Says:

    Good post FreeDem.
    Every gov’t department has been gutted and filled with inept cronies and industry insiders. It will an enormous task to put ethical people in position to rebuild the very foundations they have been chipping away at for many years.
    What do think about Edwards as AG?
    Gore in the Energy or Interior dept?
    Paul Krugman for the Treasury
    Bill Moyers for Press Sec
    Kucinich for the GAO
    DOD? Webb
    Homeland (I hate that name) Security?

    Yes, they need to have an open discussion. There are lot of interesting people out there that we can actually trust. I’d love to hear them give us an idea of what they are thinking about the rebuilding of not just our infrastructure but our institutions.

  10. alwayshope Says:

    not a happy thought at all. I hate injustice and those slowly grinding wheels.
    I was just reading Palast on the Exxon Valdez and the nineteen years they have been able to put off compensating the fisherman whose lives they ruined.
    He wrote:
    “That was part of Exxon’s plan. They told me that. In 1990 and 1991, I worked for the Chenega and Chugach Natives of Alaska on trying to get Exxon to pay up to save the remote villages of the Sound. Exxon’s response was, “We can hold out in court until you’re all dead.”

    One man named Paul Komkoff did die waiting. If the SC and Justice Roberts have their way, the rest will follow him.
    After all, Tort Reform is more important than a bunch of dead fisherman.

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