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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Should Siegelman Testify Before Congress?

When we learned last week that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee wanted to hear testimony from former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, I thought it was a grand idea.

Siegelman would get to tell his story of political prosecution, bringing the issue to national attention.

But U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) is saying, "Not so fast." And I think Davis has a point.

Maybe that's why Artur Davis is a U.S. congressman, and I'm . . . well, I'm your Legal Schnauzer.

Davis said he was not consulted by the committee about the idea of having Siegelman appear. If he had been consulted, Davis would have said that such an appearance could harm the former governor's criminal defense and steer the committee away from its primary mission: investigation of political influence in the U.S. Justice Department.

Davis said he would prefer to call former White House advisor Karl Rove. Siegelman's testimony would have limited value, Davis said. "The sole purpose of his testimony would be a prolonged assertion of his innocence" and would not shed new light on "whether there were improper contacts with Department of Justice employees by political forces and whether these contacts led to a prosecution that would not have been brought otherwise."

I think Davis is exhibiting clear-headed thinking here. If you want to get to the bottom of a conspiracy to commit murder, you're not likely to learn a lot by talking to the target. It's far better to question those on the other side, the ones instigating the conspiracy. That means Karl Rove should be at the top of the committee's witness list.

Here's someone else the committee should talk to: Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. On the offensive side, Martin was the prosecutor who first went after Siegelman. And on the defensive side, I have clear evidence of her covering up the crimes of Republican judges in Alabama state court.

Testimony from Karl Rove and Alice Martin--I can't think of a better place for the committee to start.

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