The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asked that the case against Stevens be dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct. The DOJ has taken no apparent action on the Siegelman case, even though the misconduct in that prosecution almost certainly was worse than it was in the Stevens case.
In a recent piece at BradBlog, Rebecca Abrahams examines the disconnect between the DOJ's handling of the Stevens case and its behavior in the Siegelman case. The article also is available at Huffington Post. After reading Abrahams' excellent analysis, we can come to only one conclusion: The difference between the two cases is that the Stevens case had an honest judge, and the Siegelman case did not.
The DOJ, under Obama appointee Eric Holder, apparently does not mind rogue prosecutors being exposed--as has happened in the Stevens case. But you cannot get to the bottom of the Siegelman fiasco without exposing the prosecutors--and the federal judge who acted corruptly in the case. (The same holds true for the Paul Minor case in Mississippi.)
Eric Holder seemingly does not have the stomach for such an investigation. He would prefer that Americans continue to cling to the myth that our federal judges are honest.
What would we say to Eric Holder? To borrow a line from Jack Nicholson's classic character in A Few Good Men: "You can't handle the truth!"
Even worse, Holder does not think the American people can handle the truth. And that is where he and the Obama administration have it wrong. The American people can handle the truth about federal judges. In fact, we must know the truth about federal judges--we must look backward toward the evils of the Bush administration--before we can move forward to the brighter future that Obama potentially offers.
Instead we get U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, another Obama appointee, urging the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear Siegelman's appeal. The former governor, understandably, is baffled. Writes Abrahams:
When asked why he thought Kagan filed the petition, Siegelman responded:
"The people making the decisions are the same people who have been making the decisions all along. We've changed things at the top but the people who are doing the work, certainly doing the work on my case are the same who worked under George Bush and Karl Rove. There's no change. These people with a vested interest in the outcome and they're going to keep fighting for the same results."
Prosecutor Leura Canary had numerous conflicts in the Siegelman case, and e-mails have proven that she did not abide by her recusal in the matter. But Siegelman's team has met nothing but obstruction from the DOJ in its efforts to prove Canary's unlawful actions. Writes Abrahams:
Siegleman's legal team filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents from DOJ to determine who instructed Canary to remain on the case. To date the Department has refused to turn over these documents to lawyers as well as House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers.
Siegelman says this information could be critical to his appeal:
"For some reason they're stonewalling and this is information that we feel we're entitled to. It could show that Leura Canary had a financial and political conflict or she lied about it."
"What I find a complete paradox is that Canary came forward and said she talked to the people at DOJ and said there wasn't a conflict but I'm going to recuse myself anyway. If they actually put that in a memo then there's a serious problem there because there was a financial and political conflict and we proved it. So if someone gave her a green light to go forward after we proved that her husband was a paid consultant working for my opponent than there's someone at justice who should get their pink slip from Eric Holder."
So what's going on with Holder & Co.? Writes Abrahams:
Siegelman says he believes that the Administration appears to be sitting on its hands with regards to reviewing his case and other Democrats who were politically targeted by the Bush Administration.
"I think Holder's well aware of my case and other cases so there's been a decision made not to do anything for what reason I don't know but it's pretty clear they've made a decision not to do anything."
Siegelman says he does not know why the Obama administration has chosen to do nothing about political prosecutions against Democrats. But we can make an educated guess. And it comes directly from Abrahams article:
Two weeks ago the Washington Post reported that U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan named federal prosecutor Henry Schuelke to investigate whether gross prosecutorial misconduct tainted the government's case against Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. At issue is whether prosecutors withheld critical evidence from the defense or whether the case was improperly handled under pressure to meet deadlines.
There you have it: In the Stevens case, the judge is driving the effort to get at the truth. In the Siegelman case, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, a George W. Bush appointee, is not about to lead any effort to get at the truth. That's because a legitimate investigation would show that Fuller himself was up to his armpits in the sleaze surrounding the Siegelman case.
Is Eric Holder determined to stick his head in the sand and hope the stench emanating from Montgomery, Alabama, blows over? If so, the attorney general is on the wrong path. The stench from the Siegelman case--and from the Paul Minor case next door in Mississippi--is not going away.
Maybe Holder needs to watch A Few Good Men. Maybe then he will remember why it's important to get at the truth: