The Birmingham News, also known as "Pravda of the South," continues its relentless attempt to discredit Rainsville attorney Jill Simpson.
Simpson has testified under oath that she heard Republican operatives discussing a plan to "take care of" former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat. The News has tried its darnedest to discredit Simpson, and the latest effort comes in today's edition, in a familiar format.
As usual, the story starts on the lower right-hand corner of the front page, with an inflammatory headline and a misleading lead graph or two. Then it jumps inside, where you learn there pretty much is nothing to the story.
Today, we again have Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin telling us the Siegelman case was driven by career prosecutors in Montgomery, not Department of Justice officials in Washington.
The story really isn't much different from the two press releases Franklin has issued over the past couple of months. Pretty much the only new information is that John W. Scott, a senior DOJ trial lawyer, disagreed with plans to request a special grand jury. This is supposed to prove, Franklin says, that Alabama prosecutors such as Steve Feaga and himself were driving the case.
Interestingly, the News tells us that repeated attempts to reach Scott last week failed. Guess we're just supposed to take "Sweet Lou" Franklin's word on things. Why would the News run this story without comment from Scott? It's not like we haven't heard Franklin's take on things before.
The story couldn't wait a day or two, or even a week, to get Scott's comments? Hmmm.
"Sweet Lou" Franklin, by the way, tells us U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) is assuming incorrectly that Department of Justice officials controlled the case. From where I sit, it doesn't appear that Davis is assuming anything. He is relying on Simpson's sworn statement, her 143-page sworn testimony, and other evidence. Where's the evidence that Davis needs to assume anything? Of course, the News reporters never asks this question.
They also don't ask Franklin why investigators never followed up on allegations from witness Lanny Young that he bribed Alabama Republicans Jeff Sessions and Bill Pryor. And they don't ask Franklin why investigators haven't followed up on Time magazine charges that Young's activities with Sessions and Pryor amounted to money laundering.
The News does tell us this: Scott disagreed with Franklin and Feaga on the idea of a special grand jury, and he did it through a series of e-mails. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has asked that these e-mails and other evidence be turned over. But that hasn't happened.
Did the News ask Franklin why his office has not turned over these documents to Congress? Not on your life.
And we are supposed to believe most anything "Sweet Lou" Franklin says? Not on your life.
Let's see, Franklin and Feaga are doing their best to take credit and full responsibility for a case that 44 former state attorneys general find contains so many irregularities that they petitioned congress to investigate? A case that every judicial scholar, except the most rabid republicans, expect to be overturned on appeal? The smart thing would be to distance yourself from this tar baby.
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