Friday, November 2, 2007

Obstruction in Siegelman Investigation?

Why is the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montgomery refusing to turn over to Congress some 600 documents from the Don Siegelman case?

Probably because there almost has to be written evidence to show the case was politically motivated, according Scott Horton of Harper's.

A retired career Justice Department prosecutor notes the recent revelations that the two most senior career prosecutors on the Siegelman case believed there was no basis to bring criminal charges against the former Alabama governor.

The prosecutor says that means professional staff at the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the DOJ would have had serious questions for Montgomery-based U.S. attorneys who wanted to move forward with the case. And some of these questions, and responses, almost certainly would have been contained in e-mails.

Louis Franklin, U.S. attorney in Montgomery, says he made the decision to move forward, without a push from Washington. But Horton's source says the process of moving forward would not have been easy. "Franklin would have been required to put together a prosecution memo justifying why he thought a case could be made," the source says.

Why has that memo, and other documents, not been produced? Probably because they would point to the political nature of the prosecution, Horton says.

Horton's source goes on to ask a significant question. "Why isn't the conduct of the Montgomery U.S. Attorney's Office obstruction of justice? It sure looks like it. Congress has constitutional responsibility to provide oversight of their doings."

The source cites 18 U.S. Code 1512 and suggests that Congress develop a backbone and begin holding Franklin and others accountable for their obstruction of an investigation.

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