Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Unearthing the Siegelman/Minor Gameplan

A "follow the money" reporting effort by Raw Story illuminates the similarities between the Don Siegelman prosecution in Alabama and the Paul Minor prosecution in Mississippi.

Scott Horton, of Harper's, says reporters Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane have made a major contribution to public understanding of the Republican Party's plans to take down powerful Democrats in the Deep South.

The Raw Story team has been taking a “follow the money” approach, and they offer a schematic which parallels the Siegelman prosecution in Alabama with the Minor/Diaz prosecutions in Mississippi. The cases reflect a similar unfolding of G.O.P. electoral plans, Abramoff-Scanlon-based electoral finance (supporting Riley in Alabama, and Barbour and G.O.P.-backed judicial candidates in Mississippi), and the deployment of U.S. attorneys to eliminate political adversaries through specious prosecutions.

Horton is struck by the fact that U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton, who oversaw the Minor prosecution, once was on the Bush Administration's "hit list" of USAs to be fired.

But Lampton survived. What intervened? Among other things, the Diaz and Minor prosecutions. I have often thought that a comparison of the initial list of 26 with the final list of terminated U.S. attorneys will yield up some interesting facts. The question that list suggests is fairly simple: what, exactly, did a U.S. attorney have to do to survive, once he or she was scheduled to be jettisoned? Both the case of Lampton and that of Milwaukee’s Steven Biskupic suggest an answer: bring a politically motivated prosecution, timed to run alongside an election cycle, all for the greater glory of the Republican Party in its local election exploits.

The shenanigans in Mississippi bring to mind the warnings of Robert H. Jackson, who served as U.S. attorney general in the 1940s. "There can be no doubt that to be closely identified with the intrigue, the money raising, and the machinery of a particular party or faction may present a prosecuting officer with embarrassing alignments and associations," Jackson said. Horton's conclusion?

What we see in the Mississippi prosecutions is the very model of a prosecution conceived and implemented for partisan political purposes. It demonstrates everything that Robert Jackson warned us against.

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