Thursday, May 1, 2008

Terror in the Deep South

Has someone been conducting a terror campaign in Alabama and Mississippi against victims of the Bush Justice Department?

Raw Story presents a compelling article today that strongly suggests the answer to that question is yes.

Reporters Larisa Alexandrovna, Muriel Kane, and Lindsay Beyerstein report that people connected to the Don Siegelman case in Alabama and the Paul Minor case in Mississippi have experienced a total of 10 suspicious incidents. The incidents range from burglaries to arson to unexplained fires to vandalism to traffic mishaps.

Some of the incidents have been reported before, but others are new to these schnauzer ears. For example, Montgomery businessman John Goff reported that a $400 sliding-glass window at his office had been smashed. At the time of the vandalism, Goff was the subject of an investigation by U.S. Attorney Leura Canary. The investigation came after Goff had filed a lawsuit against Republican Governor Bob Riley, claiming that Riley and others had conspired to ruin Goff's businesses.

In summer 2003, Paul Minor's office in Biloxi, Mississippi, was broken into. A brick was used to shatter a window, and the intruder took a computer belonging to Minor's secretary and rummaged through files.

Perhaps most fascinating are the details Raw Story provides about the experiences of Republican whistleblower Jill Simpson. We have known that Simpson experienced a house fire and a mysterious auto incident in the days before she came forward with information about the political motivations behind the Siegelman case. But Raw Story tells us that:

* At the time of the fire, Simpson was talking with Siegelman's attorneys about what she had heard on a conference phone call involving GOP operative Bill Canary. On February 15, 2007, she sent a letter to Art Leach, an attorney for Siegelman codefendant Richard Scrushy. Six days later, on February 21, a house belonging to Simpson in Rainsville caught fire. About 30 percent of the structure was damaged, and Simpson was not home at the time. No formal investigation of the fire has taken place.

* Less than two weeks after the fire, Simpson's car was apparently forced off the road. The incident was caused by a motorist making an improper lane change into her lane. A police report identifies the driver of the other vehicle as Mark Roden of Rainbow City, Alabama. Roden told an officer on the scene that he was an officer with the Attalla Police Department; Roden then was allowed to leave without a citation. A city clerk in Attalla confirmed that a Mark Roden had worked as a police officer, but she could provide no additional information. Calls left for the police chief were not returned. Repeated attempts to reach Roden at the residence listed on the accident report have been unsuccessful.

As usual, it takes a news organization that is national in scope to break new ground on the Siegelman and Minor cases. Any chance a reporter from a mainstream news outfit will follow up?
Consider just a few of the possible questions:

* Why has no investigation been done on the fire at Jill Simpson's home? Who should be responsible for conducting an investigation?

* Who in the heck is Mark Roden and why does he supposedly no longer work for the Attalla Police Department? Why does the police chief not return phone calls from the media? Why was Roden not cited for the traffic incident? Where does Mark Roden work now and where did he work before?

* Why has no serious investigation been conducted on a fire that was clearly arson at the office of former Mississippi judge John Whitfield. Why did local authorities confiscate documents that survived the blaze, particularly those that pertained to Whitfield's defense in the Minor case?

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