Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Extra, Extra! Alabama Newspaper Equates "Bush" with "Justice!"

The Birmingham News is aflutter over the prospects of a Barack Obama-led Justice Department.

And what is the newspaper's concern? That an Obama Justice Department might not administer justice the way the Bush administration has.

I'm not making this up, folks. Alabama's largest newspaper actually thinks the Bush administration has been running an honest justice operation for the past eight years, despite all of the evidence to the contrary--much of it coming from right here in the News' home state.

How do we know the News is aflutter about an Obama Justice Department? Obama has not been president-elect for even a full week, and the newspaper already has written two pieces expressing concern that the new DOJ might short-circuit investigation's initiated by Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

First, came a column from John Archibald, stressing that Martin's handiwork on the two-year colleges and Jefferson County Commission cases must continue. Archibald particularly wants to make sure that Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, who is at the heart of the County Commission probe, remains under scrutiny.

Then, comes an editorial yesterday, stating again that Martin's investigations must not be dropped.

Now, it seems apparent that the Alabama two-year colleges had problems, and quite a bit already has been done to clean that up. And if probable cause exists for bringing a federal case against Langford, that should be pursued.

But the News ignores the mountain of questions that have been raised about Martin's honesty and objectivity regarding the cases she brings. Consider for a moment:

* Scott Horton, a law professor at Columbia University and legal-affairs contributor for Harper's magazine, has called Martin perhaps the most corrupt and crooked public official in the country;

* Martin clearly lied under oath in an employment case involving former assistant U.S. attorney Deirdra Brown-Fleming;

* Martin brought a bogus case against Huntsville defense contractor Alex Latifi with the goal of ruining his business;

* She brought a case against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman that was so weak a federal judge kicked it before it could even get started;

* She is being investigated by multiple federal agencies.

A wrapup of Alice Martin's many questionable activities is available here.

Numerous journalists have written about Martin's cozy relationship with The Birmingham News. Evidently it's so cozy that the News insists on being her water boy, even though the Obama administration will boot her out the door in a matter of weeks.

In yesterday's editorial, the News actually writes: "So far, we've seen nothing that makes us believe any Alabama politician has been wrongly prosecuted."

Are these people delusional? Do they remember the first Siegelman case, which U.S. Judge U.W. Clemon booted? Do they remember the second Siegelman case and the memorandum opinion in which U.S. Judge Mark Fuller could neither justify Siegelman's conviction nor his imprisonment? And the Alex Latifi case? It did not involve a politician, but it did involve one of the most blatant examples of prosecutorial abuse ever.

Perhaps the News is trying to erect a smokescreen to hide the fact that Alice Martin herself should be the subject of a federal prosecution. And perhaps the News is concerned that is exactly what will happen when an Obama Justice Department gets settled in and starts looking at the stench that has been emanating from Alabama for the past eight years.

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