When commentators call for investigations of possible wrongdoing by members of the Bush administration, the discussions usually have an international focus. Subjects such as torture, illegal detentions, and spying tend to carry the day.
But a recent Gallup poll shows Americans are concerned more with domestic wrongdoing, such as politicization of the Justice Department, than with international issues. The poll showed that 71 percent of respondents favored a criminal investigation or independent probe of possible attempts to use the Justice Department for political purposes. By contrast, 62 percent favored investigations into torture and 63 percent on warrantless wiretaps.
While national opinionmakers tend to focus on war crimes, folks in the heartland seem to be more concerned about the notion that Bush officials have prosecuted and imprisoned people for political reasons, not because they committed crimes.
And so we take time here at Legal Schnauzer to send this vital message: We must not forget our political prisoners. And we must take all necessary steps under the law to see that they are vindicated--and that the appropriate people are held accountable for their suffering.
I can think of no better way to remember the victims of the Bush "justice" system than to spotlight a recent three-part documentary produced by Project Save Justice. It is titled "The Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove," and it is compelling viewing. My hope is that every American, in one forum or another, will see it and be moved to action.
The documentary opens by noting that many Americans have heard about the apparent political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. But most Americans do not know that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee has received information about roughly 1,000 questionable prosecutions. And of the 700 investigations conducted by the Bush Justice Department since 2001, about 87 percent targeted Democrats. Here is Part I of "The Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove:"
Part II focuses on the methods used by the Bush DOJ, noting the critical role played by Republican-appointed judges and compliant mainstream news outlets. It also notes that supporters of Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were frequent targets. One Edwards supporter, Michigan attorney Geoffrey Fieger, notes that his office was raided by 100 FBI agents. "You could rob a bank and murder someone and get maybe two or three agents on your tail," Fieger says. The raid on his office, he says, was "unprecedented in American history." Part II also spotlights the Paul Minor case in Mississippi and includes compelling interviews with former state Supreme Court justice Oliver Diaz and Myrna Teel, wife of imprisoned former state judge Wes Teel. "Wes was told, 'You resign and never run for public office again or you will be indicted,'" Myrna Teel says:
Part III focuses on the payoffs for the Republican officials who went along with political prosecutions. Many were rewarded with high-paying positions in the private sector or lifetime appointments in government posts. What about the victims of these prosecutions? The documentary concludes with a lengthy scroll, including their names, positions, and home areas--plus the charges they faced. Many of the victims or their loved ones wound up in financial ruin. Suicides, or deaths from natural causes to those under 70, have been common. "This is not the system of justice I fought for in World War II," says Bill Minor, father of Paul Minor. "This is not the system of justice that Paul fought for in Vietnam."
Who are the victims? Here are just a few of them. If you are like me, you probably are hearing many of these names for the first time:
* Meg Scott Phipps--agriculture commissioner, North Carolina (extortion)
* Matt McCoy--state senator, Iowa (extortion)
* Rev. Saundra McFadden-Weaver--city council, Kansas City, MO (mortgage fraud)
* Jerry Mezzatesta--state senator, West Virginia (vote buying)
* Garey Ballance--circuit judge, North Carolina (tax evasion)
* Tom Murphy--mayor, Pittsburgh, PA (vote buying)
* Katheryn Shields--county executive, Kansas City (mortgage fraud)