|Fredrik Reinfeldt and George W. Bush|
Is Karl Rove helping to export American-style political prosecutions to Scandinavia? Is "Bush's brain" trying to fashion a bogus criminal case in Sweden against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, much like the one he helped build against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman?
The answer to both questions appears to be yes, based on a recent report by Andrew Kreig at Huffington Post. On top of that, we have information from Rove's own Web site that confirms his close ties to Sweden, the subject of an earlier Legal Schnauzer post. And we have unearthed a video from Rove's 2008 visit to Timbro, a "free market" think tank in Sweden.
Circumstantial evidence continues to build that Rove is behind, at least in part, the Assange case. If so, why? We will address that question in a moment.
Kreig, director of the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project, says the Assange arrest in Sweden has many of the hallmarks of the Siegelman case. And he notes that Rove has strong ties to Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who has been called "the Ronald Reagan of Europe."
Here is what might be most disturbing about the Assange story: Rove appears to be working with the Obama administration to help muzzle WikiLeaks and its founder. Reports Kreig:
Karl Rove's help for Sweden as it assists the Obama administration's prosecution against WikiLeaks could be the latest example of the adage, "Politics makes strange bedfellows."
Rove has advised Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for the past two years after resigning as Bush White House political advisor in mid-2007. Rove's resignation followed the scandalous Bush mid-term political purge of nine of the nation's 93 powerful U.S. attorneys.
These days, Sweden and the United States are apparently undertaking a political prosecution as audacious and important as those by the notorious "loyal Bushies" earlier this decade against U.S. Democrats.
The WikiLeaks case could have major repercussions for journalism in America and abroad. A source tells Kreig that the Assange arrest has some familiar footprints on it:
The U.S. prosecution of WikiLeaks, if successful, could criminalize many kinds of investigative news reporting about government affairs, not just the WikiLeaks disclosures that are embarrassing Sweden as well as the Bush and Obama administrations. Authorities in both countries are setting the stage with pre-indictment sex and spy smears against WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, plus an Interpol manhunt.
"This all has Karl's signature," a reliable political source told me a week and a half ago in encouraging our Justice Integrity Project to investigate Rove's Swedish connection. "He must be very happy. He's right back in the middle of it. He's making himself valuable to his new friends, seeing the U.S. government doing just what he'd like ─ and screwing his opponents big-time."
WikiLeaks already has revealed that Reinfeldt is working with the U.S. to circumvent his country's system of checks and balances:
WikiLeaks created a problem for Sweden and its prime minister, at left above, by revealing a 2008 cable disclosing that its executive branch asked American officials to keep intelligence-gathering "informal" to avoid required Parliamentary scrutiny. That secret was among the 251,000 U.S. cables obtained by WikiLeaks and relayed to the New York Times and four other media partners. They have so far reported about 1,300 of the secret cables after trying for months to vet them through U.S. authorities.
That certainly would provide Rove with motivation to help his Swedish friends. And Rove's own Web site confirms his strong ties to Scandinavia. Consider this paragraph from Rove's official bio:
Before Karl became known as “The Architect” of President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, non-partisan causes, and non-profit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional, and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.
In other words, Rove's ties to Sweden predate his ties to George W. Bush. But the Bush years probably are close to Rove's mind at the moment. Rove likely is concerned about information that WikiLeaks might reveal about the Bush administration, a source tells Legal Schnauzer. Such revelations, of course, could shine light on Rove's own unlawful actions, as we noted in a recent post:
Why would Rove be interested in corralling Julian Assange? To help protect the Bush legacy, our source says. "The very guy who has released the documents that damage the Bushes the most is also the guy that the Bush's number one operative can control by being the Swedish prime minister's brain and intelligence and economic advisor."
Could Rove also be trying to protect himself? What if WikiLeaks has documents--or Rove thinks it could get documents--that prove "Turd Blossom's" role in criminal activity during the Bush years? What if someone with a conscience from the Bush administration--if such a person exists--provided WikiLeaks with documents that show Rove's role in political prosecutions, the unlawful firings of U.S. attorneys, and more? Could Rove be trying to save his own doughy butt?
Kreig says Rove is relying on tactics that proved effective in the Siegelman matter:
The Siegelman case has turned into most notorious U.S. political prosecution of the decade, as readers here well know. It altered that state's politics and improved business opportunities for companies well-connected to Bush, Rove and their state GOP supporters.
Ultimately, the House Judiciary Committee's oversight questioning of Rove in July 2009 turned out to be a whitewash. The probe was crippled by restrictions on format that had been brokered by the Obama White House and, more importantly, by an unwillingness of House Democrats to risk antagonizing Rove and his backers by asking obvious questions. Call it speculation, but the federal bribery charges that imprisoned the wife of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) surely deterred him from building a thorough case regarding Rove's relationship with the DOJ, or at least calling relevant witnesses from the Justice Department and elsewhere for public testimony.
Has Rove, indeed, transported his American brand of dirty tricks to Sweden? Kreig decided that one way to find out was to ask him--and Kreig did just that, via Rove's chief of staff, on Dec. 14:
As readers here well know, Siegelman's convictions came only after years of pre-trial prosecutorial smears, witness sexual blackmail, and a bizarre trial before a judge enriched on the side by Bush contracts for the judge's closely-held company. No one column can encompass at reasonable length every important abuse in this tawdry, nearly decade-long tale. But my Huffington Post blog from last April, "Siegelman Judge Asked To Recuse Now, With Kagan, Rove Opposing Oversight," links to the scandals cited above.
Then, all of the wrongdoing was covered up by whitewashes by the Obama administration and congress. Siegelman, 64, is free on bail after a Supreme Court ruling last June created a new hearing for him in January, perhaps forestalling an Obama recommendation last year that he receive an 20 additional years in prison.
What about a response from Rove? Kreig still is waiting for that.
Meanwhile, let's check out Rove in action in Sweden, from July 2008. Is it a coincidence that Karl Rove clearly has strong connections in Sweden, and Julian Assange now faces what appear to be flimsy sex-related charges in that country? We don't think so.
How is this for irony? The subject of the interview below is . . . political dirty tricks. Imagine that! Why would the Swedes think "Bush's brain" has inside information on that topic?