Friday, October 20, 2017

Modern Alabama history suggests the longer Jeff Sessions stays in office, the more likely Americans will see their free speech and property rights trampled

Al Franken and Jeff Sessions
The most widely covered moment in Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee involved a testy exchange between Sessions and U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). But the most newsworthy moment, for those of us who care about the First Amendment, came when Sessions refused to say that his Justice Department would not arrest journalists for doing their jobs.

Sessions tried to apply some soft edges to his answer, but we don't have to guess about how this can play out on his watch. Journalists already are subject to arrest in Alabama, where Sessions served as a U.S. senator for 20 years before joining the Trump administration in early 2017. I know because I was unlawfully arrested and incarcerated in Shelby County, AL, in October 2013, part of the fallout from a defamation lawsuit brought by GOP operative Rob Riley and his one-time mistress, lobbyist Liberty Duke.

That made me the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be arrested in 2013, the first U.S. journalist to be arrested since 2006, and apparently the only journalist in U.S. history to be arrested because of a preliminary injunction that has been prohibited in defamation cases by more than 230 years of First Amendment law. Does Jeff Sessions respect the First Amendment or the rule of law? My experience indicates the answer is a resounding no. And my five-month stay in jail was smeared with the fingerprints of Sessions' allies -- including Rob Riley (son of former Gov. Bob Riley), former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (who was appointed to fill Sessions' Senate seat on an interim basis), U.S. Circuit Judge and former Alabama AG Bill Pryor, and Jessica Medeiros Garrison, one-time mistress and campaign manager for Luther Strange.

A prominent Alabama opposition researcher, activist, and whistle blower warns that Sessions has several tools he can use against those who speak out against him or the Trump administration. Jill Simpson, who played a major role in bringing the Don Siegelman political prosecution to light, says asset-forfeiture laws could, under Sessions, become little more than a license for law enforcement to steal.

The good news is that Simpson predicts Sessions will be indicted, convicted, and imprisoned for his role in the Trump-Russia scandal -- and hopefully, that will happen before Sessions can turn the United States into a greatly expanded version of Alabama.

As for Sessions' thoughts on a free press, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked if he would commit to not jailing journalists for doing their jobs. Here is Sessions' reply:

Well, I don't know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect. But I would say this: We have not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point. But we have matters that involve the most serious national security issues, that put our country at risk, and we will utilize the authorities that we have, legally and constitutionally, if we have to.

Is this answer mostly horse manure? Well, let's look at the environment that Jeff Sessions helped create in Alabama. Was aggressive action taken against the media there? It sure as heck was. I had a cop enter our home -- without showing a warrant, stating he had a warrant, or stating his reasons for being there (all violations of state and federal law) -- knock me to a concrete floor three times, douse me with pepper spray, and drag me to my driveway, where one of his colleagues threatened to break my arms.

Oleg Deripaska and Paul Manfort
If that sounds aggressive to you, it sure felt aggressive to me. And consider this: One day before my arrest, I posted about an apparent sweetheart deal where Jessica Medeiros Garrison took ownership rights to a Mountain Brook house appraised at more than $400,000 after paying $30,000 at a foreclosure auction? For whom did Garrison once work? Jeff Sessions. Was my arrest sparked by reporting here that was getting too close to the truth about Garrison's house deal -- and did she solicit the help of Sessions, or one of his compadres, to make sure I was beaten and tossed in the slammer? My answer to both parts of that question is yes.

Sessions' statement on press freedom this week should not be a surprise. He hinted in early August that the jailing of journalists could be coming. Like me, Jill Simpson knows enough about Sessions to take his "out there" statements seriously. From her Facebook post yesterday about asset forfeiture (with editing for clarity and brevity):

Most people have no idea what can happen in Alabama when you cross the Alabama Gang. People around the nation need to be very worried of this asset-forfeiture deal, as Sessions and his gang take his road show from Alabama to nationwide. I suspect this will be used as a weapon against activists. . . .  I know during the days of fascism and oligarchs retaking Russia, this kind of thing happened, as it is designed to scare activists and make them fear speaking out. 
I don't think many people understand yet what is taking over our country.  Each day, we are moving further from being a democracy. . . . Sessions' crew may use this asset-forfeiture tool nationwide to take everything from folks who speak out against them. . . . . When you run the courts and police like the Sessions bunch does, you can do anything.

Is there hope for saving our democracy from a serious internal threat? Simpson suggests a major source of hope is Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal. It should show, Simpson says, that Sessions and others from Alabama (Bob Riley, Bill Canary) long have engaged in unsavory dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Vladimir Putin. In the end, Simpson predicts, Sessions will wind up in "The Big House." From Simpson's Facebook post earlier this week about Russia-Alabama connections:

Jeff Sessions is a lying Russian-ass-kissing traitor, and Al Franken proved it. He called him on all his lies, and Jeff lied again, pushing the goal post further. When I came forward in the Siegelman case, I gave a detailed account to the press and a bunch of lawyers, showing that these Republican idiots connected to Riley and Canary's Alabama Gang (including Sessions) were wheeling and dealing with Oleg Deripaska, Vladimir Putin's top business spy on the EADS tanker deal. The U.S. Military knows it as well. (Also, Deripaska has $60 million worth of connections to former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.)

If Mueller checks, he will find that Sessions got in bed with Deripaska when the Republicans were making money off Oleg. He is the sugar daddy for the Alabama Gang. Oleg is very powerful. His father-in-law was Boris Yeltsin 's KGB/FSB handler, and when they retired, Oleg became Putin's top FSB handler. It was passed on to him by his father-in-law.

Over the years, Putin has gained the upper hand but, they are a tag team. Oleg first started working years ago trying to get a visa to be able to come to the states, but the Clinton administration fought him and his lawyer, Bob Dole. Oleg next hired the head of the Republicans, Haley Barbour, who introduced him to the Alabama Gang (Canary, Riley, and  Sessions). Their representatives would meet Oleg at the Paris air show, where he . . . got Sessions to try to help them steal the tanker deal from Boeing and give it to the EADS/Airbus team, which had Russia as a minority shareholder. Since then, Sessions has been the go-to guy for Deripaska and the Russian government.

That is why Sessions meets with the Russians so much. Intel folks in every agency know Russia thinks Sessions is their guy, and they have been all over him for years. . . . It is well known in D.C. that Russia has a mole in the DOJ -- and it is Jeff Sessions. Yep, the evil elf of Alabama has really "elfed" up by lying so much in D.C.

He is caught, but the question remains: Does he realize they know what he has done for Russia, on behalf of his Alabama Gang? It is all going to come out, and the Keebler elf of Alabama is going to prison -- it is just a matter of time.

(Note: I was reminded of my time in the Shelby County Jail, with yesterday's reports about the FBI's annual nationwide human-trafficking sting. Operation Cross Country X1 rescued 84 children and netted the arrests of 120 suspected adult traffickers.

Antonio Key
One of the arrestees, Antonio Key, was apprehended in Shelby County, AL, and landed in the same jail where I spent five months. Let that sink in for a moment: I was arrested for blogging, and Key was arrested for human trafficking -- yet we wound up in the same place. I was held for five months, with no bail, and it's possible Key will spend less time there than I did. The Web site for the Shelby County Sheriff's office shows Key is being held on $20,000 bond, which probably means he can be released by paying $2,000.

(I was in an Alabama jail for five months because I was a blogger; Antonio Key likely will spend less time in the same jail, and he is accused of human trafficking. Is that what postmodern American justice has come to?)

No comments: