Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Political profiling by the U.S. Justice Department comes in for scrutiny

Former Republican Attorney General Dick Thornburgh testified yesterday on politically motivated prosecutions against Democrats that occurred in Pennsylvania, his home state, in the run up to the 2006 midterm congressional elections while no Republicans were investigated for similar offences. View him carefully, this is what a Republican used to look like. They used to be rational, thinking human beings.

The NY Times has an editorial today on the slew of political prosecutions being unearthed:
Every time we take a look at the United States attorney scandal, more evidence emerges that Alberto Gonzales politicized the Justice Department to the point where it sometimes seems like a branch of the Republican National Committee.

Yesterday, for example, Richard Thornburgh, a former Republican attorney general, told a Congressional hearing that his client, Dr. Cyril Wecht, a Democratic officeholder in Pennsylvania, was indicted on federal charges that should not be federal charges by a United States attorney who targeted Democrats.

At the same hearing, more evidence emerged that the prosecutions of Don Siegelman, the former Alabama governor, and Paul Minor, a prominent Mississippi Democrat, may have been political hits. And a University of Missouri professor testified that his statistical analysis showed that the Justice Department engaged in “political profiling.”

Dr. Wecht’s case has gotten little attention, but that may change. Mr. Thornburgh said prosecutors are using “unprecedented” legal theories to turn mostly “nickel and dime transgressions” into major federal felonies. He charged that while United States Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan went after Dr. Wecht and other Democrats, she ignored the offenses of Republican officials, including a congressman whose staff accused him of using government employees in his election campaign.

Mr. Siegelman’s lawyer, Doug Jones, said the investigation of the former governor was very limited until it turned around “180 degrees” in late 2004, after Washington officials told local prosecutors “to go back and look at the case, review the case top to bottom.” That is consistent with the account of Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer who says she was on a phone call in which Republican operatives said Karl Rove was involved in the prosecution.
About Rove's involvement, Scott Horton fills in the information hinted at in the Times editorial, more specifically, here. Horton cites a statement released by the Alliance for Justice yesterday, after the House hearings on the politicized Justice Department, that asserts what Rove's role was in respect of the Siegelman prosecution:
AFJ also points to evidence that the Siegelman case has upturned concerning potential wrongdoing by two further judges: William Pryor, now a judge of the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and Noel Hillman, now a judge in New Jersey, and formerly the head of the Public Integrity Section. In that capacity, Hillman had oversight responsibility for the prosecution of Governor Siegelman. According to sworn testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Hillman had discussions with Karl Rove about the handling of the Siegelman case and acted on Rove’s instructions that the case be “properly resourced.”
Seems to me that the congressional subpoena that Rove continues to ignore ought to be moved into contempt proceedings real soon...