Monday, February 25, 2008

This is not America

Below you'll find the powerful 60 Minutes segment on the politically motivated prosecution and conviction of former Democratic Governor of Alabama Don Siegelman which ran last night. While a case involving a U.S. state governor may not sound worthy of your time to peruse or consider, it's about much more than that. This case is emblematic of the abuse of power committed by the higher ups in the Bush administration. And like all matters involving the Bush administration, Karl Rove is at the core of this one where the weight of the U.S. Department of Justice was brought to bear by Republicans against a political enemy. That's the kind of thing that should not happen in a fair judicial system, it's the hallmark of authoritarian states.

This is the broadcast in which a former Republican operative fingers Karl Rove for his role in the effort to prosecute Don Siegelman. Rove's attorney had this to say last night:
Rove declined to be interviewed by 60 Minutes and by The Associated Press. But his attorney, Robert Luskin, denied Simpson's allegations.

"60 Minutes owes Mr. Rove an apology for circulating this false and foolish story," Luskin said.
Why doesn't Mr. Rove sue 60 Minutes then for this malicious falsehood? After all, a report has been nationally broadcast telling the world that he encouraged someone to take photos of a politician in flagrante and that he'd played a role in bringing down this Democratic Governor for political purposes. A defamation suit would surely be in order. Fat chance we'll see that from Mr. Rove though.

And of course, Scott Horton is a must read today on this story. Horton points out the "bombshells" in the piece that will hopefully spur on the congressional investigation of the prosecution, including the need to either get Mr. Rove under oath or commence a criminal investigation of those involved in this concerted effort to bring down the Democratic Governor, including U.S. attorneys in that state with close political ties to Rove and the current Republican governor:
The CBS piece, for which I was repeatedly interviewed, came through on its promise to deliver several additional bombshells. The most significant of these was the disclosure that prosecutors pushed the case forward and secured a conviction relying on evidence that they knew or should have know was false, and that they failed to turnover potentially exculpatory evidence to defense counsel. The accusation was dramatically reinforced by the Justice Department’s failure to offer a denial. It delivered a fairly elaborate version of a “no comment,” and even that came a full twenty-four hours after it had conferred with the prosecutors in question. The gravity of the accusations made and the prosecutors’ failure to deny them further escalates concerns about the treatment of the former Alabama governor.
Horton also tells us that the Siegelman part of the 60 Minutes episode was blacked out in a third of Alabama by a CBS affiliate there. Un-f*%#ing believable:
I am now hearing from readers all across Northern Alabama—from Decatur to Huntsville and considerably on down—that a mysterious “service interruption” blocked the broadcast of only the Siegelman segment of 60 Minutes this evening. The broadcaster is Channel 19 WHNT, which serves Northern Alabama and Southern Tennessee. This station was noteworthy for its hostility to Siegelman and support for his Republican adversary. The station ran a trailer stating “We apologize that you missed the first segment of 60 Minutes tonight featuring ‘The Prosecution of Don Siegelman.’ It was a techincal problem with CBS out of New York.” I contacted CBS News in New York and was told that “there is no delicate way to put this: the WHNT claim is not true. There were no transmission difficulties. The problems were peculiar to Channel 19, which had the signal and had functioning transmitters.” I was told that the decision to blacken screens across Northern Alabama “could only have been an editorial call.” Channel 19 is owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, who can be contacted through Rhonda Barnat, 212-371-5999 or Oak Hill Partners represents interests of the Bass family, which contribute heavily to the Republican Party. Viewers displeased about the channel’s decision to censor the broadcast should express their views directly to the station management or to the owners.
Horton also brilliantly dissects the first AP reporting on the 60 Minutes segment which is highly misleading and hues heavily toward Republican talking points.

What a twisted, corrupt, makes-your-blood-boil story this is. I'm surprised it's not American lawyers demonstrating in the streets these days.

Part I:

Part II: