IS THE NEW YORK TIMES MANUFACTURING A McCAIN NON-SCANDAL?
SCREW THE PEOPLE: NO FENCE -- OBAMA, CLINTON

60 MINUTES: AN ATTEMPT TO EMBARRASS THE ADMINISTRATION -- ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF MEDIA FAR-LEFT BIAS OR EXPOSING SOMETHING FAR MORE SINISTER?

UPDATE:  Personal comment -- After watching the 60 MINUTES piece in its entirety, I cannot say with any degree of certainty that governmental malfeasance was not involved. Especially after having watched the apparent politically-motivated prosecution of  Border Patrolmen Ignacio Ramos and José Alonso Compeán by United States Attorney Johnny Sutton. And like the Siegelman case, followed by an unusually harsh sentence. I believe that the Department of Justice should be de-politicized and returned to their law-enforcement function.

Original blog entry...

Politics is not for their faint of heart. It is often a dirty business filled with unproven charges and countercharges which are subsequently elevated by the media to the status of facts.

The far-left media bias...

We have just seen the venerable and formerly credible New York Times attempt to smear front-running Republican Presidential candidate John McCain with nothing more than innuendo and a re-hash of his past history.

Breaking news... both parties are looking for dirt on their opposing candidates

Now we find 60-Minutes entering the fray by attempting to point out that the Republicans engage in opposition research as well the the democrats who have raised muck-throwing to a high art. All while highlighting the case of an imprisoned former democrat Alabama Governor, Don Siegelman.

"GOP Operative: Rove Sought To Smear Dem"

"60 Minutes: Woman Says Top Bush Adviser Asked Her To Take Compromising Pictures Of Alabama Gov. Siegelman"

Scott Pelley discusses his "60 Minutes" report on the controversy surrounding the trial of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman who is serving prison time after being convicted on corruption charges.

Big whoop?

"A Republican operative in Alabama says Karl Rove asked her to try to prove the state’s Democratic governor was unfaithful to his wife in an effort to thwart the highly successful politician’s re-election."

"Rove’s attempt to smear Don Siegelman was part of a Republican campaign to ruin him that finally succeeded in imprisoning him, says the operative, Jill Simpson. Simpson speaks to Scott Pelley in her first television interview, to be broadcast on '60 MINUTES' Sunday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. ET/PT, on the CBS Television Network."

The bigger unasked question: Did the Administration frame a relatively innocent man for political purposes?

Forget the Rove connection for a minute and consider the possibility that the Administration framed an innocent man... isn't this the implied question 60 MINUTES wants to plant in your mind?

"Simpson spoke to Pelley because, she says, Siegelman’s seven-year sentence for bribery bothers her. She recalls what Rove, then President Bush’s senior political adviser, asked her to do at a 2001 meeting in this exchange from Sunday’s report."

Why bring in Rove if you have the facts leading a prudent person to believe that the convicted Siegelman was framed and should be granted a new trial?

"Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman?" asks Pelley.
"Yes," replies Simpson.
"In a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides," clarifies Pelley.
"Yes, if I could," says Simpson.
Simpson says she found no evidence of infidelity despite months of observation. She tells Pelley that Rove, who had been a top Republican strategist in Alabama, had made requests for information from her before in her capacity as an "opposition researcher" for Republicans running for office. 

So where's the beef? Opposition research, everybody does it and asking for the juiciest tidbits is a given -- even if you decide to withhold their use.

So what's the story with Siegelman?

From Wikipedia...

"Siegelman was indicted on new charges of bribery and mail fraud in connection with Richard M. Scrushy, founder and former CEO of HealthSouth. Two former Siegelman aides were charged in the indictment as well."

"In short, Siegelman was accused of trading government favors for campaign donations when he was governor from 1999 to 2003 and lieutenant governor from 1995 to 1999, and Scrushy was accused of arranging $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery in exchange for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board."

At this point, it looks like political monkey business as usual with a politician awarding a large contributor with a plum position on a regulatory board.

"On June 29, 2006, a federal jury found both Siegelman and Scrushy guilty. Siegelman was convicted on "one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, four counts of honest services mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice", according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. He was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison and a $50,000 fine."

Which seems a little excessive for an almost "non-crime." However, I personally believe that, as an investor in HealthSouth shares who lost money, Scrushy used company money to feather his own nest and would do anything to keep the company's revenue stream growing. So it is possible that there was some implied "quid pro quo" involved... especially since various regulatory boards may have been investigating HealthSouth operations.

From TheStreet.com...

"According to the Securities and Exchange Commission -- which charged the company with numerous securities violations Wednesday -- HealthSouth and its top executive intentionally overstated earnings by at least $1.4 billion in the past four years alone. In the meantime, CEO Richard M. Scrushy sold $25 million worth of HealthSouth stock -- or half his stake in the company -- just ahead of a questionable earnings warning that sent the shares plunging last August. The SEC now maintains that HealthSouth contrived the sudden earnings shortfall to bring Wall Street's expectations down to the company's real earnings potential, sparing uncomfortable officers from certifying false financial statements in the future."

Questions about the jury...

"Following the trial, [lawyers] Kilborn and McDonald raised issues regarding the jury's impartiality after receiving what purported to be emails exchanged between two jurors during the trial. In court the judge said, 'I do not want to deliberate too much about these e-mails.'"

Questions about Rove...

"In June 2007, a Republican lawyer, Dana Jill Simpson of Rainsville, Alabama, signed a sworn statement that she had heard five years ago that Karl Rove was preparing to politically neutralize Siegelman with an investigation headed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Tainted accuser?

"Simpson later backed away from her claim, telling The Birmingham News that 'Karl' could be interpreted in one of two ways. She also stated in the same interview that she had written her affidavit herself, contradicting her Congressional testimony where she had admitted to having help from a Siegelman supporter."

Politics as usual...

Now we find that anti-Administration forces, including the usual democrat suspects, tying to bring Rove down and embarrass the Administration, were also at work, perhaps, trying to gin up a controversy that weaves people, places and times into a conspiracy to illegally prosecute Siegelman. 

"On July 17, 2007, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Reps. Linda Sánchez (CA-39), Artur Davis (AL-07), and Tammy Baldwin (WI-02) sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asking him to provide documents and information about former Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman’s recent conviction, among others, that may have been part of a pattern of selective political prosecutions by a number of U.S. Attorneys across the country."

Back to Jill Simpson...

"On October 10, 2007 the House Judiciary Committee released testimony in which Simpson alleged Rove 'had spoken with the Department of Justice' about 'pursuing' Siegelman with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys and that Rob Riley had named the judge who would eventually be assigned to the case. She also claimed Rob Riley told her the judge would 'hang Don Siegelman.'"

Simpson may have perjured herself during this testimony. In any event, her motivations should be examined further.

But is this a case of "selective" prosecution based on political considerations?

We have seen the Department of Justice politicized as never before with the past few Administrations. So it is possible that this was a politically motivated prosecution. But since we do not have all of the story, have not reviewed the evidence and have not read all of the transcripts, we must leave it to the judicial system to prove to the American people that the system is not as corrupt as commonly believed and that there is American justice for one and all.

And there may be some legitimate concern...

As 60 MINUTES reports...

"In fact, 52 former states’ attorneys general from both political parties petitioned Congress to investigate Siegelman’s case, resulting in hearings held last fall."

"'I haven’t seen a case with this many red flags on it that pointed towards a real injustice being done,' Grant Woods, the former Republican attorney general of Arizona and one of those who petitioned Congress, tells Pelley. 'I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square.'" 

"Siegelman was the only politician in Alabama history to be elected to all four of the state’s highest offices of secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor and governor, and he did it as a Democrat in the heavily Republican state. "

What I believe...

From what I read during my research:

  • Siegelman was portrayed as a corrupt and dirty politician who deserved to be punished for abusing the public's trust; but the question remains whether or not Siegelman was guilty of a crime greater than the usual practice of politicians rewarding their supporters with cushy appointments. An example, President Bush nominating California Billionaire Roland E. Arnall to become the Ambassador to the Netherlands because he was a major campaign contributor; and in spite of the fact that he headed subprime lender Ameriquest Mortgage which was fined more than $325 million dollars for predatory lending practices.
  • Scrushy was a corporate slime-ball and deserved to go to jail -- but perhaps not based on this matter.
  • I believe that Leura Garrett Canary, the United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, should have recused herself from any case  involving politicians as she is married to a career Republican activist,  William (Bill) Canary, who managed  Republican Bob Riley's campaign against Siegelman. Her position in this matter should be thoroughly investigated by the Department of Justice and the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Rove, being a crackerjack political analyst and policy wonk, advised Bill Canary on campaign matters and his loose or misunderstood talk may caused all manner of speculation to run rampant. I find no cause for concern that Rove wanted opposition research as that is politics as usual. Had Rove used undue Administration influence in prosecuting anyone, I believe he should be brought to justice.
  • Using the Administration's Department of Justice for selective prosecution of individuals based on their political actions should be as abhorrent as using the IRS as an agent for political persuasion or retribution.
  • Simpson's motivations for doing the 60 MINUTES interview is unknown and should be more thoroughly explored. Perhaps she is being compensated by pro-Siegelman forces?
  • The American public should demand that the case be reviewed by new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, to determine whether or not there was any inappropriate behavior by any party to the prosecution and then turn the results of the investigation with supporting materials over to the House Judiciary Committee for their comments.

As I listened to the 60 MINUTES tease clip, I could almost picture Andy Rooney doing the story with equal parts of wit and cynicism.

What can YOU do?

Demand that the Department of Justice be de-politicized and that any wrongdoing by a public official be prosecuted by using people who are not personally involved, in any way, in the administration of justice.

Watch Scott Pelley's piece on the matter and decide for yourself. Be aware that political reportage can be slanted and is often biased. However, if you strongly believe that further action should be taken, contact your elected officials in Washington.

Vote for candidates which will restore honor and dignity to the Office of the Presidency and, by extension, bring back a measure of public trust to the government... if that is all possible.

-- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

GOP Operative: Rove Sought To Smear Dem, 60 Minutes: Woman Says Top Bush Adviser Asked Her To Take Compromising Pictures Of Alabama Gov. Siegelman - CBS News


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