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Archive for January, 2009

Holder Strategy Becomes Clear as His Senate Confirmation Hearing Begins

Eric Holdler/msnbc
Eric Holder/msnbc

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Yes, Eric H. Holder Jr. messed up, Yes he intends to be an INDEPENDENT  Attorney General, and Yes Yes Yes, the Marc Rich pardon was a BIG  BIG mistake, and Yes he would have done things differently now.
With his family and former FBI director Louis Freeh sitting behind him, Holder gave a brief speech as his Senate confirmation hearing began Thursday morning.
In all, the strategy of Holder and his supporters became quite evident at the onset: Emphasize his competence and integrity and admit that he made mistakes in the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich when he was deputy Attorney General under President Clinton.
Former Sen. John Warner,  a well respected senator,  did just that, testifying this morning in favor Holder’s confirmation. He praised Holder, but said:
“Mr. Chairman, Eric Holder would be the first to say  that his career was marked by certain  misjudgments. He freely acknowledges that….but the key to this man is that he learned from those experiences. He learned in such a way that those misjudgments will not be repeated.”
Then Holder himself talked about Marc Rich and told the committee:
“I’ve accepted the responsibility of making those  mistakes. I never tried to hide, I never tried to blame anybody else.” He said he should have kept prosecutors on the case informed of what was going  on.
“I should have not spoken to the White House and expressed an opinion without knowing all of the facts in regards to that matter.”,
“I learned from that experience..I will be a better attorney general should I be confirmed, having had the Marc Rich experience.”
Sen. Arlen Specter, one of his more vocal critics in recent weeks, asked some tough questions about Rich.
But so far, it’s likely the mea culpa strategy coupled by emphasis on competence and integrity is likely to work.

Latest Bomb in Stevens Case: Judge Accuses Government of Misleading Him and Orders Atty. Gen. Mukasey to Sign Declaration Under Oath and Turn Over Documents

By Allan Lengel
tickethwire.com

In the latest explosive turn, the federal judge in the former Sen. Ted Stevens trial on Wednesday accused the government of misleading him about an FBI agent who filed a complaint about government misconduct in the case.
U.S District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan , in court papers filed Wednesday in Washington, essentially accused the government of misleading him about the “whistle blower status” of the agent Chad Joy, to prevent or limit the agent’s complaints from being made public and to keep his identity under wraps as long as possible.
Sullivan  (in photo) ordered Atty. General Michael Mukasey to turn over by Friday all relevant documents pertaining to Joy’s whistleblower status.
Stevens was convicted in October, but has asked for a new trial or that the case be dismissed based on allegations of government misconduct.
Agent Chad Joy’s name was first revealed Wednesday.  An investigator in the case, he has alleged government misconduct and has accused the lead FBI investigator Mary  Beth Kepner of having inappropriate relations with witnesses, using a source to help her husband get a job, leaking information about the case, accepting gifts from sources, meeting a government witness in her D.C. hotel room and disclosing to that witness the name of someone who testified before the grand jury.
According to the judge’s court papers, on Dec. 11, the government filed a motion to seal a “self-styled whistleblower” complaint it had received agent Chad Joy in the Stevens case. The defense soon objected to the document being sealed.
The government countered, arguing “strenuously” that the FBI agent’s complaint should not be made public based on the agent’s whistleblower status and privacy considerations. Such status gives government employees certain protections when they come forward with information about wrongdoing.

Read more »

More Details of Allegations of FBI Misconduct Come Out in Stevens Case

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens/official photo

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens/official photo

The case is only getting uglier. Whether the prosecution can survive all the allegations and maintain the conviction is a big question mark.  At minimum, a new trial could be in the making. But who knows.

By ERIKA BOLSTAD
Anchorage Daily News
WASHINGTON — One of the FBI agents assigned to investigate corruption in Alaska politics has accused the lead agent in the probe of unethical behavior, including leaking information about the inner workings of the agency to outsiders and seeking a job for her husband from people who were sources that led to the conviction in October of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.
The allegations against FBI Special Agent Mary Beth Kepner were first introduced last month, when Special Agent Chad Joy’s whistleblower complaint surfaced as part of Stevens’ appeal. Until Wednesday, however, much of Joy’s complaint was blacked out, leaving people to speculate about the identity of the whistleblower and the Justice Department co-workers he had accused of wrongdoing.
Joy also remained unnamed until Wednesday, when U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan held a court hearing to decide whether to allow the public to see additional blacked-out sections of the eight-page document. Joy, who began working for the FBI in 2003, was assigned to the public corruption probe soon after arriving at the Anchorage office in January 2004.
In his complaint, Joy largely focuses on Kepner’s relationship with her sources in the investigation. One of those sources, which is still redacted, “gave Kepner’s husband his current job as a security guard at the Port of Anchorage,” Joy wrote. Joy also accuses her of accepting artwork of her dog painted by the wife of another source, also unnamed, as well as house-hunting help when she moved from Juneau to Anchorage.
For Full Story

Read Latest Version of FBI Agent’s Allegations

Intelligence Report Finds No Credible Threats At Fla. Super Bowl

There are few sure things in life. Nonetheless, it sounds like super news about the Super Bowl. Let’s hope it holds true. Want a sure thing: Don’t bet on the 0-16 Detroit Lions doing much better next year.

By EILEEN SULLIVAN and MITCH STACY
Associated Press Writers
TAMPA, Fla. — A U.S. intelligence report says there is no credible threat of terrorist attacks at the Feb. 1 Super Bowl, but police said Wednesday that visitors should still expect the type of heavy security typical of every Super Bowl since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
While no specific threat was identified, a joint FBI and Homeland Security intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press cautions that Raymond James Stadium, the Super Bowl site, does not have the typical security features of permanently secure buildings, such as jails or military bases.
However, the report noted, “the visible presence of hundreds of well-equipped security officers, standoff barriers and other security measures likely will serve as deterrents to attack.”

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Prosecution Fails for Second Time to Put Madoff in Jail (Wall Street Journal)

Columnist Thinks Bush Should Pardon Scooter Libby

Scooter Libby/msnbc photo

Scooter Libby/msnbc photo

By Clarice Feldman
American Thinker

If the President hasn’t already pardoned Lewis (Scooter) Libby, I beg him to reconsider and do so, for Libby is an innocent man.
Most of what people believe about the Scooter Libby case was proven wrong at trial. Many wrongly believe: 1) Libby leaked the CIA employment of Valerie Plame; and 2) he then lied to cover his leaking.
But Libby was acquitted of the only charge before the jury that he leaked her identity to reporters and lied about it. In fact, the evidence at trial showed Libby did not disclose Plame’s identity to reporters Robert Novak (Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and CIA spokesman Bill Harlow did that), or Bob Woodward (Armitage, again), Walter Pincus (White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer did) or Matt Cooper (Karl Rove did that one).
For Full Column

Editor’s Note: Feldman, a D.C. attorney,  also wrote ticklethewire.com on Wednesday to dispute Scott Horton’s column below. She said: “Libby had nothing to do with Rich’s pardon. Years before he’d advised Rich on a tax matter. Period.”

Thank Goodness for Holder The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is On His Side

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com

You know Eric Holder Jr. would have really been in big trouble if the Boys & Girls Clubs of America had opposed his confirmation for Attorney general.
Though it’s hardly a big deal– it would have been if it opposed him — the club has written the Senate Judiciary and praised Holder’s nomination.
In a letter dated Jan. 12, the group’s president and chief executive Roxanne Spillett, wrote:
“It is with great pride that, on behalf of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), I send this letter in support of Mr. Eric Holder on his nomination as Attorney General of the United States. Mr. Holder understands the value of working in the community as a tool to help prevent and reduce crime in some of the most distressed cities and neighborhoods in this country. He has a proven track record of doing so throughout his career, especially as it relates to his work with BGCA.Boys & Girls Clubs of America has enjoyed a strong partnership with Congress and the Department of Justice for a number of years. We provide programs and services for thousands of young people in some of the most distressed
communities.”
Now if he can only round up the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.

Read Complete Letter

Ex-State Dept. Worker Pleads To Illegally Accessing Passport Applications of Celebrities

By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com

A former State Department employee pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington to illegally accessing passport applications of more than 150 celebrities, actors, musicians, comedians, models, politicians, athletes and media members out of “idle curiosity”, the Justice Department said.
Dwayne F. Cross, 41, of Upper Marlboro, Md., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola to one count of unauthorized computer access, the Justice Department said. Sentencing is set for March 23. Last fall, another State Department employee pleaded guilty to the same offense.
Cross was an administrative Assistant in the Diplomatic Security Abduction Unit, Counter Intelligence at the State Department. In March 2008, he returned as a contract employee for the acquisition office.
According to plea agreement, Cross said he had access to State Department computer data bases including the Passport Information Electronic Records System (PIERS), which contains applications dating back to 1994, the Justice Department said.
The PIERS system includes a photograph of the passport applicant as well as certain personal information: the applicant’s full name, date and place of birth, current address, telephone numbers, parent information, spouse’s name and emergency contact information, the Justice Department said. The confidential files are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and are only available for official government business..
In pleading guilty, Cross admitted that between January 2002 and August 2007, he looked ” at passport applications of more than 150 celebrities, actors, musicians, comedians, models, politicians, athletes, members of the media, family members, friends, associates and others”, the Justice Department said.

Read Government’s Statement of Facts

Who Will Bush Pardon at Last Moment?

You just know President Bush will pardon some big names just before he exits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The question now is simply Who?

By Scott Horton
The American Lawyer

For George Washington there was an obvious time for potentially controversial pardons, and that was the day he left office. Washington pardoned the instigators of the Whiskey Rebellion as his last official act. He had good reason to keep a low profile. The Federalists hated the decision. They thought it would fuel uprisings by moonshine-swilling frontiersmen-and they were right.
The tradition of controversial pardons has continued ever since. Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon remains the benchmark, but George H.W. Bush’s pardon of 75 people caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal and Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive billionaire and presidential library supporter Marc Rich register high on the scale.
Ironically, the Rich pardon was engineered by two people very much in the news. One is Scooter Libby, who was a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Dechert at the time. Libby, of course, was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury in the Valerie Plame affair. His sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush; he is now seeking an extension of that commutation to a full-blown pardon.
The other is Attorney General-designate Eric Holder Jr., who served as deputy attorney general in the last days of the Clinton presidency and pushed the Rich pardon. Holder antici­pates embarrassing questioning on the pardon issue when his nomination comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but at present it doesn’t look like a show-stopper.
For Full Story