It Does Happen In America—The Political Trial of Don Siegelman

Don
Siegelman, a popular Democratic governor of Alabama, a
Republican state, was framed in a crooked trial,
convicted on June 29, 2006, and sent to Federal prison
by the corrupt and immoral Bush administration.

The
frame-up of Siegelman and businessman Richard Scrushy is
so crystal clear and blatant that 52 former state
attorney generals from across America, both Republicans
and Democrats, have urged the US Congress to investigate
the Bush administration`s use of the US Department of
Justice to rid themselves of a Democratic governor who
"they could not beat fair and square," according
to Grant Woods, former Republican Attorney General of
Arizona and co-chair of the McCain for President
leadership committee. Woods says that he has never seen
a case with so "many red flags pointing to
injustice." [
A
Republican former AG says Gov. Don Siegelman`s case
raised red flags
,
Birmingham News,
February 25, 2008]

The
abuse of American justice by the Bush administration in
order to ruin Siegelman is so crystal clear that even
the corporate media organization CBS allowed

"60 Minutes"
 to broadcast on February 24, 2008,
a damning indictment of the railroading of Siegelman.
Extremely coincidental "technical difficulties"
caused WHNT, the CBS station covering the populous
northern third of Alabama, to go black during the
broadcast. The station initially offered a

lame excuse of network difficulties
that CBS in New
York denied. The Republican-owned print media in Alabama
seemed to have the inside track on every aspect of the
prosecution`s case against Siegelman. You just have to
look at their editorials and articles following the 60
Minutes broadcast to get a taste of what counts for
"objective journalism"
in their mind.

The
injustice done by the US Department of Justice (sic) to
Siegelman is so crystal clear that a participant in Karl
Rove`s plan to destroy Siegelman can`t live with her
conscience. Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer who did
opposition research for Rove, testified under oath to
the House Judiciary Committee and went public on "60
Minutes."
Simpson said she was told by Bill Canary,
the most important GOP campaign advisor in Alabama, that
"my girls can take care of Siegelman."

Canary`s "girls" are two US Attorneys in Alabama,
both appointed by President Bush. One is Bill Canary`s
wife, Leura Canary. The other is Alice Martin. According
to Harper`s Scott Horton, a law professor at Columbia
University, Martin is known for abusive prosecutions.

What
was the "crime" for which Siegelman and Scrushy
were convicted? Scrushy made a contribution to the
Alabama Education Foundation, a not-for-profit
organization set up to push for a lottery to benefit
secondary education in Alabama, to retire debt
associated with the Alabama education lottery proposal.
Scrushy was a member of Alabama`s Certificate of Need
board, a nonpaid group that oversaw hospital expansion.
Scrushy had been a member of the board through the terms
of the prior three governors, and Siegelman asked him to
serve another term.

Federal prosecutors claimed that Scrushy`s contribution
was a bribe to Siegelman in exchange for being appointed
to the Certificate of Need board. In the words of
federal prosecutor Stephen Feaga, the contribution was
"given in exchange for a promise for an official
act."

Feaga`s statement is absolute nonsense. It is well known
that Scrushy had served on the board for years, felt he
had done his duty, and wanted off the board. It was
Siegelman who convinced Scrushy to remain on the board.
Moreover, Scrushy gave no money to Siegelman. The money
went to a foundation.

As a
large number of attorneys have pointed out, every US
president appoints his ambassadors and cabinet members
from people who have donated to his campaign. Under the
reasoning applied in the Siegelman case, a large number
of living former presidents, cabinet members and
ambassadors should be in federal prison—not to mention
the present incumbents.

How in
the world did a jury convict two men of a non-crime?

The
answer is that the US Attorney used Governor Siegelman`s
indicted young assistant, Nick Bailey, to create the
impression among some of the jurors that "something
must have happened."
Unbeknownst to Siegelman,
Bailey was extorting money or accepting bribes from
Alabama businessmen in exchange for state business.
Bailey was caught. Presented with threats of a long
sentence, Bailey agreed to testify falsely that
Siegelman came out of a meeting with Scrushy and showed
Bailey a $250,000 check he had accepted in exchange for
appointing Scrushy to the Certificate of Need board.
Prosecutors knew that Bailey`s testimony was false, not
only because, according to Bailey himself, they had
Bailey rewrite his testimony many times and rehearsed
him until he had it down pat, but also because they had
the check. The records show that the check, written to a
charitable organization, was cut days after the meeting
from which Siegelman allegedly emerged with check in
hand.

It is
a crime for prosecutors to withhold exculpatory
evidence. The Washington Post

reported on February 26
that Siegelman`s attorneys
have called for a special prosecutor after CBS quoted
prosecution witness Bailey "as saying prosecutors met
with him about 70 times. He said they had him regularly
write out his testimony because they were frustrated
with his recollection of events. The written notes, if
they existed, could have damaged the credibility of
Bailey`s story, but no such notes were turned over to
the defense, as would have been required by law."

In
video documentaries available online, Bailey`s friend,
Amy Methvin, says that Bailey told her that he was going
to parrot the prosecutors` line, "pay for play,"
"quid pro quo." Methvin says Bailey went into a
speech about money exchanged for favors. "You sound
like a robot,"
Methvin told him. "You would have
it memorized, too, if you had heard the answers as many
times as I have heard the answers,"
Bailey replied.

The
prosecutors also had help from some jurors. On a WOTM
Special Report hosted by former US Attorney Raymond
Johnson, Alabama lawyer Julian McPhillips produced
emails from two jurors about influencing other jurors in
order to achieve a conviction. Jurors are not supposed
to discuss a case outside the court or to consider
information other than what is presented in court and
allowed by the judge. The outside communication among
the jurors is sufficient to declare a mistrial.

However, Federal District Judge, Mark Fuller, a George
W. Bush appointee, ignored the tainted jury. Fuller`s
handling of the case suspiciously favored the
prosecution. He bore a strong grudge against Siegelman.
Fuller had been an Alabama district attorney before Bush
made him a federal judge. Fuller`s successor as district
attorney was appointed by Siegelman and produced
evidence that suggested that Fuller had connived with
his former senior assistant in a "pension spiking"
scheme, which some viewed as a fraud or attempted fraud
against the state retirement system.

Despite his known animosity toward Siegelman, Fuller
refused to recuse himself from Siegelman`s trial.
According to the WOTM Special Report, Fuller owns a
company that was receiving federal money during
Siegelman`s trial. Fuller did not disclose this conflict
of interest. The charges raised by 60 Minutes cast the
trial as Karl Rove`s effort to rid the Republicans of
the candidate they could not beat. The strange conduct
of the presiding Republican judge, who had recently
become a rich man as the company he owned was awarded a
mass of discretionary federal contracts, only raises
more very troubling questions.

The
Justice Department`s answer to the accusation that it
framed Siegelman is that Siegelman was indicted by
career prosecutors and convicted in a fair trial by a
jury of his peers. These claims are no more truthful
than anything else the DOJ says. Horton reports that
career prosecutors advised against the case, concluded
it was a political vendetta and walked away from it.
Canary`s "girls" were "flailing about trying
to find loyal troopers who would shut up and do what is
expected of them,"
a category into which Scott
Horton says Louis Franklin and his deputy Stephen Feaga
fell. The jurors were presented with what Bailey`s and
Methvin`s testimony indicates to be Bailey`s perjury
suborned by the US Attorney`s office and misled about
what the testimony actually meant.

Horton
says the case was "pressed forward with brute
political force."
According to Horton, Leura Canary
refused to recuse herself despite her obvious conflict
of interest. After she was forced to recuse herself, she
continued to control the case from her office. In
Horton`s words: "Her husband was managing the
campaign against Siegelman and leaks from the
investigation were emanating from someone at his
address. But beyond this, her husband, Bill Canary, had
a long, well established, close working relationship
with Karl Rove covering work he did in Washington and
Alabama over a period of more than 17 years. Leura and
Billy Canary were close friends of, and socialized with,
Karl Rove." [
Career
Prosecutors Opposed Siegelman Case
, Harpers,

October 29, 2007]

On his

Bush League Justice
program, MSNBC`s Dan Abrams

reported
that a Republican attorney said under oath
that "key Republicans on [Republican candidate
for governor Bob] Riley`s team discussed talking to
Karl Rove about the case, quoting one of them who said,
"Not to worry, that he had already gotten it worked out
with Karl, and Karl had spoken to the Department of
Justice.`"

The
Bush Justice Department first went after Siegelman
during his 2002 reelection campaign. When Siegelman was
first elected in 1998, the Republican Alabama Attorney
General, William Pryor, began investigating Siegelman.
There was nothing to investigate, but his
"investigation"
was the entry for Leura Canary, who
federalized the "investigation." Politically
motivated leaks from the "investigation" were
used in an effort to defeat Siegelman`s reelection.

It
almost worked, but Siegelman narrowly won.

Unable
to defeat Siegelman even with leaks from a phony
investigation designed to smear him, the Republicans
decided to steal the election. After all districts had
reported the vote count, Siegelman thanked the voters
for reelecting him and went to bed. During the night the
Republicans, with no Democratic voting officials
present,
"recounted" the ballots in Baldwin County.

Six thousand Siegelman votes that had been reported
disappeared in the recount. The next morning Republican
Bob Riley declared himself the winner.

The
theft was so hastily arranged that the thieves forgot to
change any of the other vote outcomes on the ballots.
All other races had the same totals as originally
reported, a statistical impossibility had there actually
been a computer glitch as the election thieves claimed.

The
Republican attorney general Pryor refused a recount. The
Bush Justice Department and Republican federal judges
looked the other way, as did the Republican propaganda
sheets that masquerade as news media in Alabama.

President Bush rewarded William Pryor for his service by
making him a federal judge in a recess appointment as he
could not be confirmed by the US Senate.

According to MSNBC and other reports, a prosecution
witness against Siegelman also made charges against
Pryor and US Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL), but neither
of the Republicans were investigated.

The
case against Siegelman was drawn out in the media for
two more years in the hopes of smearing him forever.
When Leura Canary`s false case was finally brought to
court, Federal District Judge U.W. Clemon threw it out
of court. Clemon cited an assistant US Attorney and an
assistant state attorney general for contempt of court.
All charges against Siegelman and his co-defendants were
dropped on October 5, 2004.

Vindicated, Siegelman began his campaign for recovering
the governorship in 2006. The word came from Washington
to

"take another look at the case,"
a phrase that
could well be understood as "get Siegelman at all
costs."
Siegelman was indicted a second time on
October 26, 2005, costing him the Democratic primary.
The jury twice deadlocked and was twice sent back by
Siegelman`s adversary, Judge Fuller. With charges of
jury-tampering in the air, Siegelman was acquitted of 25
counts and

found guilty of "pay for play."
Judge Fuller
had Siegelman handcuffed and manacled and immediately
whisked off to prison for a seven-year sentence.
Normally a non-dangerous person is left at liberty while
the case is being appealed.

The
Siegelman case makes it clear exactly what Bush, Rove,
and the disgraced Bush flunky Alberto Gonzales intended
by firing the eight Republican US Attorneys. These eight
refused to politicize their office by falsely
prosecuting Democrats in order to achieve a Rovian
political agenda. Apparently, there were only eight
honest persons among the 1,200 Republican US Attorneys.
Bush, Rove, and Gonzales had no problem with the other
1,192. Professors Donald Shields and John Cragan report
that the Bush Justice Department has investigated seven
times more Democratic than Republican officials.

Former
Alabama Supreme Court Justice Terry Butts said that
justice in America today is about political agendas,
"not about convicting real criminals."
Butts said
that Siegelman`s attorneys and allies expect reprisals
from the US Attorney`s office and Alabama`s Republican
establishment.

Siegelman has been in prison for over a year. His appeal
cannot move forward, because Judge Fuller`s court has
not produced a transcript of the trial needed for
appeal. In other words, Republicans are preventing
Siegelman from being released on appeal by a higher
court.

Karl
Rove refused to testify about the case before Congress.

On
February 25, 2008, Fox "News" gave Karl Rove
airtime in which to deny the accusations and evidence
against him, which he did.

The
Department of Justice refuses to release Siegelman trial
documents to Congress. It won`t even let Congress see
what Leura Canary had to say to her bosses about the
ethics challenges brought against her, which they swept
under the carpet.

Siegelman`s family home was broken into.

Siegelman`s attorney`s office was broken into and
ransacked.

Jill
Simpson`s house had a mysterious "electrical fire"
and her car was run off the road.

Is a
justice system that functions in this way worthy of
respect? Can we believe any convictions obtained by
federal prosecutors?


Author`s note:

Scott Horton, Harper`s Online, has reported extensively
and courageously on the frame-up of Don Siegelman. Raw
Story has a multi-part report by Larisa Alexandrovna and
Muriel Kane. The "60 Minutes" broadcast is
available from YouTube as is the WOTM Special Report.
YouTube also has a multi-part documentary on Richard
Scrushy. Brad Blog provides good coverage including a
MSNBC broadcast on the Siegelman prosecution which
traces it back to Karl Rove. Ernest Partridge`s Online
Journal account provides additional information
including the study by Professors Donald Shields and
John Cragan. See also Glynn Wilson at

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071105/wilson.

More information is available online for interested
readers.

Paul Craig Roberts [email
him
] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan`s
first term.  He was Associate Editor of the
Wall
Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic
appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair,
Center for Strategic and International Studies,
Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow,
Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded
the Legion of Honor by French President Francois
Mitterrand. He is the author of


Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
;
 Alienation
and the Soviet Economy
and

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
,
and is the co-author
with Lawrence M. Stratton of


The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

here
for Peter
Brimelow`s
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.