Monday, July 26, 2010

It's The Cover-Up, Stupid

It was just a few days ago that the results of Federal Prosecutor Nora Dannehy's investigation into the firing of 9 U.S. Attorneys closed up shop, finding no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Not so fast.

Questions about the report were immediate. Why did Dannehy only focus on the firing of David Iglesias, and not on the fact pattern(s) pertaining to all 9 terminations? Why didn't Dannehy investigate what the other U.S. Attorney's were doing to keep their jobs in the politicized environment at Justice under Alberto Gonzalez? And why was Nora Dannehy chosen to run this probe in the first place?

The answers to these questions are not pretty.

Four days before Dannehy's appointment by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to head the DOJ probe into the allegedly politically-motivated terminations, a Federal appeals court ruled that a team of Federal prosecutors led by Dannehy suppressed evidence in a political bribery case involving Connecticut Treasurer Paul Silvester. This ruling resulted in the reversal of seven convictions against Charles B. Spadoni. Spadoni still faced a charge for obstruction of justice.

Normally, a Federal prosecutor found guilty of suppressing evidence in a political prosecution, or any prosecution, would face some sort of internal investigation. But Dannehy was instead given a high profile national assignment. A national investigation into the firing of Federal prosecutors who refused to bring politically motivated prosecutions. And an investigations into the politically motivated prosecutions being brought by the Federal prosecutors who were keeping their jobs.

Simply put, Dannehy was assigned to investigate herself. There was no way she could implicate any Federal prosecutor for their conduct in political cases without implicating herself.

And in an odd coincidence, Dannenhy's supervisor on the Spadoni case, John H. Durham, was also appointed to run a national investigation by Mukasey -- the suspected destruction of dozens of recordings of interrogations of alleged terrorists by CIA personnel. Not only is that investigation still on-going, it has been expanded by Attorney General Holder to include DOJ decision makers.

Conventional wisdom since Watergate has been that it's not the crime that gets you, it's the cover-up. So now the question becomes whether or not Dannehy's investigation, with its extremely limited focus, was itself part of a cover-up.

And there are a lot of people who want to know the answer to that question. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, who claims to have been the victim of politically motivated prosecution, wants to know the answer. Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens wants to know the answer.

And right here in New Jersey, Louis Manzo wants to know the answer. Former Assemblyman and Jersey City mayoral candidate Manzo was indicted along with 46 others in what Manzo claims was a politically motivated case aimed at bolstering the campaign of then-candidate and Federal prosecutor Chris Christie.

And I'll bet Senator Robert Menendez wants to know the answer. Then Federal prosecutor Chris Christie brought an indictment against a Bergen county anti-poverty agency with ties to Menendez that almost threw the 2006 election to Tom Keane, Jr. Menendez wants his name cleared, as the investigation is over and no charges have been brought.

So it looks like a few people are asking what Chris Christie was doing that not only kept him in his job as a Federal prosecutor under Alberto Gonzalez, but actually got Christie appointed as a member of Gonzalez' advisory panel.

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