Patterico's Pontifications

3/9/2013

Eric Holder and His DoJ Busy Lying and Covering Things Up

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:35 pm

Under questioning from Sen. John Cornyn, Eric Holder recently said that the Aaron Swartz case was a good example of prosecutorial discretion. He makes the case, in part, by lying:

Holder insisted the media had misrepresented the government’s position. “A plea offer was made to him of three months before the indictment,” Holder said. The attorney general said the government never intended for Swartz to serve more than six months in jail.

Oh yeah? That’s not what Elliot Peters, Swartz’s attorney, told me in January. While it may be the case that they offered Swartz a few months in prison, they also said they would seek a much higher sentence if they went to trial:

They told Peters that if the case went to trial and Swartz were convicted, they would seek a prison sentence of 7 to 8 years. They told Peters that they thought the judge would impose that sentence.

If John Cornyn read my blog, he would have been armed with the information necessary to take on Holder. I don’t think he was.

While Holder was busy lying to Congress, his prosecutors were busy dismissing cases that they had aggressively prosecuted in the past, making people wonder whether they hope to forestall investigations into prosecutorial misconduct. Remember that case I told you about in November, in which a federal judge excoriated New Orleans federal prosecutors for leaving anonymous comments on the local newspaper’s web site, and then lying about it?

That judge ordered DoJ to investigate the alleged improprieties, but also expressed skepticism about their willingness to do so thoroughly:

“It is difficult to imagine how this could have possibly been missed by OPR. . .”

Well, now news breaks that the case that first exposed these prosecutors’ sock puppeting is being dismissed:

River Birch landfill owner Fred Heebe, the target of a years-long federal probe into his efforts to monopolize the disposal business in southeastern Louisiana, issued a statement Friday afternoon saying that federal prosecutors had informed him he won’t be charged in the probe. On Friday morning, prosecutors dismissed charges against Dominick Fazzio, the landfill’s chief financial officer, and Mark Titus, Fazzio’s brother-in-law — both of whom investigators had hoped to turn into cooperating witnesses against Heebe.

A related article explains the relevance:

The judge has on several occasions referred to the “troubled history” of the prosecution in the case.

That history includes former prosecutors Sal Perricone and Jan Mann leaving the U.S. attorney’s office last year, after Heebe’s legal team outed them separately as the authors of numerous online posts on NOLA.com. Many of those posts made disparaging comments about federal targets.

Letten put Mann in charge of an initial probe after Perricone — whose comments were revealed first — left the office in the spring. But when Mann’s own anonymous comments were also revealed in the fall, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt issued a scathing order calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the postings and other misconduct in Letten’s office.

I have checked the docket on the case in which the order to investigate the sock puppeteering was issued (USA v. Bowen et al.), and everything appears to be under seal since November, which is more than a little frustrating when it comes to an issue of the public integrity of the DoJ. The dismissal of the River Birch case makes one wonder if the Government will apply the same sweep-it-under-the-rug tactic in the Bowen case.

We’ll be right here watching.

32 Responses to “Eric Holder and His DoJ Busy Lying and Covering Things Up”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. six months in jail for publishing a few stupid scribble scribbles?

    these fascists at america’s vaunted “justice department,” they do not prize freedom very highly

    happyfeet (4bf7c2)

  3. There seem to be quite a few “troubled prosecutions” these days, at both Federal and State levels.

    Perhaps, as Insty has suggested, some of the Sovereign Immunity enjoyed by Prosecutors (and judges) should be trimmed back a bit so they actually have some skin in this game they’re playing with us, the Great Unwashed?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  4. This isn’t the first time Eric Holder has demonstrably lied to Congress.

    As Andrew McCarthy has proven.

    Opposed to Holder without Apology The shameful pardons are disqualifying.

    Unpardonable: Holder’s Marc Rich Shuffle The AG nominee’s 1995 lawsuit refutes his claims of ignorance about the fugitive.

    Eric Holder’s intercession on behalf of fugitive Marc Rich is so inexplicable that he has always viewed ignorance as his best defense. It’s as though Holder believes that a deputy attorney general looks better for having remained studiously unaware of critical facts in a criminal case before throwing his weight around. But that’s Holder’s story, and he’s sticking to it: even if it turns out not to be true.

    Holder is President Obama’s choice to become attorney general. That means the Rich case is a big problem for him today–just as it was in 2001, when an outraged Congress demanded an explanation of the controversial affair. President Clinton had pardoned the fugitive financier on the recommendation of Holder, who was then deputy attorney general. The only feeble response Holder could muster was that he didn’t really know much about Rich’s case and that, as Justice’s number two official, he was simply too busy to learn about it.

    Clearly, the nominee has calculated that there’s something worse than championing a presidential pardon for a guy like Rich, and that’s knowingly championing such a pardon.

    …But Holder’s protestations of ignorance do not stand scrutiny. When Quinn first came to him in 1999, he knew exactly who Marc Rich was. For back in 1995, when Holder was the Clinton-appointed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, he had sued a company precisely because it was substantially controlled by Rich–a fact the company concealed in order to obtain lucrative government contracts.

    To be clear, years before the pardon scandal convinced him it was in his interest to make like he barely knew Rich’s name, Holder had bragged to the media about how his office was cracking down on Rich, an international fugitive who had duped the government out of loads of cash. Contrary to his congressional testimony that he’d never heard of Rich before 1999, Holder had unquestionably been aware of Rich’s name and history four years earlier; in fact, it was solely because of Rich that Holder extracted a $1.2 million settlement in a federal civil action.

    Is there a procedure for disbarring the entire DoJ? Since it’s headed by a serial liar and the humorously named “Office of Professional Responsibility” can’t be trusted, what are its lawyers doing in a courtroom?

    Steve57 (60a887)

  5. If Congress spent less time delegating rule-making authority to the Executive, and more time writing fewer rules/laws, and then actually did some over-sight of its minions withing the Executive, we would all be a lot better off, and they might be able to banish to the hinterlands some of the worst offenders within the Apparat.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  6. There seem to be more questionable prosecutions and prosecutors at all levels. Maybe the internet makes it easier for us to see the sausage-making and we don’t like it; or maybe the media is giving prosecutors like Holder’s DOJ a pass so the corruption really is getting worse; or maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, I know I’m troubled by what I see.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  7. Also, excellent post, Patterico.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  8. No-one is being held accountable for transgressing the limits of propriety, let alone legality.

    “What you tax you get less of;
    What you reward (or don’t punish) you get more of.”

    askeptic (2bb434)

  9. There used to be an adversarial press that exposed corruption and made it accountable.

    No more.

    Pious Agnostic (20c167)

  10. Too bad Ted Stevens is dead.

    Holder is pulling a fast one to get his KSM trial in New York after all. Elections have consequences.

    Mike K (dc6ffe)

  11. Maybe the internet makes it easier for us to see the sausage-making and we don’t like it

    DRJ, I’m positive this isn’t it.

    The problem is that we see federal prosecutors pushing the envelop of legal theories. If one successful prosecution expands their authority to criminalize behavior, then the next one will go further. They torture the language of statutes beyond any sensible meaning and if the courts let them get away with x today, tomorrow they’ll try for y and next week z.

    I believe we see it in this tug-of-war over drones. Did you notice how the issue of constitutionality never occurred to Holder until Cruz spelled it out for him? And DoJ sources are bragging to the Press that Rand Paul didn’t win anything with his filibuster because that letter he settled for doesn’t mean anything. The DoJ has its own definitions for those words on that page.

    It’s the art of creative lying on display that I believe is horrifying people, not the sausage making process.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  12. Greetings:

    Please try to remember that this is the age of the process is the punishment.

    11B40 (9df04c)

  13. Please try to remember that this is the age of the process is the punishment.

    This is true. But we should expand on it. We have entered the age of the process is the only thing that matters.

    It doesn’t matter for instance, that you didn’t do anything wrong. You are the type of person our elite believes should not be liked (George Zimmerman). Or maybe you did something that may have been justified but against a person should be liked (Trayvon Martin). You will be subjected to the process.

    Hillary! goes to Pakistan and when asked about Musharraf responds that Pakistanis must be as happy he is gone as she is Bush is gone. Bush is someone we should not like. Therefore the process of foreign policy should be directed against George Bush. The stupid reset button with Russia was part of the process. Who cares if it said “overcharge?” Who cares if the Russians think we’re idiots (as do the Pakistanis, by the way)? Results don’t matter; only process matters. The results are we are more hated and despised now globally than when Bush was President. Process reinforces the liberals sense of superiority.

    Guess which one matters to liberals.

    Taxation. Process must be directed toward punishing the rich. Liberals talk of revenue. Revenue is a result. It matters not. Mitt Romney is rich. We do not have sufficient process to prevent that. The Obama administration is working on a fix.

    Process. Process. Process.

    Four Americans are dead in Benghazi. Bad result. But results matter not. Good process, though, Susan Rice told us.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  14. Hey, good news! The kid who was trying to chew his poptart into the shape of a mountain but instead chewed it into the shape of a Rorshach test and a passing teacher saw a gun in it? The process worked.

    Who cares if the result is insane.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  15. The process, continued.

    Alleged Fort Hood Shooter Nidal Hasan Receives Promotion, Legion Of Merit Read more: http://www.duffelblog.com/2013/03/alleged-fort-hood-shooter-nidal-hasan-receives-promotion-legion-of-merit/#ixzz2N5gR51Ci Follow us: @theduffelblog on Twitter | duffelblog on Facebook

    When asked about the promotion, Major General William Hewitt, Commanding General of Human Resources Command (HRC), stated that Hasan’s personnel record was not negatively flagged by the chain of command and that by regulation the “Army had no choice but to award promotion to the service member.” When asked to elaborate about how such an oversight could occur, the general stated that the Army’s electronic human resources systems were undergoing upgrades that may have affected Hasan’s status.

    …“While not the best team player, Major Hasan has a peerless tactical mind with a demonstrated record of close quarters combat marksmanship.” Butterworth goes on to state “Major Hasan is an unparalleled asset to the Army. His capability to think like the enemy, allows him the ability to provide the military with a perspective not seen by the rest of the organization.”

    Hasan also received a Legion of Merit from his superiors at Darnell Army Medical Center at Fort Hood upon Hasan’s transfer to Fort Leavenworth. Standard practice in the Army is to award soldiers a “Permanent Change of Station” award reflecting the sum total of their contributions while at their installation. Since Hasan’s movement to Leavenworth’s maximum security facility was technically a Permanent Change of Station, he was submitted for the award as a formality. The Legion of Merit was awarded during the same ceremony as Hasan’s promotion, although the officer presenting the award was forced to move Hasan’s beard to one side to affix it to his uniform.

    The award now hangs inside Hasan’s cell, below a framed letter from Osama Bin Laden, congratulating Hasan on the “successful slaughter of dozens of infidels.”

    That’s supposed to be a parody.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  16. did someone say “Over Regulation”?

    we have pretty much perfected it here in Failifornia…

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  17. What Schwartz did was wrong, but as compared to this
    entity, or AIG, Countrywide, et al

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/13/politics/holder-hsbc/

    narciso (3fec35)

  18. Steve57 … uh, which part is the parody? ;-)

    SPQR (768505)

  19. the award, just this end of absurdity,

    narciso (3fec35)

  20. Comment by Steve57 (60a887) — 3/9/2013 @ 4:07 pm

    In today’s Army, it’s hard to tell the difference between parody, and reality.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  21. When Army Chief of Staff Casey, said he hoped the Hasan incident, didn’t interfere with the diversity in the Army, we slipped through a wormhole,

    narciso (3fec35)

  22. While we’re at it with Holder, he is trying to deport a family back to germany that was previously grtanted asylum:
    http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/02/doj-seeks-deportation-of-family-persecuted-in-germany-for-homeschooling/

    Homeschooling in Germany is essentially outlawed by nazi-era laws that wanted to make sure all of the children had state-sponsered indoctrination. I guess in Holder’s world parents have little right in determining the education of their children.

    And what’s this about sneaking in OBL’s son-in-law into the US for criminal prosecution?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  23. Patterico, you’re a prosecutor. When proffering a plea bargain, do you have a carrot and stick? The threat of a higher sentence at trial is the incentive to accept the proffer, right? Does that mean the prosecution wants the defendant to serve the longer sentence?

    Swartz was no martyr to civil liberties. He broke the law consciously, deliberately, repeatedly, massively. When he found out that contrary to his expectations, “good intentions” and “civil disobedience” were not a get-out-of-jail-free card, he (a clearly unstable personality) broke down.

    That wasn’t DoJ’s fault, or Holder’s.

    Rich Rostrom (47c4e2)

  24. the fascist DOJ stormtroopers have very silly ideas about how to prioritize limited resources

    but I don’t think they really care so maybe it’s not fair to hold them to that sort of standard

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  25. most of them are ivy league trash of one flavor or the other

    they’re very homogeneous – you know – like aryans

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  26. The worship of process is part of it; the part that’s dismaying the public is that as more and more of them are processed by The Harrow, they’ve noticed that their friends and family — as well as The Enemy — are being subjected to it.

    htom (412a17)

  27. Government abusing its power? Who knew?

    Rodney King's Spirit (951136)

  28. Rostrum, you actually exaggerate Shwartz’s actual criminal acts with the “massively” rhetoric. And now that we have pretty good evidence that his prosecution was a political act, your comment remains misaimed at best.

    SPQR (b12eb9)

  29. > The attorney general said the government never intended for Swartz to serve more than six months in jail.

    > They told Peters that if the case went to trial and Swartz were convicted, they would seek a prison sentence of 7 to 8 years. They told Peters that they thought the judge would impose that sentence.

    I don’t think it follows from the second statement that the first statement is a lie.

    I think it’s entirely possible that they never intended for Swartz to serve more than six months … but that they *did* intend to use the *threat* of serving longer terms to pressure Swartz into pleading guilty.

    aphrael (4fdd37)

  30. aphrael, I realize this administration is chock full of the the world’s worst poker players. The kind of people who will completely undercut the deterrent value of an aircraft carrier by first sending the Mullah’s a love letter telling them not to worry about it as they’d never use it under any circumstances.

    They told Peters that if the case went to trial and Swartz were convicted, they would seek a prison sentence of 7 to 8 years. They told Peters that they thought the judge would impose that sentence.

    In poker terms, the above would have to have been a bluff for your formulation to be true. If the government was bluffing, then it’s possible to say they never intended Swartz to serve more than a few months. They really didn’t think the judge would impose 7-8 years. But they were bluffing.

    If it was a threat, and they did think they could convince a judge to hand down a 7-8 year sentence, the it’s not possible to say they never intended Swartz to serve more than a few months. They certainly did intend that, under certain circumstances. And they laid out those circumstances to his attorney.

    There is a difference between a bluff and a threat. One you intend to make good on.

    It is not rational to say the government only intended to use the threat to get Swartz to plead guilty but never intended to lock him up for a few months, because if it was a threat and not a bluff then they intended to send him to prison for years if he didn’t plead guilty.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  31. Swartz’s attorneys allege prosecutorial misconduct

    DRJ (a83b8b)


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