Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 10:22 pm

Attack of the evil zombie federal prosecutors

Scott Horton, who covers national-security issues for Harper’s, gave a speech Monday to a Rotary Club. Which, you know, ho-hum (no offense, Rotarians), except that 1) this group also included the American Constitution Society and 2) Horton’s the guy who recently blew the lid off the almost certainly faked triple “suicides” at Guantanamo in June 2006.

Horton’s subject was rogue federal prosecutors, the utter unwillingness of the Justice Department to police its own. He said there have been two great episodes of U.S. attorneys systemically going off the rails in significant numbers. The first was during the administration of John Adams. The second began during the administration of Bush the Lesser and, given Eric Holder’s lackluster efforts to hold anyone accountable, continues today. It consists of 1) baseless but politically motivated criminal prosecutions; 2) illegally providing cover for unconstitutional power grabs by the Executive Branch post 9/11; and 3) widespread (and illegal) withholding of exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys. Not only do federal prosecutors who engage in these crimes suffer no consequences, they frequently have been punished when they refused and/or retaliated against when they tried to blow the whistle.

Horton, unfortunately, has a number of high-profile cases from which to draw his points, and each case yields example after example of behavior that ought to cost its perpetrators their law licenses, their good names and prison time for obstruction of justice but, under our current system, does not.

In eight years on this blog, I’ve said “Go read the whole thing” exactly six times. I’m saying it now. And when you’re done, you go ahead and sit there and try to keep a straight face while you tell me that the U.S. government is based on the rule of law.

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