Saturday, April 11, 2009

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From: David Swanson []
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Attorney General Eric Holder                                                April 13, 2009
Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
Thank you for taking the necessary steps to vacate the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens because of misconduct by federal prosecutors. We now ask that you quickly do the same for all Bush-era politically motivated cases, starting with Don Siegelman and Paul Minor.  Such action is necessary to restore public confidence in the rule of law and the Department of Justice ("DOJ"), and to rectify a vast and manifest injustice. You must act soon because the victims of such prosecutions are now suffering—some of them cruelly. It is unacceptable that any one of them should have to endure imprisonment, financial ruin and even loss of family while courts ponder whether trial error occurred.

It is well established that the previous DOJ was controlled by partisans who misused their authority by targeting Democrats and others with viewpoints different from their own.  As a result, people have been variously wronged, either by (1) rejection for employment at DOJ, (2) dismissal from positions there, or (3) trumped-up and/or partisan-targeted criminal prosecution. Under your leadership, the DOJ has moved toward ending such abuse. With your investigations of the hiring practices at DOJ and the US Attorney firings, you have begun to take concrete steps to deal with Points (1) and (2).  As to Point 3, however, not enough has been done.  Other than early, still-cursory DOJ investigations of problems with the prosecution of Don Siegelman and Paul Minor, your office has announced no action or intention to redress well-documented allegations of selective criminal prosecutions carried out by the Bush administration.

A preponderance of evidence demonstrates that zealous partisans in the Bush White House and DOJ played favorites with some, while targeting other enemies based on their party's ideology.  Certain politicians, such as Governor Siegelman, were seen as a threat to hoped-for Republican electoral gains, and certain jurists and attorneys, such as Oliver Diaz and Paul Minor, were also deemed dangerous to the interests of Republican allies in big business.
As Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMille recently reported, while urging the release of Paul Minor, a study by University of Missouri professors Donald Shields and John Cragan, showed that "eighty percent of the Bush DOJ's political investigations targeted Democrats -- 5.6 Democrats for every Republican investigated by U.S. attorneys for political misconduct.  Shields noted in Congressional testimony that 'such selective investigation and prosecution rates' represent a clear bias in the severely disproportionate 'political profiling' of Democrats under Bush."

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld most charges against Gov. Siegelman, with everyone involved deliberately ignoring the huge elephant in that courtroom—i.e., that post-trial revelations, deemed inadmissible by the appellate judges, pointed to serious political concoction as well as prosecutorial abuse.  The governor should not have to wait months, or years, for a court to address these issues when you have the authority to do so at once.
And then there is Paul Minor, an attorney now in federal prison for a "crime" related to the funding of Democratic candidates and causes. Minor's wife is dying of breast cancer in a hospital in Baton Rouge.  Last month, he was given a three-hour pass to spend a moment with her (under supervision), but she had no chance to talk to him, because she had been given her pain medication, and lay fast asleep throughout his visit.  Why should this man have to spend another hour away from his wife's bedside, awaiting the decision of some court, when the clear partisan motivations behind his prosecution should lead your department to withdrawing charges, just as you did in the Stevens case.

Selective prosecution based on impermissible political considerations constitutes prosecutorial misconduct at least as egregious as that found in Senator Stevens' case. We therefore ask that you immediately order the dismissal of charges against Don Siegelman and Paul Minor, and move quickly to investigate and identify other cases mounted by the Bush Administration for political advantage and, where appropriate, vacate them immediately. Only through such righteous action, which is wholly in your power, can we be sure that justice will, at last, be done, and the public's confidence in our great legal system can begin to be thoroughly restored.


Brad Friedman
David Swanson