No Comment — June 5, 2007, 7:57 am

U.S. Attorney’s Scandal—Birmingham and Montgomery

The evidence of corruption and misconduct in the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Montgomery and Birmingham related to the prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman continues to mount. Now Time Magazine joins the New York Times in characterizing the case as politically manipulated from the start; it fingers Karl Rove as the man pulling the prosecutors’ wires:

In the rough and tumble of Alabama politics, the scramble for power is often a blood sport. At the moment, the state’s former Democratic governor, Don Siegelman, stands convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges and faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Siegelman has long claimed that his prosecution was driven by politically motivated, Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys.

Now Karl Rove, the President’s top political strategist, has been implicated in the controversy. A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove “had spoken with the Department of Justice” about “pursuing” Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama’s U.S. attorneys.

That’s a reference to Leura Canary and Alice Martin, the U.S. Attorneys in Montgomery and Birmingham, both known for their ferocious partisan engagement. And the affiant who provided the statement in question is a life-long Republican lawyer, close to the campaign of the Republican who ultimately unseated Siegelman. The affidavit quoted William Canary – one of the movers and shakers of the Republican Party in Alabama, and a close friend of Karl Rove – as saying that “his girls would take care of” Governor Siegelman, clearing the way for the Republicans to retake the Montgomery statehouse. Moreover, the moves against Siegelman came just after polling suggested that he would defeat his likely rival, and ultimate successor, Republican Bob Riley. In the election, Riley won a paper thin victory, and loudly hyped corruption accusations coming from the U.S. Attorney’s office, apparently acting with the aide and encouragement of Karl Rove, probably played the decisive role in his success. If the accusations prove true, and they certainly have all the markings of truth, the Justice Department was improperly manipulated in order to influence a key political contest.

The two U.S. Attorneys involved offer no meaningful rebuttal to the accusations – with Martin stating lamely and incredibly that the case was handled by assistants in her office. Obviously a special prosecutor should be appointed to examine the dealings of both Canary and Martin, as well as others involved in this extremely unseemly prosecution.

As Time’s Jay Carney notes in a separate piece, these disclosures now put the two Alabama districts front and center in the spreading U.S. Attorneys scandal. They provide one of the most convincing cases yet for coarse political manipulation of the prosecutorial functions.

Siegelman was convicted in June, but the accusations against him and the record in his trial are amazingly thin and look contrived. There were also serious allegations of jury misconduct which the judge handling the case – a Republican and a Bush appointee – swept aside. The case, from beginning to end, looks like a partisan political lynching.

It’s not unusual for a political figure facing indictment to cry “politics.” On occasion, however, these cries turn out to be true. And in the age of Gonzales and Bush these occasions are turning out to be alarmingly frequent.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

New Books

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Measure for Measure

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“The campaign music stopped. Hundreds of people, their faces now warped by the dread of a third bomb, began running for cover.”
Photograph © Guy Martin/Panos.
Article
Part Neither, Part Both·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Eight months pregnant I told an old woman sitting beside me on the bus that the egg that hatched my baby came from my wife’s ovaries. I didn’t know how the old woman would take it; one can never know. She was delighted: That’s like a fairy tale!”
Mother with Children, by Gustav Klimt © akg-images
Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer

Ratio of money spent by Britons on prostitution to that spent on hairdressing:

1:1

A German scientist was testing an anti-stupidity pill.

A Twitter spokesperson conceded that a “Frat House”–themed office party “was in poor taste at best.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today