No Comment — June 7, 2007, 10:09 am

U.S. Attorneys Scandal—Birmingham and Montgomery

There’s something dark and unseemly in the Heart of Dixie. The Assistant U.S. Attorney who handled the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman–a matter which has now moved to the front burner of the U.S. Attorneys corruption scandal–has issued a remarkably limp and unconvincing statement in reply to the articles published by the New York Times and Time Magazine at the end of last week and over the weekend. It’s a curious exercise in halfhearted negatives. He starts by quoting himself, and noting that he’s not read the attorney’s affidavit that started the whole affair–a rather amazing confession of lack of diligence, considering that the document is internet ubiquitous–and he therefore declines to respond to it. That, of course, is just where the document should have stopped. Instead it goes on to insist that “I have never spoken with or even met with Karl Rove.” And on that point–which is emerging as the “I did not have sex with that woman” of the current scandal–his statement bears the unmistakable echoes of Monica Goodling, who also had no meetings or discussions with Mr. Rove, even as she served as his principal implementer in the affair. Count me decidedly unconvinced, or rather persuaded that a careful wall of unsworn evasions and halftruths is being constructed around something very unseemly.

Another fact suggests why this unsworn statement deserves to be met with complete skepticism: in response to a FOIA request for documents focusing on the interaction of the White House with the Alabama federal prosecutors, the Department of Justice responded by a blanket refusal. Not a denial that any documents existed. A refusal to turn them over. There is a cover-up underway here, and a genuinely detached prosecutor needs to be appointed to get to the bottom of it. Starting with a careful examination of the email and other written communications concerning the matter and interviews of the two U.S. Attorneys involved, Mr. Canary and Mr. Rove.

I don’t rule out the possibility that the Assistant U.S. Attorney here is stating the truth. But even if he is, I don’t accept–particularly not in light of the gravity of the sworn accusations, presented by a Republican attorney and not yet meaningfully contradicted by any sworn denials–that this means the prosecution was not tainted by politically oriented misconduct. Mr. Rove and his team are nothing if not supremely competent bureaucratic manipulators. They know how to accomplish their mission without leaving easily gleaned evidence at the scene of the crime. Which is why skepticism and careful scrutiny are the order of the day, and simple brush-off statements like this one should be–simply bushed-off.

Time was when we could trust a federal prosecutor to act with professional detachment and avoid even the appearance of political gamesmanship. That time has clearly passed.

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 164 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2015

Black Hat, White Hat

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Beyond the Broken Window

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Search of a Stolen Fiddle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Displaced in the D.R.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quietest Place in the Universe

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“Don sucked the last of his drink through his straw and licked his lips. 'The coast, to me, is more interesting than the valley.'”
Photograph by the author
Article
Fred Morton, who died this week in Vienna, at the age of 90, was a longtime contributor to Harper's Magazine and a good friend. "Othello's Son," which was listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013, appeared in our September 2013 issue.
Photograph © Alex Gotfryd/CORBIS
Article
Beyond the Broken Window·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“By the time Bratton left the department, in 2009, Los Angeles had quietly become the most spied-on city in America.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Displaced in the D.R.·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“How is it possible that my birth certificate is invalid if I was born here?”
Photograph by Pierre Michel Jean
Article
The Quietest Place in the Universe·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Gaitskell and his colleagues are approaching the revelation of a new order, a new universe, in which even light will be known differently, and darkness as well.”
Painting by Sebastiaan Bremer

Number of African countries with vaccination rates higher than that of the United States:

16

Iowa urologists reported that only a minor portion of locker-room teasing arises from “the presence of excess foreskin”; most teasing targets small penises.

A farmer in Surrey, England, was ordered by the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council to tear down his cannon-equipped castle, which he had built secretly and then concealed behind hay bales.

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