Cracks in the Dam in the Siegelman Case | Harper's Magazine

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Cracks in the Dam in the Siegelman Case


Dana Jill Simpson, a Sand Mountain lawyer who worked on the Riley campaign, offered an affidavit that provided a series of clean explanations for what had happened in the Justice Department’s decision to prosecute Alabama’s most popular Democrat, Don Siegelman. She recounted a conversation involving one of the state’s most powerful Republicans, William Canary. He had spoken to “Karl,” the affidavit said, and “Karl” had spoken to Justice. No question as to who “Karl” was. The reference was to President Bush’s senior political advisor, and a close personal friend of William Canary, Karl Rove. The same Karl Rove now in the cross-hairs of Congressional investigations looking into his abusive manipulation of prosecutions of political figures. They were going to get Don Siegelman.

The immediate reaction of Canary and his friends was to deny that any such conversation ever took place. That position was immediately piped around Alabama in order to dismiss the Simpson affidavit. Moreover, the Birmingham News even ran a ludicrous article in which it labeled Simpson a “Siegelman advocate” and grossly misreported and distorted the underlying facts. I examined the News’s extremely curious reporting on Siegelman matters in a prior post. But there was a serious problem with the position Canary staked out. Namely, the conversation did take place, and it could be demonstrated with contemporaneous records. So, with the conspirators lying themselves into a corner, what is the next step?

That’s obvious, and we believe it is about to break. Three separate sources (one of which is inside the Birmingham News) are telling us this evening that one or more participants in the conversation have now decided to back off the unsustainable fibs they told about it. They will now stake out a new position. It will be that, yes, the conversation occurred, but Ms. Simpson obviously misunderstood what was being said. The words were completely innocent and in no way can be construed to suggest that here was some sort of effort to “get Don Siegelman.”

We’re expecting this to run in the Birmingham News, which has proudly assumed the role of official apologist to the conspirators. The News has assigned its top gun to the case, and he will be out there spinning feverishly to tell us that the affidavit says and means something other than its very plain and direct words. Most likely, the fall back position (which we understand has already been discussed with Justice Department figures in Washington) will be that Canary was merely referring to a Justice Department investigation against Siegelman that was already going on.

That, of course, would be an absurdity. As Voltaire said, if you can be persuaded to believe absurdities, it will be easy to bring you to accept injustice. And that’s exactly what’s going on here. The dam put up against the truth has sprung multiple cracks (there are several more which we will be reporting shortly), and its collapse is certain.

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