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General Clark Excoriates Justice Department Over Siegelman Case

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Delivering the keynote speech at the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner of the Alabama Democratic Party in Birmingham last night, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark tore into the Bush Justice Department’s prosecution of former Governor Don E. Siegelman. As reported in the Locust Fork Journal, Clark called former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman “a great American” and an “honest man” who was “unjustly confined” by a rogue Justice Department “politicized” by a corrupt Republican administration.

Clark’s remarks drew a standing ovation from a partisan crowd. He called President Bush the “worst president ever,” but reserved his sharpest comments for the Justice Department, which he described as an instrument of partisan persecution.

“We’re seeing a 20 year campaign to polarize and partisanize this country and take away the basic fundamentals that we fought so hard to put in place,” he noted. “It’s the use of executive power to put in wiretaps and other spying on the American people to take away our fundamental liberties… It’s the wholesale politicization of the Department of Justice,” he said. “It’s a stench of corruption that has run from the White House, through Jack Abramoff.”

Typically, the Birmingham News reports on the speech, but fails to report its essence.

Sources in the Justice Department have again confirmed to me that Siegelman prosecutor Louis V. Franklin was instructed to refrain from comment about the case to broadcast media. “Many of Franklin’s media comments were extremely unfortunate and violated Department guidelines,” said the source, who also indicated that the Department was troubled by Franklin’s disclosure of the opinions of individual prosecutors and his inaccurate characterization of the role played by main Justice in the process. The source noted that the Department had been approached and asked for an interview on the Siegelman case by a major network news organization, which led to the review of Franklin’s comments. “We were very disturbed by what we found,” the source said. Apparently, the Department concluded that silence in the face of media inquiries was the best policy.

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