Thursday, April 19, 2007

The U.S. attorneys scandal continues

Salon has another article about the U.S. attorneys scandal, in which they explains that there were other reasons for the firing than prosecution against Republicans/lack of prosecution against Democrats.

The U.S. attorneys scandal gets dirty

As Congress prepares to grill Alberto Gonzales, Salon has uncovered another partisan issue connected to the mass firings: Pornography.

How so, you might ask? Well, some of the fired attorneys refused to move ressources from other cases (like prosecutions of corrupt politicans) to obscenity cases, often doubtful ones.

Two of the fired U.S. attorneys, Dan Bogden of Nevada and Paul Charlton of Arizona, were pressured by a top Justice Department official last fall to commit resources to adult obscenity cases, even though both of their offices faced serious shortages of manpower. Each of them warned top officials that pursuing the obscenity cases would force them to pull prosecutors away from other significant criminal investigations. In Nevada, ongoing cases included gang violence and racketeering, corporate healthcare fraud, and the prosecution of a Republican official on corruption charges. In Arizona, they included multiple investigations of child exploitation, including "traveler" cases in which pedophiles arrive from elsewhere to meet children they've targeted online.

The U.S. attorneys' doubts about prioritizing obscenity cases drew the ire of Brent Ward, the director of the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in Washington, who went on to tell top Justice Department officials that the two were insubordinate over the issue. But the obscenity case that Ward pressured Bogden to pursue was "woefully deficient" according to a former senior law enforcement official who spoke to Salon last month. And Charlton's office was in fact on the leading edge of adult obscenity prosecutions, including a recent case aimed at stopping pornography distributed via SPAM e-mail.

According to Bogden, his office was short eight of its allotted 45 criminal prosecutors when Ward paid a visit last September to present the porn case he wanted handled in Nevada.

"I would have had to take someone else off another criminal case to put them on it," Bogden said in a recent phone interview. At the time, the Nevada U.S. attorney's office was maxed out with several high-profile prosecutions. A public corruption trial was just beginning against Lance Malone, a Republican county commissioner accused of accepting bribes and violating the RICO act. (Several of his fellow commissioners, all Democrats, had already plea-bargained or been convicted.) A major case was under way against corporate officials for Medicare fraud and kickbacks to doctors totaling $22 million. Less than two weeks after Ward's visit, multiple trials were set to begin involving more than 40 members of the Hell's Angels for a violent confrontation with a rival gang inside a Harrah's Casino, using firearms, knives, hammers and wrenches, that had resulted in three deaths.

I might be weird, but those cases sounds somewhat more important than an adult obsenity case - especially a thin one.

I can't decide if I believe that the Bush adminsitration actually holds adult obsenity to be such an important issue (the fact that Gonzales is involved, could argue for that position), or if they used it as an attempt to draw ressources from the prosecution of their allies. Given the crowd involved, it could be both.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

August 09, 2010 12:44 PM  

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