The Clinton 'wall' at the Justice Department
By Frank Salvato
"After a thorough reading of the report it would not be unreasonable to conclude as I have that there was a cover-up at high levels of our government and, it appears to have been substantial and coordinated...The question is why? And that question regrettably will go unanswered. Unlike some other cover-ups, this one succeeded." – Independent Counsel David M. Barrett on the censoring of The Barrett Report.
If you have been experiencing a sneaking suspicion that there is a lot of one-sided interest where investigations into political malfeasance are concerned at the US Justice Department, you're not alone. From the aggressive prosecution of ‘Scooter' Libby for having a bad memory to the powder-puff prosecution of Sandy Berger for stealing and then destroying unique documents related to terrorism and 9/11 from the National Archive, it seems that the catalyst for a thorough investigation – at least where politicians are concerned – is directly influenced by which political party the alleged offender belongs to.
Much to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's dismay, the "culture of corruption" is an equal opportunity enticement. For every Duke Cunningham there is a William Jefferson and for every one Tom Delay who resigns from office there are two Diane Feinsteins who refuse to do so. Point being, a good many politicians walk a fine line between pushing the ethical envelope and crossing the line into illegal activity.
The authority that is supposed to hold everyone accountable to the laws of the land – politicians and citizens alike – is the United States Justice Department. Under the direction of the United States Attorney General, the USJD is supposed to "ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans." This empowers the USJD with the awesome responsibility of holding our elected officials accountable for any misdeeds that violate the laws of our country.
But the Office of the US Attorney General is a cabinet level department, an appointed position, thus it is a political office, albeit a professional political office. Further, the administrators of this department are chosen and appointed by the president. Mid-level positions through the clerical ranks are administered by the Office of the US Attorney General making them more prone to political favoritism the further up the professional food chain you go.
Recent events bring light to the political aspect of the US Justice Department in part because of the aggressive prosecution of some politicos alleged to have broken the law and the passive concern and almost disinterest in prosecuting others, the divining factor seeming to be the perpetrator's political affiliation.
The Barrett Report
In January of 2006, Independent Counsel David Barrett released what is commonly referred to as The Barrett Report, an investigation into the facts surrounding the allegation that former Clinton Administration Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros failed to pay income taxes on "hush money" payments he made to a mistress. The allegations, if proven to be true and successfully prosecuted, would have found Cisneros convicted of 18 felony counts charging conspiracy, obstruction of justice, fraud and perjury.
Cisneros pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI (a division of the USJD) about the cash payments and accepted a plea bargain (authorized by the USJD) in the form of a $10,000 fine instead of facing the potential 90-year prison sentence his conviction would have required.
The authority to investigate and prosecute this case – before Independent Counsel Barrett was seated – fell upon Lee Radek, the head of the Justice Departments' Public Integrity Unit, a division that is charged with investigating and prosecuting allegations of criminal misconduct by public officials. Radek was elevated to his post by Jo Ann Harris, Justice Department Criminal Division Chief, who was appointed to her post by President Clinton.
To paint Radek as a political operative wouldn't be a stretch.
▪ Radek's family was politically connected to the Clinton-Gore campaigns through financial channels that included DNC rainmaker Patrick O'Connor and Terry McAuliffe.
▪ He actively opposed the naming of a special prosecutor in the 1996 Clinton-Gore ‘Chinagate' scandal.
▪ Radek ordered the termination of an investigation into illegal fundraising by then Vice President Al Gore that took place at a California Buddhist temple.
▪ He refused to investigate a three-way quid-pro-quo scheme involving the Teamsters Union, the Clinton White House and the Democratic National Committee.
Radek is significant to The Barrett Report not only because of his lack of an aggressive prosecution in the Cisneros case but because he offered "little in the way of cooperation" to Independent Counsel Barrett's investigation.
In the end, there was enough uncooperative foot-dragging by Radek and his cohorts at the USJD that legal wranglers were given enough time to secure a court order that effectively redacted 120 of the most damning pages of the report.
Barrett is quoted as saying, "Enough high-ranking officials with enough power were able to blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination of Cisneros' possible tax offenses in the face of what seemed to many to be obvious grounds for such an inquiry."
In contrast, the USJD cooperated fully with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to literally facilitate the creation of a crime in the "questionable at best" Valerie Plame case. In this instance America witnessed the USJD and a special prosecutor completely ignore the discovery of the person who actually leaked Ms. Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak and instead prosecuting ‘Scooter' Libby for having a bad memory.
The Investigation into Hillary Clinton's Campaign Finance Fraud
As exposed in The New Media Journal original series, The Fraudulent Senator, USJD prosecutors – specifically Janet Reno appointee Noel Hillman, who replaced Lee Radek who was re-tasked as Senior Counsel in the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section – played a significant role in diverting attention from the largest case of campaign finance fraud in American history.
The result of Mr. Peter F. Paul’s FEC complaint that the Hillary Clinton Senate 2000 Campaign under-reported by over $700,000 his in-kind contribution of a $1.2 million Hollywood gala event and fundraiser was an amateurish prosecution of the wrong man.
The USJD’s Office of Public Integrity indicted the campaign’s national finance director David Rosen on three counts of election fraud. The problem with this indictment is that Rosen wasn’t legally required to file any reports and did not sign the reports that were filed. The resulting trial ended with Rosen’s acquittal. The jury found that Rosen wasn’t responsible for the filing, spotlighting a glaring oversight by USJD prosecutors. Or was it?
The signature required on the FEC filings was that of the campaign treasurer, Andrew Grossman. In December of 2005, Grossman entered into a secret agreement with the FEC allowing him to admit culpability in filing false reports and commanding him to pay a $35,000 civil fine. To this day the USJD has not charged Andrew Grossman with anything even though he testified under oath – perjuring himself – in Rosen’s trial that he never heard of an event costing over a million dollars.
Logic mandates that either the USDJ's Public Integrity Office was so inept that it didn’t research the protocol for FEC financial statements – an unbelievable contention for an office charged with investigating and prosecuting allegations of criminal misconduct by public officials – or they purposely charged the wrong man as a diversionary tactic until the 2000 campaign was over, Hillary Clinton had won and Grossman was able to satisfy his transgression with the FEC. Of course, that doesn’t explain why the USJD didn’t pursue criminal charges against Grossman.
In contrast, the USJD went after Randall ‘Duke’ Cunningham with a zeal usually reserved for members of al Qaeda. In 2005, Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in illegal income and underreporting his income for 2004. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. Cunningham, a 21-year officer in the US Navy and a Vietnam War flying ace, received a sentence of eight years and four months in prison and an order to pay $1.8 million in restitution.
Clinton lies about $700,000 and the USJD doesn’t even sneeze. A true war hero – not like John Kerry or John Murtha – admits his guilt and goes to jail for almost a decade. The inequity is glaring.
Would You Like Unique and Sensitive Files with that Mr. Berger?
In October of 2003, former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, in preparation for his 9/11 Commission testimony, removed and then destroyed unique and classified documents pertaining to the Clinton Administration's knowledge of terrorist threats to the United States.
Berger described his removal of the unique documents initially as "an honest mistake." But as details emerged courtesy of a report titled, Sandy Berger's Theft of Classified Documents: Unanswered Questions compiled by the US House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform it became clear that Berger's efforts were well thought out and tantamount to an attempt at obstructing the 9/11 Commission's investigation.
Berger not only removed unique documents in his briefcase and socks, he positioned additional unique documents at a construction trailer on site for later retrieval. His actions required planning and forethought, therefore they were premeditated.
In the report, National Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfield testified that he had met with USJD trial attorney Howard Sklamberg from the public integrity unit. The purpose of Brachfield's meeting was to inquire as to whether the USJD had notified the 9/11 Commission of Berger's actions, the possible connotations of those actions and whether the USJD had established what documents had been taken and destroyed. Brachfield's answers would come in a troubling phone call.
On March 22, two days before Sandy Berger's testimony to the 9/11 Commission, Brachfield received a phone call from John Dion, Chief of the USJD Counterespionage Section, and Bruce Swartz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the USJD Criminal Division. There were several reasons for this phone call, among them:
▪ To notify Brachfield that Berger was to testify before the 9/11 Commission on March 24.
▪ To notify Brachfield that he may be ultimately culpable for not notifying the 9/11 Commission of Berger's crime and, thus, his potential for being an non-credible witness.
▪ To notify Brachfield that any disclosure of Berger's crime to the 9/11 Commission could compromise the USJD investigation into said crime, intimating a possible obstruction of justice charge.
Brachfield's answer was no, the 9/11 Commission was never alerted to Berger's crime prior to his testimony.
In an April 9, 2004 meeting facilitated by Glenn Fine, the Inspector General for the USJD, Brachfield advanced his concern that the USJD investigation was fixated on only two of Berger's four visits to the National Archives, each visit allowing Berger to be in proximity to unique and classified documents.
During this meeting Swartz insisted that Berger had been supervised "at all times." But this statement is in direct contradiction to statements made by the senior National Archive official charged with Berger's supervision. In fact, this senior National Archives official, referred to as "Senior Official 1" in the report, is on record as saying she, "...would never know what, if any, original documents were missing."
The meeting concluded with Fine finally exposing the fact that the FBI hadn't even questioned Berger about the first two visits.
As a result of the USJD's apathetic investigation and prosecution of Sandy Berger's theft and destruction of unique and classified documents from the National Archives, and as the result of a plea bargain authorized by the USJD, Berger agreed to a $10,000 fine, a revocation of his security clearance for three years and a lie detector test, which to this day has not been administered. This sentence was augmented by US Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson who increased the fine to $50,000 and added two years probation and 100 hours of community service. Robinson said, "The court finds that the fine [recommended by government prosecutors] is inadequate because it doesn't reflect the seriousness of the offense."
Add to the Mix
While these are examples of the high-profile instances of prosecutorial indifference toward illegal activity by those of the Democrat Party, they are by no means the only ones.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), was engaged in questionable land dealings in his home state of Nevada yet the USJD expressed little interest in investigating his actions.
Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA), was found to have $90,000 bundled in his freezer in what investigators allege are spoils from a bribery scandal. Two of Jefferson's former aides pled guilty to aiding and abetting the bribery of an elected official. To this date Jefferson has not been charged.
For five years Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), sat on the Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on military construction, which reviewed private sector construction contracts for military projects. During this time, a company owned and operated by Senator Feinstein's husband received several contracts administered by the subcommittee. No investigation is pending.
The list goes on and on.
The Common Thread
The common thread to each of these disparities where aggressive investigation and prosecution are concerned is politics. If the perpetrator is of the Republican persuasion the investigation and prosecution are aggressive and relentless. If the perpetrator is of the left side of the aisle the investigation is half-hearted or practically non-existent and the penalties are consistently comprised of milquetoast plea bargains that are grossly inadequate for the crime.
When one examines those who have piloted the USJD investigations and prosecutions of political malfeasance one thing is abundantly clear. In each instance the person charged with the investigation or prosecution was a Clinton holdover or a Clinton appointee.
In the case of The Barrett Report and the investigation and prosecution of Henry Cisneros, Lee Radek was intimately affiliated with not only the DNC and Democrat rainmakers, but with the Clinton-Gore White House. Jo Ann Harris who appointed Radek, was appointed by President Clinton.
In the case of Hillary Clinton's campaign finance fraud, we again see Lee Radek running interference against any credible investigation and prosecution.
And where Sandy Berger's travesty of justice is concerned:
▪ Glenn Fine, the Inspector General for the USJD, was appointed by Bill Clinton, continued serving as a holdover from the Clinton Administration into the Bush Administration and is on record as being an up-to-the-limit donor to the DNC.
▪ Bruce Swartz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the USJD Criminal Division, was appointed by Bill Clinton, continued serving as a holdover from the Clinton Administration into the Bush Administration and is on record as being an up-to-the-limit donor to the DNC.
▪ John Dion, Chief of the USJD Counterespionage Section at the USJD, was a holdover from the Clinton Administration into the Bush Administration and is on record as being an up-to-the-limit donor to the DNC.
▪ Howard Sklamberg, USJD trial attorney from the public integrity unit, was a holdover from the Clinton Administration into the Bush Administration and is on record as being an up-to-the-limit donor to the DNC.
It is apparent to anyone taking an honest look at the current situation of the USJD that during the eight years of the Clinton Administration, the Clinton White House loaded the United States Justice Department with enough upper and mid-level political appointments and promotions to circumvent any investigation and/or prosecution of crimes originating and perpetrated at the hands of those on their "team."
It is equally apparent that the Clinton White House intentionally placed these people in positions where they could inflict the most political damage on the opposition party by simply investigating until either a crime was discovered or created, or there was enough dirt run through the Clinton-friendly mainstream media to destroy the subject's credibility and ability to be effective.
The implications of a political and partisan United States Justice Department are disturbing and lay the groundwork for the demise of our Constitutional government, a government of laws such as it is. That American justice would be administered politically on such a transparently partisan scale lends itself to an image of a nation where political corruption is accepted and political persecution is tolerated, which side benefiting from both being decided by the spoils of a successful political campaign and the patronage that includes.
Remember, Bill Clinton fired 93 US Attorneys when he came into office. Perhaps now we can all understand why the Democrats are so up in arms over President Bush firing eight.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor. He hosts The New Media Journal on BlogTalk Radio and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network and The Captain's America on WWPR AM1490 in the Tampa Bay area, as well as an occasional guest on The Bruce Elliott Show on WBAL AM1090 in Baltimore and numerous radio shows coast to coast. His organization, Basics Project, is partnered in producing the first-ever national symposium series on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.