Office of Special Counsel

The Day of Sentencing Judgment for Scott Bloch

When we last left Scott Bloch, the former Bush attorney who was the appointed head of the Office of Special counsel (OSC), it was the original date for his sentencing. The court delayed entry of sentence to further investigate the full extent of his criminal conduct. It appeared that, after strong letters like from this blog and attorney Debra Katz, who represents several former OSC employees and good government groups, the court had real concerns about the entirety of Bloch’s vast criminal conduct compared to the sweetheart whitewashing collusive plea the DOJ was giving him.

Today, the court showed it really was not nearly as concerned as had been hoped. Scott Bloch has just been sentenced to one day in jail and two years probation. The single measly day in jail was stated by the court to be due to the “seriousness” of the offense. What a joke. I guess we should just be thrilled that, unlike James Clapper, Bloch was prosecuted at all. Still, it is a grossly soft sentence considering the entirety of Bloch’s admitted criminal conduct.

Just so the record is complete after all these years, here are the significant documents documents lodged with the court between the first sentencing date and today:

1) Bloch’s supplemental sentencing memorandum

2) DOJ’s supplemental sentencing memorandum

3) Bundle of additional sentencing letters from Bloch supporters

4) Supplemental sentencing letter from this blog

One last thing should be noted, and that is the sheer and craven hutzpah of the Department of Justice in whitewashing this matter. I refer to their supplemental memorandum (item 2 above), but specifically to footnote 1 therein that baldly claims other members of the public and victims aggrieved by Bloch just don’t have all the secret facts that the government was able to collect. It was truly an amazing thing to see the government saying they had the hidden facts mitigating Bloch’s conduct. Simply astounding and, as stated in the responsive letter to the court (item 4 above), it was unconscionable:

The bald faced hubris of the DOJ in footnote 1 of their “Supplemental Memorandum In Aid Of Sentencing” lodged in docket Number 21 to claim, and rely on, uncharged and unstated evidence and facts to mitigate the sentence of the defendant is far the other side of unconscionable and shocking. Hidden considerations cited by the government, in the face of the shocking record of conduct by defendant Bloch, are an insult to the court, and the citizens and rule of law it is designed to protect. In fact, the recitations of fact by the government itself demonstrates how absurd their protestations for mitigation, much those of Bloch himself in his supplemental sentencing memorandum (Docket Number 22), really are.

The perfidy, and obstruction to the American form of government, by Executive Branch officials upon the function of the Congress is a scourge that cannot be tolerated by the American people or the courts of the United States. After the questions germinated by ODNI Clapper’s testimony, there has been a sudden and welcome bi-partisan return of healthy concern over the conduct of Executive Branch officials in front of Congress.

This court stands at the crossroads on a seminal issue to the Constitutional health of these United States and the health of the separation of powers in our form of government. The problem of disdain for, and duplicity in front of, Congress must be addressed and a precedent set for the future. Mr. Bloch violated the trust and damaged the people and their lawfully elected representatives. Frankly the plea in this case is outrageous and should never be accepted, it is not in the interest of justice. But, if it is to be followed, and sentenced thereon, a precedent should be set and an appropriate sentence handed down for the egregious conduct of Scott Bloch.

If not in the instant case, then where? If not now, then when?

The answer is Article II Executive Branch officials and attorneys simply cannot, and will not, be prosecuted for perjury and obstruction of Congress, and neither the Article I Congress, nor the Article III Courts, seems to particularly care that such violation of constitutionally protected powers and prerogative is occurring habitually. It is a sad comment.

Scott Bloch Sentencing Blocked By The Court

I have been a bit busy lately, so this is a tad late; but I should probably give the update on the Scott Bloch criminal sentencing that was scheduled for 9:30 am Monday morning May 13 in DC District Court in front of Judge Robert L. Wilkins. As you will recall, this blog has covered the Bloch case closely over the years due to its symbolism for government accountability and/or lack thereof.

The most recent coverage was immediately prior to the sentencing, and was in the form of a comprehensive post entitled “Former Bush Special Counsel Scott Bloch Bullies Journalists and Threatens 1st Amend Speech Before Criminal Sentencing”. As promised, a copy of said post was mailed to the court and it was entered on the docket. Several others sent letters as well, such as here for example.

The upshot is that Judge Robert L. Wilkins heard the voices. In what I can only describe as truly commendable, yet still refreshingly surprising, this is what happened at sentencing as described by Ann Marimow of the Washington Post:

The legal odyssey of Scott J. Bloch, the former head of the federal agency that protects government whistleblowers, continued Monday when a federal judge balked at proceeding with sentencing because of what he called an “improperly sanitized version of events.”
….
But U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins chastised attorneys on both sides for presenting a narrow account of Bloch’s actions that the judge said doesn’t fully describe the conduct at issue. Wilkins said he was uncomfortable issuing a sentence until a fuller description of Bloch’s actions was in the record.

Sentencing documents, Wilkins noted, make little mention of Bloch’s previous deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contempt of Congress.
….
In the current case, federal guidelines call for a sentence from zero to six months in prison. But prosecutors have agreed not to oppose a period of probation and want Bloch to pay a $5,000 fine and complete 200 hours of community service.

Wilkins suggested Monday, however, that he intends to consider Bloch’s conduct related to the previous case, which could expose him to jail time. The judge pointed specifically to Bloch’s position as a presidential appointee, a “position of public trust, operating with little oversight.”

Bloch’s sentencing hearing has been rescheduled for June 24.

We will try to do another update on status again before the next sentencing date on June 24. But, for now, hat’s off to Judge Robert L. Wilkins for hearing the voices of the public who object to the whitewash that was being applied to the misconduct in high office by Scott Bloch. Maybe there is hope for this Rule of Law thing after all.

Former Bush Special Counsel Scott Bloch Bullies Journalists and Threatens 1st Amend Speech Before Criminal Sentencing

CryingJusticeWhen this blog last substantively left the continuing saga of Bush/Cheney Special Counsel Scott Bloch, it was with these words:

So, between August 2, 2011 and December 21, 2012, a period of nearly a year and a half’s time, the DOJ has done nothing whatsoever in furtherance of prosecuting Scott Bloch. Until today. And the vaunted Department of Justice has, on the Friday before the Christmas holiday…..filed a Motion to Dismiss. However, that is not the end of the story, as clause 5 of the Motion to Dismiss contains this language:

Concurrent with this Motion to Dismiss, the government is filing a new information.

Well, not quite concurrent, as the Motion to Dismiss was filed mid to late morning, and the new information was just now made public. The new charge, a misdemeanor, is pursuant to 18 USC 1361 Depredation of Government Property or Contracts. The factual basis is made out from the “seven level wiping” Bloch caused to be done. Here is the new information just filed.

Yes, that is the “Reader’s Digest” version of how Scott Bloch came to be where he is now….awaiting sentencing in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. For a crime that barely even references, much less is indicative of, the actual acts he committed against the United States Government, and the citizens it represents.

But, Bloch is indeed now facing sentencing on the latest cushy plea he has been afforded by the Department of Justice; sentencing scheduled for Monday May 13, 2013, less than one week from today. Here is Defendant Bloch’s sentencing memorandum, and here is the curiously collusive memorandum from the DOJ, who simply cannot stand for any Article II Executive Branch attorney being sent to jail/prison for lying to Congress because, seriously, many more might be in jeopardy if that was the case and precedent.

So, what is Mr. Scott Bloch doing? Taking his medicine quietly for having been given the gift plea by the DOJ to a misdemeanor after he actually committed such acts that appear by all legal rights to warrant felony allegations? Allegations as were described the last time Bloch was tried to be handed such a gift horse plea by the DOJ as:

…felony crimes Bloch could have been, and should have been, charged with are staggering; including obstruction of justice, false statements, perjury, willful destruction of government property and Federal Records Act violations. But Defendant Bloch made a deal to plead to one little misdemeanor with the guarantee he would be considered under the most favorable sentencing guideline conditions imaginable.

Nothing has changed; not a single underlying fact has changed in the least, and Bloch still stands Continue reading

Scott Bloch and Roll: DOJ Takes a Holiday Friday News Dump

The event we have all been waiting for is here in time for the Christmas Holidays! Yes, it is the long awaited news on the DOJ “prosecution” of the former Office of Special Counsel head under the Bush/Cheney regime, Scott Bloch.

As you may recall, when we last heard tangible news on the Blochhead front, it was June 20 of this year when his release restrictions were voided. The court voided Bloch’s release conditions because the DOJ had inexplicably left the case hanging in limbo after the previous guilty plea had been set aside, thus allowing Bloch to withdraw from it, all the way back in August of 2011.

So, between August 2, 2011 and December 21, 2012, a period of nearly a year and a half’s time, the DOJ has done nothing whatsoever in furtherance of prosecuting Scott Bloch. Until today. And the vaunted Department of Justice has, on the Friday before the Christmas holiday…..filed a Motion to Dismiss. However, that is not the end of the story, as clause 5 of the Motion to Dismiss contains this language:

Concurrent with this Motion to Dismiss, the government is filing a new information.

Well, not quite concurrent, as the Motion to Dismiss was filed mid to late morning, and the new information was just now made public. The new charge, a misdemeanor, is pursuant to 18 USC 1361 Depredation of Government Property or Contracts. The factual basis is made out from the “seven level wiping” Bloch caused to be done. Here is the new information just filed.

Well, at least that is what the information is SUPPOSED to charge. That is the crime noted in the caption, and clearly the crime contemplated by the framing, but in the key statute recitation paragraph, the controlling body of the document mistakenly charges 18 USC 1362 instead. A year and a half the DOJ has had to conjure up this smoking pile of whitewashing garbage, and they still Continue reading

DOJ Ethics: PIN Heads, Bloch Heads & The Rocket

Whoooosh! And, like that, the complete acquittal in USA v. William Roger Clemens came and went. The five year long, over $10 million Clemens prosecution was a joke on the tax paying American public.

And so it goes for one defendant accused by the Department of Justice. What about other defendants who have come within the purview of the DOJ for false statements, perjury and obstruction of Congress? Say, for instance, our old friend Scott Bloch.

A friend of mine asked if the following order entered yesterday in Bloch’s case by DC District Court Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson meant Scott Bloch must report immediately to Jail?

By a petition filed on June 19, 2012, the United States Probation Office advised that Defendant requests permission to travel internationally in August, 2012. U.S. Probation Office Petition (Document No. [74]) at 1. In the petition, the Probation Office notes that on April 27, 2010, Defendant was released by this court pending sentencing, subject to the condition, inter alia, that he report his travel plans to the Probation Office. Id.; see also Release Order (Document No. 5). The release order was entered after Defendant appeared before the undersigned and entered a plea of guilty to a one-count information by which he was charged with criminal contempt of Congress. 04/27/2010 Minute Entry. However, by an order filed on August 2, 2011, Defendant was permitted to withdraw his plea. Memorandum Opinion and Order (Document No. 73) at 1, 13. In the interim, no other charge has been filed, and no further proceedings have been scheduled; accordingly, Defendant is not on release pending sentencing, and has not been since August 2, 2011, the date on which he was permitted to withdraw his plea. It is, therefore, ORDERED that the release order (Document No. 5) is hereby VACATED nunc pro tunc to August 2, 2011. (lcdar3)

No, my friend was joking; but, still, the laugh is superbly taken. Looks to me like Bloch is scott free (some pun intended) OR (Own Recognizance) pending any other charges. Where are the new charges and/or plea?

When, if ever, will the DOJ Public Integrity Section (PIN) get around to pursuing the blatant in your face, egregious, actual crime against Congress committed by a critical federal investigative and prosecutorial attorney appointed to protect federal employees and whistleblowers instead of the silly corporate and in-bred Congressional protection racket charges inherent in the Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and John Edwards prosecutions?

Okay, if I was Bloch’s defense attorney, William Sullivan of Pillsbury, I would absolutely say this is bunk, put my client on OR or cut him loose considering the dilly dallying, thumbs in ass, conduct of the DOJ. Since I am not him, I would like to know what the heck is going on. It has been nearly a year since Royce Lamberth, somewhat surprisingly, allowed Bloch to withdraw from his plea.

In their collusive attempt to get Bloch’s plea withdrawn, the DOJ and Bloch avowed they had already been discussing alternative paths for either charging or plea. That was before Lamberth allowed the withdrawal, i.e. well over a year ago. What in the world is stopping the DOJ from prosecuting this Criminal? In that same time period, they tried Roger Clemens twice, the second one lasting over two months, but apparently they just can’t find the time to prosecute a real criminal like Scott Bloch, doing real damage to government and Congress

Here is the thing, the date of the “Geek Squad wipe” Bloch obstructively did to his government computers was 12/18/2006 – the statute has now presumptively run on that. House Oversight requested their depo/interview on 12/6/2007 and actually took it on 3/4/2008. So, probably, there are still offenses within the SOL but it is wasting away. This just is NOT that complicated of a gig IF you are not completely pulling punches.

Seriously, please, tell me why we are still hanging where we are? A misdemeanor level rookie municipal prosecutor could have convicted Bloch in about a day and a half, maybe two day, long trial. The crack team at DOJ lead by the heads of PIN just can’t get er done? Scott Bloch should be heading to prison, not off on an Independence Day holiday vacation.

The real question here is not when will Bloch be dealt with, but why has he not been standardly, and appropriately – yet – still, even as of this quite late date within the statute of limitations? This course of conduct by the DOJ of colluding with Bloch to have him avoid accountability is a mocking joke on both the Article I Congress and the Article III Court. Yet, no questions are asked, no explanations given by DOJ, and few, if any, answers demanded by the press or Congress. The Obama DOJ, from their first moment, unequivocally, and inexplicably, aligned and sided with the criminal defendant Bloch, and diametrically opposite the interest of the public and rule of law.

Why do you think that is? Take a look at this in contrast to the way Roger Clemens was treated by the United States Department of Justice. And the way the Banksters have NOT been treated to the “niceties” of the US Criminal Justice system.

Golly, I wonder why that is? If Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s DOJ cannot answer for the lack of viable Wall Street/Financial Products Industry prosecutions, and have such little to say after the catastrophically worthless persecution of Roger Clemens, maybe the DOJ could at least tell the people it represents what the hell it is doing with Mr. Scott Bloch.

Naw, that is probably just too much to ask from America’s finest.

Rove and the (Escape) Hatch Act

When Michael Mukasey announced in 2008 no one would be charged for politicizing DOJ, I had this to say.

Understand: Mukasey has turned into a terrible shill for the Administration. But it has been clear for over a year that the Administration would escape criminal charges for having committed massive violations of the Hatch Act. But that has more to do with the Hatch Act than with Michael Mukasey. Even a Democratic AG would have a hard time charging this stuff, given the stated penalties for civil Hatch Act violations.

The Hatch Act gives citizens no real recourse for the politicization of our government. And the loyal Bushies know this. After all, by all appearances, they’re still committing Hatch Act violations.

And when Karl Rove resigned in 2007, I noted that it would make the ongoing Office of Special Counsel investigation into Hatch Act violations meaningless. And for good measure, here’s where I predicted that investigation would last into the next decade.

Welcome to the next decade, when we finally get the report telling us what we knew back in 2007 when this investigation started, that Rove politicized the government.

Note that footnote 3 of the report says what these reports almost always say (the one exception was Lurita Doan), that since everyone who violated the Hatch Act has moved on now, they cannot be punished for doing so.

Because all of the officials who were involved in Hatch Act violations described in this report are no longer employed by the federal government, OSC cannot bring disciplinary actions against these employees.

As I said last decade, no one will be held accountable for the abuses described in the report. So forgive me for being underwhelmed by the release of the report that does no more than catalog what we already knew.

Continue reading

Scott Bloch Cops A Plea For Bloching Justice

You might remember our old friend Scott Bloch, the former head of the United States Office of Special Counsel under the Bush/Cheney Administration. The OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the Federal merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing. You might also remember Bloch was the one David Iglesias was sure could unravel the US Attorney Purgegate and nail Karl Rove. That didn’t work out so well, and then Bloch got in hot water himself for purging his own computers with the pros from “Geeks on Call” performing a “seven level wipe” for him.

Well, to make a long story short, it appears Lady Justice has finally caught up to the intrepid BlochHead. From the Washington Post:

Scott J. Bloch, the former director of a federal office in charge of helping shield government whistleblowers from unfair treatment, plans to plead guilty to withholding information from congressional investigators after he had his office computer files professionally deleted in 2006.

U.S. prosecutors filed papers in federal court Thursday that accuse Bloch, who led the Office of Special Counsel through much of President George W. Bush’s administration, of failing to truthfully answer questions about whether he arranged for private computer technicians to “scrub” his office computer and that of other political appointees. This type of filing, known as an information, is made public when a suspect is about to plead guilty to the allegations.

Bloch came under criticism early in his tenure as special counsel for ordering all mention of workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation be removed from OSC’s Web site and printed materials. Bloch stated his office lacked the authority to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

He was abruptly removed from his post and barred from returning to his office in October 2008 after a meeting with White House officials.

The root here is Bloch is to plea to withholding information about his computer scrape from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. A criminal information was filed today, and that means his change of plea to guilty is on the immediate horizon, very possibly tomorrow. Here is the AP version of the story.

Hilariously enough, Bloch’s troubles began when someone blew the whistle on him; from a February 2007 Washington Post article:

A trouble-plagued whistle-blower investigation at the Office of Special Counsel — whose duties include shielding federal whistle-blowers — hit another snag this week when employees accused the special counsel of intimidation in the probe.

The Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general has been investigating allegations by current and former OSC employees that Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch retaliated against underlings who disagreed with his policies — by, among other means, transferring them out of state — and tossed out legitimate whistle-blower cases to reduce the office backlog. Bloch denies the accusations, saying that under his leadership the agency has grown more efficient and receptive to whistle-blowers.

The probe is the most serious of many problems at the agency since Bloch, a Kansas lawyer who served at the Justice Department’s Task Force for Faith-based and Community Initiatives, was appointed by President Bush three years ago. Since he took the helm in 2004, staffers at the OSC, a small agency of about 100 lawyers and investigators, have accused him of a range of offenses, from having an anti-gay bias to criticizing employees for wearing short skirts and tight pants to work.

At any rate, the continuing saga of Bungalow Bloch appears to be nearing an end. Oh well, another name to the Bush Administration convict list and another update of Hugh’s Bush Scandal List needed.

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emptywheel @StephanieKelton How about when they dodge by saying I'm not a woma--oh, wait. They never say that.
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emptywheel RT @CraigMWhitlock: At trial in Pentagon silencer case, it is forbidden to utter the words "Navy SEALs" http://t.co/ouAZoO1HpJ
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emptywheel Maybe every time a pol dodges a real question by saying, "I'm not a scientist" if they'd donate $100,000 of their campaign $$ to STEM ed?
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emptywheel @dakine100 Along with Cuomo, who should.
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emptywheel Uh. How many politicians is it this year who refuse to do their job--policy maker--bc they're not scientists?
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