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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.

Rocket Pitches A No Hitter; DOJ Whiffs A Golden Sombrero+2

Six up, and six down for William Roger Clemens. From Jim Bambach at Newsday:

Former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday on all six counts in his trial on charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs, ending a 41/2-year battle to clear his name.

The jury deliberated for less than 12 hours before reaching a verdict, capping a two-month trial at which 46 witnesses appeared, including the wives of Clemens and accuser Brian McNamee.

Yep, six counts alleged, six counts acquitted on. Not a hit on any of them. And if the jury deliberations had not have been broken up by a weekend, the verdict may well not have taken even the nine plus hours it did. From the clear call of the unanimous verdicts, I would also hazard a guess that the jury may not even have been out the short time it was but for the fact lead Clemens defense attorney Rusty Hardin opened a wee door in cross-examining the tainted prosecution star witness Brian McNamee, allowing for, eventually superfluous, rebuttal evidence to come in by the DOJ to try to bolster their flawed criminal witness McNamee. Even that was clearly nowhere enough for the wise jury.

The entire substantive DOJ case flowed through two discredited and sham witnesses, Brian McNamee and the always questionable Fed Investigator Jeff Novitsky. If they were not discredited before, let the record reflect they are now.

More from Bambach:

Clemens’ attorney Rusty Hardin called his client “a helluva man.”

“This is a celebration for us,” Hardin said. “Let me tell you something. Justice won out.”

The loss was a blow to the Justice Department and the prosecution, which last year caused a mistrial on the second day of the trial.

Prosecutors declined to comment on their way out of the courthouse.

Yes, the Brave Sir Robin like crack prosecutors at DOJ so ethically turned their heads and fled like Sir Robin. Brave Sir Robin.

The focus, though, is easy to peg on Brian McNamee, and does he deserve it. But, remember, the single person who pushed this puppet theater, in addition to George Mitchell and corporate interest, Bud Selig, was Jeff Novitsky. One still wonders if the story of the MLB, IRS, DEA, HOS/GRC(Waxman/Congress) and Novitsky “workgroup” will ever be fully disclosed; but the Read more

Why The DOJ Can’t Prosecute Banksters: Map of Clemens Investigation

At a time when there are still no significant prosecutions of major players, banks and investment shops responsible for the financial fraud that nearly toppled the world economy and is still choking the US economy, we get an explanation why from an unlikely source – the Roger Clemens trial in Judge Reggie Walton’s courtroom in the DC District. During defense examination of FBI special agent John Longmire today, a map of the FBI/DOJ investigation of Roger Clemens, who was accused of lying about getting a few steroid shots in the late 90s and early 2000s, was displayed. We are now two full months into the second trial of Roger Clemens stemming from this investigation.

Any more questions on why DOJ cannot get around to prosecuting banksters??

The Ted Stevens OPR Report: The Return of the DOJ Roach Motel

The long awaited, and much anticipated, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Report on the misconduct in the Ted Stevens Prosecution has just been delivered to Congress, and thereafter immediately released to the public by the Senate Judiciary Committee. I know this will shock one and all but, at least as to real results, it is fairly weak tea.

Legal Times reports:

A Justice Department internal investigation of the botched prosecution of Ted Stevens concluded two prosecutors committed reckless professional misconduct and should be sanctioned through forced time off without pay.

DOJ officials recommended Joseph Bottini be suspended without pay for 40 days and James Goeke be suspended for 15 days without pay. DOJ did not find that either prosecutor acted intentionally to violate ethics rules, a finding that is contrary to a parallel criminal investigation. Bottini and Goeke have the option to appeal the misconduct finding to the Merit System Protection Board.
….
Department officials said Bottini and Goeke failed to disclose information a chief government witness, Bill Allen, provided to investigators and prosecutors at a meeting in 2008, before Stevens was charged. Allen’s credibility was central to the prosecution case that Stevens concealed gifts and other items on U.S. Senate financial disclosure forms.

OPR did not make any professional misconduct findings against any of the other Stevens prosecutors, including William Welch II, Brenda Morris and Edward Sullivan. OPR, however, concluded that Morris, then a supervisor in the Public Integrity Section, exercised poor judgment by failing to supervise “certain aspects of the disclosure process.”

A special counsel who conducted a parallel probe of the Stevens team, after the case was dismissed in April 2009, did not recommend criminal charges against any of the Stevens prosecution team.

However, the lawyer, Henry “Hank” Schuelke III, concluded that Goeke and Bottini committed intentional misconduct in concealing exculpatory information. The two prosecutors dispute that finding.

Yeah, that about sums it up.

Cover letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Here are all the relevant documents (note: the pdf on the report itself is huge – 672 pages):

Office of Professional Responsibility Report

Bottini Decision

Bottini Disciplinary Proposal

Bottini Response

Goeke Decision

Goeke Disciplinary Proposal

Goeke Response

Goeke Response Appendix

A little more than two years ago I wrote about the inherent worthlessness of the OPR at DOJ:

Most governmental agencies have independent Inspectors General which operate independently of the agency leadership, have jurisdiction of the entire agency including legal counsel, and thus have credibility as somewhat neutral and detached evaluators and voices. Not so the DOJ, who has arrogated upon themselves the sole right to sit in judgment of themselves. This action to grab the exclusive authority for themselves and exclude the independent IG was first accomplished by Attorney General Order 1931-94 dated November 8, 1994 subsequently codified into the Code of Federal Regulations and reinforced through section 308 of the 2002 Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Just in time for the war on terror legal shenanigans!

Go back and read that post again, I am too tired to write it again and nothing has changed. What a load of bunk the Stevens OPR Report is. Some harsh words for sure, but, as to actual accountability – a rap on the knuckles with a foam ruler.

Ted Stevens lost his Senate seat these twits get an unpaid vacation.

The OPR is STILL The Roach Motel.

William Welch Leaving DOJ; Main Justice Circles The Ethical Wagons

Apparently the thrill is finally gone, or at least soon to be gone. Carrie Johnson at NPR has just reported:

A federal prosecutor who led the elite public integrity unit when the case against the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens collapsed has told associates he will leave the Justice Department.
….
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department and a representative for Welch had no comment on his departure, which one source said he characterized as a “retirement.”

Welch had been scheduled to lead a controversial prosecution later this year of former CIA official Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking secrets to New York Times reporter James Risen. That case has drawn widespread media attention because it could set important precedent on the issue of whether reporters enjoy some sort of legal privilege that could help them protect their sources.

This is interesting, actually fascinating news. As Carrie notes the Sterling matter is hanging in the lurch. In fact, it is waiting on an interlocutory appeal decision from the 4th Circuit over claims that the DOJ, once again led by Welch, played fast and loose with critical evidence disclosure. I do not, however, think that the impetus behind this somewhat surprising announcement. The 4th case appears to have completed briefing with the government’s filing of a redacted reply about six weeks ago; however, I don’t think a decision is likely coming that fast and federal appellate courts are not that leaky. Although, to be fair, District and Circuit courts do, occasionally in media intensive cases, give the parties a heads up a decision is coming.

More likely, this is more fallout from the Ted Stevens case and the Schuelke report. In fairness to Welch, he was not one of the hardest hit DOJ attorneys in Schuelke’s report, but he was blistered by Schuelke at Schuelke’s testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in late March:

Schuelke said tight deadlines before the lawmaker’s October 2008 trial and a series of missteps within the Justice Department’s public integrity unit where leaders William Welch and Brenda Morris “abdicated supervisory responsibility” contributed to the evidence sharing lapses. The failings prompted new Attorney General Eric Holder to abandon the case in 2009; Stevens died a year later in a plane crash after he had lost his Senate seat.

The odds are fairly good that the DOJ is putting the finishing touches on its long awaited OPR report on the Stevens fiasco and, after Schuelke, needs a sacrificial lamb. And Welch is a prime candidate to be sacrificed. But that would beg the question of what will they do about Brenda Morris, whose conduct in Stevens was much more egregious and central, as a supervisor, that even that of Welch. And it should not be forgotten that Brenda Morris was also smack dab in the middle of another catastrophic black eye for the DOJ, the Alabama bingo cases. So, there are some real questions for DOJ there.

As to William Welch though, with both the OPR report nearing completion, and the prospect of a House Judiciary inquiry looming later this week, it would seem that Welch’s newfound desire for “retirement” has a bit of a forced edge to it.

One last thing should be kept in mind: the legislation proposed by Lisa Murkowski and having key bi-partisan backing after Stevens and the Schuelke Report, to reform federal evidence disclosure rules for the DOJ. The DOJ is literally, and cravenly, apoplectic about the proposed reform and has promised they have “learned their lesson” and that everybody should just “trust us”.

DOJ had been fighting disclosure reform hard for quite a long time; but there will never be better momentum than is present now, and they know it. Any seasoned criminal defense attorney will confirm that the far more open and reciprocal discovery rules found at the state level in several more enlightened jurisdictions (I can vouch for this in Arizona, which is one of them) work far better than the archaic disclosure rules extant in federal court. It would be a huge benefit to fairness in the criminal justice process, and it IS an attainable goal. And that, too, may be why we are seeing the sacrifice of William Welch.

New Anthrax Scare: This Time Leahy’s Letter Tests Negative

With the war drums on Iran beating loudly, homeland security theater is ratcheting up yet another level as a wave of letters containing a powdery substance have been mailed again to media and political figures. This time, unlike the October-November 2001 episode, all letters tested so far have been negative for anthrax or other harmful substances, but the mailer has threatened that ten percent of the large number of letters mailed will be deadly. Most notable in this current series is that a letter was received at the Burlington, Vermont office of Senator Patrick Leahy. Recall that Senator Leahy was one of those targeted with the most deadly version of the anthrax mailed in 2001.

Details on this latest episode were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday:

Several members of the Congress received mail threatening a biological attack and containing a suspicious powder later found to be harmless as law enforcement officials warned on Wednesday that more letters could be on their way.

A number of media organizations and TV shows, including the New York Times and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, received mail postmarked Oregon warning that letters had been sent to the Washington or local offices of all 100 U.S. senators and that 10 contained a deadly pathogen, a law enforcement source said.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, received a letter containing a powdery substance at one of his offices in his home state of Ohio, a Republican aide said, adding that the powder was harmless.

/snip/

In a notice to Senate staffers titled “Urgent: Suspicious Mail Alert,” [Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance] Gainer warned that the sender of the letters had “indicated that additional letters containing a powdery substance will be arriving at more Senate offices and that some of these letters may contain actual harmful material.”

More details have since come out:

The letters make vague complaints about too much money in politics and had a Portland, Oregon return address from an organization listed as “The MIB, LLC,” a law enforcement official told CBS News.

In addition to the letters to the lawmakers, officials said television comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert received letters mentioning the letters to senators.

The author told the comedians he would send letters to all 100 senators and ten percent of them would contain “lethal pathogens,” an official told CBS News.

The author wanted an end to corporate money and lobbying, an end to “corporate personhood,” and called for a new constitutional convention to rewrite the constitution.

The author also told the comedians he would tell the senators they are “working for the wrong side” and there is a ten percent chance they have been exposed to a lethal pathogen. The author also said he “randomized” which letters would contain the pathogen and even he did not know who would get which letter.

Because of the advance notice, the letter received at Leahy’s office was spotted and the authorities were called: Read more

Update On The Signing Of The NDAA

Many people have been wondering what happened regarding the signing of the 2012 NDAA containing the critical, and much criticized, detention provisions. The House of Representatives passed the conference report of the bill on December 14th, with the Senate approving it by a 86 to 13 margin the following day, December 15th. Interest then turned to whether the President would veto it (he won’t) and when he will sign the legislation.

Most seemed to think that meant the bill must be signed by yesterday, which would have been the tenth day, excluding Sundays, after passage pursuant to Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution, which provides:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

But Obama has not yet signed the NDAA, so what gives? Presentment. A bill coming out of Congress must be formally presented to the President for signature. Sometimes, if the subject matter is deemed urgent, the presentment process is accelerated remarkably and happens on an emergency basis quite quickly. But, normally, it is a time honored deliberate process also governed by statute. 1 USC 106 and 107 require an enrolled bill passed by both chambers of Congress be printed on parchment or paper “of suitable quality” and “sent” to the President; this is the “presentment” process. 1 USC 106 does allow for alternate accelerated means for a bill emanating during the last six days of a session, and the OLC, in a little known opinion from May 2011, has decreed that electronic transmission is even acceptable (basically, the thing can be emailed).

In the case of the critical 2012 NDAA, however, Congress (one would assume with the blessing of the White House) apparently made no attempt to accelerate the schedule as often occurs for end of session matters, and the NDAA was not formally presented to President Obama until December 21st. So, excluding intervening Sundays, the tenth day is, in fact, Monday January 2, 2012.

Why, then, is the White House and President stringing out the signing of the NDAA? Well, we know AG Eric Holder has indicated Obama would be attaching a signing statement to the executed NDAA. Although unconfirmed officially, the word I am hearing from DOJ, who was working with the White House on the signing statement, was that they were done late last week.

So, it is not clear why Obama has still not yet signed the NDAA. Maybe he and the White House optics shop realized what a sour pill it would be to sign such a perceived toxic hit on civil liberties right before Christmas? The better question might be whether they are planning on slipping this little gem in the end of the week pre New Years trash dump.

Why Didn’t DOJ Look More Closely at DTRA’s Role in 2001 Anthrax Attacks?

The 317,000 square foot DTRA headquarters opened in 2005 to bring together the agency's 2000 employees.

[Note: This post has been updated to correct an error regarding the location of the Project BACUS facility.  Erroneous material has not been deleted but has been put into strikethrough font.]

In following up on yesterday’s announcement that the family of Robert Stevens, the first victim in the 2001 anthrax attacks, has settled their wrongful death suit with the US Government for $2.5 million, Marcy came across a number of documents recently released through the case. One of those documents got my attention from its title: “Integrated Capabilities Assessment of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases” (USAMRIID Capabilities pdf). I had anticipated that the document would be a technical assessment that would be relevant to the question of whether the facilities and equipment available to Bruce Ivins would have been appropriate for production of the anthrax spores used in the 2001 attacks. However, it turns out that the document was a report on a 1996 security assessment of the USAMRIID facility where Ivins worked. I almost moved on to other documents, but then I saw the list of agencies that conducted the review:

The last entry on the list is what stands out. The Defense Special Weapons Agency was folded into the newly formed Defense Threat Reduction Agency, or DTRA, in late 1998. And DTRA was important to me because they were the agency that carried out Project BACUS, first reported by Judy Miller on September 4, 2001. Miller’s Times article described DTRA building a facility at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah Nevada Test Site with a 50 liter fermenter capable of producing bioweapons microbes. The project was an exercise to determine how difficult it would be for authorities to spot a bioweapons production facility built by terrorists. Later, I found that in her bioweapons book published in 2001, Miller disclosed that the BACUS facility also is capable of weaponizing bacterial spores.

With those bits of history in mind, some of the findings from the 1996 assessment stand out. From the introductory material, we find this summary: Read more

William Welch & DOJ’s Dishonest Intelligence Witness Against Jeff Sterling

In a comment to Marcy’s The Narratology of Leaking: Risen and Sterling post yesterday, MadDog related this nugget regarding the Sterling case from a Steve Aftergood article in Privacy News:

I know EW’s post’s focus was on Sterling’s defense team’s strategy, but I’d be remiss in not commenting on this tidbit from Steven Aftergood’s post:

“…In addition, a former intelligence official now tells prosecutors that portions of his testimony before a grand jury concerning certain conversations with Mr. Risen about Mr. Sterling were “a mistake on his part.” As a result, prosecutors said (8 page PDF), Mr. Risen himself is “the only source for the information the government seeks to present to the jury.”…”

I wondered just what this paragraph meant. Did it mean, as I assumed, that one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, a former intelligence official, had in fact recanted the former intelligence official’s grand jury testimony?

Here is just what the prosecution blithely said on the matter from page 5 of their supplement (8 page PDF):

“…Fifth, the testimony of the “former intelligence official” referenced in the Court’s Opinion has changed. The former official will now only say that on one occasion, Mr. Risen spoke with him about the defendant and stated that the defendant had complained about not being sufficiently recognized for his role in Classified Program No. 1 and in his recruitment of a human asset relating to Classified Program No. 1, and that on a separate occasion, Mr. Risen asked him generic questions about whether the CIA would engage in general activity similar to Classified Program No. 1. This former official, however, cannot say that Mr. Risen linked the second conversation with the defendant, although both conversations occurred within several months of each other. The former official termed his grand jury testimony, which linked the two conversations together, as a mistake on his part. In addition, the former official further modified his testimony to say that although Mr. Risen had acknowledged visiting the defendant in his hometown, Mr. Risen’s trip to see the defendant was not the main purpose of his travel, but rather a side trip.

The testimony of this former official had been cited by the Court as providing “exactly what the government seeks to obtain from its subpoena [to Mr. Risen]: an admission that Sterling was Risen’s source for the classified information in Chapter Nine.” Memorandum Opinion (Dkt No.148) at 24. The former official’s testimony will not now provide such a direct admission, further underscoring the government’s contention that for the reasons discuss in its Motion, Mr. Risen is the only source for the information the government seeks to present to the jury…”

So, that got me thinking, what is the status of the “former intelligence officer” in question? Is he still on the witness list? Who is it, and why is he “former”? Has he been charged with false statements to a government officer under 18 USC 1001? Has he been charged with perjury under 18 USC 1623? Is there a criminal investigation regarding the duplicity underway? What is being done?

Because, giving the government’s prosecutors the benefit of the doubt that they did not misrepresent or puff the “former intelligence officer’s” statements and testimony to start with, which is a pretty sizable grant for a William Welch run show, then it seems pretty clear that the “former intelligence official” is now saying that he either testified to things he did not, in fact know at the time, or he embellished/lied to the grand jury and the attending prosecutors.

The problem with the above is, the “former intelligence official is not entitled to any protection or benefit of the doubt for a “recantation” under 18 USC 1963(d). Here is the relevant portion on Read more

Is Anwar al-Awlaki The Unnamed “National of the United States” In Warsame Indictment?

As Marcy noted Tuesday afternoon, and has been large in the news the last two days, there is a new terrorism prosecution announced by Eric Holder and the Obama DOJ. The case concerns Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, and is interesting in that Warsame is alleged to be a member/leader of al-Shabaab, and none of the allegations involve acts of plots against the US or its citizens directly.

In fact, the only significant nexus to the United States contained within the indictment unsealed against Warsame is that he:

…conspires with a national of the United States…

This is unusual as to the complete lack of description and details about the “national of the United States” and the complete absence of any information indicating the nature of conspiracy and/or contact with the “national of the United States. To be fair, a charging document is not legally required to be a “speaking indictment” that fully lays out every minute detail of the jurisdiction, venue and facts; although this one is one of the more silent ones I have seen in a long time from the DOJ.

But, what is really fascinating is this today from Charlie Savage at the New York Times:

Meanwhile, new details emerged about Mr. Warsame’s detention on a Navy ship after his capture in April aboard a fishing skiff between Yemen and Somalia, and about internal administration deliberations on legal policy questions that could have implications for the evolving conflict against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

A senior counterterrorism official said Wednesday that Mr. Warsame had recently met with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric now hiding in Yemen. After his capture, he was taken to the Boxer, an amphibious assault ship that was steaming in the region and has a brig, a senior military official said.

While Mr. Warsame is accused of being a member of the Shabab, which is focused on a parochial insurgency in Somalia, the administration decided he could be lawfully detained as a wartime prisoner under Congress’s authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to several officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security matters. (emphasis added)

So, we have Warsame allegedly “conspiring” with a “national of the United States” in the indictment with the identity and circumstances being unusually and ridiculously guarded and vague; and now we have Warsame having had contact with Awlaki.

Gee, I wonder what the odds are they are one in the same person???

Because, as you may remember, Awlaki is so secret that the US government saw fit to declare state secrets rather than explain to Awlaki’s parents why they feel justified to violently assassinate their son, a US citizen, without so much as a speck of due process. Now, I guess a guy that secret is someone the government might just be really vague about in an indictment of some tangential corollary person, say Warsame, for instance.

So, is it truly the case that Awlaki is indeed the unnamed “national of the United States” here in the Warsame indictment? I don’t know for certain, but it sure as heck fits the facts as we know them and the depraved refusal of the American government to talk about or let the public know its basis for impunity in marking an American citizen for extrajudicial termination with prejudice.

Now, back to the Warsame indictment for one last thought. While I agree with Marcy, Ben Wizner of ACLU and Adam Serwer that the Obama Administration decision to bring Warsame in front of an Article III court for trial was a brave one in relation to establishing credibility of traditional terrorism prosecutions, I wonder if Warsame is really the right case to do that with?

In Warsame, all the overt acts, heck all the acts period, took place outside of the US, and none of them, none, were particularly directed at all, much less with malice, at the US or US citizens. al Shabaab is a nasty group of terrorists to be sure, but is this really the use we want to make of US Article III courts? Shouldn’t the prosecutions the Administration uses to establish credibility have some, even minimal, overt act nexus to the United States and the Southern District of New York?