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Loretta Lynch Is A Dubious Nominee For Attorney General

CryingJusticeLoretta Lynch is an excellent nominee for Attorney General, and her prior actions in whitewashing the blatant and rampant criminality of HSBC should not be held against her, because she didn’t know that at the time she last whitewashed that criminal enterprise, right?

No. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is a cop out by Lynch’s advocates. Lynch either knew, or damn well should have known. She signed off on the HSBC Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), if she was less than fully informed, that is on her. That is what signing legal documents stands for….responsibility. Banks like HSBC, Credit Suisse, ING etc were, and still are, a cesspool of criminal activity and avoidance schemes. Willful blindness to the same old bankster crimes by Lynch doesn’t cut it (great piece by David Dayen by the way).

But, all the above ignores the Swiss Alps sized mountains of evidence that we know Lynch was aware of and blithely swept under the rug by her HSBC DPA. So, we are basically left to decide whether Lynch is a bankster loving toady that is her own woman and cravenly whitewashed this all on her own, or whether she is a clueless stooge taking orders to whitewash it by DOJ Main. Both views are terminally unattractive and emblematic of the oblivious, turn the other cheek to protect the monied class, rot that infects the Department of Justice on the crimes of the century to date.

And that is only scratching the real surface of my objections to Lynch. There are many other areas where Lynch has proven herself to be a dedicated, dyed in the wool “law and order adherent” and, as Marcy Wheeler artfully coined, “executive maximalist”. Lynch’s ridiculous contortion, and expansion, of extraterritorial jurisdiction to suit the convenient whims of the Obama Administration’s unparalleled assault on the Rule of Law in the war on terror is incredibly troubling. Though, to be fair, EDNY is the landing point of JFK International and a frequent jurisdiction by designation. Some of these same questions could have been asked of Preet Bharara (see, e.g. U.S. v. Warsame) Loretta Lynch has every bit the same, if not indeed more, skin in the game as Bharara, whether by choice or chance.

Lynch has never uttered a word in dissent from this ridiculous expansion of extraterritorial jurisdiction. Lynch’s record in this regard is crystal clear from cases like US v. Ahmed, Yousef, et. al. where even Lynch and her office acknowledged that their targets could not have “posed a specific threat to the United States” much less have committed specific acts against the US.

This unconscionable expansion is clearly all good by Lynch, and the ends justify the means because there might be “scary terrists” out there. That is just dandy by American “executive maximalists”, but it is toxic to the Rule of Law, both domestically and internationally (See, supra). If the US, and its putative Attorney General, are to set precedents in jurisdictional reach on common alleged terroristic support, then they ought live by them on seminal concerns like torture and war crimes under international legal norms. Loretta Lynch has demonstrated a proclivity for the convenience of the former and a toady like disdain for the latter.

And the same willingness to go along to get along with contortion of the Rule of Law in that regard seems beyond certain to extend to her treatment of surveillance issues and warrant applications, state secrets, over-classification, attack on the press and, critically, separation of powers issues. Those types of concerns, along with how the Civil Rights Division is utilized to rein in out of control militarized cops and voting rights issues, how the OLC stands up to Executive overreach, whether OPR is allowed to continue to shield disgraceful and unethical AUSAs, and whether she has the balls to stand up to the infamously insulated inner Obama circle in the White House. Do you really think Loretta Lynch would have backed up Carolyn Krass and OLC in telling Obama no on the Libyan War Powers Resolution issue?

For my part, I don’t think there is a chance in hell Lynch would have stood up to Obama on a war powers, nor any other critical issue, and that is a huge problem. Krass and Holder may have lost the Libyan WPR battle, but at least they had the guts to stand up and say no, and leave a record of the same for posterity.

That is what really counts, not the tripe being discussed in the press, and the typically preening clown show “hearing” in front of SJC. That is where the rubber meets the road for an AG nominee, not that she simply put away some mobsters and did not disgrace herself – well, beyond the above, anyway (which she absolutely did) – during her time as US Attorney in EDNY. If you are a participant in, or interested observer of, the criminal justice system as I am, we should aspire to something better than Eric Holder. Holder may not have been everything hoped for from an Obama AG when the Administration took office in January of 2009, but he was a breath of fresh air coming off the AG line of the Bush/Cheney regime. Loretta Lynch is not better, and is not forward progress from Holder, indeed she is several steps down in the wrong direction. That is not the way to go.

The fact that Loretta Lynch is celebrated as a great nominee by not just Democrats in general, but the so called progressives in specific, is embarrassing. She is absolutely horrible. If Bush had put her up for nomination, people of the progressive ilk, far and wide, would be screaming bloody murder. Well, she is the same person, and she is a terrible nominee. And that does not bode well for the Rule of Law over the remainder of the Obama Administration.

And this post has not even touched on more mundane, day to day, criminal law and procedure issues on which Lynch is terrible. And horrible regression from Eric Holder. Say for instance pot. Decriminalization, indeed legalization, of marijuana is one of the backbone elements of reducing both the jail and prison incarceration rate, especially in relation to minorities. Loretta Lynch is unconscionably against that (See, e.g., p. 49 (of pdf) et. seq.). Lynch appears no more enlightened on other sentencing and prison reform, indeed, she seems to be of a standard hard core prosecutorial wind up law and order lock em up mentality. Lynch’s positions on relentless Brady violations by the DOJ were equally milquetoast, if not pathetic (See, e.g. p. 203 (of pdf) et. seq.). This discussion could go on and on, but Loretta Lynch will never come out to be a better nominee for Attorney General.

Observers ought stop and think about the legal quality, or lack thereof, of the nominee they are blindly endorsing. If you want more enlightened criminal justice policy, to really combat the prison state and war on drugs, and to rein in the out of control security state and war on terror apparatus, Loretta Lynch is a patently terrible choice; we can, and should, do better.

Eric Holder Resigns, Will Likely Go Back to Representing Banks at Covington and Burling

As we speak, Chuck Schumer is probably yelling into a phone trying to get President Obama to nominate Wall Street’s US Attorney Preet Bharara to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General. “Barahck,” Schumer is probably yelling, “I can get Mitch to agree to push Preet through in the Lame Duck.”

That’s because Holder has just announced his resignation, pending confirmation of his successor.

The three most interesting details in Carrie Johnson’s scoop on Holder’s resignation are that he is likely to return to Covington and Burling, where — like former Criminal Division Chief Lanny Breuer before him — he will represent banks as they craft sweetheart deals with DOJ.

Friends and former colleagues say Holder has made no decisions about his next professional perch, but they say it would be no surprise if he returned to the law firm Covington & Burling, where he spent years representing corporate clients.

Nice to know a guy can still profit off of 6 years of overlooking rampant bank crime.

Johnson also reported that Holder plans to push through racial profiling guidelines that will protect African Americans but not Muslims.

Long-awaited racial profiling guidelines for federal agents will be released soon, too. Those guidelines will make clear that sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion are not legitimate bases for law enforcement suspicion, but controversial mapping of certain communities — including Muslim Americans — would still be allowed for national security investigations, one of the sources said.

That will soil the one real bright spot of Holder’s tenure at DOJ, his fight for civil rights.

Finally, Johnson reported that Don Verrilli — the guy who seemed to, but did not quite — lose the ObamaCare fight is the leading candidate to replace Holder.

The sources say a leading candidate for that job is Solicitor General Don Verrilli, the administration’s top representative to the Supreme Court and a lawyer whose judgment and discretion are prized in both DOJ and the White House.

By “judgement and discretion,” I wonder whether Johnson’s sources are referring to Verrilli’s stubbornness in not correcting the lies he told SCOTUS (wittingly or unwittingly) about DOJ’s implementation of FISA Amendments Act in the Amnesty v. Clapper case. By claiming, falsely, that DOJ gives defendants notice that they’ve been caught using Section 702, Verrilli successfully beat back the Justices’ concerns that no one would ever have standing to challenge these laws.

For what it’s worth, I think people are vastly overestimating the time it will take to replace Holder. After all, Republicans are on the record that they believe Holder to be contemptuous of Congress. While the House GOP that is suing him don’t actually get a vote on his replacement, surely they’ll convince their proxy Ted Cruz to represent their contempt.

Thus, for the right candidate, I suspect confirmation will happen quickly, just as Caroline Krass got confirmed in a landslide when the costs of leaving Robert Eatinger — who referred CIA’s overseers to DOJ for investigation — in place as Acting CIA General Counsel became clear.

I’m just not convinced Verrilli is that guy. And while Preet did lead the investigation into Alberto Gonzales’ politicization of the US Attorneys when he worked for Schumer, surely the GOP cares more about his diligent efforts to not investigate the banks in the interim.

Remember How Angry Russia Is about Viktor Bout

As we await the next installment from Edward Snowden’s White Bronco chase around the globe, it’s worth remembering our attempt to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and the Boston Marathon attack (and subsequent whitewashing about how closely Russia is cooperating) are not the only things underlying US-Russian relations.

Russia is still very angry about our assertion of jurisdiction to entrap Viktor Bout for selling arms to FARC.

Indeed, Preet Bharara is among the US officials that Russia sanctioned in retaliation for the Magnitsky list, along with such leading lights of American law as John Yoo and David Addington.

Jeralyn lays out Russian frustrations over our manufactured jurisdiction with two of their citizens here.

Bout’s story (background here)is even worse. He was the victim of a DEAsting in Thailand. The U.S. fought tooth and nail to extradite him and lost. The U.S. appealed (and likely pulled some strings, if the Wikileaks cables are any indication, and lo and behold, The higher court in Thailand approved his extradition. He spent a miserable two years at MCC in New York, was convicted and sentenced to 35 years which he is serving at theUSP in Marion, IL., one of our SuperMax prisons. The U.S. claims he’s a “Lord of War” and seller of arms. He never sold arms here. What’s it our business? Why have a prisoner transfer treaty if you aren’t going to use it? Did anyone ask the American taxpayers if they want to pay $40,000 a year times 30 years to warehouse Bout in a high security prison when Russia’s willing to take him?

You don’t have to like what Bout did (which is not much more destabilizing than what Erik Prince has done) to understand that when the US claims jurisdiction over anyone in the world, even if they do nothing to harm the US directly, is going to piss off other countries.

Eventually, those countries may have an opportunity to express their frustration about it.

When the Preet Promotion Industry Speaks, the Nation Gets Nervous

In an article with the URL “when-preet-bharara-speaks-the-shady-get-nervous,” the WaPo repeats a now familiar formula for stories boosting US Attorney Preet Bharara’s fortune: lots of quotes from political powerful allies…

“If [Bharara] smells corruption, he’ll go after it and figure out a way to corral it,” [Chuck] Schumer said. “But he will not make up cases for the sake of making up cases.”

Lots of celebration of recent headlines (I mean, cmon, as I understand it, indicting corrupt NY officials has become the prosecutorial equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel)…

“For the second time in three days, we unseal criminal charges against a sitting member of our state legislature,” Bharara, 44, said during the Thursday afternoon news conference in downtown Manhattan. This time, the U.S. attorney accused a Bronx assemblyman of accepting bribes as part of a scheme to aid developers, which Bharara called “a fairly neat trick” that amounted to “a legislator selling legislation.”

And lots of hints that scream “Pick Preet! Promote Preet!”

It is now highly unlikely that the White House would forget about Bharara, as administration officials somehow did in 2009, when they failed to invite the Indian American powerhouse to the Indian state dinner.

[snip]

Such concerns are unlikely to slow down Bharara. Considered politically astute by observers in Washington and New York, Bharara made a point of not taking sides in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary that pitted then-senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. He has been rumored as a possible successor to his boss, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., either in the current administration or the next Democratic one.

But not one word about his failure to hold anyone accountable for the 2008 financial crash (aside from citing last year’s Time magazine story that falsely claimed “This Man Is Busting Wall Street”).

But Chuck Schumer and Preet’s other boosters appear to believe that’s the formula that will get Preet nominated to replace Eric Holder.

Sadly, they’re probably right.

Another Week, Another Bankster with Impunity

This week, the bankster who will avoid all legal accountability is MF Global and its CEO Jon Corzine. So says the NYT.

While I’m disgusted by that news, I’m not shocked. I’ve grown used to the guarantee that top banksters are immune from all laws.

What I’m interested in is how NYT conveys their news.

First, note what crime they claim MF Global might have committed: fraud. Not theft.

After 10 months of stitching together evidence on the firm’s demise, criminal investigators are concluding that chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear, according to people involved in the case.

I guess if you said “theft” then you couldn’t suggest the money just disappeared–poof!–rather than got taken to pay off the company’s own obligations.

Plus it’d be a lot harder to accomplish the article’s other main objective, besides reporting yet another Get Out of Jail Free card. While the story seems to have been seeded by people in Preet Bharara’s neighborhood to set the expectation that he would once again fail to bring charges against a bankster, the NYT seems intent on rehabilitating Corzine’s reputation. Consider that they dedicate paragraphs 6 and 7 portraying the tragic plight of a multi-millionaire with a cloud hanging over him.

While the government’s findings would remove the darkest cloud looming over Mr. Corzine — the threat of criminal charges — the former Goldman Sachs chief is not yet in the clear. Read more

Yet More White House Involvement in FOIA Responses

As I’ve been writing my series on the Administration’s extensive efforts to hide all mention of what I have decided to call the Gloves Come Off Memorandum of Notification, this passage from Daniel Klaidman’s article on the Administration’s equivocations about revealing information on the Anwar al-Awlaki killing has been nagging me.

Another senior official expressing caution about the plan was Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House counsel. She cautioned that the disclosures could weaken the government’s stance in pending litigation. The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the release of the Justice Department legal opinion in the Awlaki case. (The department has declined to provide the documents requested.)

The suggestion here is that White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler didn’t want to affirmatively reveal details about Awlaki’s killing because doing so would mean they’d have to reveal details in the ACLU and NYT’s FOIAs for … the same information.

That never really made sense (though I never dwelt too much on it because the Administration’s stance on secrecy rarely makes sense).

But in the last few days, I’ve been wondering if Ruemmler was thinking not about the drone FOIA–about revealing details of one element authorized by the Gloves Come Off MON–but instead thinking about the MON itself. After all, if the government reveals one (torture) after another (drones) of the programs authorized by the Gloves Come Off MON, then it gets harder and harder to claim the whole MON must remain secret. And remember, still to be litigated in the torture FOIA is the MON itself, in addition to what I believe are references to it in the title of the Tenet memo.

And while this may mean nothing, the government has been stalling on its response to the drone FOIA. Back on April 9, the government asked for 10 more days to respond to the FOIA. Judge Colleen McMahon responded by snipping, “Ok, but dont ask for any more time. If government official can give speeches about this matter without creating security problem, any involved agency can.” Yet in spite of her warning, they asked for an additional month-long extension today.

We write respectfully on behalf of the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency (collectively, the “Government”) to seek a further extension until May 21, 2012, of the Government’s deadline to file its consolidated motion for summary judgment in these related Freedom of Information Act cases seeking records pertaining to alleged targeted lethal operations directed at U.S. citizens and others affiliated with al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. has personally directed us to seek this additional time to allow the Government to finalize its position with regard to the sensitive national security matters presented in this case.

We are mindful of the Court’s admonition in its April 9, 2012, order that the Government not seek an further extensions of its briefing deadline, and we do not take this request lightly. Given the significance of the matters presented in this case, the Government’s position is being deliberated at the highest level of the Executive Branch. It has become clear that further consultation and discussion at that level of the Executive Branch is necessary before the Government can make its submission to the Court.

Read more

CIA’s NSC’s President’s Torture Program'>The CIA’s NSC’s President’s Torture Program

One more diversionary post before I delve into why the Administration is so worried about releasing a short phrase that, I suspect, acknowledges that George Bush’s September 17, 2001 Memorandum of Notification authorized the torture program.

National Security Advisor Jim Jones submitted a declaration supporting Administration efforts to keep the authorization behind the torture program secret

I want to reflect on what it means that then-National Security Advisor Jim Jones submitted a declaration–sometime in Fall 2009–to keep this short phrase hidden. The government revealed that, though without hinting at what Jones had to say, in the October 29, 2009 closed hearing with Judge Alvin Hellerstein.

MR, LANE . We think the first Issue before we get to documents is your Honor had asked us to specifically identify the second declarant. There is a second declaration in this case. And we wanted to put that on the record that that declaration is from James L. Jones, Assistant to the President for National Security and National Security Advisor,

AUSA Sean Lane then goes on to make clear that Jones’ declaration argues why Hellerstein should withhold the few word acknowledgment that the Memorandum of Notification authorized the torture program.

THE COURT: Both [Jones’ declaration and a second sealed one from CIA Associate Information Review Office Wendy Hilton] support the argument for maintenance of the redactions.
MR. LANE: Correct, your Honor. They both address what the government ties been calling “the Intelligence method” withheld from the two OLC memos, and the Court has been referring to as “The source of the CIA’s authority.”

So it’s not just that–as I inaccurately suggested the other day–that the CIA is trying to keep this short phrase noting that the President authorized the torture program secret. The National Security Advisor–for all intents and purposes, the President himself–is going to some lengths to keep that phrase secret as well.

Read more

Wall Street Shills Hype How Much Preet Bharara Could Make If He Stopped Shielding Wall Street

The Time Cover–facetiously suggesting that SDNY US Attorney Preet Bharara was busting anyone of note–was bad enough.

But this piece from noted Wall Street booster, Charlie Gasparino, reads more like a reminder to his readers of the protection they might lose if Bharara decided to check out and cash in.

Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District, is telling friends that if he should leave his job today, he could earn as much as $6 million in the private sector, according to people with direct knowledge of these conversations. Bharara’s private statements come as speculation grows in Washington that the politically savvy prosecutor might also replace his boss, US Attorney General Eric Holder, if President Obama wins re-election.

[snip]

That said, private law firms seek out prosecutors of Bharara’s level primarily because of the high-profile clients they can attract.

An especially nice touch is the vote of approval from Harvey Pitt, whose enabling of financial corruption set new standards even from the Wall Street-coddling SEC.

“I have no doubt he would be a star in the private sector,” said former SEC chairman Harvey Pitt, who also worked as a high-profile private-sector attorney. “Bharara deserves enormous credit for the insider-trading effort, the cases his office has brought, and what his office is accomplishing. I just think it would be better if other people said that.”

When Harvey Pitt hails what your office is accomplishing, it usually means Wall Street crooks are getting a legal pass.

As they are.

And now we know the price Bharara expects when he cashes out: $6 million.

Confirmed: the Government Hid–and Is Still Hiding–Manssor Arbabsiar’s First Docket

I first raised questions of why the government had charged Manssor Arbabsiar–the Scary Iran Plotter–with an amended complaint almost two weeks ago. As I noted then, the obvious existence of an earlier sealed complaint might suggest the possibility that Arbabsiar was charged with something entirely different than the murder-for-hire charges he got charged with on October 11.

First (and this is what got me looking at the docket in the first place), the complaint is an amended complaint. That says there’s a previous complaint. But that complaint is not in the docket. Not only is it not in the docket, but the docket starts with the arrest on September 29 (notice the docket lists his arrest twice, on both September 29 and October 11), but the numbering starts with the amended complaint (normally, even if there were a sealed original complaint, it would be incorporated within the numbering, such that the docket might start with the amended complaint but start with number 8 or something).

Two things might explain this. First, that there was an earlier unrelated complaint–say on drug charges, but the charges are tied closely enough to this op such that this counts as an amended complaint. Alternately, that Arbabsiar was charged with a bunch of things when he was arrested on September 29, but then, after at least 12 days of cooperation (during which he waived Miranda rights each day), he was charged with something else and the new complaint incorporated Ali Gholam Shakuri’s involvement, based entirely on Arbabsiar’s confession and Shakuri’s coded conversations with Arbabsiar while the latter was in US custody. [emphasis original]

If Arbabsiar were originally charged with something different than he was charged with on October 11–for example, if he were charged with drug charges that might put him away for hard time–it might explain why he waived Miranda rights for 12 days in a row, when he had, on 5 different occasions in his past, hired lawyers to represent him when he got in legal trouble.

Well, this filing not only confirms that an earlier complaint exists–the earlier complaint is dated September 28–but it confirms my suspicion the complaint is in an different docket that is entirely sealed.

On September 28, 2011, Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV authorized a complaint bearing docket number 11 Mag. 2534 (“Sealed Complaint”), charging the above-listed defendant. The Sealed Complaint is attached hereto as Exhibit A.

On October 11, 2011, Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger authorized an Amended Complaint (11 Mag. 2617) charging the defendant and Gholam Shakuri (“Amended Complaint”). By order of the Honorable Loretta A. Preska, dated October 11, 2011, the Sealed Complaint was ordered to remain sealed. On October 11, 2011, the defendant was presented on only the Amended Complaint.

The Government respectfully requests that the Court enter a limited unsealing order permitting the Government to produce the Sealed Complaint in redacted form to defense counsel as part of the discovery process. The Sealed Complaint would otherwise remain sealed.

First, compare the docket numbers:

First Complaint: 11-mg-2534

Amended Complaint: 11-mg-2617

Criminal Indictment: 11-cr-897

These are three entirely different dockets.

A search for criminal magistrate docket 11-2534 returns nothing. Which means the docket–the entire docket–is and remains sealed.

This increases the likelihood that the first complaint charges entirely different charges–such as opium charges–than the amended complaint does.

Indeed, the language of this letter appears to suggest that only Arbabsiar was charged in the first complaint. Even if this earlier complaint pertained to murder-for-hire charges, this might make sense–as I have pointed out, most of the current charges are conspiracy charges that would involve at least two defendants. But the letter suggests–by stating only that “the defendant was presented on only the Amended Complaint”–that there may be charges unique to Arbabsiar, completely unrelated charges that hang over him still–that weren’t charged because of his 12-day cooperation to implicate Shakuri.

And here’s the kicker. The government isn’t even telling Arbabsiar’s defense counsel all of what was in that first complaint. They are asking that she receive the complaint in redacted form.

So not only are they hiding the original basis of his arrest from us–US citizens and the world community, to whom the government claimed this is an international incident. But they’re hiding parts of this earlier complaint even from the public defender tasked to actually represent this guy.

DOJ Offers No More Detail on Scary Iran Plot in Indictment

I had this naive hope that DOJ would use the opportunity of an indictment to fill in some of the holes in their case.

Like I said, naive hope.

The indictment appears to be the amended complaint, without the affidavit, with an arrest warrant for Gholam Shakuri.