Monday, January 4, 2010
The Boys In Taffeta Never Rest: Ghosts of the Ghosts of Mississippi
When the feds want to nail somebody, they can always come up with some charges no matter how absurd. Look at Elliot Spitzer. He was Governor of New York, but previously had been Attorney General, and had a reputation as being the #1 attorney for going after the big Wall Street firms and nailing them in court. He was the most hated person on Wall Street. Just a few months before the whole Wall Street-Republican ponzi scheme of the Bush years collapsed, but when the collapse was imminent and undoubtedly known to the insiders, the Federal government went after Spitzer to take him down, get him out of the way, and serve as a warning to others: leave Wall Street alone. Wall Street and all the major players were allowed to rob the entire world and keep all the money, no investigations, no prosecutions, no restitutions, not even any laws to stop them from doing it again. Because Wall Street pays so much money in bribes to the politicians. But Spitzer, who had sex with prostitutes, is ruined.
Look at Martha Stewart. Exactly what is it she did? She is rich, successful, liberal, and a supporter of Democrats. So the federal government under the Bush regime went after her to take her down. They couldn't prove a substantive crime. Did you know that? They could not convict her of securities law violations such as insider trading. There was insufficient evidence to prove she had violated the securities laws. So instead the feds came up with a b.s. claim of failing to cooperate, misleading the prosecutors who were trying to put her away. And that's what she was convicted of. While Bernie Madoff walked around free, despite repeated complaints to the feds about his scam. Martha went to prison.
We have a fifth amendment which provides that nobody is required to testify against themself. "I take the fifth." It was enacted originally to prevent the government from trying to make a case against somebody by coercing, manipulating, beating, torturing, detaining, and otherwise destroying somebody's life until they would finally crack under the pressure. The theory behind the fifth amendment is that if the government thinks somebody has committed a crime, then they better go out and find evidence to support that claim. They will not compel the evidence out of the mouth of the accused.
So to get around the Fifth amendment protections, the federal government has come up with a series of patently unconstitutional laws that say people are compelled to answer their questions, to avoid impeding an investigation. So let's say they claim Defendant has some drugs in his bathroom, and they ask him: do you have drugs in your bathroom, and he says no. Then they go search and find the drugs, but it turns out the drugs don't belong to the Defendant, they belong to the week-end visitors. It doesn't matter. The feds can charge and convict the Defendant for lying to them, even though he did not commit any underlying crime. The Defendant himself did not have drugs, did not use drugs, did not sell or try to sell drugs. No drug-law violations. So they nail him instead for lying to the feds. It is a terrible law, the source of great injustice and out of control abuse by the boys in taffetta, J. Edgar's pantyhose-wearing heirs.
Here's another example of the misuse. Mississippi has a strong white male Republican ruling elite, most recently and disgustingly represented by Haley Barbour. Of course they hate black people, and do everything to prevent them from having any opportunity in that state. After Katrina the Republicans who control that state took all the recovery money and used it to turn over the entire coast to the criminal gambling syndicates of the mob, while their own residents got no help at all. They want to turn the state into one large gambling mecca, with drugs, alcohol, prostitution, high crime and low-wage jobs that go along with it, as well as large bribes and kick-backs paid to the corrupt politicians who support the mobs.
But the white men who run Mississippi hate most of all any white man who would stand against them and in favor of the civil rights of black people. Or civil rights of anyone, for that matter. Somebody who did, in a spectacular fashion, has been gotten by the feds on the same old b.s. charge: lying to them during an investigation. He's an American. He can refuse to cooperate, refuse to testify, and surely cannot be lawfully compelled to assist in the efforts to prosecute him. What a disgrace the federal government is. You'd think we didn't have a nation of neighborhoods terrorized by armed gangs. No, they waste their time going after middle-aged ladies who are financially successful and liberal. And by going after white men who don't support the racists and klan who still run the South.
Bobby DeLaughter was a Mississippi prosecutor who, in 1994, filed charges against Byron de la Beckwith for the murder of Medgar Evers. Evers was murdered in 1963. Many Southern states had refused to prosecute people who killed civil rights workers. Medgar Evers was gunned down in his own driveway when on the way home from work one evening. The story of the murder and the prosecution 30 years later was told in the movie "Ghosts of Mississippi" directed by Rob Reiner and starring Alec Baldwin as Bobby DeLaughter, Whoopi Goldberg as the widow of Medgar Evers, and James Woods as Byron de la Beckwith.
Bobby DeLaughter has since become a judge, and apparently wanted to become a federal judge. Instead, he's going to prison. The accusation against him is that while he was sitting as a judge in a dispute between two lawyers, he had private conversations with his old boss. The accusation is that he ruled in favor of one of the lawyers because DeLaughter's old boss claimed that lawyer had promised to support DeLaughter in his effort to become a federal judge.
The original charges by the boys in taffetta were that DeLaughter (1) lied about even having any conversation with his former boss; (2) committed conspiracy (another b.s. claim) and (3) committed mail fraud. But where, you might ask, is the substantive crime? Lying to the prosecutors? Conspiracy? That claim was dropped, but is usually a charge that is brought when the prosecutors know that they can't convict somebody for committing a crime. A conspiracy is an "agreement" to commit a crime. No crime needed. Mail fraud? Come on.
DeLaughter pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the fact that he had conversations with his old boss. His old boss (part of the confederacy?) took $1.0 million from one side in the lawsuit based on his claims that he could influence DeLaughter, get DeLaughter to rule in favor of one side, based on his friendship with DeLaughter. The old boss, a guy named Peters, the guy who took the $1.0 million bribe, wasn't even charged by the feds. He goes free and DeLaughter goes to prison. Stinks to high heaven.
Don't get me wrong. I don't like lawyers, and don't particularly like judges who are, after all, just lawyers who sucked up to the right people so they could get themselves appointed to the bench. There are some good lawyers and some good judges. But most judges are just conservative white men who get the position based on being conservative white men, without regard to merit. But whether DeLaughter was a good judge or not, this trend of misusing the FBI to destroy prominent people on ridiculous charges makes me sick. If the FBI wants to show how tough they are, why don't they go after the criminals on Wall Street who have bankrupt our country?
From the AP:
"DeLaughter was sentenced to 18 months in November after pleading guilty to lying about secret conversations he had with a lawyer while presiding over a dispute between wealthy lawyers over legal fees. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped conspiracy and mail fraud charges."
"DeLaughter pleaded guilty only to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with his old boss, former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters. Peters was accused of receiving $1 million to influence DeLaughter, but he cooperated in the investigation and was not charged."