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Fate of One of Bush's Worst - Hans Von Spakovsky - to be Decided by Feinstein and Other Senate Dems
Here's Hoping They Get This One Right...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2007 2:30pm PT  

We don't normally re-run entire items from elsewhere here. This one, however, is important (and short) enough to merit it. From Paul Kiel over at TPMMuckraker...

Finally, the time has come. The Senate Rules Committee will vote tomorrow on whether Hans von Spakovsky, the former Justice Department official who former employees say was key to the politicization of voting rights section, will get a term on the Federal Elections Commission. Von Spakovsky is also a veteran of Republican efforts to target voter fraud.

It's not immediately clear what will happen tomorrow. Howard Gantman, staff director for the committee, said that Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wants a vote on each nominee separately (as opposed to considering all four nominees, Democratic and Republican, in one vote) and that she continues to have serious concerns about Von Spakovsky. He also said that no deal had been struck.

Former employees of the voting section mounted serious opposition to von Spakovsky's nomination, with a group writing in a letter to the committee that he'd been "the point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division's mandate to protect voting rights." Von Spakovsky, however, portrayed himself during his confirmation hearing as just a lawyer in the section who gave advice when it was asked. It was a portrayal with real problems --- as von Spakovsky himself tacitly acknowledged when he modified his testimony in later written answers to the committee.

Von Spakovsky also sought to spike accusations that he'd retaliated against wrong-thinking employees (i.e. lawyers overly-preoccupied with African-Americans' voting rights) by, among other things, adding negative comments to their performance evaluations. But two former lawyers told us that he'd done just that --- and then went so far as to stifle their appeals of the changes.

President Bush put von Spakovsky on the commission as a recess appointment in December, 2005.

You can register your opinion on Hans von Spakovsky, who is as evil as his name evokes, with the Senate Rules Committee and Feinstein (D-CA) here: 202-224-6352, or via their website.

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What is It About Florida Republicans and Sex With Children?
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2007 4:30pm PT  

Unbelievable...

DETROIT --- A U.S. Justice Department official has been arrested on suspicion of traveling to Detroit over the weekend to have sex with a minor.

John David R. Atchison, 53, an assistant U.S. attorney from the northern district of Florida, was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Detroit Monday afternoon.

An undercover officer posed as a mother offering her child to Atchison for sex, according to police.

Prosecutors said Atchison flew from Pensacola, Fla., to Detroit on Sunday intending to have sex with the 5-year-old girl.
...
The undercover detective asked how Atchison can be certain of no injury. He responded, "Just gotta go slow and very easy. I've done it plenty," according to detectives.

Atchison, a member of the Florida bar association since 1984, lives in Gulf Breeze, Fla., near Pensacola.

He is president of the Gulf Breeze Sports Association, a youth athletics organization.

He described himself online as a family man.

UPDATE 10/6/07: On his second attempt, Atchison succeeded in killing himself in federal prison. Details on that, and our inference on his being a Republican right here...

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By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2007 4:33pm PT  

Alberto Gonzales leaves office today. Not a moment too soon.

From his farewell address:

Over the past two and a half years, I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible. I have seen things I didn't know man was capable of.

No kidding, Gonzo. Adios.

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Republicanists Using Their Politicized Big Government Tools to Fight Against Democracy in America
Voter Roll Purges Ordered for 2008 by DoJ in 10 Key States...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2007 8:35am PT  

Gonzalez and Schlozman and Griffin may be gone, but the long-term politicization and damage at the DoJ was done and institutionalized long ago. The usual suspects --- Thor Hearne, Hans von Spakovsky, Joe Tanner, et al. --- are still plying their insidious anti-democracy trade with all of the tools of big Republican government at their disposal.

If you Dems think "nothing could possibly go wrong in 2008," you'd better think again. As Steve Rosenfeld at AlterNet reports, the Republicans aren't taking '08 lying down. Not by a long shot.

Earlier this year, the DoJ sent another round of threatening letters to 10 key battleground states, threatening to sue them if they do not purge their voter rolls. Yes, the Republicanists have found a "legal" way to use the DoJ to do the illegal vote-caging work the party and their phony well-funded "grass-roots" used to have to do. No wonder Thor's American Center for Voting Rights was able to go "out of business."

The DoJ is the new ACVR.

"They want more people showing up on Election Day and not finding their names," former DoJ Voting Section attorney David Becker, now of People for the American Way (PFAW), tells Rosenfeld. "They want people not voting."

If you don't haven time to read Rosenfeld's entire in-depth investigative report (which should have been on the front page of the NY Times) here are a few of the key grafs...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Elizabeth de la Vega Says 'It Won't Work,' Calls Bush Statement 'Shameless'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2007 10:39am PT  

Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega, author of United States v. George W. Bush et al, sends us the following comments on the resignation of Alberto Gonzales...

“With the departures of Karl Rove, and now Alberto Gonzales, the administration is apparently cutting off its arms and legs to save itself. But this approach does not --- and should not --- work when the source of the disease is in the head, a fact that President Bush has vividly demonstrated this morning when he defiantly accused Congress of dragging Gonzales’s ‘good name through the mud.’ Having used Gonzales as the executioner of the administration’s unprecedented and shameful policies with regard to torture, illegal detention, and politicization of the Justice Department, the President now seeks to politicize Gonzales’s flight from the scene of the crime by blaming the Democrats. We can only hope that Congress will not be intimidated by this shameless, and very tiresome, refrain.”

Ditto. A fish rots from the head down.

UPDATE: One additional thought. Gonzales finally resigned once his potential impeachment by the Democrats seemed where all of this might be heading. We might suggest the same outcome --- resignation --- would be likely for George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney, once they began to see impeachment as likely, giving them both the chance to claim they were being good guys by 'stepping aside for the good of the country.' What say we give them that out? Dems ought to reconsider their Constitutional duty of bringing accountability to the Executive Branch for the many demonstrated acts of High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

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Will DHS Chief Michael Chertoff Be His Replacement?
Former Republican Congressman Says Gonzales 'Has Done a Terrible Job' as Attorney General, 'Position Based on Loyalty Not Competence'...
By Jon Ponder on 8/27/2007 5:41am PT  

Guest-blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review

U.S. Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales has resigned.

Word of the resignation, which was submitted to George W. Bush last Friday has been leaked to the press, apparently by officials at Bush's vacation home in Texas:

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls to resign, submitted his resignation to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch [sic] near [Crawford, Texas].

Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Attorney General's resignation had not yet been made public.

In a series of congressional hearings earlier this year, Gonzales appeared to have perjured himself on multiple occasions. His dissembling and supposedly poor memory about his own actions related to the firing of nine U.S. attorneys and on other matters outraged members of Congress in both parties, some of whom were reportedly considering a move to impeach him this fall.

During a press conference earlier this month, Bush dismissed the idea of firing Gonzales, charging that Congress had found no wrong-doing. "Why would I hold someone accountable whose done nothing wrong?" Bush asked in response to a reporter's question.

Speaking of impeachment, early speculation suggests Bush might nominate DHS Sec. Michael Chertoff, a former judge, as Gonzales's replacement. Chertoff first achieved national notoriety by appearing on cable shows as a virulent anti-Clinton, pro-impeachment talking head in the 1990s. His chief qualification to be attorney general is his status as one of a very few loyal Bush cronies who has won Senate approval in the recent past and therefore could win approval now.

Another name in the mix earlier this year was that of former Bush solicitor general Ted Olson. Olson has even closer ties to the right-wing conspiracies a decade ago. A longtime friend of Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr, Olson served as the de facto chief operating officer of the Arkansas Project, a smear campaign against the Clintons that was funded by Pittsburgh millionaire Richard Melon Scaiffe and was operated out of the offices of the American Spectator magazine. Olson also successfully argued Bush v. Gore at the Supreme Court, for which he was rewarded with the post of solicitor general.

UPDATE: Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman turned MSNBC commentator, said of Gonzales moments ago on the cable news channel that Gonzales "has done a terrible job. His position was based on loyalty, not on competence."

"The question is," Scarborough said, "will this president have the courage to appoint someone [to replace him] based on integrity and competence, rather than loyalty."

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Many Questions, Legal and Otherwise, Still Unanswered Concerning the Mysteriously-Funded 'Non-Partisan' GOP Front Group
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2007 12:04pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Kansas (which has nothing the matter with it, btw)...

Last Thursday, Sentido.tv did an excellent job of collecting and collating "our story up until now" of Thor Hearne's vote-suppression GOP front group, "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR). Sentido's thorough coverage includes well-sourced references, links, collections of information and historical reporting on the rise and fall of the ACVR scam that has slowly occurred since The BRAD BLOG originally broke the story of Rove's buddy Hearne --- the national general counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. --- and his mysteriously funded "non-partisan" anti-democracy campaign.

The latest story details the GOP front-group's appearance, the background of their known key players, up through their recent attempts to scrub all references to themselves across the Internets in the wake of their revealed connections to the U.S. Attorney Purge. Here's a few sample grafs which tie the ACVR's disingenuous propaganda efforts to their interest in distracting from real investigations of Ohio 2004 and of the democracy-imperiling dangers of electronic voting...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Yet Another One Bites the Dust in Continuing U.S. Attorney Purge Scandal...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2007 4:07pm PT  

TPMMuckraker has the scoop on the latest now-former U.S. Attorney to resign entirely from the DoJ in the wake of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal. Bradley Schlozman had reportedly been under investigation by the DoJ's inspector general. Schlozman had been moved into the U.S. Attorney position in Western Missouri before subsequently bringing bogus "voter fraud" indictments in the state just prior to the November 2006 general election.

The MO indictments were in violation of the DoJ's own written rules, which disallowed such cases being brought during an election period. After leaving his post in Kansas City recently, Schlozman had been reassigned at DoJ in the office which oversees all U.S. Attorneys. He was recently called to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was on the receiving end of angry disbelieving questions by Sen. Patrick Leahy (video of the exchange here). After the testimony, a DoJ insider told The BRAD BLOG that he found testimony to be "on the razor's edge of purjury." Schlozman would later send clarification of his testimony to the Senate Committee.

Schlozzie --- along with Hans von Spakovsky, who still awaits Senate confirmation for appointment as head the FEC, after he'd previously been recess-appointed by Bush last year --- have been much criticized by DoJ insiders for helping to gut the Voting Rights section of the department's Civil Rights division.

While dozens of DoJ and White House officials have been forced to quit in the wake of the scandal, the White House and DoJ continue to insist that no illegalities or improprieties were committed.

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Says Congress Has Not Said Attorney General Guilty Of Any Wrongdoing
By Alan Breslauer on 8/9/2007 4:33pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer




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To Appeal to 'President's Conservative Religous Base,' DoJ Looked the Other Way as Kids Were Sexually Molested by Those 'Protecting' Them...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2007 11:34am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Plano, TX...

"Compassionate Conservatism" at work.

Dallas Morning News reports today that there were 2000 confirmed allegations of kids in the Texas juvenile penal system who were beaten and molested by those who were supposed to be protecting them between Jan 2003 and Dec 2006.

The U.S. Justice Department knew about it and declined to prosecute. 2000 cases.

Notably, one of the sick and twisted "voter fraud" zealots at the U.S. DoJ, Bradley Schlozman, also finds his way into the middle of this story. As the Morning News, who spent three months on their investigation, reports on the ignored cases of rape, abuse, and manipulation of these kids:

[T]wo former career attorneys in the [DoJ] Civil Rights Division contended the department's political leadership shifted enforcement priorities to human-trafficking prosecutions because that would appeal more to the president's conservative religious base. One of the attorneys said there was also a desire not to anger the law-and-order segment of the Bush constituency with abuse of authority prosecutions.

[Albert Moskowitz, chief of the Criminal Section from 1999 to 2005, said] his supervisor, Bradley Schlozman, left no doubt about his distaste for abuse of authority cases.
...
"He sort of made that clear, and that had a sort of self-censoring effect on people," Mr. Moskowitz said. "People got awards not for doing police cases but for doing [human] trafficking cases."

The U.S. Attorney in San Antonio, Johnny Sutton, who received the case referral is "chairman of the U.S. attorney general's advisory committee and a Bush family friend." He declined to prosecute, on the grounds that no federal laws were broken by the detailed cases of sexual abuse in which "victims revealed that none sustained 'bodily injury'...None of the victims claimed to have felt physical pain during the course of the sexual assaults which they described."

The Bush Administration, and their DoJ, have similarly parsed the definition of "torture," claiming that if there's no permanent bodily injury, it couldn't be "torture."

No doubt "the president's conservative religious base" is prouder than ever of their man.

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3-Year Overdue NOW Report Links Scheme to Top Republican Operatives and White House
Former US Attorney David Iglesias Believes Withheld WH Emails May Show Criminal Involvement in '04 Election Theft...
By Alan Breslauer on 7/28/2007 4:15pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Last night --- nearly three years after it was first reported by the BBC --- PBS's NOW finally exposed the Republican Party conspiracy to steal the 2004 Presidential Election. Whaddayaknow?

The 15 minute segment concentrates on "Voter Caging" and features appearances by Greg Palast and former US attorney David Iglesias. Readers will recall that Palast, who originally broke this story in 2004, has written BRAD BLOG exclusives on voter caging and on Tim Griffin, who was one of the leaders of the illegal scheme.

For even more on the NOW story, voter caging, and the Republican conspiracy to steal the 2004 election, listen to the replay of Brad guest hosting on the Peter B. Collins Show yesterday. Brad speaks to Palast in the first hour and interviews Bryan Myers, who produced the NOW segment, in the second hour.




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'Most if not all prosecutions and investigations should await the end of the election' Has Been Removed from Guidelines, According to Senate Questioning of Gonzales Yesterday...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2007 9:51am PT  

Blogged by Brad from Houston...

It's difficult to keep up with everything from on the road, in a hotel without C-SPAN, and while being on air (at least) three hours every day right now. So we're grateful to reader SG, who took the opportunity to "be the media" and send us the following overlooked item from yesterday's Gonzales hearings in the Senate.

I haven't seen this covered on any of the blogs other than the liveblog on FDL. It strikes me as important enough that it might deserve some additional investigation and commentary on Bradblog.

During the Gonzo hearing yesterday, Diane Feinstein brought up the fact that the new 2007 version of the "Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses" [PDF] guidebook had significant alterations and omissions from the prior version (1995) in the area related to preventing new prosecutions from being timed in a manner that could impact the results of an election. As I'm sure you know, there were some pretty strict guidelines related to that which were violated by some of Bush's US attorneys in their quest to gain Republican advantage.

Here's the relevant portion of FDL's liveblog:

[FROM SEN. FEINSTEIN QUESTIONS] Read to you what has been dropped from the earlier addition of the DOJ manual. (1) restriction on bringing a voter fraud case close to an election. (2) Care for overt investigations in the pre-election period and while election is underway. “Most if not all prosecutions and investigations should await the end of the election.” — underlined in the prior volume — has been removed. Reason for that was to not impact the election. Gonzales, predictably, has no idea what Feinstein is talking about and can’t answer why those changes were made.

Feinstein says that this is relevent because two, possibly three, USAttys did not bring these small cases which could have impacted the elections. And when you look at the changes in the regs on this, something is rotten.

Hope that is helpful.

Helpful indeed. Thank you, SG.

BRAD BLOG readers likely recall the questions given to Bradley Schlozman during Senate Judiciary Hearings last May after the DoJ Civil Rights Unit "Voter Fraud" zealot turned Missouri US Attorney "Voter Fraud" zealot brought voter fraud indictments just days before the November '06 general election in the Show Me state, where a razor thin Senate election was raging. The indictments, so close to an election, were in contradiction of written DoJ policies, and led to an extraordinarily angry exchange between Schlozman and Sen. Patrick Leahy during those hearings (video here).

In that exchange, Schlozzie admitted that he could have brought the same indictments two weeks later --- well, after the election --- without otherwise damaging his case. He also blamed others at Main Justice for giving him the okay to bring the obviously politically-timed indictments. Shortly thereafter, facing pressure from those he'd blamed at DoJ, he was forced to recant his testimony to take responsibility himself for bringing the indictments.

Unfortunately, we can't dig deeper into the Feinstein/Gonzales exchange for the moment, but welcome readers who can to leave more info on this in comments as they are able to unearth it.

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After being hidden from the public for more than two years, records reveal apparent forgeries in the first city ward examined
How is it US Attorney Steven Biskupic missed this? Could he have been looking for voter fraud instead of election fraud?
By John Washburn on 7/23/2007 11:10am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Washburn

(NOTE: Washburn be appeared today on The Peter B. Collins show, as Guest Hosted by Brad Friedman, to discuss his findings. The archived interview is now available here..)

After a two year interruption, I am beginning to go through the copies of November 2, 2004 election records which were provided to me in the settlement of my lawsuit with the City of Milwaukee Election Commission.

People have asked me: "Why do you still pursue this after two years? Get a life. The election is over and John Kerry carried the state with 11,384 ballots."

The high minded reasons are:

  1. Because it is the duty of sovereign citizens to watch public officials vigilantly and eternally. This is a design principle of the American government; Citizens watch those in power.
  2. Process auditing is the act of verifying written procedures were actually followed as documented. As a software tester process auditing is in my professional "sweet spot." I thought I could do some process audits of the canvassing done by several cities and share the results with others. I considered this my contribution to the body politic if any of my fellow citizens would want to do the same.
  3. Election results are important. John Kerry carried Wisconsin by 11,384 ballots out of 3 million cast (2,997,007 to be exact). This is 0.38% of the vote. It is important to know which candidate won such a razor thin election; especially since the State of Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee in particular were rife with problems.

But, to be brutally honest the answer is it has been primarily spite and anger which has kept me on this like a Jack Russell terrier clamped to the sleeve of a shaking arm. And the results of my initial examination of these records reveal immediately disturbing findings...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Elizabeth De La Vega Says Attempt to use Executive Privilege to Stymie Contempt Proceedings by U.S. Attorney Would Be 'Grounds for Impeachment'
Conyers Asks 'What Are We Waiting For?' at Event in San Diego According to Caller on Peter B. Collins Show...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2007 4:41pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from the road in Houston...

Heat for Impeachment continues to build as a former U.S. Prosecutor told me yesterday that she feels "it's almost as if the Bush administration is asking to be impeached," and as Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) reportedly opened an appearance with a crowd of supporters on Friday by proclaiming, "What are we waiting for? Let's take these two guys out!"

While discussing the extraordinary claim reported Friday from an anonymous senior administration official in the Washington Post, charging that George W. Bush has the power to order his Dept. of Justice to not pursue criminal contempt charges as brought by the House against his own administration, former Asst. U.S. Attorney Elizabeth de la Vega made a rather notable point of her own.

Calling it "shocking" and noting that the claim was made only by an anonymous source --- not actually announced as official policy by Bush --- de la Vega, the author of United States V. George W. Bush et al., told me that, should such an extraordinary legal argument be made as official policy, that action in and of itself would be an impeachable offense as she sees it.

She made the point during our on-air discussion about Impeachment during Friday's Peter B. Collins radio show which I am Guest Hosting weekdays through July 27. (An audio clip of the exchange is posted at the end of this article)

"Congress really needs to get serious, at this point, because [the administration is] just being completely defiant and have absolutely no grounds for taking this position," she told me.

"I really think, it's almost as if the Bush administration is asking to be impeached," she said. "It is not true that the President can instruct the Department of Justice not to charge his own people. Especially when he's implicated in this as well."

In reference to the administration's claims of Executive Privilege to block the Congressional subpoenas for testimony and documents from former Bush attorney Harriet Miers and current Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, de la Vega advised Congress to ignore the claims made by the unnamed official and proceed with contempt charges.

If Bush should make that legal argument officially, that in itself would be grounds for impeachment, according to the former federal prosecutor...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2007 6:46pm PT  

From Bloomberg News:

July 20 (Bloomberg) --- Patrick Fitzgerald won the convictions of four Osama bin Laden associates in May 2001. In March, he got Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Last week, he nailed Conrad Black.

Fitzgerald, 46, isn't saying what he'll do next in his career. Friends and colleagues say he probably will remain a prosecutor rather than join a law firm. One colleague says Fitzgerald's destiny may include the top law-enforcement job in the country: U.S. attorney general.

"I think he would make a spectacular attorney general," said former Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Comey

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