Posts Tagged ‘Kreig’

June 10 Update: Union Critic McMahon, Megacommunities Author Gerencser

June 10, 2010

Brett McMahon

Brett McMahon

Mark Gerencser

Guests on my June 10 DC Update radio show with Scott Draughon were Halt the Assault spokesman Brett McMahon and Mark Gerencser, co-author of Megacommunities. Hear them nationwide by archive via the My Technology Lawyer Radio network.

McMahon his group are free-market advocates on: Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)/ Card Check, Davis-Bacon Act/Prevailing Wage, Health Care Reform, Immigration Reform, Three Percent Tax Withholding, Union-Only Project Labor Agreements and Job Creation.

He focused on the unfairness of a federal bailout of a proposed union pension funds and the failure of labor to prevail in Tuesday’s Arkansas Senate primary against incumbent Democratic Agriculture Chair Blanche Lincoln.

Megacommunities introduces a radically new framework to solves today’s thorniest problems, such as hurricanes and global pandemics. Gerencser focused particularly on the case study of convening solution providers for Alzheimer’s disease into a group effort to share information on new drugs instead of marketing them individually. He said success is based on exclusion.

About Brett McMahon, ABC and Halt the Assault
Brett McMahon, vice president of the Maryland construction company Miller and Long, is an active member of the Association of Building Contractors (ABC) PAC and the Government Affairs Coordinating Committee. ABC (www.abc.org) is a national association representing 23,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms in 79 chapters across the United States. Recently, it helped found Halt the Assault, an advocacy body. Details.

About Mark Gerencser, Booz Allen Hamilton Brett McMahon and MegaCommunities

Mark Gerencser is senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton. Headquartered in McLean, VA, it serves clients in defense, security as well as civil government agencies and ministries around the world. In 2009, he co-authored Megacommunities: How Leaders of Government, Business and Non-Profits Can Tackle Today’s Global Challenges Together. It suggests solution models for problems too large for any one authority to solve alone.

May 6 Update: Author Paul Craig Roberts Charts Drastic Decline of U.S. Liberties, Media

May 6, 2010

Paul Craig Roberts

Author, former Reagan official and civil rights advocate Paul Craig Roberts described on the May 6 edition of my Washington Update radio show why he is retiring from writing because of the nation’s appalling decline in civil rights protections.

Roberts has had an extraordinarily successful career as a Wall Street Journal editor, author, research scholar and assistant Treasury secretary. You can hear him here in an archived version of the show from anywhere in the country following his live interview on the My Technology Lawyer Radio network.

This spring Roberts published what he called his final essay, “Truth Has Fallen and Has Taken Liberty With It.” In it, he wrote:

Americans have bought into the government’s claim that security requires the suspension of civil liberties and accountable government. Astonishingly, Americans, or most of them, believe that civil liberties, such as habeas corpus and due process, protect “terrorists,” and not themselves. Many also believe that the Constitution is a tired old document that prevents government from exercising the kind of police state powers necessary to keep Americans safe and free….The American media does not serve the truth. It serves the government and the interest groups that empower the government….As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off.

We spent much of the show exploring his insights, battles and grim outlook for the country, previewed in his 2000 book updated in 2008, The Tyranny of Good Intentions. Co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, the book is subtitled: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.  The book, rated with five stars on Amazon.com by most readers with a low-rating of three-stars by a reader who protests that Roberts does not provide enough solutions for the dire portrait of the nation’s future.   The book is an impressive survey of the advancement of legal theories of due process and other civil rights from ancient times to what he describes as a bipartisan abdication of our rights to central executive authorities in an abdication of responsibility by Congress, the news media and the courts that he describes as foreign to Anglo-American legal traditions.

His book and essays critique not simply the legal system, but breakdowns in the news, manufacturing, and Wall Street. As a result, he says, his writings are now longer welcome at major corporate-owned publications. He has been a prolific author up to now for web-based investigative outlets until recently.

Scott Draughon, the show’s founder and co-host, drove much of the lively interview.  We began the show with a news overview addressing the Gulf oil spill and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s party switch from GOP to independent. Listener advisory: Mac listeners need “Parallels.”

About Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts has held many academic appointments, and holds France’s Legion of Honor. He authored Supply-Side Revolution: An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy; and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy. co-authored with Lawrence Stratton The Tyranny of Good Intentions, subtitled: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.

Judge, Feds Secretly Denied Kerik Vital Evidence

April 10, 2010

Unless you read niche political and professional publications online you probably missed my revelation this week that federal authorities secretly pressured former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to plead guilty to corruption charges last fall by suppressing testimony from a key defense witness.

On April 7, I reported in Nieman Watchdog (not affiliated with Connecticut Watchdog) that prosecutors essentially won their case last fall in the aftermath of secret suppression proceedings.  U.S. District Judge Stephen Robinson of White Plains, NY, who was Kerik’s trial judge and also and the Clinton administration’s Democratic U.S. attorney supervising Connecticut cases from 1998 to 2001, ordered the testimony kept secret, and then jailed the defendant for the duration of the pretrial period.

The judge also pressured for shutdown of Kerik’s defense fund and for his defense attorneys to be removed.  Kerik gave up and pled guilty Nov. 5 to corruption charges after being kept in 23-hour-a-day lockdown.  During that jailing, Kerik’s mental health records released to the press and his funds were running out for new lawyers and to provide for his family.  Robinson imposed a four-year prison term Feb. 18, with Kerik on home detention until he reports to prison May 17.

What triggered the plea after millions spent by the defense in pretrial preparation?  Evidence points to the judge’s secret decision in September that Kerik’s jury couldn’t handle testimony that a former New York City inspector general was saying authorities had pressured him to lie to a grand jury to implicate Kerik falsely. 

That this suppression is coming to light only now in such a major case is the focus of my column today on how journalists from cash-crunched news organizations are increasingly spoon-fed the news by authorities.

Here’s the gist:  Michael Caruso, a New York inspector general for 17 years, filed a lawsuit in 2006 claiming that he was fired because he would not falsely tell a grand jury about suspicious words from Kerik, which Caruso could not recall. 

The judge overruled defense arguments that Caruso’s testimony was “central” to a defense to show prosecutor’s aggressive tactics in creating a baseless case.  Instead, the judge agreed with prosecutors that the evidence, although relevant, might inflame jurors against authorities, or else waste courtroom time. 

The judge then ordered the materials secret, and punished the defense for an email that a friend of Kerik’s sent to a Washington Times reporter in September mentioning Caruso.

The full-story is here in Nieman Watchdog, a free online publication funded by Harvard for distribution to journalists and others with a similar interest in public affairs.  As a sign of the times, its editor is Barry Sussman, the Washington Post’s city editor during the 1970s.  Sussman is well-known in journalism circles as the main editor who guided the Post’s Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on a daily basis.

A Google search of follow-ups to this week’s Nieman story shows that pick was sporadic and from highly diverse publications.  

The longest and most prominent original article was by the Newsmax, “Harvard’s Nieman: Kerik Case Suppressed Evidence.”  The conservative Newsmax was among the few news outlets during the run-up to trial who stood against conventional wisdom on the issue of Kerik’s guilt after hundreds of pretrial news stories and blogs by others adverse to the defendant.  It was not afraid also to ignore a tradition that on-air remarks by TV commentators or online investigative reporting are not generally newsworthy.  Newsmax quoted Fox News host Geraldo Rivera as saying the judge should recuse himself recuse himself for behavior he described as a “travesty” of justice.

Several progressive email lists or web-news publications also covered the Nieman story this week.  One, for example, was “News from Underground,” a progressive national email list edited by Mark Crispin Miller, a New York University communications professor.  Another was, for some reason, the website of the Clermont County Democratic Party in Ohio.

Perhaps I missed it, but my search failed to locate significant follow up by mainstream wire services, newspapers or broadcasters that had closely followed the accusations against the former Bush cabinet nominee and long-prominent New York Republican official.

I can understand the reasons.  As ever, prosecutors get the initial advantage in coverage with indictments.  Reporters often flesh out the formal indictment for with colorful details they pick up on their own, or from law enforcement leaks.  This is particularly so when a celebrity defendant such as Kerik has become involved with others who are well-known. In his case, his mentor was former mayor and 2008 Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, his publisher and former lover was celebrity editor Judith Regan, and one of his wiretapped friends was Westchester’s district attorney and TV commentator Jeanine Pirro.

Defendants are foreclosed by pretrial rules from vigorously arguing a defense, particularly when important evidence is sealed, as in this case. 

If defendants then plead guilty, as some 95 percent of federal defendants do, then the public never hears the other side of the story.  This is because during and after a plea a defendant must show strong remorse, or else face severe extra punishment from the judge at sentencing.  

Once this “Kabuki theater” has played itself out, time-pressured reporters at financially troubled news organizations typically have scant opportunity to revisit any documents that, as here, are unsealed after the end of a case. 

That’s the way it is, as Walter Cronkite used to say.

But it’s not necessarily the way it always has to be.  Cases like Kerik’s reported to me with increasing frequency from Alabama and elsewhere around the country have prompted me to found the Justice Integrity Project to provide cutting-edge materials convenient for journalists and others in the public. 

Working with such organizations as Connecticut Watchdog and Nieman Watchdog on a case-by-case basis in hopes of meeting their standards, our project will make it more feasible for mainstream journalists and bloggers alike to research the news.  These white-collar cases are inherently complex ─ and often momentous.  The public deserves the full record.