21Nov/110

The Sun Times Asks “How much time will Tony Rezko serve?”

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Natasha Korecki, Federal Courts Reporter for the Sun Times, asked that question in a recent article.

Tony is scheduled, once again, to be sentenced Tuesday, November 22, in federal court. We’re holding our collective breath.

The rest of Natasha’s piece is designed to prepare us for a sentence of “time served.”  Here’s what we’re told:

  • The U.S. Attorney, Patrick “Elliott Ness” Fitzgerald, wants Tony to serve 11-15 years for failing to cooperate. (That’s because Patrick’s what John Kass of the Tribune calls, the Exterminator of criminals.)
  • Tony’s lawyer says that Tony’s “talks with the government” help encourage others, like Lon Monk, to testify against Blago.
  • A defense attorney says that the judge could credit Tony for his cooperation (What cooperation?) even though he wasn’t called to testify against Blago.
  • The judge doesn’t have to follow the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation. (Oh, oh. Brace for impact.)
  • Meanwhile, “Rezko served about nine months in the most restrictive jail conditions at the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center — a Special Housing Unit called the ‘SHU,’ where ‘high-risk’ inmates, including accused terrorists and currently a suspected high-ranking leader of a violent Mexican drug cartel, are held. High-profile defendants or those cooperating with prosecutors are also held there.”  (So now the Sun Times knows where Tony’s been. Who leaked this time? Chase again?)
  • Unidentified “legal observers” say the judge could credit Tony for having done jail time in harsh conditions. (Are you feeling set-up yet?)
  • A former Chief of Staff of former Governor, now inmate, George Ryan says that the SHU “should not be shrugged off.”  (Are you feeling Tony’s pain yet?)
  • Tony also spent time in a Wisconsin county jail (Really?) “…where he cannot go outdoors and has not had any physical contact with family.”  (OMG, such an ordeal for poor Tony!)

This article reads like the storyline for a sequel to A Christmas Carol with Tony playing a grown-up Tiny Tim.  Patrick Fitzgerald is the legalistic Scrooge. The kindly Judge St. Eve releases Tony from the clutches of debtor’ prison and he limps into the sunset – a free man.

Sort of like…John Thomas. Another faux witness to corruption in Crook County, never called to testify.

Get ready for time served. Unless there’s another sentencing postponement. And what a shock that’d be!

6Nov/110

Rezko’s Sentencing Recommendations, Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

Thomas Barton, Illinois Pay-to-Play Political Commentator

The Jimmy Hoffa of federal prisoners may be getting ready to finally surface, in the flesh. Talk of Tony Rezko’s imminent sentencing is building. Suppose that means anything, this time?

After 3½ years of self-imposed incarceration, somewhere on the planet, he’s about to surface, according to the Chicago Tribune.  According to another source, Tony “has spent much of his more than 3½ years in jail in solitary, rarely getting fresh air and subject to a diet that has resulted in him losing 80 pounds, according to a defense filing unsealed Thursday.”  Poor Tony.  He’s been Steve McQueen in the 1973 movie Papillon.

Paa-leese.  We’re supposed to believe that Tony has been doing hard time at the…well, where has he been all this hard time? On a military base in Wisconsin playing golf in a light disguise four times a week?  Indoor tennis on rainy days? And where is he now? When will those relentless investigative reporters at the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times be able to ask him their piercing interrogatives?

Tony’s attorneys want him sentences to time served. (Where was that again?)

Patrick Fitzgerald’s office wants him sentenced to from 11-15 years because – get ready for this – he failed to cooperate with prosecutors.  That’s why, we’re to believe, Tony wasn’t called as a witness in the Blago trial. After 3½ years, the U.S. Attorney finally decided that Tony hasn’t cooperated. Geeze, Louise. Buying that requires…a willing suspension of disbelief. (The Tribune’s John Kass will buy it, though. For him, Fitzgerald is the Great Exterminator.)

Sentencing by U.S. Judge Amy St. Eve is set, yet again, for Nov. 22.  Waiting for St. Eve to sentence Tony is like waiting for Gogot. Birthdays pass while waiting. Wanna bet it’ll be postponed again?

But what if it isn’t postponed? Will her Honor throw the book at Tony? Or, sentence him to time served.  Or, maybe 4 months in a federal pen where, for the 3 months he has to put in, he can work on his backhand tennis return.

The best way to watch all this is to pull up an easy chair, get a bag of popcorn and enjoy the show. Cause it’s all theatre, folks.  Tony’s friend Obama is going to pardon him eventually anyway.  After all the money Tony passed his way, Tony deserves some executive clemency. Tony’s mentioned he expects a pardon to two former associates.

Aretha Franklin asked the relevant question about all this…

13Oct/110

Chicago’s Political Sensei, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Junior

Thomas Barton, Illinois Pay-to-PlayPolitical Commentator

In a recent interview with a reporter from The Daily Caller, Chicago’s own Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., displayed his karate sensei-like political skills in offering a clear, novel, and creative suggestion to President Obama on how to get his Jobs’ Bill enacted. (That’s J.J., Jr., above, on the left.)

With a range of verbal dexterity seldom witnessed among contemporary politicians, J.J., Jr. chopped his way through all the fuss and fury surrounding the Obama administration’s failing efforts to get Congress to pass his Jobs Bill.

With the decisive thrust of the agile Karate Master, he defined a solution for the President.  In his interview with Nicholas Ballasy – an apropos last name for a man willing to stand toe-to-toe with J.J., Jr., while representing a non-liberal news outlet – Ballasy listened stone-faced as the Congressman advised the President.

In case you think you might have mistaken what he said, here’s part of it, as reported in The Daily Caller:

“President Obama tends to idealize [suppose he meant idolize?] — and rightfully so —Abraham Lincoln, who looked at states in rebellion and he made a judgment that the government of the United States, while the states are in rebellion, still had an obligation to function,” Jackson told The DC at his Capitol Hill office on Wednesday.

“On several occasions now, we’ve seen … the Congress is in rebellion, determined, as Abraham Lincoln said, to wreck or ruin at all costs. I believe … in the direct hiring of 15 million unemployed Americans at $40,000 a head, some more than $40,000, some less than $40,000 — that’s a $600 billion stimulus. It could be a five-year program. For another $104 billion, we bailout all of the states … for another $100 billion, we bailout all of the cities,” he said.

Jackson added that his $804 billion stimulus plan is the only way to solve the unemployment crisis. “I support the jobs plan. I support the president’s re-election. I support Barack Obama,” he said. “But at this hour, we need a plan that meets the size and scope of the problem to put the American people to work.”

“We’ve got to go further. I support what [Obama] does. Clearly, Republicans are not going to be for it but if the administration can handle administratively what can be done, we should pursue it. And if there are extra-constitutional opportunities that allow the president administratively to put the people to work, he should pursue every single one of them,” Jackson suggested.

He also said that the Presidents solution to the jobs problem is about “one-twentieth” of the problem.  So, if we take, say, $600,000,000,000 as the minimum cost of the President’s Job Bill, and multiply that by 20, we get a J.J., Jr. solution that will cost about – just a second while I get out my jumbo calculator – $12,000,000,000,000, as in twelve trillion dollars.  (Somewhere in China, people are laughing in their noodle soup.)

Although J.J., Jr. didn’t have time to define the work these 15 million unemployed Americans would be doing to earn their incomes from the Federal Government, doubtless some would be engaged in: voter registration campaigns among heavily disenfranchised communities – like his, of course; changing light bulbs in every American’s home in order to dispense with the incandescent bulb and substitute a G.E. florescent unit Make in China;  picketing outside the homes of Tea Party members and persons identified as rich Republicans; and, as the ’12 general election approaches, serving as audience extras for enthusiastic Obama Rallies For Victory.

Only a political sensei like J.J., Junior would think to equate Congressional Republicans with the Confederate States of America of the Civil War era, and compare Republican (and some Democrat) opposition to Obama as a Rebellion. The linkage is, well…pure brilliance.

And, to complete the analogy, J.J., Jr. suggests that Obama declare a national emergency, suspend the U.S. Constitution, and simply dictate policy.  (Hey, it worked for King George III and even Der Fuehrer, for awhile anyway.)

Let’s see if the editorial page of the Sun Times, or the Tribune, endorses J.J., Jr.’s solutions. 50-50 odds.

21Sep/111

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? The Untouchable Myth Is Born (Part 2)

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

“[Joseph C.] Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction.” Robert D. Novak, “Mission to Niger,” The Washington Post, July 14, 2003

This sentence, written by the late columnist Robert Novak, catapulted Patrick Fitzgerald into national notoriety where he assumed the mythological stature of a relentless Special Counsel.

The key word used, or perhaps misused, by Novak was “operative.”

Once “operative” appeared, Plame assumed the image of the clandestine secret agent whose identify had been casually, and carelessly, revealed by a leaker with potentially nefarious motives.  The revealing was seen as a violation of 50 U.S.C. § 421 : US Code - Section 421: Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources.  Plame quickly became a pop culture Jane Bond. 

The word “operative” triggered the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate the leak – an investigation that stayed active in the news media, on-and-off, from September 2003 to March 2007.

At the end, when Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, was convicted on four counts of making false statements on March 6, Libby was the big loser.  The Special Counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, was the big winner.  His image as Untouchable had been cast in bronze by the mainstream media. Today, The Washington Post describes Fitzgerald with these words:

“The dogged Fitzgerald has been compared to Eliot Ness, the former head of the liquor-busting “Untouchables” in Prohibition-era Chicago… [T]he workaholic prosecutor’s most famous investigation was into the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity, a probe that led all the way to the Bush White House and resulted in the conviction of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby (President George W. Bush later commuted his sentence.)”

Information concerning the Plame Case is well-documented and easily accessible on the internet.  No need to rehash it further here.

Future historians who review the saga will encounter a very curious fact.  It’s found in this 2006 interview between CBS News national security correspondent David Martin and Richard Armitage, who was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Deputy at the State Department.

Click here to view video: 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/07/eveningnews/main1981433.shtml

So, before Fitzgerald was appointed Special Council, Armitage told the FBI that he was the leaker.  When asked why he didn’t go public as the investigation to find the leaker grew, Armitage says, “The Special Counsel, once he was appointed, asked me not to discuss this, and I honored his request.”  Now that’s interesting stuff.  And puzzling, too.

 (Why did Armitage speak up publically in 2006, long after the media spotlight had turned on Libby, and, also, Karl Rove?   After all, Bush said,in July 2005, he wanted to know who leaked the information, and that he’d fire whoever committed the crime. In any regard, Armitage’s allegiance was not to his President but to a Prosecutor who went on the hunt for the leaker he already knew. Now, really, isn’t all this bizarre, or what?)

The CBS interview wasn’t the only time Armitage confessed to the crime.

Armitage agrees it was “foolish” for him to mention Plame’s CIA employment to Novak.

That begs this question: If “foolishness” is his excuse, what was Patrick Fitzgerald’s excuse for engaging in a long and costly investigation when, even before it started, the culprit, Armitage, had confessed to the crime?  (Has the media ever asked Fitzgerald that question? Or, were they so delightedly breathless to see the evil Cheney embarrassed through Libby that they dared not ask?)

What was the Fitzgerald investigation really about?  If Armitage was guilty, why was he never prosecuted for the alleged crime? Does confessing get you a pass?

We get a hint to the back story from recent comments made by former Vice President Cheney while speaking at Union League Club Authors Group in Chicago on September 19.  According to the Chicago Sun-Times,

A block away from the office of the man who prosecuted his chief of staff, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter had harsh words Monday for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

“My friend Scooter Libby is a very good man,” Cheney said. “He gave up a very successful private life in order to serve the nation. … For his trouble, he ended up as part of a particular prosecution. I will always think that he did not deserve what happened.”

Cheney was in Chicago to discuss his new book "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir."  In his book, Cheney wrote, “It was as though he [Colin Powell] thought the proper way to express his views was by criticizing administration policy to people outside the government.”

Armitage was the Deputy Secretary of State under Powell.  Libby was Cheney’s Chief of Staff. It’s clear now that Powell and Cheney were not blood brothers. But there may have been occasional blood spilled between them.

In the now obvious power struggle that was going on between the two top Lieutenants in the Bush administration, what was Fitzgerald’s role? Was he the Untouchable, intrepid prosecutor in search of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of who committed the alleged crime of exposing Plame’s employment to Novak?  Or, was Fitzgerald a political operative touched by persons within the Bush administration to embarrass and undercut Cheney.

If Judith Miller went to jail for failing to reveal her source for what she later wrote about Plame, why did Novak get a pass?  Looks like Bob Novak was the real “Untouchable” throughout the entire saga.  Nobody touched him.

Turning now to more recent events, since John Chase of the Chicago Tribune is obviously getting a pass for notifying Blagojevich that his phone conversations were being tapped, how’d he earn that pass? Was it by leaking the information to Blago?

One last question:

In the events that constituted the sudden arrest of Blago, for who might Fitzgerald have been playing the political operative, dressed, again, in the dark suit of the Untouchable Eliot Ness?