3... The government’s treatment of Dr. Samueli was shameful andcontrary to American values of decency and justice.The judge also notes that prosecutors seized the thirteen-year-old son of one witnessand pressured him to give false evidence against his father. These are the same sortsof abuses we regularly associate with authoritarian regimes. But all this occurred inthe United States.Wielding threats of prosecution to extort conduct from individuals and corporations isboth unethical and commonplace in today's prosecutorial world. Selective leaking ofinformation to the media to destroy reputations and taint jury pools is also unethical,possibly criminal and very common. Crafting indictments with inflammatory lan-guage is also common. Pressing family members to testify against one another iscommon prosecutorial practice.
The Siegelman Case
A second case, perhaps the best known case of political persecution, involves formerAlabama Governor Don Siegelman. As Siegelman was mounting a reelection effort,the U.S. attorney in Montgomery opened a criminal investigation focused on allegationsthat he corruptly accepted a $500,000 donation to the Alabama Education Foundation--an organization that was seeking to create a state lottery in Alabama to supporthigher education--and then appointed the donor to a non-compensated position on astate licensing board. The U.S. attorney, Leura Canary, was herself a close advisor andsupporter of Siegelman’s Republican rival, and her husband, Bill Canary--a long-timebusiness associate and close friend of Karl Rove’s--was managing a Republican candi-date’s campaign against Siegelman, which was, not coincidentally, substantially fueledby donations from casino gambling interests intensely opposed to the lottery initiative.Jack Abramoff was key to this entire process which is dramatically unfolded in AlexGibney's new documentary, "Casino Jack." The details of the criminal investigationquickly flooded the Alabama media, and an investigator traced the source of the majorpress stories back to Mr. Canary’s office. As a direct consequence of the media cam-paign, Siegelman lost the election. At trial, the prosecutors claimed that the receipt ofthe contribution combined with the appointment of the donor to an honorary office hehad held for 13 years under both Democratic and Republican governors was a bribe.Interestingly, the Justice Department raised no issue and conducted no investigationinto the 146 individuals who made contributions of $100,000 or more to the Bush-Cheney campaign and then received an appointment to federal office or to the Bush-Cheney transition staff. The prosecutors relied heavily on the evidence of an aide toSiegelman named Nick Bailey, who testified that there was a simultaneous exchange ofa check and a promise to appoint the individual to a board. This testimony was objec-tively false, as later became apparent. Moreover, the prosecutors apparently knew itwas false, but they decided to use it just the same. Moreover, it seems they extorted it.Bailey later disclosed in an interview with CBS News that he had been coached and ca- joled in more than 70 interviews with the prosecutors, nearly all of them without hislawyer. As Bailey recounts, he was effectively told precisely what testimony to giveand what not to give, and when he said he had no clear recollection of the key incidentinvolving a check, the chief prosecutor threatened to disclose to the media that Baileywas a closeted homosexual. That may not be a big deal in New York, but in Alabama itcertainly is. Now Bailey is a convicted fraudster, so perhaps his evidence is not worthmuch--though that really raises the question of why prosecutors would rely on such acharacter for such an essential charge, especially when they knew it was false. But wedon’t have to rely on Bailey’s word for this--I have interviewed two members of theprosecution team, and each fully corroborated Bailey’s charges. Moreover, the notes ofthese 70 interviews, which would have shown Bailey stating that he really didn’t recall