Recently released from prison, Don Siegelman refuses to drift away quietly. The former Alabama governor, whose corruption charge reeked of political motivation, accused former Bush strategist Karl Rove of outright lying for claiming non-involvement in the prosecution.
"Karl Rove saying he's had nothing to do with firing U.S. Attorneys and nothing to do with my case is like President Bush saying he's had nothing to do with the war in Iraq because he hasn't pulled a trigger," said Siegelman.
The comments came just one day after Rove said his involvement in le affaire Siegelman consisted of learning about the investigations in a newspaper article. The former governor, who was sentenced to more than seven years in prison in 2006, wasn't exactly sold on the line.
"I think Rove is probably the most devious and evil political operative who has been trained to come on to the political scene in certainly the last fifty years," he said. "I can't think of anybody in the annals of history who could even rival this man's pernicious thoughts. It is a lifetime's work for him... I think he learned two things from Watergate: you don't need to establish a secret plumbers union at a mid level office in the White House when you can take over Department of Justice and have them do your dirty work for you, and secondly, you don't leave tapes behind, you destroy evidence."
Last week, the political world moved closer to unraveling the political malfeasance that surrounded Siegelman's prosecution when Rove was issued a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Siegelman had recently been released from jail after, among other developments, a Republican campaign volunteer said she overheard a phone conversation suggesting Rove was linked to his case. The former governor heralded the subpoena -- which came after Rove refused to appear voluntarily -- as a late-in-coming but still important development.
"I think the objective from my point is not my case or my vindication or proving any one particular egregious act, but to expose a pattern and practice of political wrongdoing, of abuse of power, of misusing the Department of Justice as a political tool," he said. "I do think that my case offers the best route to prove that, and it is the easiest and fastest way to get at abuse from Karl Rove."
Aware of Rove's past refusals to cooperate, Siegelman suggested that House Democrats compel testimony from lower-level players in his prosecution, including: Bill Canary, an Alabama GOP consultant who reportedly said he would have his wife, Leura, a U.S. Attorney, "take care" of the case, and Rob Riley, the son of the Alabama governor who allegedly helped grease the wheels of Siegelman's trial.
Even then, he cautioned, the taint of the Rove legacy will likely still have its mark on the political landscape. For starters, the man known as Bush's brain is currently occupying a consulting capacity for Sen. John McCain (Rove downplayed the role yesterday as mere "chit-chat").
"I will hope that Sen. McCain did that as a method of implementing the old axiom that you keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer," said Siegelman. "I think he recognizes that Rove is someone who could do you a lot of damage if you don't bring him in, you would rather have him inside the tent than outside. I would trust John McCain to have wisdom enough to realize this."
More significantly, however, is the politicization of the Department of Justice, a development that Siegelman attests "has subverted our constitution" and requires more than just a congressional hearing to unravel.
"This is not about me or any other U.S. Attorneys who were fired. This is about the issue of restoring justice and preserving our democracy," said Siegelman, who offered up his website, www.donsiegelman.org for those interested in more information. "The Rove-led abuse of powers and misuse of the DOJ makes Watergate look like child's play. And it is only one aspect, I predict, of the abuse of power that will be exposed when Congress gets its hands on the Rove documents and emails which will confirm his misdeeds. It is not about me, it is not a partisan issue... this is about our country. This is about America and the only place we can look to at this point for a correction is Congress."
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