I was at Ted Stevens' Girdwood home when the FBI was raiding it. While agents were removing large black bags of evidence, I asked if they'd found the bodies of Begich and Boggs. For years, I followed legislation that legalized the white collar theft of our fisheries. I watched Ted Stevens vote to confirm Supreme Court Judges who would fall on the fascist side of the inevitable Exxon v. Baker case.
I was astonished when Stevens, then chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, had a complete meltdown and refused Senator Maria Cantwell's righteous and reasonable request that oil executives testify about their record profits and potential energy price fixing under oath. I interviewed him about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) of returning soldiers. Stevens said that when he was a soldier, they didn't have PTSD...it was a condition created by a weaker generation.
At the time, I wondered who in the Bush administration did Ted forget to take fishing...Cheney? Bush's Dad? How could his own party go after one of their own? One theory is the White House asked Stevens not to run in 2007 due to the cloud of corruption that would surround his campaign after the FBI raided his Alaska residence -- Stevens refused and crossed the Bush administration. This theory makes some sense given President Bush denied a pardon request from Senator Lisa Murkowski.
Senator Stevens was indicted last July. After reading the indictment, I was shocked. Imagine following a bank robber in a stolen getaway car. The criminal is fleeing at a high rate of speed, tossing tons of shredded hundred dollar bills out of the window. He's swerving dangerously all over the road for miles and miles. Suddenly, the State Patrol appears out of nowhere and pulls the bank robber over. You'd be relieved he was finally off the road, yes? How would you feel if he were only charged with littering? That's how I felt about Senator Steven's indictment.
The prosecution was corrupt -- a legacy of the George W Bush Department of Justice. They were overconfident in the knowledge of Stevens' true crimes and wanted to insure victory by illegally and unnecessarily stacking the deck; a trademark of Republican strategy -- whether caging voters and manipulating Diebold machines to affect the outcome of an election or blatantly and deliberately NOT sharing contradictory witness statements from Bill Allen. The case was promptly and justly thrown out. However, that doesn't mean Ted Stevens is innocent and it doesn't mean Ted Stevens was exonerated! Stop lionizing him. Or a more appropriately...stop LIEonizing him!
Senator Lisa Murkowski asked George W. Bush to pardon Stevens. She believed in his guilt and wanted a "get out of jail free" card for her colleague. Now she waxes poetic about the "Rule of Law". How ironic-Murkowski touting the same Rule of Law she opposed with her vote on the Military Commissions Act of 2006. That dark anti-American bill legalized torture and suspended habeas corpus. Murkowski voted to suspend the fundamental right to challenge your detention. Habeas corpus is as old as the 1215 Magna Carta and was a cornerstone of the Constitution.
Murkowski, in the statement she issued yesterday on Ted Stevens' behalf, said, "...violations of our civil liberties cannot be tolerated..." Excuse me? Really? Is that why Murkowski voted for the FISA legislation last year? The FISA bill granted retroactive immunity to law breaking telecoms. Those telecoms illegally wiretapped American citizens and violated their civil liberties! The great thing about the Rule of Law is its lack of selectiveness; in other words, the Rule of Law applies to everyone regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation. It applies to Ted Stevens just as it should have applied to the Telecoms.
Last year, Sarah Palin, while on the campaign trail, called for Stevens' resignation. "He needs to step aside and allow our state to elect someone who will be supportive of those ideals of America - the free enterprise, the missions that we're on to win the war, those things that have got to take place in order to progress this country. Ted Stevens has got to play a very statesmanlike role in this now."
TALK ABOUT A FLIP-FLOP! Now she is calling for Begich to resign. Sarah's newest pandering position is: "Senator Stevens deserves to be very happy today. What a horrible thing he has endured. The blatant attempts by adversaries to destroy one's reputation, career and finances are an abuse of our well-guarded process and violate our God-given rights afforded in the Constitution. It is a frightening thing to contemplate what we may be witnessing here - the undermining of the political process through unscrupulous ploys and professional misconduct. Senator Stevens and I had lunch together recently at my home and he reiterated the faith he held for vindication; he never gave up hope. It is unfortunate that, as a result of the questionable proceedings which led to Senator Stevens' conviction days before the election, Alaskans lost an esteemed statesman on Capitol Hill. His presence is missed."
REALLY? She never mentions it was the BUSH DOJ who broke the law. She doesn't commend the OBAMA DOJ for enforcing JUSTICE FOR ALL. I guess Stevens doesn't remember being thrown under Sarah's bus in her vice-presidency quest. Bus Sarah must damn near be high centered for all of the casualties under there. As much as I have been disappointed by Mark Begich's Blue Dog alignment with the Judas Joe Lieberman, Palin's statement that we "...lost an esteemed statesman on Capitol Hill..." is a slam on our newly elected Senator. By her own words, Palin disqualified Ted Stevens from the "statesman" moniker because he didn't do last fall what she demanded-Resign!
Ted Stevens' claim to fame has always been how many federal dollars he brought back to Alaska. Senator Begich worked hard for Alaska federal stimulus money and Palin has turned a portion down. Oh, Wait! She hasn't rejected it...she just hasn't accepted it....she HAS called it a "BRIBE." So, is she going to accept the "bribe"? Would it still be a bribe had Ted Steven's brought it home?
By the way, Senator Murkowski voted against the federal stimulus dollars for Alaska. Though you wouldn't know it based upon her recent press releases. Ironically, the Republican campaign cry was "We won't get any federal money! Waaa Waa!" Mark Begich brought home nearly a BILLION dollars for Alaska's fair share of the stimulus package. Both of Alaska's Republicans voted against the stimulus package and the Republican Governor is grandstanding by not "accepting" it.
The head of the Alaska Republican Party, Chairman Randy Ruedrich, called for Senator Begich to step down. That's rich. In June 2004, Ruedrich admitted to three violations of the state Ethics Act and has been fined $12,000-believed to be the largest civil penalty ever imposed in a state ethics case, according to the attorney general's office. He admitted to:
• Misuse of official position by engaging in partisan political activity in his Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission office.
• Improper disclosure of confidential information to a third party without authority. Ruedrich forwarded a confidential attorney-client privileged e-mail and attachment to attorney Kyle Parker, who represented Evergreen Resources on matters pertaining to methane gas development in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
• Incompatible outside voluntary service for the Republican Party of Alaska by acting contrary to the manner he said he would in his Ethics Act Disclosure Statement.
It is no wonder the Alaska Republican Party is well represented at the Sheridan Federal Penitentiary with leadership like this.
Senator Mark Begich will not step down. He said, "It's clear there was misconduct by the prosecutors in Senator Stevens' felony trial. I'm pleased President Obama's Justice Department has brought a new sense of ethics to their responsibilities....I got into the Senate race long before Senator Stevens' legal troubles began because Alaskans were looking for a change and a senator as independent as Alaska. Today, with our country in a severe recession, it's more important than ever that we have a senator focused on fixing our economy so Alaskans have the jobs they need to support their families. That is my job in the Senate, and I'm honored to serve Alaskans for the next six years."
Begich shouldn't resign. He won the election. Attorney General Michael Mukasey could have thrown the case out before the election and did not. The evidence of extreme prosecutorial misconduct was available for Mukasey. Justice for all? Oh, wait, not under the Bush administration, not even for one of their own.
Eric Holder's decision to throw out Stevens' case for blatant prosecutorial misconduct was absolutely correct. Two wrongs don't make EITHER one right. The wrongs of the Bush DOJ DO NOT make Ted Stevens innocent nor do they exonerate him. The attempts to make him a martyr by local right wing apologist talkers and writers are pathetic and demonstrate their complete lack of knowledge of Stevens' true crimes.
Rumor has it Congressman Don Young is ready to get tanked by the Feds. Will the same blowhards call for Young's resignation and try to seat Ethan Berkowitz? Short Answer: No.
Justice for all...from Guantanamo to Girdwood.