Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Peeling The Onion Again: Eliot Spitzer And Countless Layers Of Hypocrisy

I never thought I'd live to see mouth-breathing wingnuts calling for the impeachment of anyone who had played a key role in either enabling the attacks of 9/11 or hindering the so-called investigation into them. But in politics, as Yogi Berra supposedly said of baseball, "You ain't seen nothin'!"

In my previous very quick post about the sudden media attack on Eliot Spitzer, I hinted at the possibility that I could be a perfect wingnut, and I also mentioned the hypocrisy of mounting an international smear campaign against a man accused of engaging in sex with a consenting adult of the opposite gender, an activity that is by all accounts quite normal, even among prominent politicians.

But that's not the only hypocrisy to be seen; the layers of hypocrisy are piled one upon the next, just like an onion. Fortunately, this onion is easier to peel than it might otherwise be, thanks to Chris Floyd, Scott Horton, Arthur Silber, Sander Hicks and Kira.

Read these excerpts and click these links:

Start with Chris Floyd: The Abuser Abused: Eliot Spitzer Meets the Real Governor of New York
Scott Horton points to several glaring pieces of evidence indicating that Eliot Spitzer was targeted for political destruction by the partisan apparatchiks of George W. Bush's thoroughly corrupt Justice Department. It turns out that Spitzer was the subject of a secret, free-floating federal investigation, with much money and manpower employed in trawling through his finances and private life until something juicy finally turned up. As Horton notes, Bush prosecutors are a dab hand at this kind of dirty pool by now, although usually they have to trump up entirely specious charges to take down their victim, as in the case of Don Siegelman of Alabama. In this instance, however, Spitzer handed them the ammo himself with his penchant for professional stress relief.

And yet....Arthur Silber -- taking the lead, as usual -- notes that Spitzer has been hoist on his own petard. He is himself a past master of the politically targeted prosecution, complete with the use of arcane, outdated laws to fetch in suspects and strip them of their rights. He has also been an enthusiastic supporter of the liberty-gutting Surveillance State and the unfettered rampages of its security apparat.
Scott Horton mentions Spitzer's having prosecuted a prostitution case and predicts that this will dominate the punditry on this story. But he notes:
a second tier of questions that needs to be examined with respect to the Spitzer case. They go to prosecutorial motivation and direction. Note that this prosecution was managed with staffers from the Public Integrity Section at the Department of Justice. This section is now at the center of a major scandal concerning politically directed prosecutions. During the Bush Administration, his Justice Department has opened 5.6 cases against Democrats for every one involving a Republican. Beyond this, a number of the cases seem to have been tied closely to election cycles. Indeed, a study of the cases out of Alabama shows clearly that even cases opened against Republicans are in fact only part of a broader pattern of going after Democrats. So here are the rather amazing facts that surface in the Spitzer case:

(1) The prosecutors handling the case came from the Public Integrity Section.

(2) The prosecution is opened under the White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. You read that correctly. The statute itself is highly disreputable, and most of the high-profile cases brought under it were politically motivated and grossly abusive.

(3) The resources dedicated to the case in terms of prosecutors and investigators are extraordinary.

(4) How the investigation got started. The Justice Department has yet to give a full account of why they were looking into Spitzer’s payments, and indeed the suggestion in the ABC account is that it didn’t have anything to do with a prostitution ring. The suggestion that this was driven by an IRS inquiry and involved a bank might heighten, rather than allay, concerns of a politically motivated prosecution.
Horton concludes:
All of these facts are consistent with a process which is not the investigation of a crime, but rather an attempt to target and build a case against an individual.

The answer of the Justice Department to all this is likely to be: Trust us. But in the current environment, the reservoir of trust is tapped. The Justice Department needs to submit to some questions about how this probe got launched, who launched it, and to what extent political appointees were involved in its direction. This has nothing to do with Spitzer’s guilt or innocence. But it has everything to do with the fading integrity of the Public Integrity Section.
Arthur Silber points out Spitzer's role as an enabler of the surveillance state that ensnared him, has this to say, among other things:
Given Spitzer's unfathomable stupidity -- and in light of the fact that he is now the victim of the kinds of overreaching police state tactics that he himself has endlessly championed and utilized -- this can only be regarded as an instance of an especially objectionable, arrogant, overweening, power-mad, vicious son of a bitch himself getting exactly what he has been delightedly happy to dish out to others.
I want you to read these pieces in full, and then, when you've read Chris and Scott and Arthur, please read Sander Hicks (via Kira):

Spitzer's Real Scandal
Prescient New York real estate baron Larry Silverstein became primary lease-holder on the World Trade Center a mere six weeks before 9/11. It had never changed hands before. For a down payment, Silverstein put up only $14 million of his own money, and his friends at the powerful investment bank Blackstone Group kicked in another $111 million. After 9/11, Silverstein demanded a whopping $7 billion insurance payout, in the form of two $3.5 billion payments. He argued the two different plane crashes were two separate “occurrences” of two separate attacks.

The Megaphone has now learned that as attorney general, Spitzer [photo] got involved behind the scenes, and in the courts, filing a amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief on Silverstein’s behalf on Jan. 15, 2003. For years, this brief languished in the files of the public records room on the 17th floor of the Second Circuit Court in Manhattan, until it was discovered and brought to The New York Megaphone by NYC attorney and author Carl Person. The court ended up agreeing with Spitzer and Silverstein, over-turning the decision of a lower court. Spitzer helped midwife a fat compromise and an eventual $4.5 billion payout for Silverstein. The Megaphone’s multiple requests for comment from Governor Spitzer were ignored.

Attorney Carl Person told The Megaphone, “I was surprised to see that Spitzer had used his position as attorney general to support one private litigant over another. Normally, this is not done…Silverstein could well have been someone who destroyed evidence concerning the 9/11 events by apparently ordering or consenting to the tearing (pulling) down of 7 WTC and the removal of the debris from his multiple ground leased premises thereafter.”

Eliot Spitzer’s connection to key 9/11 players extends to fellow life-long Democrat, Jerome Hauer, managing director of Kroll on 9/11. Only Jerome Hauer and his former boss, Rudolph Giuliani, were indicted by the San Diego Citizens Grand Jury.

A 2004 petition gathered 100,000 signatures begging then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to investigate the real source of the 2001 attacks. A Zogby poll that year likewise found that 66 per cent of voters wanted Eliot Spitzer, to tackle these tough questions. What those poll respondents didn’t know is that Spitzer can’t investigate 9/11 or anthrax. He would have to indict his friends from Kroll, Jerry Hauer and Michael Cherkasky. That’s the real scandal.
For more on Jerry Hauer, listen to the interview Sander Hicks did with him, and/or see "Meet Jerome Hauer, 9/11 Suspect Awaiting Indictment".

For more on Hauer, Spitzer and their friends, read the biographical details compiled by the San Diego Citizens' Grand Jury, and see the particulars on Hauer here.

Here's slightly edited summary of Jerome Hauer's biographical details, from the San Diego citizens:
Jerome Hauer [photo] was Director of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management between February 1996 and March 2000.

As such he was primary in building the City's Emergency Command Center on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7 and in warning about emergence of the West Nile Virus one year before it appeared in New York City.

Hauer was Managing Director of Kroll, Inc. on 9/11/01, when he advised Dan Rather of CBS that demolition had not brought down a Twin Tower and that the day's attacks bore "the fingerprints of Osama bin Laden".

Hauer was Senior Adviser to U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for National Security and Emergency Management between June 2001 and November 2003.

He was the coordinator of the National Institute of Health's investigation of the anthrax deaths in fall of 2001.

Those deaths were caused by the Ames strain of anthrax, thought to be available only at the U. S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

The N.I.H. investigation coordinated by Jerome Hauer named no suspects except Osama bin Laden and al Q'aeda.
Here's what Jerome Hauer told Dan Rather on September 11, 2001:
Dan Rather: Based on what you know, and I recognize we’re dealing with so few facts, is it possible that just a plane crash could have collapsed these buildings, or would it have required the, sort of, prior positioning of other explosives in the, uh, in the buildings? I mean, what do you think?

Jerome Hauer: No, I, uh, my sense is just the velocity of the plane and the fact that you have a plane filled with fuel hitting that building, uh, that burned, uh, the velocity of that plane, uh, certainly, uh, uh, had an impact on the structure itself, and then the fact that it burned and you had that intense heat, uh, probably weakened the structure as well, uh, and I think it, uh, was, uh, simply the, uh, the planes hitting the buildings, and, and causing the collapse.

Dan Rather: What perspective can you give us? I mean, there have been these repeated reports that, well, yes, Osama Bin Laden, but some think he’s been over-emphasized as, as responsible for these kinds of events. I know many intelligence, uh, people at very high levels who say, listen, you can’t have these kinds of attacks without having some state, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, somebody involved. Put that into perspective for us.

Jerome Hauer: Yeah, well I’m not sure I agree that, umm, this is necessarily state-sponsored. Umm, it, as I mentioned earlier, certainly has, umm, the, uh, fingerprints of somebody like Bin Laden.
Sander Hicks asked Jerome Hauer how he knew fires had taken down the towers. Hauer's response?
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a plane hitting the center of a building and burning for an hour, isn't gonna have an impact. [sic] There was no indication from the outside [sic] of any explosion."
So there you have it. If you disregard everything that looked or sounded like an explosion, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what isn't gonna have an impact!

Here's a bit more from the interview:
Sander Hicks: The people who are skeptical about all this stuff are basing some of their research on the fact that bin Laden did work for MAK, which is a cutout for the Pakistani ISI, the Saudi GID, and the American CIA, and our proxy war in Afghanistan. bin Laden does have a background of working for US foreign policy interests. Am I right?

Jerome Hauer: I'm not gonna get into that. That's um ...

Sander Hicks: Well I think you have a responsibility to answer for the fact that you were assigning blame to bin Laden, and then the country kind of went over a cliff, into a decrease in civil liberties and a decrease in quality of life, and cultural constriction. I know this sounds like a speech and I'm sorry, but my point is, my question is:

Jerome Hauer: Who thinks that our quality of life in this country has decreased?

Sander Hicks: Who thinks that?

Jerome Hauer: I don't know who does.
Beautiful! No explosions, no decrease in civil liberties, no decrease in quality of life, and probably no foreign wars of aggression either.

I may not be the perfect wingnut after all; that position could go to Jerome Hauer.

Paul Simon had it figured out.
... all lies and jest; still a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest ...
For more onion-peeling from the cold archives, please see: "Peeling The GWOT, One Layer At A Time"


[AFTERTHOUGHT] My mother-in-law, none too astute when it comes to politics, asked me earlier today, "How could he have been so stupid? Doesn't he know they're watching him? How could he possibly think he could get away with this?"

I told her the first thing that came to mind: "They all think they can get away with anything!"

But that's not quite true. Elephants think like that. But donkeys know they can't get away with the sorts of things elephants get away with. Why would Eliot Spitzer think like an elephant (at least in this respect)?

Did he believe his having served as an usher for "The Big Wedding" would shield him? If so, he found out different in a big hurry. And now ... Will he spill the beans?

Um, no. It's bad enough he's disgraced and might have to resign. He really doesn't want to make things worse for himself by telling the truth about mass murder.