Political violence

The crew that brought you the corrupt Siegelman prosecution is still at work.

That’s what you call it when a 63-year-old woman with no criminal history, charged with a nonviolent offense, is dragged off to jail in handcuffs after a 6 a.m. raid on her home by gun-waving federal cops because a Republican U.S. Attorney is hunting Democratic scalps.

The law gives prosecutors and police enormous powers to ruin the lives of innocent people, and virtually complete immunity for doing so. Decent prosecutors and cops use those powers with due regard to their destructive force. Prosecutors chosen by Karl Rove don’t.

January 20, 2009. I’m not sure whether the U.S. attorneys in the case can be convicted of obstruction of justice. But I’m sure they can be terrified and humiliated. Alas, our side mostly doesn’t play the game that way.

Mostly, that is. Payback’s a bitch. And if Republicans know they can keep pulling this crap without having to fear retaliation, then they’re going to keep pulling it.

If Sue Schmitz can be subjected to the violence of arrest so prosecutors can ask her whether she did enough work to earn her salary from a junior college, then John (“I didn’t mean to say ‘Osama’ “) Ashcroft can surely be treated the same way to find out whether he actually earned the eight-figure payday he was handed, on a no-bid basis, by one of the U.S. Attorneys who served under him, as a corporate monitor. How much does Ashcroft actually know about orthopedic implant devices?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com