While Kossacks are deciding whether to hang Eliot Spitzer or merely slow roast him, perhaps we should actually ask wtf is going on. I found it rather unusual that this news broke the same day as the WSJ article on TIA and while it's probably just a bizarre coincidence...it, and the Don Siegelman case, should have us asking some more questions before busting out the pitchforks and torches.
And it looks like I'm not the only one thinking this. Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake:
All kinds of questions arise here:
- Why would the bank tell the IRS and not Spitzer himself if there was a suspicious transfer? Spitzer is a longtime client, a rich guy and the governor. We're talking thousands of dollars here, not millions. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense that they spotted a "suspicious transfer" made by the governor, and that this is how things began. It's possible it was just ordinary paperwork the bank had to file with the government whenever some particular flag was raised, but if that's the case, why did the DoJ go to DefCon 3?
It gets more interesting.
- What is a USA doing prosecuting a prostitution case? This isn't normally what the feds spend their time with.
Surely not the same US Attorneys who were just embroiled in a massive scandal regarding their unprecedented politicization?
- Mike Garcia is a Chertoff crony. Sources familiar with the investigation say that he sent a prosecution memo to DC two months ago asking for authority to indict a public figure (Spitzer). Which means they had their case made long before the wire tap of February 13. Why did they then include this line from that conversation in the complaint?
LEWIS continued that from what she had been told "he" (believed to be a reference to Client-9) "would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe -- you know -- I mean that...very basic things...."Kristen" responded: "I have a way of dealing with that...I'd be like listen dude, you really want the sex?...You know what I mean."
This salacious detail does not seem like it's necessary to make their case, and appears to be added for no other purpose than to destroy Spitzer's career.
Certainly nothing to see here, no questions to ask. Chertoff would NEVER do anything untoward or nakedly political.
- How did Spitzer's name get leaked to the media, and who did it? Didn't happen to Dave Vitter.
A very, very good point.
- Why did Mike Bloomberg suddenly start talking about running for governor recently? And why did he give $500,000 to Joe Bruno? He's good buddies with Mike Mukasey. What did he know and how did he know it?
Now that one floors me. I had not known Bloomberg was talking about running for governor. It might be that he was merely casting about for something new after ruling out a White House run in '08. But these details should cause us to ask more questions.
- The Mann Act? Are you kidding?
I don't know enough to determine whether the Mann Act is as much of a reach as it sounds like it is to me...but, again, more questions are raised here.
- Spitzer's been in the line of fire of the GOP hit squad for a while. Roger Stone, Roger Stone, Roger Stone.
There are all kinds of things about this that just don't pass the smell test.
I'm right there with you, Jane. Spitzer has had a target on his back for a long, long time. And while that might just mean his actions were stupid - we should also NOT rush to judgement. Especially when THIS administration is involved. Especially when WIRETAPS are involved. Especially when the DOJ is involved.
Before we demand Spitzer's head, perhaps we should demand some more answers? Or have we forgotten Don Siegelman so soon?
Update [2008-3-10 23:16:51 by eugene]: In a comment below dday points to recent comments from Scott Horton, who has been following the Siegelman case (which, dday rightly adds, is a bit different because Siegelman was genuinely innocent):
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.