There is a core of about 12 senior Senators and Reps who control the portions of wealth and privilege to most actors in government and their clients. It's kind of like a consulting firm in which the most important things to keep straight are shifting motives and where the bodies are buried, and they can't be in the core without earning black belts in corruption. Ted Stevens was there for a long time, but he got pushed out of the Circle of Trust, out of the Tree House when he openly cried on the Senate floor, "You're all going to pay for this!" So it was no surprise when corruption charges were levied against him.
Still, I was puzzled and disgusted when the new Justice dropped the charges. With that and so many other things, however, the former Department was dealing Stevens a hand from the same marked deck as it did everybody else. In a highly competent and intellectually unsparing post, the Bee Keeper's Apprentice lays out why Eric Holder did the right thing in dropping the charges. The prosecutors had messed with the Rules of Evidence:
How typical. They stacked the deck, and didn't even need to against Stevens. Bee, a legal beagle by day, clarified not just this case but also its over-arching umbrella. The first and most important thing for our country to do is start playing by the rules again, by our good well-proven rules. Helluva post, read in full if you want here. In turn, Bee triggered a related insight.
For the last eight years, we have all seen what can happen when the highest prosecutors in the land are ruled not by the rules of evidence and law, but by the rules of cronyism and politics. This is why I believe that President Obama hit it out of the park when he appointed Eric Holder as Attorney General. Holder seems to know, and respect, the rules of evidence and law. We don't have to be happy with his decision to drop the case against former Senator from Alaska Ted Stevens, but we do have to respect Holder's decision. Stevens, who was indicted and convicted of ethics violations for not disclosing "gifts" in excess of $250,000, will walk free on a technicality. And I agree that he should walk.
Notes were found in the former prosecutors files. Notes that would have helped Stevens defense attorneys to cross-examine the testimony of Bill Allen, whose testimony helped convict Stevens. Notes that were not provided to the defense team during discovery. Notes that might have cast doubt on Allen's testimony, which suddenly doesn't look quite as bullet-proof as it once did. Notes that were required by the rules of evidence to be turned over to the defense.
There's a different angle on prosecuting Bush: his modes of behavior aren't going to change. He is a professional criminal. It's what he does. He has in no wise gone straight and he's going to do other illegal things going forward. If I were Holder's boss, I'd tell him to leave the past to Congress and assign a small team of smart kids to keep an eye on W and his transactions. He will transgress further because of what he is. Guaranteed. The opportunity to impeach or prosecute him for the past was already gone, but there is plenty of uncertain future ahead, and the game is about making the rules re-apply. Even to him.