Saturday, July 16, 2005

Would Rove's defenders also have defended Jonathan Randel? - It doesn't look good for Karl Rove - Jul 15, 2005

John Dean (yes, that John Dean) writes of a precedent that will be discussed in any prosecution of Karl Rove:
I am referring to the prosecution and conviction of Jonathan Randel. Randel was a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst, a Ph.D. in history, working in the Atlanta office of the DEA. Randel was convinced that British Lord Michael Ashcroft (a major contributor to Britain's Conservative Party, as well as American conservative causes) was being ignored by DEA and its investigation of money laundering. (Lord Ashcroft is based in South Florida and the off-shore tax haven of Belize.)

Randel leaked the fact that Lord Ashcroft's name was in the DEA files, and this fact soon surfaced in the London news media. Ashcroft sued, and learned the source of the information was Randel. Using his clout, soon Ashcroft had the U.S. attorney in pursuit of Randel for his leak.By late February 2002, the Department of Justice indicted Randel for his leaking of Lord Ashcroft's name. It was an eighteen count 'kitchen sink' indictment; they threw everything they could think of at Randel.

Most relevant for Karl Rove's situation, count one of Randel's indictment alleged a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.

Randel, faced with a life sentence (actually 500 years) if convicted on all counts, on the advice of his attorney, pleaded guilty to violating Section 641. On January 9, 2003, Randel was sentenced to a year in a federal prison, followed by three years probation. This sentence prompted the U.S. attorney to boast that the conviction of Randel made a good example of how the Bush administration would handle leakers.
The last sentence of course, is irrelevant to the Bush administration. They are utterly ruthless and wouldn't recognize the truth if they ran into it. The legal precedent, however, is interesting. Bush needs to get the right people on the Supreme Court as quickly as possible -- though you'd think he could rely on the team that stole Gore's presidency.

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