Insiders and Outsiders,
The D.C. Legal System Makes a Mockery of Justice
By Attorney Gary Zerman - <GZerman@hotmail.com>
April 14, 2005From: VictoryUSA@jail4judges.org
Forward courtesy of: VictoryUSA@jail4judges.org
J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California
April 14, 2005
Our American Legal System "The Best in the World"
or a Joke? You Decide.
In the last presidential election, I recall Vice Presidential
candidate John Edwards on the campaign trail telling us repeatedly that
"America has the best legal system in the World." He may believe
that, as he is a personal injury lawyer who has made millions from it. I
also am a lawyer, but what I have experienced and observed leads me to a
very different conclusion. What comes to my mind, is the character portraying
Tammany Hall's "Boss Tweed" in the recent Martin Scorsese film
"The Gangs Of New York," where he stated: "We must always
uphold the appearance of the law. Especially when we are breaking the law."
Sometimes truth, or clarity, on an issue is hard to determine,
hard to find. And then again, sometimes it smacks you right in the face.
Here is a recent example of the latter, U.S. v. Sassower. On June 28, 2004,
the very day America was turning over sovereignty to the nation of Iraq
- to establish the Rule of Law and democracy there, in our very own Nation's
capital, in our very own "legal / justice system" Elena
Sassower, was sentenced to 180-days in the D.C. jail, for her conviction
on one (1) BOGUS charge of "Disrupting Congress," prosecuted by
our Justice Department. All Ms. Sassower did was attempt to testify at a
public U.S. Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing on May 22, 2003.
She had paid her own way to Washington, D.C., from New York.
She is the head Coordinator for The Center for Judicial Accountability.
(See http://www.judgewatch.org.) She
waited politely, respectfully and silently for over two hours in the back
of the room, while the hearing on nominee Richard Wesley
was conducted. Not one meaningful question was asked of the nominee. The
hearing was then gaveled to a conclusion by the lone senator still there,
Saxby Chambliss. (He did not ask, as has been the practice, if there were
any other witnesses for or against the nominee.) Ms. Sassower then rose,
and stated 23-words from a prepared statement:
"Mr. Chairman, there's citizen opposition to Judge Wesley
based on his documented corruption as a New York Court of Appeals judge.
May I testify?"
Ms. Sassower was immediately handcuffed, arrested, taken to
jail, held incommunicado for 21-hours. She was then charged, prosecuted
and convicted. In preparation for her trial, Ms. Sassower subpoenaed involved
senators and staff for her defense. Senate counsel moved to quash those
subpoenas and stated:
"The defendant's [Sassower] request to testify was never
granted, consistent with the Committee's normal practice on lower court
nominations not to hear in person from non-congressional witnesses other
than the nominee."
Despite her 6th Amendment right to confront witnesses, the
trial judge quashed the subpoenas. On June 28, 20004, Ms. Sassower was sentenced
to 180-days in the D.C. Jail.
Elena Sassower served the entire 180-days. The trial was a
sham proceeding in a kangaroo court. Ms. Sassower in fact did no wrong,
caused no harm.
The hearing was over - thus nothing could be disrupted, and
her intent always was to testify against an unfit nominee - not to disrupt.
, November 25, 2004 article "Day 151 of the Elena Sassower Incarceration
in Washington, D.C." by John R. Bailey and http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0505.lombardi,60660,6.html
, February 1, 2005 article "The Scourge of Her Conviction - Activist
Elena Sassower Annoyed Congress, Her Trial Judge, and Defenders of Free
Speech - All the Way to Jail" by Kristen Lombardi, which reported
that Jonathan Turley, who teaches Constitutional Law at George Washington
University School of Law, found that the Sassower case was "extraordinary,"
her punishment was "unprecedented," and sets up "a worrisome
Now compare U.S. v. Berger. Samuel R. "Sandy"
Berger was President Bill Clinton's National Security Advisor.
On September 2, and October 2, 2003, Berger, (then a "civilian"
and a senior foreign policy adviser to the Kerry campaign), went to the
National Archives to look at documents as the designated representative
of the Clinton administration, before those documents were turned over to
the 9/11 Commission. Archive officials immediately suspected Berger had
taken documents after his October 2 visit, and when later confronted, Berger
falsely claimed he had removed documents accidentally in "an honest
The Justice Department began a criminal investigation, which
led to witnesses being brought before a grand jury. Later an authorized
Berger associate told reporters that in a chronology Berger gave to the
Justice Department, Berger admitted on his first visit he took a copy of
the Clark report and put it in his suit jacket and on the second visit,
took and removed four more versions of the Clark report.
Byron York, the National Review Whitehouse Correspondent, in his July 21,
2004 column, "Sandy Berger's Heavy Lifting - The Troubling Details
of the Archives Document Removal", wrote: "The documents Berger
took --- each copy of the millennium report is said to be in the range of
15 to 30 pages --- were highly secret. They were classified at what is known
as the 'code word' level, which is the government's highest tier of secrecy.
Any person who is authorized to remove such documents from a special secure
room is required to do so in a locked case that is handcuffed to his or
A charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified
materials is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of one year in
prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Clearly Berger committed at least two
such violations, maybe five. There also is at least one charge, maybe three,
for destroying classified documents. On April 1, 2005, Berger told U.S.
Magistrate Deborah Robinson, "Guilty, your honor," in response
to how he plead; he also acknowledged that he intentionally took and deliberately
destroyed three copies of Clark report. On April 1, 2005, in "Sandy
Berger Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Material," CNN.com reported
"However, under a plea agreement that Robinson must accept,
Berger would serve no jail time but instead pay a $10,000 fine, surrender
the security clearance for three years and cooperate with investigators.
Security clearance allows access to classified government materials. Sentencing
was set for July 8."
An April 10, 2005 "Congress May Launch Sandy Berger Probe,"
NewsMax.com reported in part: "'Several committees in Congress are
interested in looking into the Berger issue.' Peter King told WWRL Radio
host Steve Malzberg and Karen Hunter on Thursday. The senior New York Republican
declined to identify the specific committees, but said any probe would come
before Berger is formally sentenced in July.
When news of Berger's theft broke last July, the Justice Department took
a much tougher line - with Deputy Attorney General James Comey suggesting
that it made no difference whether the documents Berger had stolen were
originals. 'It is against the law for anyone to intentionally mishandle
classified information, either by taking it to give to somebody else, or
by mishandling in a way that is outside the regulations of government information,'
Comey told reporters at the time.
'All felonies in the federal system bring with them the promise of jail
time,' he added. Asked how Berger should be held accountable if the documents
he destroyed contained any original material, Rep. King told Malzberg, 'He
should go to jail.'"
On April 5, 2005 in "Sandy Berger's Crime," a Washington
Times editorial wrote in part: "Mr. Berger committed an egregious violation
of the rules that govern the handling of sensitive national-security documents.
His offense would cost most any government employee his job, security clearance
and future in government. Quite possibly it would cost him his freedom.
On top of his crime, Mr. Berger lied about it to federal investigators.
But Mr. Berger won't likely suffer any of the consequences. For those who
suspect that different rules apply at the top, a case like
this is reason for cynicism. Meanwhile, his associates from the Clinton
years are silent, perhaps hoping the scandal will blow over ....
We can only speculate as to why the Department of Justice would agree to
such lenient terms for the offense. .... Whatever the reason, we can be
reasonably sure it wasn't done for reasons of national security, justice
Finally, on April 11, 2005, in "Sandy Berger's Scissors,"
a piece in Antiwar.com, Michael Scheuer, wrote in part: ". What Mr.
Berger had previously described as an inadvertent mistake is now, according
to the same gentleman, better described as the deliberate theft and destruction
of classified documents ... In sum, the papers secreted in his shoes, BVDs,
and pockets were not a surprise discovery when he got home and undressed.
No, Mr. Berger now acknowledges that he had hidden them on his person, apparently
with the joys of scissoring them into a mound of destroyed evidence foremost
in his mind.
Well, Department of Justice officials last week delivered
firm justice to Mr. Berger in the form of a virtually pain-free plea bargain.
In doing so, they junked a law meant to protect the U.S. security, at least
insofar as it is to be applied to America's political aristocracy. Mr. Berger
pleads guilty to that about which he previously lied to the American people,
the 9/11 Commission, and the families of the 9/11 dead. In turn,
he is punished with a fine and a three-year ban from holding a security
clearance. In plainer terms, Mr. Berger ponies up a month's pin
money and gets his clearance back .... Boy, that'll teach 'im."
The Sassower case and the Berger case have some similarities.
They both committed their "crimes" in Washington, D.C. They were
both charged by the U.S. Department of Justice. They both were in federal
court, before federal judges. But there the similarities end. Ms. Sassower
did nothing wrong. She
in fact did not disrupt Congress. She committed no crime. In fact, under
1st Amendment rights of speech and petition, she was a citizen simply attempting
to ensure integrity and accountability in the confirmation process of federal
judges. (Judges who are not elected, given a life-time appointment, possess
tremendous power and grabbed absolute immunity for themselves.) A process,
in fact, largely abandoned by both the executive branch and the legislative
branch, regarding selection and removal of judges. Both branches in fact
routinely broker deals behind the scenes and hold hearings that are a charade,
giving us judges more connected, than qualified. And both parties are equally
engaged in it.
Ms. Sassower's liberty was taken away. She should immediately
be given a pardon by President Bush and be given an apology by all three
(3) branches of government, with President Bush leading the way. As Justice
Louis Brandeis stated: "The most important political office is that
of private citizen."
In contrast, Sandy Berger confessed to breaking the law and
committing serious offenses. But Sandy Berger apparently is not going to
jail. How can that be? Why has he been given such a privilege by the Justice
Department? the federal judge or magistrate?
If our legal/justice system is to have any meaning, Sandy
Berger must go to jail. Are we a Nation of laws? Then why is Sandy Berger
above the law? If he does not go to jail, our legal system is a JOKE. National
Security is a JOKE. The Constitution is made a JOKE.
Why was Elena Sassower prosecuted? Why was the book thrown
at her when there was no harm? Why was she given the maximum sentence? She
was attempting to do good. Yet Sandy Berger does bad. Commits multiple serious
crimes. And no jail time? How can anyone claim we have a Rule of Law, with
outcomes like this? It simply boggles the mind.
Our legal/justice system is a JOKE. With such blatant disparity
in cases like Sassower and Berger, we can no longer pretend we have even
- an appearance of justice. Such retributive and vindictive acts imposed
in the one case, and such favoritism and privilege granted in the other.
These results are obscene. They are perverse.
We have soldiers fighting, sacrificing and dying in Afghanistan
and Iraq for - upside down justice - like this?
And it's the judges who ultimately are inflicting the injustice
in both cases. They are supposed to be the gatekeepers. The final backstop.
They are not upholding the Constitution. They are not protecting our rights.
This is what Judge (retired) Andrew Napolitano referred to in his recent
book "Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks
Its Own Laws".
For Common Sense, Liberty & Justice,
Gary L. Zerman, Atty,
April 11, 2005
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