Cop Who Arrested Gates Not Ruling Out Defamation Lawsuit

Case Heats Up as Police Organizations Criticize Obama for Jumping Into the Controversy



The police sergeant who arrested Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. last week in his own home may be considering a defamation lawsuit against Gates who has implied his arrest was racially motivated.


Alan McDonald, who represents Sgt. James Crowley, said the veteran cop who teaches a racial profiling class for rookie police officers has not ruled out filing a defamation of character or libel lawsuit.


"He is exploring all of his options,'' McDonald told ABC News. Though charges were dropped, Gates has loudly asserted his arrest was a result of racial profiling.


The arrest and subsequent storm of racially charged comments has enveloped the White House after President Obama said on Wednesday the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in arresting his friend, Gates, who is a prominent black scholar.


Police organizations and others across the country are lashing out at Obama for calling out the Cambridge Police Department.


"It's not a case of racial profiling," said NPR analyst Juan Williams on "Good Morning America."  Williams made clear there are dangers when blacks are confronted by police. "As someone who has been stopped, as a black person in America, I have a very deferential approach to cops. I don't speak to them in aggressive tones. ... It's just that cops can be very prickly, especially with a black guy."


But Williams said the president went "way too far" without seeing the police report and knowing all the specifics of the case, as Obama himself admitted.


"I think what he now has to do is walk it back and say, you know what, I spoke out of turn here. ... I was reacting in support of a friend, and aware of larger racial issues in society. But it doesn't specifically apply to this case, which is not about racial profiling," Williams advised.


Sgt. Dennis O'Connor, the president of the police union that represents Crowley and other superior officers in the Cambridge Police Department, told ABC News that Gates' arrest was "100 percent lawful" and that Obama should apologize to "Sgt. Crowley and all Cambridge police officers."


"Sgt. Crowley has been called a racist, a liar and stupid,'' O'Connor said in an interview with ABC News. "Barack Obama just devastated the morale of the Cambridge Police Department. There are a lot of disheartened police officers out there. The remark was completely uncalled for. Sgt. Crowley -- and the entire Cambridge police force -- are owed an apology."


In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Terry Moran Thursday, the president defended his comments, stressing that "cooler heads should have prevailed."


"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama said.


During his news conference Wednesday night that was dominated by health care issues, the president, acknowledging that he did not know all the facts of the case and what role race may have played, said "the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home."


The president told ABC News that it doesn't make sense to him that the situation escalated to the point that Gates was arrested.


"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," the president said. "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion."


Today, the Cambridge police unions and Massachusetts Municipal Police Officers Association, which represents police officers from 25 Massachusetts cities and towns, are holding a press conference to "voice their support for their fellow officers, and to express criticism for President Obama and Governor [Deval] Patrick," McDonald said.


Some Question Whether Obama Should Have Strongly Backed Gates. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who called Gates a friend, would not comment on the president's remarks.


"I was not there, and the words I would use are troubling and upsetting," he told reporters Thursday. But he did say that he was glad the charges were dropped and that Gates' arrest was "every black man's nightmare."


"I guess you ought to be able to raise your voice in your own house without risking arrest," Deval said.


Police organizations rallied behind the officer yesterday, with The International Association of Chiefs of Police saying it was "disappointed" by how the president characterized the police.


Even actor Bill Cosby weighed in on the debate, telling Boston's WZLX yesterday that he was "shocked" to hear the president's statement.


Crowley made it clear he is not apologizing. He told Boston's WEEI Radio that he regrets putting the city and police department "in a position where they now have to defend something like this," but he stood behind his claim that he simply tried to resolve the situation.


"I just have nothing to apologize for," he said. "It will never happen."


Did Obama Go Too Far With Race Remark?


Obama's remarks have stirred national debate over whether Gates' arrest was an issue of racial profiling, as he himself asserted. Some say the president was right to bring up this discussion in a primetime speech.


"Have some people wanted him to bring this up sooner?" asked civil rights activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton. "Of course, we have. But the timing had to be right. He had the courage to take a position at a time when he knows some people will disagree."


"If he hadn't addressed it, it would have looked like he was ducking. I was surprised he said what he said, because his words brought the conversation to a new level," Sharpton said.


Although Obama has been vocal on past civil rights issues, he largely avoided race during the presidential campaign except for a singular speech he gave on the issue after his pastor was found to have made anti-American statements.


"No one wants to talk about race," said Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and ABC News consultant. "He [Obama] does not inject race into the conversation regularly because it clears the room. There are designated times, like Martin Luther King Jr. Day or when we have a large gathering of black folks, like at the NAACP recently, but that's about it."


"In this case, he was asked a question directly, and he answered it honestly," she added.


In addition to his specific comments about Gates' arrest, the president Wednesday also weighed in about the race issue, saying that while he didn't know whether it played a role, "I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact."


Some observers questioned whether the president should have so strongly backed Gates, a longtime friend, over the police who arrested him without fully knowing exactly what took place between the professor and Crowley.


"Obama is the president for all American not just black Americans," Brazile said. "He has enough on his plate as commander in chief -- two wars, an economy in the tank -- that he should not necessarily become the healer in chief."


Copyright ? 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures




From the White House:

The White House, Washington

As a Senior Advisor to the President, I'm here in Cairo, Egypt where I watched President Obama deliver an unprecedented speech calling for a new beginning for the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

We all know that there has been tension between the United States and some Muslim communities. But, as the President said this morning, if all sides face the sources of tension squarely and focus on mutual interests, we can find a new way forward.

The President outlined some big goals for this new beginning in his speech -- including disrupting, dismantling, and defeating violent extremism. It was a historic speech, and since many Americans were asleep at the time it was given we wanted to make sure you had a chance to see it:

A New Beginning

Majority-Muslim countries around the world are filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives, just as in America. Indeed, part of what makes America great is having nearly seven million Muslim Americans living here today and enriching our culture and communities.

We can extend that kind of relationship abroad. It won't always be easy, but if we make an effort to bridge our differences rather than resigning ourselves to animosity, we can move toward a more peaceful world over time.

Thank you,
David Axelrod
Senior Advisor to the President

The White House ? 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW ? Washington, DC 20500 ? 202-456-1111



Stevens case closed, case against prosecutors open

By NEDRA PICKLER and MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON ? A federal judge dismissed the corruption conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens on Tuesday and took the rare and serious step of opening a criminal investigation into prosecutors who mishandled the case.  "In nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case," U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said.

Sullivan appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Justice Department lawyers who repeatedly mishandled witnesses and withheld evidence from defense attorneys during the monthlong trial. Stevens was convicted in October of lying on Senate forms about home renovations and gifts he received from wealthy friends.

The case cost Stevens a Senate seat he had held for 40 years. Once the Senate's longest-serving Republican, he narrowly lost to Democrat Mark Begich shortly after the verdict. As Sullivan dismissed the case, Stevens turned to his friends and held up a fist in victory as his wife and daughters broke into loud sobs.

"Until recently, my faith in the criminal system, particularly the judicial system, was unwavering," Stevens told the court Tuesday, his first public comments since Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would drop the case. "But what some members of the prosecution team did nearly destroyed my faith. Their conduct had consequences for me that they will never realize and can never be reversed."

Sullivan appointed Washington attorney Henry Schuelke as a special prosecutor to investigate contempt and obstruction by the Justice Department team. Schuelke is a former prosecutor and veteran defense attorney who was tapped to oversee a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into influence-peddling allegations against former New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato in 1989.

Sullivan said the matter was too serious to be left to an internal investigation by the department, which he said has dragged its feet looking into the misconduct. He criticized former Attorney General Michael Mukasey for not responding to complaints of misconduct in the case: "Shocking, but not surprising," Sullivan said.

In a criminal case, the prosecutors could face prison time and fines. The decision raises the question of whether the prosecutors, who include the top two officials in the department's public corruption unit, can remain on the job while under criminal investigation.

Subjects of the probe are Brenda Morris, the lead prosecutor in the Stevens case and the No. 2 official in the Public Integrity Section; Public Integrity prosecutors Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan; Alaska federal prosecutors Joseph Bottini and James Goeke; and William Welch, who did not participate in the trial but who supervises the Public Integrity section.

Judge Sullivan repeatedly scolded prosecutors for their behavior during trial. After the verdict, an FBI whistleblower accused the team of misconduct and Sullivan held prosecutors in contempt for ignoring a court order. The prosecution team was replaced and, last week, new prosecutors acknowledged that key evidence was withheld from Stevens. That evidence included notes from an interview with the government's star witness, contractor Bill Allen.

On the witness stand, Allen said a mutual friend told him not to expect Stevens to pay for the home renovation project because Stevens only wanted the bill to cover himself. It was damaging testimony that made Stevens look like a politician scheming to cover his tracks while accepting freebies. But in the previously undisclosed meeting with prosecutors, Allen said he had no recollection of such a discussion. And he valued the renovation work at far less than what prosecutors alleged at the trial.

"I was sick in my stomach," attorney Brendan Sullivan said Tuesday, recalling seeing the new evidence for the first time. "How could they do this? How could they abandon their responsibilities? How could they take on a very decent man, Ted Stevens, who happened to be a United States senator, and do this?"

With the prosecution team now under the scrutiny Stevens felt for years, the 85-year-old smiled and posed for pictures with his family on the courthouse steps.

"I'm going to enjoy this wonderful day," he said.

END - Is a new day dawning in American justice? For the inside story stay tuned to




By Mike Madigan

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted by Congress in 1966 and went into effect in 1967, despite the opposition of President Lyndon Johnson. In 1974, after the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of President Richard Nixon, Congress passed significant amendments to FOIA which were vetoed by President Gerald Ford. Congress overrode this veto and the amendments became law. Since then, many government agencies have routinely withheld information from the public by claiming privileges to which they may not have been entitled. Such arbitrary refusals to comply with a lawful FOIA request may soon end if President Obama has his way.

Unlike many of his predecessors, our newly inaugurated Harvard trained President appears to embrace the Freedom of Information Act. On January 21, 2009 President Barack Obama issued two executive orders which are intended to "usher in a new era of open government". Quoting Justice Louis Brandeis in a memorandum to all executive agencies, he wrote "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."

The mission of this website is to shine a bright light on the corrupt practices of those who use their positions to dishonor the badge. I applaud these actions by the President and look forward with renewed confidence to the increased accountability his administration promises.

I hope you will please take a moment to read these two short memos so you will understand what may well be a path to better government:

SUBJECT:      Freedom of Information Act
A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.
The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.
All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government.  The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.
The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public. They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government. Disclosure should be timely.
I direct the Attorney General to issue new guidelines governing the FOIA to the heads of executive departments and agencies, reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency, and to publish such guidelines in the Federal Register. In doing so, the Attorney General should review FOIA reports produced by the agencies under Executive Order 13392 of December 14, 2005. I also direct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to update guidance to the agencies to increase and improve information dissemination to the public, including through the use of new technologies, and to publish such guidance in the Federal Register.
This memorandum does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.



SUBJECT:      Transparency and Open Government
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Government should be transparent.  Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.  Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.
Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.
Government should be collaborative.  Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector.  Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.
I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.


END - Transparency? Accountability? For the inside story stay tuned to


Bush commutes sentences of Two Ex Border Patrol Agents

By Steve Miller

With less than 24 hours left in his presidency, George W. Bush at last granted clemency to two former Border Patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos. The two had received lengthy prison sentences after being convicted of shooting a fleeing Mexican drug dealer. Clemency for the two former agents was a major goal of USBC and attracted considerable support among all advocates of tougher border security, who had repeatedly argued that the agents were just doing their jobs.

A large number of senators and representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, had supported clemency for the two men. A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2007 emphasized that the drug dealer had crossed the United States-Mexican border illegally and drove a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth almost $1 million.

The commutation granted by President Bush means the prison sentences of Ramos and Compean, both from El Paso, Texas, will expire on March 20, but leaves intact the three years of post-imprisonment probation and fines of $2,000 each. Both had been in prison since early 2007. Much of that time was spent in solitary confinement, which was said necessary to protect the former law enforcement agents from other inmates.

Bush commuted the sentences before he received a recommendation from the Justice Department's pardon attorney. "The Office of the Pardon Attorney was still in the process of reviewing the clemency requests from Compean and Ramos at the time these commutations were granted," a Justice official says.

In fact, the Justice Department was still reviewing the applications and had not made a recommendation to the White House.


Steve Miller writes internationally syndicated columns on organized crime and political corruption for Rick Porrello's, the Canada Free Press:,
and Twisted
Visit his website at:

From the Los Angeles Times

Ex-O.C. Sheriff Carona guilty on 1 count, cleared on 5

Michael Carona, once called 'America's sheriff,' is convicted of witness tampering but found innocent of other corruption charges. His wife and mistress still face trial in the case.

By Christine Hanley

Former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona was found guilty today of one felony count of witness tampering and cleared of five other charges in a public corruption case that ended the career of a lawman once christened "America's sheriff" and hailed as a charismatic leader with a bright political future. The verdict was reached at 10:50 a.m. and was read in court at 11:45 a.m. Jurors had deliberated for 32 hours over six days.

Carona was indicted in late 2007 on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and witness tampering. He resigned a year ago, during his third term, and went on trial in October, becoming the highest-ranking law-enforcement official to be prosecuted in Orange County.

Over about two months, the panel of 11 men and one woman heard testimony from 58 witnesses and listened to hours of undercover tapes that prosecutors said showed that Carona misused the powers of his office in a furious pursuit of cash and gifts for himself and others, including his wife, Deborah, and a longtime mistress, Debra Hoffman. The two women are scheduled to stand trial next month.

During the federal court trial in Santa Ana, jurors heard tawdry testimony about Carona's extramarital affair with Hoffman, a local attorney, complete with tales of a love nest, getaways to Las Vegas and a secret bank account set up as their future nest egg.

The prosecution's star witness was former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl, a wealthy Newport Beach businessman who made millions auctioning government fleet cars. Haidl cooperated with prosecutors for nearly two years and was in the witness box for 10 days.

As part of a plea agreement on separate tax charges, Haidl secretly recorded three conversations with Carona in the summer of 2007, tapes that were played repeatedly for jurors. In the recordings, Carona sounds nothing like the polished orator who frequently spoke to church groups and civic groups; the conversations are punctuated with obscenities and racial slurs.

The tapes were crucial as prosecutors tried to prove that Carona accepted $1,000 monthly cash bribes from Haidl, who testified that he made the payments to both Carona and another assistant sheriff, George Jaramillo. Haidl testified that he handed over the payments once or twice in the sheriff's office but primarily in the kitchen of his Newport Beach home. The money, he said, came from his private safe and was stuffed in envelopes before it was delivered.

Haidl was unwavering in his testimony that he bought his way into the Orange County Sheriff's Department by providing Carona a taste of his wealth and luxury lifestyle. He said that, with Carona's blessing, he laundered at least $30,000 into Carona's initial sheriff's campaign in 1998, paid for vacations and tailored suits, gave Carona a boat and allowed him unlimited use of his own private yacht and planes. He also said he gave Hoffman $65,000 at Carona's request, loaned her money and helped her lease a Mercedes-Benz.

What he got in return, Haidl testified, was a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card and the full power of the Sheriff's Department. He said that, with Carona's knowledge, he appointed relatives, friends and associates as reserve deputies who carried official badges. Haidl also testified that Carona made sure his son got preferential treatment in a drug case and exerted his influence -- though unsuccessfully -- in trying to have the teenager tried as a juvenile in a high-profile sexual-assault case.

Defense attorneys Brian A. Sun and Jeff Rawitz, white-collar-crime specialists, represented Carona free of charge. They struggled to line up witnesses, some of whom they acknowledged were reluctant to appear at the high-profile trial. Ultimately, 25 testified, including philanthropist David Gelbaum and Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas. None directly contradicted Haidl's serious accusations.

Sun and Rawitz were not afraid to play the tapes in defending Carona, telling jurors that they actually showed that the former sheriff was innocent. The lawyers also focused on attacking Haidl's credibility and motivations. Among other things, they tried to show that Haidl was upset because he felt Carona didn't do enough to help his son when he was arrested in the sexual-assault case. Greg Haidl ended up being tried as an adult, convicted and sentenced to six years in prison. The defense also tried to show that Donald Haidl was motivated by his hope for leniency in his own tax case, that he actually never got any favors from Carona, and that the money and other items Haidl gave to Carona were mere gifts between close friends.

Jaramillo, meanwhile, was portrayed by the defense as the villain in the case. Jaramillo was fired by Carona in 2004 and later prosecuted in an unrelated case for perjury and misusing a county helicopter. He was ultimately sentenced to a one-year jail term. The defense tried to show that Jaramillo had been seeking revenge against his former boss ever since. Jaramillo never testified for either side in Carona's case.

END - Thanks for staying tuned to


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