The End May Be Nigh for John Ensign's Political Career

Nevada's top political journalist, Jon Ralston, reports:

In the federal penal code, it is known as "structuring."

And it is a word Sen. John Ensign should remember because it is very likely to be on any indictment with his name on it.

That’s what I am told by a reliable source familiar with the deliberations occurring inside the Justice Department as federal authorities in Washington try to do with Ensign what they could not do with former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens: Get their man. Or, because they had Stevens and then lost him because of misconduct, Justice wants to make sure if it goes to the next step with Ensign, the charges stick.

Indictment? Don't mind if I do. (Remember, it was the abysmal Bush DOJ that fumbled the Stevens prosecution.) So what is "structuring?"

Structuring is a broad term that refers to the crime of creating financial transactions to evade reporting requirements — for example, a $96,000 payment to your mistress laundered through a trust controlled by your parents and calling it a “gift” instead of what it obviously was: a severance payment that had to be reported.

Based on the facts already in public domain, it seems there may be enough for an indictment.

Two former federal prosecutors in the past two weeks have said there is enough evidence to indict Ensign. “Just based on what the senator has said himself and what Mr. (Doug) Hampton has said … under the federal standard of probable cause, there’s enough to indict the senator now,” ex-prosecutor Stan Hunterton, a well-respected local attorney, said March 19 on “Face to Face.” Then, Thursday on the program, Melanie Sloan, the former federal prosecutor who now heads a D.C. watchdog group that has filed several complaints against Ensign, said, “I completely think” Hunterton is right. ...

The department is being very deliberate in assembling a case against Ensign. But Justice has a mountain of documents and e-mails that, combined with the senator’s own admissions or statements in e-mails, would seem to amount to a formidable case. And last week’s New York Times story, showing how Ensign’s contacts with a local company (similar to several other interactions), show how far the senator was willing to go to get Hampton work, mostly while he was employed by ex-Ensign aides who had formed a lobbying/consulting firm. The structure, so to speak, is becoming more transparent all the time.

Beyond Ensign's dire and deserved legal fate, what are the political implications?

If Ensign gets indicted, he will become a national and state nightmare for the GOP. National Democrats will brandish him as a symbol of corruption (they may anyhow) and local Democrats will wrap the junior senator around the GOP Senate nominee’s neck, especially because Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian foolishly have said they would welcome his support. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid directly go after his pal to boost his sagging fortunes. I can hear it now: “Sorry, John. But now you know how Doug Hampton feels — how it feels to be screwed over by your best friend.”

Why are the national and state Republicans mute? Cowardice, perhaps? Or is it, as NBC political guru Chuck Todd tweeted Friday, repeating something he previously said on “Face to Face” a couple of weeks ago: “NV/DC GOPers desperate to wait for Gov. Gibbons to be out of office before pushing Ensign out but can they really (http://nyti.ms/91kElt)?”

The Web link in Todd’s tweet is to last week’s Times story, emphasizing the point that if the Republicans wait too long, their silence could be very costly. And if Ensign gets indicted and no prominent Republican has called for him to resign, there’s no way to structure that deal to the GOP’s benefit.

Ensign and Washington Republicans can continue to do what they've been doing all along - ignore, ignore, ignore. But they might not be able to run out the clock on Election Day 2010 - still seven months away - before indictments come down. And, as Ralston points out, if the Washington Republican establishment stays mum on all of this, the issue becomes a matter of the entire Party coddling its corrupt members. Hmmmm, Republican Culture of Corruption, where have I heard that before? And that's on top of the already-competitive gubernatorial and Senate races in Nevada, which is also a key 2012 swing state, don't forget. (Lowden's and Tarkanian's poorly thought out statements welcoming Ensign's support will no doubt bite them in the backside if either is the Republican nominee against Majority Leader Harry Reid. The political ad writes itself.)

Particularly as it relates to the 2010 Senate races, the Senate Republican caucus is the Ensign-Vitter caucus. Every Republican incumbent Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate should be asked by their local media if they think hypocritical lawbreakers like John Ensign and David Vitter should resign their seats. They should be forced to call for the ouster of these hypocritical, lawbreaking Republicans or be forced to serve as apologists for them and let the voters decide. Though the media around the country largely may be dropping the ball on their responsibility, it appears federal investigators aren't. The national media that gave a relentless week of news coverage to the Eric Massa absurdity still hasn't fully given the Ensign matter (or the Vitter matter) its due. However, the handing down of indictments, should that come to pass, will be national news and should force the issue for every Republican seeking federal office in 2010.

For news and analysis on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

Signatures Reached for Referendum on 9/11 Investigation in NYC

The City of New York has conceded that the 'NYC Coalition for Accountability Now' have submitted enough valid signatures to put the referendum for a new 9/11 investigation on the ballot in November.


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TORTURE INVESTIGATION

TORTURE INVESTIGATION

Although I have said that prosecution of those responsible for instituting a policy of torture would be good, I'm really not that sure. What I do favor is a full investigation by congressional committee or commission.

We need this for two main reasons. Exposing the truth and renouncing the actions helps to restore our moral standing in the world. Acknowledging mistakes is worthwhile and is good preventative medicine for the future. Secondly, the truth will perhaps reduce the spread of the constant right wing claims that are contrary to the truth.

Chances are that the investigation will expose improper demands by Cheney and Bush that the Department of Justice approve the methods they wished to use. These two, and probably others, may well be guilty of war crimes and crimes unde U.S. laws. And DOJ investigation may well lead to the same conclusion and implicate those lawyers who succumbed to political pressure.

However, I do not favor prosecution and would hope that prosecutorial discretion and congressional forbearance will prevail. The reasons may be a bit flimsy, such as the tnen 9-11 fervor or the current economic travails, but the alternative of a years of trials with a former president and vice president in the dock is unthinkable.

Let the congressional investigation conclude with a Resolution of Condemnation and then we all move on.

homer   www.altara.blogspot.com

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Obama must appoint a Special Prosecutor

When is President Obama going to live up to his statement that "no one is above the law".  Refusing to appoint a Special Prosecutor is very close to protecting Bush and Cheney.

And critics of the Bush administration say a truth commission inquiry would probably be a half-measure, that immunity would shoeld lawbreakers.

"This is not about mistakes. This is about fundamental lawbreaking, about the disposal of the Constitution, and about the end of treaties," Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a radio interview earlier this month.

Now, a US Congressman is calling for an investigation of the Seymour Hersch allegations that former Vice President Cheney controlled a secret US Military squad that carried out assassinations of foreigners. This against US Law and President Ford's executive order prohibiting any US citizen from doing so. This Must Be Investigated by a Special Prosecutor.

How far outside US law did Cheney go?

Did Cheney use the assassination squad inside the United States?

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From the Washington Post's Investigation Unit:

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