Thursday, March 13, 2008

paranoid about spitzer?

Maybe I was NOT paranoid after all about the odd circumstances of the FBI investigation into the prostitution ring used by New York governor Eliot Spitzer. Talking Points Memo wonders about the Feds having enough to bust the call girl operation ... but waiting till they could get Spitzer on tape, having learned he had been a past customer.

Glenn Greenwald raises some very good questions in a couple of posts. He quotes from the Wall Street Journal: It isn't clear why the FBI sought the wiretap warrant. Federal prostitution probes are exceedingly rare, lawyers say, except in cases involving organized-crime leaders or child abuse. Federal wiretaps are seldom used to make these cases; search warrants usually suffice. Wiretap applications generally are reserved for serious crimes, such as drug, weapons and terrorism-related cases. There typically are no more than 1,400 wiretaps in use nationwide at any given time.

As Greenwald and others ask - isn't it odd that the Bushian Department of Justice and FBI spent so much effort investigating a crime the Feds rarely prosecute. That they went out and got wiretaps for a routine prostitution case. Why they even went out and got a new wiretap warrant to make sure they got Spitzer even though they already had enough info to bust the call-girl ring.

I think it's clear somebody's interest went beyond the ring. They saw this as a way to get Client Number 9, who was unpopular with the Republicans for two reasons. One, for being a popular Democrat. Two and perhaps more importantly, for having busted plenty of the Bush elite types on Wall Street for insider trading and the like, enforcing crimes because the Bush regime refused to.

None of this is to defend Spitzer - though it's curious he had to resign while David Vitter didn't (yes, I understand Spitzer's image was of a crime-fighter. Vitter cast himself as a protector of the family - he gets to stay?).

But this stinks. And the de facto Bush Administration has already demonstrated its quick resort to politicizing prosecutions and investigations. Just witness the Great US Attorney Massacre and the railroading of Don Siegelman.

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