Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Libby Prosecutor Threatens Critic"

is the name of the article, and it pretty much sums it up:
The book deals specifically with the FBI’s failure to stop the master spy in question, Ali Mohamed, who had infiltrated the Bureau, the CIA and the Green Berets at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Of particular interest to me, Lance details how the Ali Mohamed case intersected with the TWA Flight 800 case, a subject that Lance is not afraid to tackle.

More generally, the book documents the role Southern District New York (SDNY) Fitzgerald played in the war on terror, a war that Lance claims Fitzgerald badly mismanaged before September 11, 2001
I haven't read the book; considering the idiocies that have come out about pre-9/11 actions(and inactions), we know some of these clowns should have been fired for what they did(and did not do). In any case, it seems Patrick Fitzgerald is a bit upset:
Claiming to have been defamed, Fitzgerald sent Harper Collins an 11-page letter in October 2007 demanding that the publisher publicly apologize, withdraw all copies of the book, and refrain from publishing any updated versions.

Needless to say, this was not a friendly admonition. It came with an implicit threat to sue, even if HarperCollins met Fitzgerald’s terms.

HarperCollins took the threat seriously. Fitzgerald has a reputation for playing hardball. He had earned it by prosecuting Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby for misremembering details of a pseudo-crime Fitzgerald knew he did not commit.
I bolded that because I think it's really important; that a prosecutor would do this is disgusting, a violation of his oath. If he'd do this, how else would he use the power of his position? Like, maybe, threatening someone who published something he didn't like?

An equally unsettling development would take place in the days following Fitzgerald’s fourth letter. Ann Sparanese, an anti-censorship advocate and a former member of the governing Council of the American Library Association, posted an item on the blog, Library Juice, criticizing Fitzgerald.

Sparanese noted that Fitzgerald had sent at least one letter on a U.S. Attorney fax machine, that he had already tied up publication of Triple Cross for 18 months while author and publisher were forced to review his charges, and that his effort represents an “example of the chilling effect of censorship.”

An attorney named Cynthia Kouril, who had served in the Southern District of New York that Lance had investigated, immediately responded to Sparanese’s posting.

Kouril warned the blog’s host, Rory Litwin, that “by making a conscious editorial choice to post [Sparanese’s piece], rather than being a passive host, you do take responisbility (sic) for content under the Electronic Comminications (sic) Decency Act.”

'Passive host'? 'Conscious editorial decision'? Oooh, these lawyers don't like any kind of criticism, do they? Even when it's not criticism of themselves?

And an end note:
I have seen this suppression up close. The FBI arrested my TWA 800 writing partner, James Sanders, and his wife Elizabeth for Sanders’ reporting on the Feds’ foul play in the TWA 800 case.

The Federal investigation into the Sanders began days after Sanders’ research into government malfeasance had been featured in a major newspaper article.

In a subsequent civil trial, the judge acknowledged that the FBI’s “aggressive investigation commenced immediately following publication of the newspaper article,” but, the judge continued, “it does not follow that [the Sanders] were punished because they may have drawn blood.”

The name of that judge? Sonia Sotomayor. If things go as planned, Fitzgerald may want to take his case directly to the Supreme Court.

If I remember right, the American Library Association is very big on 'banned books' and so forth, but have refused to condemn Castro & Co. for jailing librarians in Cuba; interesting to see them getting whacked at by the same kind of "Don't talk about us" that Fidel has used on librarians in Cuba for years.

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