Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Smearing Cisneros again

I opened up my local paper this morning and saw this story
splashed on the front page.

A special prosecutor's long-delayed report charges that a coverup at senior levels of the Clinton administration killed a tax fraud case against ex-cabinet member Henry Cisneros.

Oddly enough, I couldn’t find any other references to the story which is very thin on details. It turns out the piece is an “exclusive” from the New York Daily News, which the E-N picked up and reprinted. I did eventually find one other report in the right-wing New York Sun which has more details, although the co-author of the story is right-wing publisher and Clinton-hater extrordinaire R. Emmett Tyrell Jr.

It is unfortunate that the E-N chose to run this piece because it is a very poorly reported story that leaves a lot of questions unanswered and even unasked.

They call it a “long-delayed” report. No kidding! It was the never ending special prosecution from Hell that took more than 11 years and cost the taxpayers $23 million to look into a case where the subject of the investigation had long ago pleaded guilty, paid a $10,000 fine and then received a presidential pardon.

But now it turns out, according to the NY Daily News, that David Barrett, the last of the old Independent Counsels, was really looking into a “scandal” that was going all the way to the top to implicate the Clinton’s, but which was successfully thwarted.

David Barrett's 11-year, $23 million probe, which will be released tomorrow, states in stinging terms that this Clinton coverup succeeded.

Uh Huh. So it was a successful coverup of what exactly? Tax fraud by the former Housing Commissioner? Well, no. They never actually found evidence that Cisneros committed tax fraud. But they claim that was because higher-ups in the Clinton administration did not let them expand their investigation to cover multiple years beyond the one when he was making the payments to Linda Medlar.

From the NY Sun:
The Barrett report is said to show that (Attorney General Janet) Reno hampered Mr. Barrett's efforts at demonstrating tax violations on the part of Mr. Cisneros by limiting his investigation to one year of tax records. Successful tax evasion prosecution typically requires establishing a pattern of behavior over several years.

So they couldn’t find anything to implicate Mr. Cisneros with one year of tax records and wanted to expand their fishing expedition.

The Daily News then has this nugget:

Then-IRS Commissioner Peggy Richardson, a close friend of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), was involved in efforts to quash the probe, a source close to the case alleged.
But Richardson's role was cut from Barrett's report, which went through 26 drafts, because Democratic law firm Williams & Connolly successfully pressured Barrett to remove a section of the report naming her, a source said.

They “pressured” him to remove her from the report? How do you suppose they did that? Perhaps by threatening to sue his butt for defamation because he didn’t have squat on her?

The Sun article then adds this helpful graph that gives context to the timing of the report’s release:

Republicans have suffered from a cascade of scandals in the past year and are now bracing for the testimony of a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, who agreed to name names in a plea deal surrounding his indictment on fraud charges earlier this month. Allegations of a coordinated effort during the Clinton administration to block the appointment of an independent counsel and then limit his scope could raise questions about the Clinton years at a time when many Democrats are pressing the former first lady, Senator Clinton, to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

The Barrett report, which was completed in August 2004, does not appear to contain the bombshell evidence of a conspiracy directly involving President Clinton and his wife for that some conservatives had been hoping for, sources familiar with its contents said. But its detailed account of efforts by Messrs. Radek and Finkelstein to block and limit the inquiry could strengthen the hand of Republicans.

So Barrett is finally releasing his long-delayed report now with lots of specious and unproven charges smearing Henry Cisneros and the Clintons - all timed to help “strengthen Republicans” as they suffer from a cascade of scandals of their own making.

Let me just say that this so-called scandal and cover-up involving Cisneros, by the standards set by the Culture of Corruption Republicans today, would never have been investigated in the first place.

I look forward to some real journalists doing some real reporting on this story when the report is supposedly released tomorrow.

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