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Saturday 15 December 2001

Strange Doings in Washington

Most news outlets report today, in deeply-buried items — the Washington Post’s article is on page A43 — on a White House move to refuse a subpoena from Congress for documents relating to a Boston mob case of 30 years ago and the one or other of the Clinton finance probes.

I can sort of see the refusal to cough up the Clinton information; that wasn’t long ago, and it’s possible that there are still things going on with that case. I’m not saying it’s justified, but rather that it seems justifiable.

The mob case, though is another matter. I’m too lazy to have dug up all the facts at this point, but the gist is this: Thirty years ago, the FBI watched one Joe Salvati go to prison on murder charges while they knew he was innocent. His conviction was based on testimony by an FBI informant who apparently had a grudge against Salvati. Salvati was released from prison in 1997.

It’s a complicated case, but it ultimately comes down to the fact that the FBI — part of the Department of Justice — stood by and watched a man (several men, actually, in this one case) go to prison for a crime he (they) did not commit. And now, thirty years later, they don’t want to talk about it. The only plausible excuse is to protect the FBI’s “sources and methods” — though it seems that we’d all be better off if the FBI were forced to develop some better sources and adopt some more effective methods.

It does not take a particularly observant person to notice that the criminal “justice” apparatus in this country is more interested in convictions and ordnung than it is in justice. It’s especially frightening that the administration seems to think that this needs to be kept secret from Congress.

Posted by tino at 01:00 15.12.01
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