The Docket: News Roundup For Jan. 27
By Main Justice staff | January 27, 2022 9:21 am

Attorney General Eric Holder continues to take lumps for his decision to try alleged Sept. 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court, Politico and The New York Times report.

Two moderate Senate Democrats — Jim Webb of Virginia and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who faces a tough re-election fight this year — criticized the attorney general in a letter released Tuesday.

“Your decision to prosecute enemy combatants captured on foreign battlefields like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is without precedent in our nation’s history,” the letter reads. “Today, those who subscribe to the same violent ideology as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed continue to plan and execute attacks against innocent civilians all over the world,” the senators wrote. “It is not in our national interest to provide them further publicity or additional advantage.”

Four other senators, including former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), also signed on to the letter.

O’Connor Criticizes SCOTUS Citizens United Decision

In a rare move, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor offered a critique Tuesday of her former colleagues in their blockbuster campaign finance decision last week, The Washington Post and The New York Times report. Speaking at a conference at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., O’Connor suggested the Citizens United decision, which struck down restrictions on corporate campaign donations, could spark an “arms race” in judicial elections and create a “problem for maintaining an independent judiciary.” The first female justice left the court in 2006 and has since become a staunch advocate for eliminating judicial elections.

“In invalidating some of the existing checks on campaign spending, the majority in Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor had one other reason to feel a bit piqued at her former colleagues: the precedent struck down Tuesday, the 2003 case McConnell v FEC, was an opinion she authored.

Former CIA Officer Pulls Back Waterboarding Claim

A former CIA officer who told ABC News that waterboarding techniques used on high profile detainee Abu Zubaydah led the al Qaeda operative to reveal actionable intelligence has retracted his claim, according to Foreign Policy magazine. In a 2007 interview, Jon Kiriakou told ABC’s Brian Ross that Zubaydah spilled his guts after a single round of waterboarding.

“From that day on, he answered every question,” Kiriakou said. “The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.”

But in a memoir set to be released next month, Kiriakou admits he may have been mistaken.

“What I told Brian Ross in late 2007 was wrong on a couple counts,” Kiriakou wrote, according to FP. “I wasn’t there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I’d heard and read inside the agency at the time.”

Kiriakou’s initial appearance on ABC News sparked intense debate, with pro-waterboarding forces frequently marshalling his interview as evidence of the technique’s effectiveness.

ABC News has since modified its story online.

Former U.S. Attorney to Challenge Carney in Pa.

Another former Bush-era U.S. Attorney is setting his sights on Congress. Former U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Marino, who led the Middle District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2002 to 2007, is expected to announce today that he will seek the Republican nomination to challenge Pennsylvania Rep. Chris Carney, a two-term Democrat.

Marino is the second Republican to enter the race. At least two other candidates have expressed interest in challenging Carney for his seat.

Another GITMO Detainee Released

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had transferred another detainee held at Guantanamo Bay to Switzerland for resettlement. The detainee, a man from Uzbekistan whose name was not released, is the 18th person to be released from the Cuban prison since December, according to Reuters.

The Obama administration has sought to close the camp, arguing that its perceived lawlessness has damaged U.S. standing around the world.

Antitrust Looking into Web Betting Site Merger

In the wake of the Justice Department’s approval of the Ticketmaster-Live Nation deal, the Antitrust Division has requested more information on a potential merger between two betting rivals, the Associated Press reports. Churchill Downs,  owner of several horse-race tracks, including the namesake track in Louisville, Ky., where the Kentucky Derby is held, announced in November that it would acquire, the leading online horse betting site. Churchill Downs owns a stake in two rival betting sites, Twinspires and XpressBet.

Former Ashcroft Adviser Joins Prison Consulting Firm

At least he found a way to put his experience to good use.

A former adviser to Attorney General John Ashcroft who later served 24 months in prison for tax evasion and fraud has joined ISA White Collar Prison Consultants, a D.C.-based prison consulting firm.

Charles Polk Jr., who helped Ashcroft prepare for his confirmation hearings, was accused of stealing $45,000 from the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District, a client of Polk’s employer, Doepken, Keevican and Weiss. He later pleaded guilty in federal court in 2006 to one count of tax evasion and one count of interstate transportation of money over $5,000 obtained by fraud.

Polk’s new firm specializes in providing non-legal advice to white collar clients. In a news release, ISA touted Polk’s knowledge of the criminal justice system “inside and out” as an asset.


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