Furthest Right

Who watches the watcher watchers

Prosecutors claimed this senior Senatorial scalp last year, winning an ethics conviction a fortnight before the octogenarian Republican narrowly lost his bid for a seventh term from Alaska.

Though media interest stopped there, the story has since become one of ambitious prosecutors who at the very least botched the job and may have miscarried justice.

Judge Emmet Sullivan berated the prosecutors for failing to act on his January 21 demand to deliver internal documents to Mr. Stevens’s attorneys. Those 33 documents relate to a complaint filed December 2 by one of the two FBI agents assigned to the case. Chad Joy claimed prosecutors covered up evidence and tried to keep a witness from testifying. He also said his partner, Mary Beth Kepner, had an unspecified “inappropriate relationship” with the state’s star witness, Bill Allen, and other potential witnesses.

The Stevens indictment was unveiled in July by Matthew Friedrich, tapped by the Bush Administration to run the division. He had served on the Enron task force, helping bring down Arthur Andersen. That verdict was later overturned by the Supreme Court, albeit too late for Andersen.

Mr. Welch, the prosecutor, is a career Justice lawyer appointed to his post by Ms. Fisher. In a profile last week in his hometown newspaper, the Springfield, Mass., Republican, he was described as a registered Democrat vying for a promotion to U.S. Attorney in Boston. The day this story appeared, he was found in contempt.

So what we seem to have here are young lawyers eager to make their reputations by bagging a big-name Senator. Justice rules forbid issuing indictments too close to elections. These columns were tough on Mr. Stevens at the time, but the facts that have since come to light cast real doubt on the case


Not exactly the news, since political show trials happen all the time, but still a vital question: if we cannot trust each other to be moving roughly in the same direction, how many layers of watchers do we need to establish trust?

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