Adams recycles aluminum tubes strategy to push dubious allegations

Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

Volumes have been dedicated to meticulously laying out the way Bush administration officials selectively leaked intelligence that advanced their political agenda to the press, only to then cite the ensuing press reports to validate their specious claims and spread them through conservative media channels. Perhaps no day illustrates this strategy as well as September 8, 2002.

That morning, The New York Times published an article headlined, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts," where reporters Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon relied on leaked classified intelligence to report that "Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb." That very day then-Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on NBC's Meet the Press to tout the article.

Within weeks, The Weekly Standard was out promoting the Times article, and the administration's promotion of it, as evidence of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

This incident and the eight years of media navel-gazing that ensued seems relevant today, as J. Christian Adams, a GOP activist and former Justice Department attorney reportedly hired while the Bush administration was politicizing hiring at DOJ has begun levying attacks on the Justice Department's handling of the New Black Panthers Party case.

In addition to leveling unsubstantiated claims and omitting key facts that completely undermine his charges, Adams accused the DOJ of lying about its handling of the case, specifically about the role of Thomas Perrelli in reaching the decision not to pursue additional charges in the case.

From the July 1 edition of Fox News' America Live:

ADAMS: Then they said that only Rosenbaum and King did the dismissal, and then Washington Times finds out, well the associate was involved. And then

KELLY: This guy Tom Perrelli

ADAMS: Correct.

KELLY: The number three at the Department of Justice, who according to the Washington Times was responsible for this decision.

ADAMS: Correct.

According to a January 19, 2010, Washington Times editorial that purported to layout a "timeline" to prove Perrelli's "political interference" in the decision, the Times "first reported on July 30 [2009] that Mr. Perrelli, the third-ranking member of the department, had been consulted about and had approved the decision to dismiss most o the charges" against members of the New Black Panther Party. That July 30 article relied exclusively on anonymous sources:

Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the No. 3 official in the Obama Justice Department, was consulted and ultimately approved a decision in May to reverse course and drop a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party of intimidating voters in Philadelphia during November's election, according to interviews.

The department's career lawyers in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division who pursued the complaint for five months had recommended that Justice seek sanctions against the party and three of its members after the government had already won a default judgment in federal court against the men.

Front-line lawyers were in the final stages of completing that work when they were unexpectedly told by their superiors in late April to seek a delay after a meeting between political appointees and career supervisors, according to federal records and interviews.

The delay was ordered by then-acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King after she discussed with Mr. Perrelli concerns about the case during one of their regular review meetings, according to the interviews.

Ms. King, a career senior executive service official, had been named by President Obama in January to temporarily fill the vacant political position of assistant attorney general for civil rights while a permanent choice could be made.

She and other career supervisors ultimately recommended dropping the case against two of the men and the party and seeking a restraining order against the one man who wielded a nightstick at the Philadelphia polling place. Mr. Perrelli approved that plan, officials said.

So anonymous "interview" subjects leak what they must consider a potentially damaging claim about Perelli to the Times. Then Adams cites the Times as the source for the claim in levying his public attacks.

It should be noted here that in March 2007 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Joseph D. Rich, Chief of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section from 1999-2005 and an employee of the Civil Rights Division for 37 years, criticized the "unprecedented effort to change the make-up of the career staff at the Civil Rights Division" during the Bush administration, which he testified "resulted in a major loss of career personnel with many years of experience in civil rights enforcement and in the invaluable institutional memory that had always been maintained in the Division."

Incidentally, prior to trumpeting his charges on Fox News, Adams first spun his tale in the editorial pages of the Washington Times.

And now cue Mediaite, demanding that Adams' dubious claims and hearsay "break mainstream."

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties
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J. Christian Adams
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