Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wingnut Prosecutor vs. Indian Willy Loman

[OT- a little closer]

New Jersey Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Christie's bio as U. S. Attorney:

Putting Terrorists Behind Bars

Obscure businessman and British citizen, Hemant Lakhani, came on the radar screen of the FBI because of his desire to broker the sale of shoulder-fired missiles to shoot down American passenger jets. His independent efforts to find an arms buyer and his persistence in completing a deal that would result in a terrorist attack in the United States sealed the image of someone predisposed and motivated to follow through with terrorist acts.

Chris Christie led the team that prosecuted Mr. Lakhani, ultimately securing a conviction and putting him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Proves to be complete and utter nonsense.

This American Life completely destroys the case that this insecure dumbass could ever be a successful terrorist.

The U.S. government spent two years on a sting operation trapping an Indian man named Hemant Lakhani, whom they suspected of being an illegal arms dealer. It's one of the first cases that went to trial in the War on Terror, and one the Justice Department pointed to as one of their big successes. In the end, they got Lakhani, red-handed, delivering a missile to a terrorist in New Jersey. The only problem was, nothing in the sting was what it appeared to be. Including the missile.

Hemant Lakhani, an Indian-born British citizen, had been a salesman all his life. Clothing, rice, oil ... it didn't matter to him what, as long as he could spin a deal. Then one day, sitting in a hotel room with a gangster he happened to know, the phone rang. It wasa business friend of the gangster's, calling from America. The man on the phone was rich, Lakhani was told. Maybe he would invest in Lakhani's latest venture. So Lakhani started talking to the man over the phone. Pretty soon they set up a meeting at a hotel in New Jersey, to talk business. But when Lakhani got there, the man seemed to be only interested in buying weapons. Illegal weapons, for Somali terrorists. Lakhani, always eager to make a deal, said he can help him out. What he didn't know, is that the supposed rich business man was an FBI informant, and that he had just walked into an elaborate government sting. Petra Bartosiewicz reports.

Christie's justification is that whether he was too stupid or ignorant to be capable of a terrorist act on his own is irrelevant. What matters to Christie is motive.

Why do I get the sense that Christie would shrug off any comparison between Lakhani and any one of the shrieking Right-wing teabaggers who publically fantasize about Obama's demise? These people are incompetent, and generally not capable of pulling off any grand strategic plan, but boy do they shout with murder in their hearts.


Talking Points Memo:

Those newly released documents from the U.S. attorney firings raise a few questions about the Republican who may be his party's highest profile electoral contender this year.

That's Chris Christie, the former U.S. attorney from New Jersey, who's also leading incumbent Jon Corzine in that state's race for governor.

According to the documents, Christie's name twice appeared on informal lists, compiled by DOJ staffers, of U.S. attorneys who might be canned.

The first appearance was in a lengthy memo written by Kyle Sampson, chief of staff to Alberto Gonzales, and sent to Harriet Miers on January 1, 2006. Sampson wrote in the memo, released yesterday, that he was responding to a request from Miers about whether President Bush could fire a large number of U.S. attorneys. Sampson argued that it would be preferable to fire only a "limited number," and listed eight prime candidates, including three -- Todd Graves, Margaret Chiara, and Bud Cummins -- who did ultimately lose their jobs. Underneath these, Sampson listed some other potential choices, which he split into Tiers 1-3. In Tier 1 were five names, including Christie's. (Only one of those five, Paul Charlton, was fired in the end.)

Ten months later, Michael Elston, another DOJ staffer, sent Sampson another list, titled "Other Possibilities." Elston wrote: "These have been suggested to me by others," before listing five names, including Christie's. None of these prosecutors ended up getting fired.

In May 2007, Christie told the Washington Post, which reported on his inclusion on Elston's list, that Elston had contacted him that March to inform him of his inclusion, and to apologize for it -- an apology Christie said he refused to accept.

"I was completely shocked. No one had ever told me that my performance had been anything but good," Christie told the Post. "I specifically asked him why he put my name on the list. He said he couldn't give me an explanation."

He added: "I still to this day don't know how I got taken off the list."

None of the available evidence answers that question (or explains how Christie got on those lists in the first place).

But it's worth noting that in September of 2006 -- by which time he almost certainly had a run for governor in mind -- Christie did something that greatly pleased national Republicans: His office leaked word that it was aggressively investigating Rep. Bob Menendez -- the New Jersey Democrat who at the time was in a tight race for the Senate -- over a rental deal.

Publicly tarring Menendez was especially helpful to the GOP at the time. First, the Senate hung on a knife edge -- a Menendez loss would, as it turned out, have allowed Republicans to hang onto the chamber. Second, Republicans that fall were fending off charges that they had presided over a "culture of corruption." Any hint of evidence that the corruption problem was bipartisan could potentially be used by the GOP to change the prevailing narrative and impact races beyond New Jersey.

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