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Mychal Massie

Only a Special Prosecutor is Going to Bring Justice to the Justice Department


by Mychal Massie (bio)

It's time the Obama Administration came under the scrutiny of its first special prosecutor.

Michael Mukasey, predecessor of current Attorney General Eric Holder, correctly appointed a special prosecutor to investigate if politics guided hiring and firing decision in the Bush Justice Department.  Holder should follow his lead, but he hasn't.

That's why Obama must get involved.

On Election Day 2008, three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense allegedly viciously sought to intimidate voters outside a Philadelphia polling place.  Bartle Bull, a veteran civil rights lawyer and aide to the past presidential campaigns of Robert F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter and was an election observer that day, said:

It would qualify as the most blatant form of voter intimidation I have encountered in my life in political campaigns in many states, even going back to the work I did in Mississippi in the 1960's.

It appears to be a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Career lawyers at the Justice Department rightly prosecuted the men: Malik Zulu Shabazz, King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson.  A judge was about to render a default judgment against the men when high-ranking political staff at the Justice Department allegedly demanded a settlement.

As a result, which a department spokesman suggested was the "maximum penalty" available, Malik Zulu Shabazz and Jerry Jackson got off scot-free.  King Samir Shabazz can't carry a weapon near a polling place until after the 2012 presidential election.

Members of Congress are demanding answers from the Justice Department.  They are being met with silence.  The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was similarly rebuffed, and recently decided to issue subpoenas to Justice Department staff to get answers.

A post on the web site Main Justice later verified by The Washington Times reports that two of the career lawyers are being ordered by Justice Department superiors not to comply with the Commission's subpoenas.

Representatives Lamar Smith and Frank Wolf, in a joint statement, said:

After five months of unanswered questions, the American people can tell a cover-up when they see one.  If the Justice Department had any credible reason for dropping the charges, what do they have to hide by providing those answers to Congress?

The gauntlet has been thrown.

As a candidate, Obama said his Attorney General "will first and foremost defend and promote the rights and liberties enshrined in our Constitution" over "promot[ing] a political agenda." That's clearly not happening.

That's why I recently, on behalf of the Project 21 black leadership network, sent a letter to Obama asking him to call for a special prosecutor.

A fair and independent investigation of this apparent miscarriage of justice is necessary.  It seems Eric Holder is incompetent, asleep at the wheel or engaging in a cover-up.

I am skeptical about how the letter will be received.  After all, in just the past few weeks, Obama has engaged in a startling array of political feints betraying the transparency he previously promised:

  • As controversy rages over the professional conduct of climate scientists, Obama's top science advisor - John Holdren - has testified before Congress about his disinterest in how bad data may be driving White House policy.

  • After liberals complained about Karl Rove citing it in the Bush Administration, the White House now says social secretary Desiree Rogers can use executive privilege to not testify about recent state dinner party-crashing.

  • Obama is hampering congressional efforts to investigate how Nidal Malik Hasan was able to murder 13 people at Fort Hood despite his well-known radical Muslim beliefs.

The Hasan example is similar to the Black Panther case.  Obama wants Congress to wait for his own Hasan review.  Similarly, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility is allegedly looking into what happened there, but the only people getting the OPR report will be Holder and his deputy.  There is no guarantee anyone else will see it.

That's why something more is needed - a special prosecutor.

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Mychal Massie is the chairman of the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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