Radley Balko has the latest from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
The decision by U.S. Attorney Greg White to release a woman from prison and drop charges against two men could be the tip of the iceberg in a federal perjury investigation.
Dozens of convictions and pending cases in which DEA agent Lee Lucas investigated and Jerrell Bray was paid for information will come under scrutiny, several lawyers said Monday.
Bray told police in May that he made up testimony and lied on the witness stand in several drug cases.
Lying in criminal trials. From an agency in the Justice department.
But wait, you say — this is just an individual agent (Lee Lucas) working with an informant who lied. How can I infer blanket statements about the entire DEA?
Because the attitude about doing whatever it takes to get a conviction (including lying) goes all the way to the top.
I wrote about the current Deputy Administrator of the DEA (Michele Leonhart) almost four years ago when she was nominated. The story was about her, and also about super-snitch Andrew Chambers, who was also guilty of perjury in criminal trials, though he was never punished for it and instead received over $2 million from the DEA.
Here are some excerpts:
For years, some prosecutors and many defense attorneys had expressed concerns about Chambers’ perjury. In 1993 in California, a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling agreed that Chambers lied on the stand. In 1995, the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis added its voice: “The record, however, clearly demonstrates that Chambers did in fact perjure himself . . .”
The DEA protected Chambers repeatedly, and avoided notifying prosecutors and defense attorneys about Chambers’ past. At one point, the Drug Enforcement Agency and Justice Department lawyers stonewalled for 17 months, fighting a public defender who was trying to examine the contents of DEA’s background check on Chambers.
Later, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Wolf stated that it was clear that the drug agents never put any damaging reports into Chambers’ file — even though DEA regulations require it.
Finally, the DEA conducted an internal review of Chambers’ career, and although there was some talk of reprimanding DEA supervisors, the report was never made completely public, and the DEA refused to agree to stop using Chambers. […]
The most startling statement in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation of Andrew Chambers was from Michele Leonhart:
“The only criticism (of Chambers) I’ve ever heard is what defense attorneys will characterize as perjury or a lie on the stand.”
She continued by saying that once prosecutors check him out, they’ll agree with his admirers in DEA that he’s “an outstanding testifier.”
That’s the key. To an agent like Leonhart, getting the bust and getting the conviction is all that matters. The testimony is good if it leads to a successful conclusion (from her perspective). Why nitpick about the truth?
After all, this is war, right? Anything goes in war. Lie, cheat, steal, suspend the constitution, … kill.
The entire drug war apparatus in this country needs to be completely dismantled, and something resembling America put back in its place.