Friday, May 30, 2008

Watch List: Conrad Black. Prison. The Plan.

The National Post (Canada) reports Conrad Black (see our Pardon Watch List) is teaching weekly seminars on American history at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex. The former press baron turned prison librarian is also reported to be appearing before a "full house" each week, as he serves out his 6½ year prison sentence.

But the Post also reports that a "grassroots" attempt to organize a pardon campaign for Lord Black "appears to have been stonewalled." Here is a great snippet:

"The attorneys in his camp are reticent. Nobody has made any effort or given any thought to doing this," said a Chicago-based official who met with Lord Black's legal team two months ago.

The plan was to present a dossier of information to John Dennis Hastert, Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 2007, the longest-serving Republican Speaker in U.S. history. The package was to include Lord Black's books on former presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, transcripts of the December, 2007, sentencing hearing, as well as 100 letters written in support of the convicted businessman. The letters were filed with trial Judge Amy St. Eve.

According to the Chicago-based official who asked not to be named, contact with Mr. Hastert would be facilitated through business associates, including the Goeken Group Corp., a Naperville, Ill.-based lighting technology and health care information company where Mr. Hastert was hired in March as a strategic advisor.

Ultimately, the goal was to convince Mr. Hastert, who has close ties to U.S. President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, to personally deliver the package to the White House and make a plea on behalf of Lord Black. By that time, an official pardon application should have been filed with the Pardon Attorney's office at the Department of Justice by Lord Black's lawyers.

However, a source in Lord Black's camp said, "nothing would be done before the appeal," which is scheduled to be heard June 5 by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. "There are a lot of people in positions that could help. I don't think there's going to be a pardon Conrad Black committee," said the insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I think if anything happens, it's going to be very quiet."

Interesting stuff, indeed! Why even file the application with the Office of the Pardon Attorney? It isn't like Black qualifies for clemency under the Department of Justice's "guidelines." Of course, if no application is filed, then some presidential "spokesperson," somewhere down the line, can stand behind a podium and calmly say, "There is a formal process for clemency and Lord Black has not even filed an application." Other than the elimination of that classic executive branch rhetorical chess move, it all has a kind of Marc Rich feel to it! The Post then quotes an expert on presidential pardons (pay attention Chicago media!)
"This President has been very principled and sparing in his pardons," explained Margaret Colgate-Love, a former Department of Justice Pardon Attorney, responsible for recommending presidential pardons to the White House. "He has no track record that would lead anybody to expect that [Bush] would do something like that for Lord Black," she said.
See National Post story here.

No comments:

blogger templates | Make Money Online