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background on homeland security nominee

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  • Greg Cannon
    WHAT JERSEY KNOWS ABOUT CHERTOFF http://www.laweekly.com/ink/printme.php?eid=60021 DOUG IRELAND, LA WEEKLY - The Bush White House thinks it s being clever by
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 15, 2005

      DOUG IRELAND, LA WEEKLY - The Bush White House thinks
      it's being clever
      naming a prosecutor instead of a criminal to head the
      Department of
      Security. But Mike Chertoff's appointment in the wake
      of the failed
      nomination of scandal-plagued Bernie Kerik (now under
      investigation by
      multiple law-enforcement agencies) is as political as
      one can imagine.
      Especially for those who know the arcana of politics
      in New Jersey,
      Chertoff was U.S. attorney, and where his naming to
      the Homeland
      job caused jaws to drop.

      Chertoff was a political attack dog in that job,
      indicting and
      convicting a
      raft of Democratic officeholders. But one whom
      Chertoff deliberately
      let get
      away was his big buddy, Bob "The Torch" Torricelli,
      forced to resign
      U.S. Senate seat from Sopranoland in a major
      corruption scandal. Nick
      Acocella, editor of the respected insider newsletter
      New Jersey
      recalls that, at the height of the Torricelli scandal,
      and while
      was U.S. attorney, he saw The Torch and Chertoff, at a
      South Jersey
      banquet, embrace and huddle intimately "like twins
      separated at birth."
      would have thought a federal prosecutor would have
      kept his distance
      from a
      target of criminal investigations that were making
      daily headlines in
      Jersey press.

      When Chertoff was named by Bush to head the Justice
      Division - partly because he was a skilled political
      hit man who'd also
      raised a ton of money as financial vice chair of
      Bush's Garden State
      campaign in 2000 - it was an open secret in Jersey
      that he squelched an
      indictment of Torricelli as a reward for The Torch's
      support of key
      legislation the Democratic Party leadership opposed.
      (Many of the fat
      Chertoff shook down for Bush had also been huge givers
      to The Torch.).
      . .

      Long active in the Federalist Society - a
      conspiratorial brotherhood of
      legal reactionaries - Chertoff, at Justice, helped to
      write the
      civil-liberties´┐Żshredding Patriot Act. He was John
      Ashcroft's honcho in
      indiscriminate grilling of over 5,000 Arab-Americans
      after 9/11,
      devised the
      use of "material witness" warrants to lock up people
      of Middle Eastern
      descent and hold them indefinitely without trial, and
      on behalf of the
      Justice Department wrote a brief (in Chavez v.
      Martinez) arguing that
      was no constitutional right to be free of coercive
      police questioning.

      Moreover, Chertoff wrote legislation, known as the
      Feeney Amendment,
      gutted federal sentencing guidelines, under which
      federal judges were
      allowed to use some discretion when sentencing
      criminal defendants, by
      preventing judges from shortening sentences - and,
      moreover, required
      who deviated from the Feeney Amendment to have their
      names and actions
      reported to the Justice Department, thus establishing
      what Senator
      Kennedy denounced as a judicial "blacklist."

      Why would Chertoff give up a lifetime seat on the
      federal bench to take
      job in the hornets' nest of problems that is the DHS?
      According to a
      Jersey Democratic pol who knows Chertoff well,
      Chertoff - described as
      "as cold-blooded as they come" -has a personal agenda
      that includes
      U.S. attorney general and, eventually, grabbing a seat
      on the U.S.
      Court. But there's a problem for Chertoff with
      conservative Republicans
      - he
      happens to be pro-choice. So, taking the DHS job is
      Chertoff's way to
      his bones," as they say in Jersey, and make headlines
      as a hard-line
      persecutor of "the towel-heads" to please the right
      and neutralize his
      abortion stance.
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