Washington D.C.--Again, credit goes to the Washington Post for continuing their coverage of the legal predicament of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, eschewing the credulous reaction most of the media (and prominent "liberal/progressive" blogs) to the killing of ABC's 20/20 segment (redacted to seven minutes).
Today's news brought us a little closer to what a settlement and resolution of the case might look like if the investigators considered the current political climate:
Deborah Jeane Palfrey was the victim of selective prosecution and was indicted only after she publicly criticized federal prosecutors and threatened to seek an independent investigation of them from the attorney general, her attorney wrote in court filings. "As can be verified by picking up the Yellow Pages, a Washingtonian magazine or The Washington Post, Ms. Palfrey owns and operates merely one of hundreds of escort services operating [in] the District of Columbia," lawyer Preston Burton wrote. "There is evidence . . . that demonstrate[s] the realistic possibility that Ms. Palfrey was singled out for prosecution on the basis of her petition to the government requesting the appointment of Special Counsel." (Washington Post, "District Briefing, Saturday, June 16 2007; B02. ESCORT SERVICE CASE. 'Attorney Asks Judge to Dismiss Charges. ")This appears very likely, especially upon examination of the time-line, but it's also a well-known fact that Washington D.C. is literally teeming with sundry escort services--why aren't they in court too? Why is it just Deborah Jeane Palfrey? Where are her former employees, particularly the ones who constitute the "five confidential informants?" Surely, all of them feel "intimidated" as "witnesses," forget former clients (like Fred Thompson? [Ed., 08.28.2008-This name was confirmed to myself by Palfrey in a missive. Larry Flynt has the name, but it no-longer matters.]).
This leads into how informant programs and deals frequently work: the affiants are given legal immunity in-exchange for their testimony. This doesn't prevent someone from having engaged in prostitution--or any other crime--without Palfrey's knowledge to save themselves by accusing her in what would constitute perjured statements. That's a possible reason for this statement from the Justice Department's lead-prosecutor:
"Here's the pickle we're in, your honor," said federal prosecutor William Cowden [Ed.-assistant US Attorney]. "The information in government files in some cases relate to other individuals' possible criminal activity [Ed.--probably those of the informants, but could also include the criminal activities of former clients] . . . . My suspicion is the defense wants to make some of that information public." Palfrey and the government have been in a protracted dispute over whether she has used some of her phone records from her business, Pamela Martin and Associates, to try to publicly identify former customers and intimidate potential prosecution witnesses. (Washington Post, 05.22.2007)Even a cursory examination of the government's past use of informants illustrates its usage is highly suspect--suspicion is right. Most informants have already broken a law (frequently, a heinous one with victims) before they reach a federal prosecutor, and their motives should always be questioned (as well as the truthfulness of their claims).
The "pickle" could be the mess that federal prosecutors have allowed themselves to be baited-into by certain former clients--prominent ones. Some of them could still be holding-office within the Justice Department as I write this, or even the White House. They wouldn't lie, would they?
What sets-off alarm bells is that Assistant U.S. Attorney Cowden is trying to quash any attention to these legitimate concerns, and they are real concerns in any criminal case brought by the federal government against any lone-individual (especially one they've impoverished through forfeiture laws). Cowden's probably being told to take this approach by his boss, Jeffrey A. Taylor. Is Taylor being told by Attorney General Gonzales on how to proceed in this case? Congress (the Judiciary Committees) and her own investigators might be interested to know. They should ask Ms. Monica Goodling, and under oath.
The use of confidential informants has been abused countless times by the FBI in the harassment of political, religious, and cultural minorities in the United States.
But consider this: should you trust the testimony of someone who has broken laws that are worse than what the defendant is being accused of? This is just another valid criticism of the use of confidential informants. This aside, Palfrey and her new criminal attorney Preston Burton are attacking the legal foundation of all five federal counts against her. Readers should also know that until Ms. Palfrey's case (not an issue of her guilt or innocence), prostitution wasn't a federal offense.
Somehow, it became so without the passage of any legislation...or did it? There's another side to Palfrey's former employees--the ones who didn't get caught-up in the Justice Department's net:
The escort says she never told Palfrey—"a great boss"—that she slept with clients several times a week. She says she misses the work—and the business and investing advice clients offered. [my emphasis]"It was all about role-playing and packaging yourself," she says. "It's exactly what they teach you in sales and marketing." ("D.C. Sex Scandal: An Escort's Perspective," Newsweek, 06.04.2007.)Question: are the "confidential informants" lying? And what was that "business and investing advice" that former clients "offered"? It all seems to hinge on the affidavits, and these are being suppressed as evidence.
The whole case seems flimsy, yet, this is how the Justice Department is handling the case, and with no obvious jurisdiction. Maybe that's why the postal investigators were brought in. The only "evidence" they appear to have is the word of some very frightened former employees--who may have solicited prostitution without Palfrey's knowledge--of Pamela Martin & Associates.
Do Taylor and company have much of a case at all? Even looking from the outside, it doesn't appear so. Again, it's a pertinent question to ask about how Assistant U.S. Attorney Cowden, Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine M. Connelly (Mass. Bar #649430), U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Butler, (D.C. Bar #417718) came into their jobs. If it was under the Bush administration, the Senate Judiciary Committee needs to subpoena them as well for all the reasons one might suspect.
A directory of articles on Ms. Palfrey's predicament: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/related-topics.html/Deborah+Jeane+Palfrey?tid=informline
Newsweek, 06.04.2007: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18881818/site/newsweek/
MSNBC Today on the new court developments: http://www.nbc4.com/news/13515636/detail.html