Politics & Media
Aug 14, 2008, 08:08AM

Abused Justice

Elliot Spitzer was widely reviled for his dubious prosecutorial tactics as Attorney General of New York, including leaks and smears that damaged his targets without any charges being filed. Spitzer's own life as governor was ruined when his patronage of prostitutes leaked, but Spitzer has yet to be charged with a crime. While there's a certain amount of irony in this fact, our country's founders tried very hard to prevent the government from accusing people without taking them to court. Just don't exepct the mainstream media to talk about this kind of prosecutorial misconduct, because that's a goldmine of information.

AIG fired Greenberg after Spitzer's leaks, yet ultimately Spitzer never indicted Greenberg for anything, nor cited him for any specific crime. Spitzer's anti-Greenberg campaign was conducted using leaks and innuendo, rather than formal charges, exactly the kind of abuse of prosecutorial power that would have shocked the Framers who wrote the Constitution.

Now to Spitzer's downfall. Federal investigators went after an escort service -- the kind of should-this-even-be-a-crime that is almost never prosecuted -- hoping to get something to use against Spitzer. The current Justice Department is Republican, Spitzer was a Democrat; the goal seemed to be for Republican Party hacks to use federal power to shaft a Democratic hack. Federal prosecutors filed an affidavit about the escort service; the affidavit did not contain Spitzer's name, nor any detail that would identify him. Then someone either from the U.S. attorney's office in New York or from the Attorney General's office in Washington -- Attorney General Michael Mukasey is a New York Republican who is said to despise Spitzer -- leaked that "Client #9" was the governor. That was prosecutorial misconduct. Turnabout, sure, against a creepy guy who built himself up by tearing others down; but misconduct nonetheless. Prosecutors should either indict people for specific violations of law, or leave them alone. They are not supposed to use the powers of office to cause embarrassment to political opponents. Months after he was driven from office by prosecutorial leaks, Spitzer still has not been accused of any crime. Spitzer may have been a creepy power-mad jerk; but who among his persecutors is not also a creepy power-mad jerk?


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