Demotion Kills Abramoff Investigation

by TChris

Fred Black, the acting U.S. Attorney in Guam, advised the public integrity section of the Justice Department in November 2002 that he had opened an investigation of Jack Abramoff. Days later, Black was demoted. His new boss then prohibited him from pursuing public corruption cases. Coincidence?

Colleagues of Mr. Black, who had run the federal prosecutor's office in Guam for 12 years, ... said F.B.I. agents questioned several people in Guam and Washington this summer about whether Mr. Abramoff or his friends in the Bush administration had pushed for Mr. Black's removal. Mr. Abramoff's internal e-mail messages show that he boasted to clients about what he described as his close ties to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, and others at the department.

The administration claims that Black would have been replaced anyway. Probably, but it's odd that the switch was made so abruptly, just days after the Justice Department learned that Abramoff was in trouble. And even if the administration's explanation of the suspicious timing is true, why wasn't Black, as a seasoned career prosecutor, allowed to pursue the investigation after returning to his capacity as an Assistant US Attorney?

The administration's claim that Black's new boss told him not to pursue public corruption cases so he could focus on terrorism is silly. The Justice Department didn't start ignoring all federal crime, other than terrorism, after 9/11.

Can it be a coincidence that this sudden change of personnel and priorities saved Abramoff from an earlier investigation?

"Whatever the motivation in replacing Fred, his demotion meant that the investigation of Abramoff died," said a former colleague in Guam.

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    Re: Demotion Kills Abramoff Investigation (none / 0) (#1)
    by Linkmeister on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:20 PM EST
    The thing that strikes me about this is that he'd held the job for twelve years. That includes Bush I's term, so he couldn't have been all that partisan a Democrat. Having lived on Guam, I know there's some pretty insular politics out there, but this smells like DC cover-up to me.

    Re: Demotion Kills Abramoff Investigation (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:20 PM EST
    Lots of terrorists on Guam, are there?

    Re: Demotion Kills Abramoff Investigation (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:20 PM EST
    LA Times story from a month and a half ago via Boston.Com Among other interesting points there is this: """His replacement, Leonardo Rapadas, was confirmed in May 2003 without any debate. Rapadas had been recommended for the job by the Guam Republican Party. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist who had been under contract to the Gutierrez administration, said he carried that recommendation to top Bush aide Karl Rove in early 2003. After taking office, Rapadas recused himself from the public corruption case involving Gutierrez. The new US attorney was a cousin of ''one of the main targets," according to a confidential memo to Justice Department officials."""