Interior's No. 2 Sentenced: Twice What He Expected, Not Half What He Deserved
Steven Griles, ex-No. 2 (which is to say the real boss) at the Department of the Interior, was sentenced today on (entirely inadequate) charges of obstruction of justice. The very brief WaPo story, behind a headline whose blandness ("Ex-Official Sentenced in Abramoff Probe") virtually screams REAL STORY HIDDEN HERE, fails to convey what I've been saying for, gee, how many years have I been writing here? --Interior is where all the Bush Years scandals come together. More on that below... for the moment, let's just enjoy one of the fouler fuckers gets just a teensy bit of what he deserves:
Dismissing pleas for leniency, a federal judge today sentenced the former No. 2 official in the Department of the Interior to 10 months in prison for a felony charge of blocking a Senate investigation into corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Griles had apologized for his actions and asked the judge for leniency, citing his 24 years of public service. "This has been the most difficult time," Griles said, pausing to break down in tears, "in my life."
"My guilty plea here brought me great shame, embarrassment," Griles said. "I have lost my business, my income, and most importantly my reputation."
Griles, who is not cooperating with the investigation, admitted lying to the Senate about the nature of his relationship with Abramoff.
Those two little highlighted lines are the "bingo." While I commend Judge Huvelle for at least doubling down on what little she had to work with, I would like to know why, if other uncooperative witnesses can be put in jail indefinitely until they agree to testify to criminal activities of which they have knowledge, the same could not have been done to Giles?
It seems regrettable that witnesses who are totally innocent of a crime (think reporters who refuse to turn over their notes) can be subject to indefinite confinement while the same treatment is forbidden to criminals themselves under the Fifth Amendment. Not that I'm proposing changing that mind you; just saying, what a shame.
What all skulduggery was Interior involved in? How about Torture (google "Fort Huachuca", where you will find an item from July 2004 from a name you might find familiar) , the Indian Trust Funds lawsuit (which started before the Bush years but is tied in, trust me), and all the others we conveniently stash under the label "Jack Abramoff".
And yet from today's story about the sentencing you'd think that all that's involved is a smarmy little financial-romantic triangle between Abramoff, Giles and a woman named Italia Federici. Who happened to run an outfit called--put down any fizzy beverages you might be holding--Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA).
Just the perfect outfit to steal money meant for Smokey the Bear and maintenance of the cannons on Little Round Top at Gettysburg, don'tcha think?