Who Else Got Subpoenaed the Morning Blagojevich Got Arrested? --An interesting item of information, not publicly reported anywhere so far, from locals on the ground in Chicago: The same morning the feds arrested Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in a daring pre-dawn raid on his house in the Chicago suburbs—but very quietly, so as not to wake the children, they assure us—the NDIL also issued simultaneous subpoenas to other parties, not named.
According to information received, several FBI teams (exact words, “a bunch of FBI teams”) went out with subpoenas the morning of the arrests of Gov. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris. (Harris resigned three days later.) The teams went—obviously without media coverage of any sort--to several of what are called “contributor locations” both in Chicago and in downstate Illinois.
It is intriguing that, in the short-lived global media glare of the governor’s arrest and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference, these multiple subpoenas have gotten no mention at all. On the bright side, an office that has now started leaking strategically—if ‘started’ is the accurate word—is showing that it can at least keep some secrets.
The downside is that this conjunction of extremes of hype on one hand and secrecy on the other does not bode well for a justice system, any justice system. The past eight years have amply demonstrated that ours needs less of the extremes of both hype and concealment. On one hand, secret tribunals, secret renditions and secret prisons in an amorphous ‘war’, and undisclosed and unscrutinized treatment of ordinary prisoners even domestically—is Tony Rezko really being held in solitary confinement, in indefinite detention until such time as he breaks down and besmirches Obama, the first democratically elected president we have had in 32 years? And on the other hand, intense government-generated hype about justice matters—dragging down and/or destroying Wen Ho Lee, Steven Hatfill, Bruce Ivins. (Short list here; the full list would be more melancholy.) Strategy and tactics are necessary in court cases, but they can be manipulated against the public interest in favor of individuals. Commentators who have already pronounced Blagojevich guilty—and who persist in saying erroneously that he was ‘indicted’—show no sign of knowing about any other actions taken in conjunction with the arrest.
Apparently all these subpoenas landed at the same time, locals theorize, so that none of the recipients could receive a call about the governor’s arrest. It is not known whether these Dec. 9 subpoenas “found or gathered” material that helped in arguing for the 90-day extension subsequently requested by the NDIL and granted by the courts. (As a non-lawyer, I do not understand why making calls would have changed the effect of a subpoena, but this is the theory.)
In any case, according to information, “there was a significant ‘coordinated canvassing’ of selected individuals/ entities orchestrated by federal investigators the morning of the two arrests.” This ‘canvassing’ occurred in sync, again, “during the immediate aftermath of the arrests, before they were made public, and before there were chances to make ‘calls’.”
Of course, it would presumably have been even easier to keep such ‘calls’ from being made if there had not been such a splashy arrest in the first place. Or in a more sedate and normative version of the same actions, the subpoenas could have been borne simultaneously but at some sensible time of day, just as the governor could have been ordered to show up at the courthouse for his processing, as white-collar targets usually are. Obviously, since both defendants were immediately released on their own recognizance after the minimal hearing, the feds never planned to put the two in jail before their trial.
The identities of the specific targets of that coordinated pre-dawn move, aside from Blagojevich and Harris, have not been revealed.
On what might be a lighter note, btw, as a parent I still wonder about that ‘children’ explanation of the pre-dawn arrest at Blagojevich’s house. In fact, I wonder whether there is a parent anywhere who finds it credible: You know, the explanation that they arrested the governor at his home early in the morning, so that his children would not see.
Trying to keep a straight face here:
Accepting this explanation literally, did the feds know, or have reason to believe, that the governor’s children would not be going to school that weekday?
Did the feds know, or have reason to believe, that the governor’s children routinely rise later than the grownups in the governor’s house? [You see these circles under my eyes? Up three to five times a night for the first year of my own infant’s life, blessedly of course; then another quick rising for the dawn breastfeeding; then that last quickie before heading out to campus and the graduate-student-wife babysitter to drop him off before teaching, dashing back to pick him up after classes . . . he didn’t sleep through the night until he was two . . . then to be followed by ages three through nine, which I do not recall as being somnolent times for the little one . . . Summing up: GIVE ME A BREAK.]
[back to normal] More rationally:
Wouldn’t the same purpose—of keeping the children from seeing—have been served better by seizing the governor at his office?
Or better yet, as mentioned above, wouldn’t it have worked better just to give the governor a discreet call and tell him to show up at the courthouse, as white-collar perps so often are?
Margie Burns is a freelance journalist in metro D.C. with a blog on government, law and politics, and Hill credentials through the Austin-based Progressive Populist. Her articles have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Evening Sun, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Detroit Free Press,Legal Times, the Madison Capital Times, the Miami Herald,Salon.com, the St. Louis Journalism Review, the San Antonio Current,Style Weekly, and the Waco Tribune Herald among other periodicals.
She has written for the Baltimore Chronicle, Chronicles Magazine, the Washington Spectator newsletter, bradblog, and onlinejournal, edited by Bev Conover. Her columns appeared in The Prince George’s Journal (Md.) 1996-2004 and The Prince George’s Sentinel 2004-2006.
Her doctorate is in Renaissance English literature. She teaches English as an adjunct at UMBC.
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