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Tilting at Windmills

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February 11, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

A BLAST FROM THE PAST....It looks like Ken Starr is up to his old tricks:

Sworn statements of five of six jurors urging clemency for death row inmate Michael Morales a convicted murderer they recommended be executed were forged documents, the San Joaquin County district attorney's office said Friday.

....The affidavits were submitted Tuesday under seal to [Arnold] Schwarzenegger on Morales' behalf by his high-profile defense team: [David] Senior and former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

Once a sleazebag, always a sleazebag. It's actually kind of comforting to know that some things never change.

Kevin Drum 1:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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Comments

IOKIYAR

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on February 11, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm offended.

Posted by: IOKIYAR on February 11, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Saw this in the comments over at Rising Hegemon:

"First let me say I hate Ken Starr, there are very few bad things I wouldn't want to happen to him.

"That said, I'm also a Criminal Defense Attorney and I don't speak to witnesses myself, to avoid becoming a witness in a case in which I am trying to be an advocate. So if I have an investigator bring me false affidavits, I would not know it and would end up in the same position as Starr.

"That doesn't mean he wasn't involved in the creation of false documents. His past history of blind zeal and questionable ethics raise some red flags, but I'm real suspicious of this case."

Crimepays | 02.11.06 - 11:11 am | #

Posted by: Joel on February 11, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

To try to live down his role in the failed coup d'etat against Bill Clinton, Ken Starr has done a number of good deeds. Interceding for Michael Morales appears to be one of them. We're totally jumping the gun on this.

Posted by: kth on February 11, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

You could have made the point more simply by saying that Ken Star is a Republican.

Posted by: lib on February 11, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

While Starr is ultimately responsible for the work product submitted under his name, I'd have to second Joel and say it's very likely that Starr wouldn't necessarily have had any personal knowledge that the affidavits were forgeries. That would more likely be the direct handiwork of a more junior attorney or an investigator. I'd reserve judgment.

Posted by: Stefan on February 11, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum makes it sound like Ken Starr has a history of forging documents.

Another Drum Lie. Or maybe I should say another Drum Distortion.

(A responsible person would wait for some more facts before saying something as irresponsbible as 'once a sleazebag always a sleazebag.' But has anybody ever accused Drum of being responsible?)

Posted by: BigRiver on February 11, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Really, it's just too good to be true.

But, please, please, can I be wrong?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 11, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

If he is convicted, what will that mean to his ability to practice law in California?

Posted by: jerry on February 11, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

How about some biographical information...

Ken Starr:
1981 - 1983 Counselor to US Attorney General
1983 - 1989 Circuit Court judge
1989 - 1993 Soliciter Gerneral for US
1993 - current Partner in Kirklan + Ellis firm
1997 - 1999 Special Counsel, Whitewater probe
2004 to current Dean, Pepperdine Law School

Kevin Drum:
2001 - current Lives off wife's income, takes
pictures of cats, blogs 3 hours
a day

Posted by: GOPGregory on February 11, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Whether Starr was directly responsible for it or not, this is just another indication of a high profile republican being surrounded (if not actively involved) in deceit and corruption. What ever happened to the 'character' issue, anyway? It kinda fell off the radar, didn't it? Why don't these high profile Repubs demand a higher set of ethics out of their people? (I also leave that open to include themselves!)

And yes, it is sweet irony that the very man who bewailed the need for truth and integrity eight years ago, is now front and center in a forgery scandal.

Posted by: jcricket on February 11, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe that a lawyer would risk falsifying sworn documents. It's too crazy even for Starr. As for his zeal, it's good to know he's on the 'right' side of this one. Does anyone know if Starr is anti-capital punishment?

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

GOPGREG's resume

Lives with mummy in the basement or exists on her credit cards in his little dorm room

Never kissed a girl (your aunt doesn't count)

Believes in the Tooth Fairy, Jesus and George W

Never created or accomplished a single thing on his own merit.

Talks real tough like a man, in reality a 120lb pencil neck geek who is bitter that he will have to 'wait' until marriage.

Posts like a typical chickenshit loser who can't stand a fight, knowing most old women could knock him out.

Keep trying, son.

Posted by: Marz on February 11, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

". . . in reality a 120lb pencil neck geek . . . "

Dang. I pictured him as morbidly obese with bad acne.

Posted by: Joel on February 11, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

There's more to this story than appears to the naked eye, I bet. I'm thinking somebody (like the State Attorney General) has put some pressure on some jurors and we have a Swift Boating incident, not a Monica incident. Hate to say this puts me on Starr's side, but it's the only way this makes sense.

Posted by: David in NY on February 11, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, as other commenters have said, calling Starr a "sleazebag" is out of line. There's no way he would have submitted a bunch of false affidavits knowing them to be false - you don't have to think he's an angel, you just have to assume he doesn't want to go to prison himself, as he easily could if he knowingly ratified a bunch of fake affidavits. And what in his independent counsel role justifies calling him a "sleazebag?" Whatever you think about him back in the Clinton days (I opposed him), he wasn't corrupt.

Posted by: Richard Riley on February 11, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Waitaminute... does this mean Ken Starr is a *gasp* "Trial Lawyer"?!?

Posted by: jefff on February 11, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK


big river: A responsible person would wait for some more facts before saying something as irresponsbible as 'once a sleazebag always a sleazebag.'

that's just the kind of line that would make ann coulter laugh......

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on February 11, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

"While Starr is ultimately responsible for the work product submitted under his name, I'd have to second Joel and say it's very likely that Starr wouldn't necessarily have had any personal knowledge that the affidavits were forgeries. That would more likely be the direct handiwork of a more junior attorney or an investigator. I'd reserve judgment."

What an idea! Let's all wait to get more info. And then we should consider the circumstances. Then we should take into account the actual level of personal involvement of each individual.

Does this standard apply to everyone or only to certified Clinton haters?

Posted by: arkie on February 11, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

All most readers know is that Starr investigated Clinton. It would have been helpful to summarize what he did earlier similar to the current shenanigans or evocative of bad reputation. Anyone?

Posted by: Neil' on February 11, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"All most readers know is that Starr investigated Clinton. It would have been helpful to summarize what he did earlier similar to the current shenanigans or evocative of bad reputation. Anyone?"

Try this: http://www.salon.com/news/1998/09/cov_10newsb2.html

or this:

Posted by: arkie on February 11, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Although I'm a Republican I was offended by the Inspector Javert aspects of Starr's work against Clinton. That said, I think you can attack the man's excessive tenacity without attacking his integity or ethics; were it not for his service in the Special Prosecutor's office he probably would have gotten Alito's seat on the Court. Until the Dems like Kevin Drum can let go of the politics of personal destruction and deal with differences in an adult manner, they will never regain majority party status in this country.

Posted by: wks on February 11, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Here are few just off the top of my head:

--His Office of Indepenant Counsel illegally leaked enough secret grand jury testimony to float an aircraft carrier. And they were sleazy leaks designed to injure Clinton.

--He included every salacious detail of Bill and Monica's encounters in a sleazy attempt to further humiliate Clinton.

--He investigated every harebrained allegation against the Clntons's in a sleazy attempt to find something-anything-to pin on them.

--He kept Susan McDougal incarcerated in deplorable and barbaric conditions in a sleazy attempt to force her to perjur herself against the Clintons.

--Lucianne Goldberg.

Is that enough sleaze yet?

Posted by: Jimbo on February 11, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry. Let me try again.

"All most readers know is that Starr investigated Clinton. It would have been helpful to summarize what he did earlier similar to the current shenanigans or evocative of bad reputation. Anyone?"

Try this: THE SALON REPORT ON KENNETH STARR http://www.salon.com/news/1998/09/cov_10newsb2.html

This qoute from that article bears directly on Kevin's posting:

"Some of Starr's deputies were alarmed by the independent counsel's unquestioning embrace of Hale. They shook their heads in dismay when Starr argued in court for a reduced sentence for "Judge Hale," as he called him, telling the court, "I have witnessed his contrition. I believe, your honor, that he is genuinely remorseful of his criminal past. I have been impressed with his humble spirit." Taking issue with Starr, one Whitewater investigator told Salon, "With someone like Hale, you can never let down your guard. You should never get to a point where you begin to trust him.""

or this: The Hunting of the President
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002IQK9U/002-7888295-5702435?v=glance&n=130

Posted by: arkie on February 11, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'm no fan of Starr's role in the Clinton investigation or of his politics. That said, I also find it very unlikely that he would have actual knowledge of or even any suspicion that these affidavits were forgeries.

He's a damn good lawyer, plus the price is just too high for him--lose his $2M/year law partnership, for example.

It just doesn't fit.

Posted by: Jim on February 11, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know someone that knowingly wastes 60-80 million tax dollars, on a witch hunt. Sounds corrupt to me.

Posted by: Neo on February 11, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Don't tell Steno Sue. She wrote a fawning book about him praising his integrity.

Posted by: Nan on February 11, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

BigRiver,

"Kevin Drum makes it sound like Ken Starr has a history of forging documents."

Kenneth Starr has a history of asking witnesses to give false testimony. Ask Susan McDougal and a dozen witnesses in Arkansas.

Posted by: Nan on February 11, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

wks,

"Until the Dems like Kevin Drum can let go of the politics of personal destruction and deal with differences in an adult manner,"

Wow. Someone speaking for Starr asking for an end to the politics of personal destruction. Kenneth Starr was the godfather of politics of personal destruction. He spent 6 years $80 million dollars in pursuit of politics of personal destruction. This is like Bill Bennett lecturing us about self control. Paris Hilton lecturing us about sleaze.

Posted by: Nan on February 11, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Nan,

I knew the phrase would be provocative, that's why I used it in this context. Don't become what you hate in others. I disagreed with Monicagate, just as I disagreed with Lawrence Walsh before him. We are too polarized already to start criminalizing our political disagreements.

Posted by: wks on February 11, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. The sleazebag is taking time away from his $2 million a year law practice to do pro bono work on a death penalty case. If you want to slam someone there should be better cudgels to grasp at.

Posted by: wks on February 11, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, Kevin. This kind of tripe only feeds the other side. Rise above it, please.

Besides, you are also implicating Mr. Senior. Do you know anything about him? Any reason to call him a sleazebag?

Posted by: Jacksprat on February 11, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

GOPGregory, if you cant do better than personal attacks against Kevin, then it shows how seriously weak the republicans are right now. How limp.

Excellent I hope Starr goes down in white-hot and public flames for that.

Posted by: Psyberian on February 11, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Does someone who writes stuff for prurient interest qualify as a sleazebag? How about somebody who pirates somebody else's wet-dream diary and publishes it -- is the pirate a sleazebag?

I'm convinced the report on the Whitewater investigation that Starr published sold a quarter of a million copies mostly because of the sleaze. (Or maybe Richard Mellon Scaife bought most of them himself?) Maybe Starr couldn't write good enough pornography himself to sell 250,000 copies (which you have to admit is pretty strong first-attempt performance considering the book didn't even have a sexy cover picture or any pictures inside), but using borrowed or pirated sleaze doesn't exempt Starr from being a sleazebag.

Posted by: duvidil on February 11, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, GOPGregory, when Kevin Drum publishes pictures, they're G-ratable pictures of cats!

Posted by: duvidil on February 11, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Come to think of it, maybe Kevin did jump the gun a touch, running with a tantalizing bit of information, perhaps even hoping the media would tar somebody's reputation before all the facts caught up with the spin.

Where have we seen that tactic before? And before didn't lots of those tantalizing leaks come from stuff a special prosecutor turned up before a Grand Jury, meaning leaking it was illegal?

Posted by: duvidil on February 11, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

What's the matter? - Is Richard Mellon-Scaife not paying old Liverlips enough at Pepperdine University?

Don't worry though - Starr will be sniffing Hillary's panties for any trace of Vince Foster's semen, as soon as she is elected in 2008. More on cattle futures, as well, I'm sure.

Posted by: Fred Flintrock on February 12, 2006 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

He kept Susan McDougal incarcerated in deplorable and barbaric conditions in a sleazy attempt to force her to perjur herself against the Clintons.

That's silly. She refused to testify, AT ALL. There's no way that Starr could have persuaded a judge to send her to prison merely because she wouldn't "perjur herself," i.e., because she wouldn't give the testimony that Starr wanted to hear. THe problem is that she wouldn't testify at all.

Now if you use your head for a second, why would McDougal have refused to testify under oath if her testimony was going to benefit the Clintons?

Posted by: Niels Jackson on February 12, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Wow.

I can't believe the number of people here calling for restraint for the guy who knew absolutely none himself.

These are serious charges, folks, no matter what side of the death penalty debate you're on- submitting false affidavits in a death penalty case?

Why would he do such a thing? Good question. Maybe Starr can enlighten us as to exactly what happened.

Until he does, I'm not inclined to just let it drop.

Posted by: pdq on February 12, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"[I]t's very likely that Starr wouldn't necessarily have had any personal knowledge that the affidavits were forgeries. That would more likely be the direct handiwork of a more junior attorney or an investigator. I'd reserve judgment."

Yes, I'd reserve judgment on whether Starr knowingly used false documents, but not on the ethics issue. Unless he had confirmation from some junior attorney that that the makers of the documents had confirmed their authenticity, he breached his professional responsibility. That's just basic -- and saying that he didn't know or it was someone else's mistake doesn't make it any less unethical.

Posted by: Will on February 12, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Niels: I don't recall the specifics, but Susan McDougal consistantly claimed that she would suffer adverse consequences id she testified truthfully, either perjury charges or other charges brought against her concerning her and her husbabnds' dealings. Susan McDougal claimed that she was threatened and browbeaten to give give testimony adverse to the Clintons or else. That's why she wouldn't testify. I never knew what to think about her claims, but between her and Starr I was more inclined to believe her because Starr was a bullying and incompetent fanatic; Mcdougal always struck me as a woman trying to hold onto the only thing she had left, her dignity.

Posted by: jimbo on February 12, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Susan McDougal claimed that she was threatened and browbeaten to give give testimony adverse to the Clintons or else.

Sure, that's what she claimed. But it's nonsense. No federal judge would sign off on sending a witness to jail simply because a prosecutor said, "She's happy to testify, but she just won't say what I want her to say." Nor could her fear of a "perjury" charge have been genuine: If McDougal really did tell the truth, how was Starr supposedly going to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she perjured herself?

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