New York: Now, Justice is actually blind
Writing in the Wall Street Journal of March 15, 2008, Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, tried to excuse the behavior of his friend, Eliot Spitzer, to whom Dershowitz is tied by political party, religion and their Harvard law backgrounds. But Professor Dershowitz overreaches the bounds of credulity when he asserts that his friend Spitzer is the victim of a plot by overzealous prosecutors lusting to nail the hide of the former Attorney General and Governor of New York to the wall for political advantage.
Opinions vary as to whether prostitution should be classed as a crime or not; however, that debate is of no consequence in the Spitzer case because that is not what propelled the investigation of Eliot Spitzer forward. Spitzer became a target of local, state and federal investigators quite serendipitously because of some computerized banking transactions the amounts and frequency of which automatically trigger closer examination by authorities who are compelled by law to do so.
But when it became known that the person moving money around in ways to warrant suspicion was the Governor of New York, law enforcement at a number of levels did go into high gear. But not for the partisan political reasons or the Victorian mores suggested by Professor Dershowitz.
The reason for over 5,000 wiretapped phone conversation and over 6,000 intercepted e-mails was because law enforcement officials and prosecutors were trying to save their jobs, not Spitzer’s. You see, if someone as high-ranking as Eliot Spitzer could break the law, could try to be more clever than the law and get away with it, then there would not, after awhile, be any laws to be enforced.
This is the point Professor Dershowitz does not understand: The chief law enforcement officer of the Great State of New York cannot go around breaking laws to which he and the rest of us are subject such as the illegal transfer of funds, or the transportation of women across state lines for illegal purposes (the Mann Act) or violating laws with regard to prostitution -- whether they are popular with everyone or not.
Prostitution, by the way, is a billion-dollar business that always attracts the Mafia, if not as the prime mover, then as a “silent partner” providing “protection” for a fee. The Mafia, like any business, wants to know with whom it is dealing. Inevitably, client lists of escort services come into the hands of the Mafia.
Then, the Mafia looks for opportunities to use the client lists. Fear of exposure sometimes causes officials to bend to the will of the Mafia and not prosecute certain Mafia soldiers or even Capos. And, when prevention of prosecution isn’t politically possible, prosecutors might be pressured into plea bargains or lighter sentences can be “suggested” to judges. Moreover, the power of Governors and the President to grant pardons is beyond effective review.
Our counterintelligence agents are trained to look for American personnel who might be vulnerable to recruitment by foreign intelligence services. They are told not to spend much time on personnel who have a reputation for sowing wild oats. As a rule, the obviously wild ones don’t much care about how they are regarded by others. The ones to watch are those who occupy positions of high trust and responsibility, those who would be crushed if their crimes or sins are made known to their loved ones and/or co-religionists.
Eliot Spitzer certainly occupied positions of high trust and responsibility. Was he already being manipulated by someone prior to exposure? Hopefully, not. But he could not have continued to behave as he did, take the risks he was taking without, eventually, coming to the notice of the Mafia which, in New York, has a long and storied history.
Depictions of The Goddess of Justice show her as blind, creating the expectation that her cause will be administered without fear or favor. Ironically, the new Governor of New York just happens to be legally blind.
Syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, William Hamilton, is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. With his wife, he is also the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2008. William Hamilton.