by Max Brantley
I just heard from Garrick Feldman, the crusading newspaper editor out in Jacksonville. He provides a little insight into the U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock under the leadership of Karl Rove's boy Tim Griffin.
Feldman's paper, The Leader, has been covering the Lonoke police chief sex, drugs, etc. trial like the dew. It's over now. And this week, Feldman had some choice words about the U.S. attorney's office failure to go after public corruption in Arkansas under Bud Cummins, who was fired to make way for Griffin. He points out that a deputy U.S. attorney, Robert Govar, benefitted from some of the inmate labor misused by the Lonoke police chief. Feldman, an opinion columnist, indicated skepticism about Govar's testimony that he had no idea it was inmate labor he got so cheaply. And he also wrote that Govar, in effect, became a character witness for the accused when he testified, in Feldman's words, that "Campbell had a wonderful family."
Opinion is protected in these United States. Feldman's seems tame enough under the circumstances. Not to Govar. Feldman says Govar wrote him last week during a business day (about 11:30 a.m.) on the U.S. attorney's e-mail system and signed it as a member of the prosecutor's staff as he threatened to sue Feldman for millions. Feldman, whose family was tough enough to survive the communist takeover of Hungary, isn't someone who spooks easily. He's not afraid of Govar and he's just a mite unhappy about threatening communication in response to his opinion column from a representative of the so-called Justice Department.
Here's where Griffin comes in. Feldman complained to him about Govar's e-mail. Feldman says Griffin responded that Govar was acting as a private individual. He thus brusquely washed his hands of Feldman's complaint. If his political past is any guide, Grffin probably likes this kind of bullying. It shudders to make me think what kind of prosecutor he would have been had Sen. Mark Pryor not blown the whistle on Rove's plan to stock U.S. attorney offices with political operatives who hadn't been through Senate confirmation.
Here are the simple facts: We have an e-mail written on the U.S. attorney's system, during the work day. It invokes an official Justice Department title in the course of a threat meant to chill comment on sworn testimony in a public corruption trial. This is of no interest to Govar's boss, Tim Griffin? It makes you wonder just what WOULD interest him.
Feldman intends to complain to the office of professional integrity at the Justice Department. Does any integrity remain at a department headed by a lying torture proponent? Give 'em hell, Garrick.