Vice President Biden has apparently failed to master a fundamental difference between two popular and quite widespread modern technologies: the internet and the telephone. (The fact that the url/phone number in question was for the administration’s new transparency portal —which he was appearing to promote— raises entirely different questions.)
It’s too bad his former colleague Ted Stevens of Alaska is no longer there to educate him —as he famously did his fellow Senators back in the day. Senator Stevens (who was the chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over the internet and was explaining a 200-page telecommunications bill he had written), explained to his stupefied colleagues that the web was neither a phone, nor “a big truck,” but, rather, “a series of tubes.” If the Vice President keeps that clearly in mind, he’s unlikely to make the same mistake again.
It appears that at least one of the reasons Senator Stevens isn’t in Washington to further enlighten his colleagues is because of some serious prosecutorial misconduct.
A federal judge held Justice Department attorneys in contempt Friday for failing to deliver documents to former Sen. Ted Stevens’s legal team.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said it was outrageous that government attorneys would ignore his deadline for turning over documents.
Last month, Judge Sullivan ordered the Justice Department to turn over all the agency’s internal communications regarding a whistleblower complaint against the FBI agent leading the investigation into the former Alaska senator.
The agent, Chad Joy, bitterly complained about some Justice Department tactics during the trial, including not turning over evidence and an “inappropriate relationship” between another agent working the case and the prosecutor’s star witness.
The abovementioned inappropriate relationship, incidentally, was of the horizontal variety.
The Wall Street Journal editoralized about the injustice and its consequences:
So what we seem to have here are young lawyers eager to make their reputations by bagging a big-name Senator. Justice rules forbid issuing indictments too close to elections. These columns were tough on Mr. Stevens at the time, but the facts that have since come to light cast real doubt on the case. Though Mr. Stevens was a champion earmarker, the government never alleged much less proved that Veco got anything in return from the Senator. The formal charges are a low-grade felony — in essence, lying on forms. This is not like the charges against William Jefferson or Randy “Duke” Cunningham.
Mr. Stevens will try to overturn the verdict and rebuild his reputation. He is unlikely to get his Senate seat back, even if he wins on appeal or at retrial. But the evidence of prosecutorial malpractice is serious enough to warrant an internal Justice probe, and perhaps judicial sanctions.