Vanity Fair’s David Margolick on the Florida Election Highjacking

Vanity Fair, which doesn’t post its articles on the Web, is running a sensational follow-up on the 2000 hijacking of the US election in Florida. Veteran David Margolick does a brilliant job, making you feel as though you’re right there in the smoky rooms. And there is not a bit of doubt about it — this election was stolen, an early and terrifying sign of what these people were capable of. And I mean terrifying. There are description of Republican goings-on that can only be decribed as thuggery.

We are all very lucky, because this huge article has been provided by a caring blogger. It is in two large PDF files, and it is a great read. Don’t bother skimming or scanning. This has to be read carefully and digested.

What emerges is a clear picture of the birth of a new age in American politics. September 11 may have “changed everything,” as the clichee goes. But the crime of the 2000 election changed everything just as much, and maybe more so. To borrow from Richard Clarke: Our leaders failed us, the Supreme Court failed us, and our beloved laws failed us. And in keeping with the tone of this election, almost overnight America became a nastier, uglier and less honorable place. Washington has been highjacked by gangsters.

The Discussion: 13 Comments

A little off the subject but I recently bought the DVD here in China entitled, “The Hunting of a President”. If you haven’t seen this, check it out! It’s about Clinton and the conspiracy to have him removed from office. An eye-opener!!!!

September 24, 2004 @ 10:26 pm | Comment

I hear it’s a damn good movie. I’ll get the DVD soon.

September 25, 2004 @ 12:00 am | Comment

On topic, though probably not very well thought out, as this is Saturday and I’m burnt out…

I’ve read that article, and I must say that my first thought is: Aren’t these ex-law clerks supposed to have signed confidentiality agreements? Granted, I’m not that familiar with the American legal system since I’m studying law in Australia, but I would think that law clerks, like judicial associates here, are strongly discouraged from revealing the deliberations that take place during judicial proceedings, especially as it tends to do nothing but cloud the issues and open the court to attack, not on legal grounds which are stated in their judicial opinions, but on amorphous charges of bias or ‘judicial bullying’.

My second thought: Why now? These things happened in 2000, why wait until the eve of a presidential election to reveal all this?

Which led to my third thought: What motives do these ex-law clerks have in breaking a non-disclosure agreement they undertook?

And a fourth, closing thought: Given that none of the ex-law clerks for the majority have broken their silence, this piece comes close to being partisan propaganda. We have no means of knowing whether what they’ve told us is true, and if they’re willing to break a non-disclosure agreement, what reason do we have to trust them?

Not to detract from the gravity of the allegations, which if true, would be very worrying, but these seem more like allegations without corrobration from any other sources…

September 25, 2004 @ 2:56 am | Comment

The article explains the circumstances under which the law clerks spoke and notes the history of law clerks being notoriously discreet. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary action. But let’s nt turn this amazing story into a discussion of the discretion of law clerks, which might be a separate conversation — the story is what happened at that time. The motivations of the writers or the sources is worth understanding, but by far the big question is, Is what they are saying true? The GOP can dispute it if they want, they have plenty of time before the election.

This is something we need to be careful about: questioning whether an issue is valid simply because it is raised before the elections. The story of the SBVFT is more than 30 years old. Why introduce it months before the election? Same with the bush awol story. And Kitty Kelly’s book. Lots and lots and lots of stories are coming out now about both sides. What needs to be asked is whether they are irresponsible smears or issues of substance.

Go over to NRO, Weekly Standard, WorldNetDail, NewsMax, etc., and see all the stories they’ve churned out over the past few months slamming Kerry. Not surprising, and no one’s questioned it — they’re just being consistent with their agenda and their usual modus operandi. Vanity Fair’s publisher has long had a grudge against bush, so it’s not at all surprising he’d choose to release a bombshell article close to the elections. That’s just how it goes, and you’ll see it happening now in every publication that has strong political leanings.

September 25, 2004 @ 11:18 am | Comment

I agree that the key, in fact, the most important question is the truth of these allegations. The problem is that the onus, strictly speaking, should be on the ones who allege it to prove it true. It is not for the defense to prove it untrue, unless and until the accusers make out, provisionally, that there is sufficient evidence to compel the defense to make an answer in order to negate the accuser’s version of the facts.

(That, incidentally, applies to both the Republicans and the Democrats… If an allegation against Bush is made, the accusers should prove it true, or at least raise sufficient evidence — definitely something more than hearsay or forged memos — to compel the GOP to answer, and likewise for allegations against Kerry.)

It’s an interesting article, all in all, but I’m just not sure that they have marshalled enough to really convince anyone who isn’t already convinced. There’s just too much partisan bias, especially without any word from the law clerks for the majority.

(Or maybe I’m being a naive law student here, still thinking that the judicial system works. I’ll concede the possibility.)

September 25, 2004 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

I thought the evidence, not only that provided by the court clerks, was compelling, if not overwhelming. Margolick has a long track record and a fine reputation. While it is conceiveable he is willing to throw that all away for one story (after all, Da Rather just did it), I lean toward believing him. That’s based not only on his own track reord, but also on all the independent reading I’ve done on this subject over the past few years.

September 25, 2004 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

The clerks who were the source of this information came from the Chambers of the Justices who lost the argument. So, to begin with, you have a completely one-sided piece. Moreover, as I noted on my site, what these clerks did, in violating their confidentiality oats is disgraceful and puts there credibility in doubt. We know they are liars, because they lied about whether they’d keep their oaths.

Finally, I value the opinion of the greatest sitting American jurist over that of a bunch of snot nosed newly minted lawyers.

That judge thinks that the US Supreme Court reached the right result in Bush v. Gore and averted a constitutional crises.

September 27, 2004 @ 1:46 am | Comment

BTW, 90 former US Supreme Court clerks and a number of prominant appellate lawyer disagree with your convenient situation ethics Richard. The have denounced the clerks for “conduct unbecoming an attorney

I clerked for a US Court of Appeals Judge. He was politically to my left (indeed, his name was briefly mentioned as a possible Clinton Supreme Court appointment) and frequently reached results with which I disagreed.

One such decision was extremely political and controversial. A man’s life was pretty much at stake. Pat Buchanan, Larry Tribe and several foreign governments weighed in quite strongly on the case in the media. Additional security measures were installed at the Court House in light of certain threats received.

I disagreed with the outcome, however, I would never have dreamed about telling anyone anything about the internal deliberative process. To do so would have been dishonest and deeply dishonorable.

The oath I swore said that I would not disclose such information. Period. End of debate, end of stroy, end of moral dilemma.

September 27, 2004 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

Well, maybe it was conduct unbecoming. But t his is just one more example of kill the messenger, while ignoring the information they provide. These clerks are heroes, risking scorn and derision like yours for the benefit of a greater good, the protection of its people from a corrupted and venal court. All you’ve done is change the subject, but the fact remains that the election was hijacked and bush’s presidency is an illegal one.

September 28, 2004 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

To: Conrad
Re: Lying

You make some good points regarding the impartialness of the Supreme Court Law Clerks who reported on the Justices deliberations, but you error in suggesting that they lied.
1) While they may have broken their oaths, they did not lie about it.
2) Who of us has not lied? Does that mean everything we say thereafter is false?
3) Many people think that Clarence Thomas lied during his confirmation hearings. Should that make him ineligable for the Supreme Court?

October 27, 2004 @ 2:30 pm | Comment

In regards to Conrad’s objections. It’s worth noting the Supreme Court decision (Bush vs Gore), in and of itself is an abomination our two hundred year old democratic principles. Why howl when some of the dirt behind the decision gets revealed?


October 27, 2004 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

Peter, exaclty. My friend Conrad is a brilliant lawyer, but unfortunately in his eyes bush can do no wrong. So in the light of all the evidence, all he can do is blame the messenger — never mind what they’re telling us!

October 27, 2004 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

In regards to Conrad’s objections. It’s worth noting the Supreme Court decision (Bush vs Gore), in and of itself is an abomination of our two hundred year old democratic principles. Why howl when some of the dirt behind the decision gets revealed?


October 27, 2004 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

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