Big brass balls

This reminds me of that old story about the man who kills both his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court — because he’s an orphan. I guess I should be used to the idea of a two-tiered justice system by now – but I’m not. If Gupta does get this kind of special treatment, we might as well give up the illusion of a democracy:

Federal prosecutors want Rajat K. Gupta, once one of the world’s most prominent businessmen, to spend as much as 10 years in prison for insider trading.


Mr. Gupta’s defense lawyers would rather he spend time in Rwanda.


It is just the latest intriguing twist in the case of Mr. Gupta, who was convicted of leaking boardroom secrets about Goldman Sachs to the hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam.


On Wednesday, prosecutors and defense lawyers filed sentencing memos to Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who is scheduled to sentence Mr. Gupta on Oct. 24 in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Gupta is the former head of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and the most influential of the 69 individuals convicted in the government’s sweeping insider-trading crackdown.


Mr. Gupta’s lawyers have pleaded for a lenient sentence of probation, accompanied by an order that he perform community service. Gary P. Naftalis, a lawyer for Mr. Gupta, made an unusual request in recommending that Mr. Gupta, who has played a leadership role in a variety of global humanitarian causes, be sent to Rwanda.


“The Rwandan government has expressed support for a program of service in which Mr. Gupta would work with rural districts to ensure that the needs to end H.I.V., malaria, extreme poverty and food security are implemented,” Mr. Naftalis wrote.


Mr. Gupta is hoping that Judge Rakoff is swayed by the more than 400 letters of support submitted on his behalf, including one from Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist, and Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general.


The letters depict a man who, but for his insider-trading conviction, has led an exemplary life.


Miles D. White, the chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant Abbott, wrote, “Rajat’s contributions to global welfare — in business, in philanthropy, in education, in civil society — have been rivaled by very few people.” Mr. Gupta’s leadership on global health issues has “made a real difference in the lives of literally millions of people around the world,” Mr. Gates wrote.


The government, however, is asking that Mr. Gupta be sentenced to between 8 years and one month to 10 years and one month, a range based on a formula in the federal sentencing guidelines. “Gupta’s crimes are shocking,” wrote Richard Tarlowe, a federal prosecutor. “Gupta had achieved extraordinary personal success and was at the pinnacle of a profession built on protection client confidences.”

Stolen valor

Yeah, I think this vet choose exactly the right term: It’s cheesy of Scott Brown to pretend his two weeks in Afghanistan are on a par with National Guard members who served a full tour of duty:

WASHINGTON — The man who inspired Sen. Scott Brown to write a bill making it illegal to falsely claim military honors said he thinks the Massachusetts Republican is stretching the truth when he claims to have “served in Afghanistan.”Brown made the Afghanistan declaration in his recent debate with his Democratic opponent for the Senate seat, Elizabeth Warren.

But Brown’s service in Afghanistan was not combat. It was part of his annual two-week stint with the National Guard, in which he requested, in a highly unusual move, to serve in Afghanistan.

“It sounds to me like we just got another Blumenthal Connecticut, Mark Kirk type things there,” said Vietnam veteran Doug Sterner, referring to exaggerated military claims two years ago by now-Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)”I thought it was seriously misleading,” said Sterner, whose website outing heroes was the basis for Brown’s “Stolen Valor” bill. Sterner’s criticism echoes a Boston Globe editorial published Thursday morning.

“I think it does go to an issue of personal character and that concerns me,” added Sterner, who earlier this year broke with Brown and has endorsed Warren.

Sterner said it wasn’t that Brown’s service was with the National Guard that’s the problem. Scores of Guard members have been recipients of the Medal of Honor, he noted. Brown’s mistake, he said, was implying that his service in Afghanistan was a real tour of duty.

“I would be the last person to denigrate anybody’s National Guard service, but I thought the claim, putting himself on par with men and women who have done combat tours, often in excess of a year, 14 months, was a pretty cheesy thing to do,” Sterner said.

He allowed that Brown can legitimately claim spending time in Afghanistan. But he said he also thought it broke the spirit of what Brown tried to with the Stolen Valor Act, which Brown himself said was aimed at stopping people from benefiting by swiping the real glory from others.

Rewards

Marcy Wheeler:

As TPM’s Ryan Reilly noted yesterday, among the awards Attorney General Eric Holder gave out at yesterday’s Attorney General’s Award Ceremony was a Distinguished Service Award to John Durham’s investigative team that chose not to prosecute Jose Rodriguez or the torturers who killed their victims.


The 13th Distinguished Service Award is presented to team members for their involvement in two sensitive investigations ordered by two different Attorneys General. In January 2007, Attorney General Michael Mukasey asked Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead a team that would investigate the destruction of interrogation videotapes by the CIA. Assistant U.S. Attorney Durham assembled the team and began the investigation.


Then, in August 2009, Attorney General Holder expanded Assistant U.S. Attorney Durham’s mandate to include a preliminary review of the treatment of detainees held at overseas locations. This second request resulted in the review of 101 detainee matters that led to two full criminal investigations. In order to conduct the investigations, the team had to review significant amounts of information, much of which was classified, and conduct many interviews in the United States and at overseas locations.


The timing on this award–coming even as DOJ aggressively prosecutes John Kiriakou for talking about this torture–is particularly cynical.

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