Career Prosecutors Ignored When They Warned Against Tobacco Penalty Reduction
(Photo of Robert McCallum courtesy of the Washington Post)
After we reported last week on the evisceration of the governmentís years-in-the-making racketeering case against Big Tobacco by none other than a former tobacco industry lawyer now running roughshod in the Bush/Alberto Gonzales Justice Department, it should come as no surprise to you that it turns out the career prosecutors in the case advised Robert McCallum against reducing the proposed penalty because it would cripple not only this case, but the appeals phase and the departmentís work in the future.
Of course McCallum went ahead and shocked both the judge and the tobacco industry lawyers by slashing the proposed penalty from the $130 billion that everyone including the industry was expecting to only $10 billion, ostensibly to comply with an appeals court decision from earlier in the year that the Bush Administration has chosen to accept rather than appeal. But it turns out now that McCallum reduced the proposed penalty after his prosecutors provided a point-by-point rebuttal to his concerns about the appeals court decision and after they showed him how the $130 billion penalty would still comply with that decision. Plus, it turns out that McCallum never responded to his own prosecutors before going ahead and blowing up the governmentís case.
By the way, why hasn't this administration appealed the appeals court decision from February that they say is the reason for the reduced penalty? Was this another case of activist judges running wild, or does the Bush Administration and the American Taliban have no problem with activist judges when those judges issue rulings that favor GOP campaign contributors?