- Hardcover: 456 pages
- Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group; 1st edition (May 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1612541496
- ISBN-13: 978-1612541495
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 310 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice Hardcover – May 1, 2014
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''Licensed to Lie reads like a cross between investigative journalism and courtroom drama. The takeaway is that both Bushies and Obamaites should be very afraid: over the last few years, a coterie of vicious and unethical prosecutors who are unfit to practice law has been harbored within and enabled by the now ironically named Department of Justice.'' --William Hodes, Professor of Law Emeritus, Indiana University, and coauthor, The Law of Lawyering
''When you ve finished reading this fast-paced thriller, you will want to stand up and applaud Powell's courage in daring to shine light into the darkest recesses of America's justice system. The only ax Powell grinds here is Truth.'' --Patricia Falvey, author of The Yellow House and The Linen Queen, and former Managing Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
''Last year four government officials demonstrably lied under oath, and nothing has been done to them--two IRS officials, the Attorney General, and James Clapper-which caused Ed Snowden to release the fact that the US is spying on its citizens and in violation of the 4th amendment. That our government is corrupt is the only conclusion. This book helps the people understand the nature of this corruption-and how it is possible for federal prosecutors to indict and convict the innocent rather than the guilty.'' --Victor Sperandeo, CEO and author, Trader Vic: Methods of a Wall Street Master
''This book is a testament to the human will to struggle against overwhelming odds to right a wrong and a cautionary tale to all-that true justice doesn't just exist as an abstraction apart from us. True justice is us, making it real through our own actions and our own vigilance against the powerful who cavalierly threaten to take it away.'' --Michael Adams, PhD, University Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of English Associate Director, James A. Michener Center for Writers, University of Texas--Austinor
''I have covered hundreds of court cases over the years and have witnessed far too often the kind of duplicity and governmental heavy-handedness Ms. Powell describes in her well-written book, Licensed to Lie.'' --Hugh Aynesworth, journalist, historian, four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, author, November 22, 1963: Witness to History
A former Justice Department lawyer, who now devotes her private practice to federal appeals, dissects some of the most politically contentious prosecutions of the last 15 years.
Powell assembles a stunning argument for the old adage, “nothing succeeds like failure,” as she traces the careers of a group of prosecutors who were part of the Enron Task Force. The Supreme Court overturned their most dramatic court victories, and some were even accused of systematic prosecutorial misconduct. Yet former task force members such as Kathryn Ruemmler, Matthew Friedrich and Andrew Weissman continued to climb upward through the ranks and currently hold high positions in the Justice Department, FBI and even the White House. Powell took up the appeal of a Merrill Lynch employee who was convicted in one of the subsidiary Enron cases, fighting for six years to clear his name. The pattern of abuse she found was repeated in other cases brought by the task force. Prosecutors of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen pieced together parts of different statutes to concoct a crime and eliminated criminal intent from the jury instructions, which required the Supreme Court to reverse the Andersen conviction 9-0; the company was forcibly closed with the loss of 85,000 jobs. In the corruption trial of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a key witness was intimidated into presenting false testimony, and as in the Merrill Lynch case, the prosecutors concealed exculpatory evidence from the defense, a violation of due process under the Supreme court’s 1963 Brady v. Maryland decision. Stevens’ conviction, which led to a narrow loss in his 2008 re-election campaign and impacted the majority makeup of the Senate, seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back; the presiding judge appointed a special prosecutor to investigate abuses. Confronted with the need to clean house as he came into office, writes Powell, Attorney General Eric Holder has yet to take action.
The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.
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So many lives ruined because a few (or many) justice department lawyers apparently valued their own upward career mobility over the very reason for their existence in their positions...JUSTICE. To lie, to cheat, to win at all costs (not their's) is the game. To treat defendants as numbers instead of human beings who deserve the presumption of innocence and the right to a speedy defense (that doesn't take years from someone's life) seems the rule. To spend millions of taxpayer dollars to drag out lengthy trials over many years is just an advantage to be taken while the lies continue and the defendant's bank accounts are emptied. The 'liberty and justice for all' that we believe is available to us is just an empty promise today. This is a wonderfully informative book but oh, so, sad. Ms. Powell is owed a debt of gratitude from the citizens of this country for exposing the wrongs she witnessed.
Sidney Powell worked for 10 years as an Assistant US Attorney in the Justice Department. She was the youngest person ever appointed to such a position. At one level, she was a “true believer,” thinking that the department that she once worked for should reflect its name. This is a deeply disillusioned account of utter corruption within her former employer. The subtitle though is somewhat misleading, since her disillusionment extends far beyond her former employer – it encompasses many Federal judges. As Powell says: “God, I thought, what I would have given for Judge Sullivan to have had this case – or any judge with common sense, fortitude, and a moral compass for which true North was fundamental fairness.” Or, as I might say, to find just one judge who would not buy an excuse from a Justice Department lawyer that is the equivalent of: “But your honor, my pet rock ate my homework.”
Powell’s account covers two major legal actions. The first was the corruption case against Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. He was convicted, and would lose his bid for re-election, and he had been the longest serving Republican Senator. His conviction was eventually overturned, for gross prosecutorial misconduct. It was in this case that the above-named Judge Sullivan ordered an investigation of the prosecutors – which is so rarely done – for failure to provide the “Brady” evidence (which was a new concept to me), essentially withholding key evidence that would have exonerated Senator Stevens. The major legal action involved the fallout of the collapse of Enron due to massive financial fraud. Sidney Powell had a client in this case – an executive, Jim Brown, with a major Wall Street brokerage company, and she details the multi-year legal actions involved.
Powell has written a “page-turner.” A difficult feat, given the often-dull machinations in the legal field. As in Bass’ book, there really is much high-drama, including an event she brings out early in the book, the suicide of Federal prosecutor Nicholas Marsh, who played a lead role in the Stevens prosecution. Powell also achieved a feat worth noting, an important one in writing a book: she changed my mind. Weren’t they all “guilty”? As Powell notes in the account, given the devastating impact Enron’s collapse had on Houston, it was difficult to find an impartial jury, and I’ll admit I would have been in that crowd. Hadn’t Brown’s brokerage firm stolen money from me… and in a separate case, my brother? Not, mind you, “mismanaged.” Actually, flat-out, stolen. (Note: in the interest of full disclosure, in both cases, the money was returned, but only after a substantial battle). And then there are the “banks too big to fail” that are invariably concocting some additional and unauthorized fee to charge you. “Lock ‘em all up.” And Powell convinced me that there really was much injustice in all this, and such an attitude that I had… perhaps the worst part is that the real crooks always seem to get away.
Powell names names: Andrew Weissmann and Kathryn Ruemmler, (who was at one time “short-listed” to be the Attorney General) along with Friedrich, at (in)Justice. Judge Werlein, and much of the Fifth Circuit, which Powell once held in high regard. Her client, Jim Brown, would do prison time. In fact, his legal case, and the various remands, obfuscations, and evasions of judicial responsibility along with the vendetta waged by the (in)Justice Department would span more time that the six years that Andy Fastow, the ultimate crook in this case, spent in prison.
A botched investigations, and a botched prosecution, and an essential governmental agency whose “players,” (and that, sadly, is an apt description) lack that “moral compass” where the only rules seem to be those of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This book would have been an ideal candidate for my special “6-star” rating, but I felt that Powell overlooked some of the larger issues of corruption, particularly in the financial sector, and our society’s utter failure to hold anyone accountable – like for the three trillion the Fed paid to bail out Wall Street when the various frauds in the housing sector collapsed in 2008. How many Enron employees lost their life savings, with the collapse of the stock that was stuffed in their 401k’s? And how many Enron “big boys” were able to bail out in time? But don’t get me started…
Oh, and there are the additional ironies that would be thrown out of an outlandish Hollywood movie as being unbelievable. (Former) Chief Justice Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit wrote the introduction to this work, saying, inter alia, “...professional discipline is non-existent.” Kozinski has recently been forced to resign over multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Now people are looking at his own decisions, for example, in “Swenson v. Potter,” which reversed a jury decision in a sexual harassment case, and thereby Kozinski found for the government agency, and its own misconduct.
Ancient history? Hardly. DOJ attorneys continue to lie to Federal judges, and those judges continue to accept their blatant “pet rock ate my homework” lies. I should know. 5-stars for Powell’s important account.
Not only is it true, but it's a page turner, including back stories of people whose lives were ruined by aggressive prosecutors. If you are interested in justice and the corruption of the process designed to provide it, READ THIS BOOK.