I found out from a co-worker yesterday that our former Cisco Systems rep -- Tom Kennedy -- has just pleaded guilty to two Federal felony counts in an E-Rate fraud investigation. Mr. Kennedy plead to one count each of mail fraud and filing a false tax return -- the time-honored vehicles for the Feds to put fraudsters and con-men in the pokey.
I won't go into how un-shocked I am that Tom Kennedy was tied up in this case (which saw guilty pleas from our two ex-SBC Datacom reps Rich Brown and Keith Madieros and two of their associates earlier this year) because he's scum, I always knew he was scum, and I think this is well deserved justice, and because there's something more important on my mind.
I was reading his plea agreement -- an eight page monument of legal English -- when I came to the section headed WAIVER OF RIGHTS. In the Waiver of Trial Rights and Consequences of Plea sub-section is this paragraph:
The defendant understands that he has the right to plead not guilty or to persist in that plea if it has already been made, the right to a public trial, the right to be tried by a jury with the assistance of counsel, the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him, the right not to be compelled to incriminate himself, and the right to compulsory process for the attendance of witnesses to testify in his defense. The defendant understands that by pleading guilty he waives and gives up those rights and that, if the plea of guilty is accepted by the Court, there will not be a further trial of any kind.
That's really a statement-in-the-negative of every legal principle our nation was founded on. The right to a fair and open trial before a jury of one's peers. The right to confront the witnesses against you. The right to refuse to give self-incriminating testimony. The right to compel (by subpoena) people to testify at your trial if you believe their testimony may help you, even if you are a scumbag. And the right to competent council, again even if you are a scumbag.
Reading this made me so deeply mad. Mad because our President and his handlers and cronies have used a national tragedy as their pretext to assail all of those fundamental rights. Rights our forefathers thought were so important they called them inalienable.
Good bye Karl Rove. Good riddance Alberto "Torture Memo" Gonzales. George W. Bush I am counting the days until you are no longer disgracing your office and our nation.