Adams Attacks OPR Report To Cover Up His Team's Failures

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

I'm sure you are shocked to read this, but J. Christian Adams, the former DOJ attorney and Republican activist who has been the prime mover of the New Black Panther Party conspiracy theory, is not moving on with his life now that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence of wrongdoing in the DOJ's handling of the case. Instead, Adams is using his platform at the right-wing blog Pajamas Media to continue his attacks.

In an appearance yesterday on PJTV, Adams claimed that the report showed "there's more amazing things that the taxpayers would be shocked that this is how the Justice Department runs law enforcement." Specifically, Adams highlighted that Steve Rosenbaum, a senior DOJ attorney who called for the trial team to be overruled and the case be narrowed, suggested that the trail team "should go out in the community, the investigators should talk to people, 'What do you think about the Black Panthers? What's their reputation? Do you kind of know them?'" Adams added, "It was this crazy, 'You didn't do enough investigation because you didn't see what people's feelings were.'"

Adams is carefully extracting what he apparently considers a laughable idea from Rosenbaum's extremely damning criticism of the trial team's failure to adequately investigate the case. From the report, regarding Rosenbaum's review of the trial team's J Memo as of May 14, 2009:

Rosenbaum said that, in his opinion, the information in the J Memo reflected an incomplete factual investigation. Rosenbaum Transcript at 307. He was surprised at the absence of basic information about the specifics of what transpired at 1221 Fairmount Avenue on election day, such as how long the NBPP members were present or what Jackson did or said after Samir Shabazz left. Id. at 306, 308. Rosenbaum said he expected a memorandum that described the NBPP team's efforts to contact witnesses, such as contacting both the Republican and Democratic officials who may have been present; interviewing all of the poll watchers and poll workers to determine what they saw or heard; interviewing people who lived or worked in the building, to determine if they had witnessed the incident, or if Jackson and Samir Shabazz were known in the community and how they were regarded. Id. at 307-09. Rosenbaum said the NBPP team also could have accessed the voter list to try to contact voters who may have witnessed the incident, particularly if they were able to identify individuals who voted in the morning. Id. At 308-09. Instead, Rosenbaum noted, it appeared that the factual investigation was based largely on talking only to Republican party members who - were in Philadelphia or at the polling place, without including the accounts of Democratic party officials or other people who were present at the polls that day. [emphasis added]

I can see why Adams wants to talk about Rosenblum's alleged excessive attention to "people's feelings" rather than his criticisms of the trial team's failure to even attempt to find an intimidated voter for their voter intimidation case, or the coincidental way all the poll watchers and poll workers they interviewed happened to be Republicans.

That said, Adams' criticism of Rosenbaum makes no sense in and of itself.

Rosenbaum had previously asked the trial team to explain how their recommended injunction banning the defendants from wearing the New Black Panthers Party uniform did not violate the First Amendment. The trial team responded in part by arguing, "The injunction against the wearing of the uniform makes sense because of the implicit threat the uniform implies. The views of the NBPP and their views are well known in the community (and we have testimony to establish this fact)."

Given that the trial team is claiming that NBPP uniforms carry an "implicit threat" based on "the views of the NBPP" as understood by the community, it seems reasonable for Rosenbaum to question why his investigators didn't appear to look into whether the community actually feels threatened by the defendants.

And in fact, when The Washington Post actually asked members of the community about the defendants, they ended up reporting:

The two, regulars around the neighborhood, also protest often near City Hall. They have been shown in videos and quoted in news reports using incendiary rhetoric, telling African Americans to rise up against their "slave masters" and condemning whites as "crackers."

But neighbors said they view Jackson and Heath - who declined to comment - as annoyances rather than threats.

You would think the trial team would have made more of an effort to try to fill in the gaps in what is, as Rosenbaum noted, an "incomplete factual investigation."

Instead of being embarrassed at having his failures displayed for the world to see, Adams is choosing to trivialize and minimize. At this point, we should expect no less.

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