Beverley Lumpkin: Halls of Justice

You’ll recall the gist of Conrad’s thesis is that Gore lied to him about the HsiLai Temple fund-raiser. This conclusion is based largely on the fact that during the deposition Gore was hostile, defensive and sweating. And Conrad is arguing that he as task force chief cannot investigate Gore himself because he might have to be a witness as to Gore’s demeanor.

This strikes Justice officials as bizarre, because most prosecutors consider the reason FBI agents participate in interviews is so they can testify if necessary. The FBI, of course, agrees with Conrad on the need for an outside counsel.

One top official told me that he had disagreed with former Justice official Chuck LaBella’s call for an independent counsel, but he could at least understand his argument.

But, he said, he just doesn’t “get this at all; this isn’t even close!”

This official regards Conrad’s argument on demeanor to be “strange” and his substantive argument unpersuasive. The official maintained that Conrad cannot show that anybody told Gore anything definitive about the event being a fund-raiser; all he has is some staff, contradicted by other staff, having conversations about whether it was a fund-raiser.

HOLDER IN SOUTH AFRICA WITH THE SCORPIONS

Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder leaves next Monday with two staffers for a week-and-a-half long trip to South Africa that is so jam-packed with events nobody could ever mistake it for a boondoggle. There is virtually no time for shopping or safaris, although a few hours’ visit to a game park has been tentatively penciled in.

The primary purpose for the trip is to address the International Association of Chiefs of Police, having their first sub-Saharan conference in Durban. Holder, the highest-ranking African-American law enforcement official, will be talking on bridging the gaps between police officers and communities (fondly referred to here as community policing).

There will be a bi-national agreement signed with South Africa on sharing training and investigative skills; and a visit to a training camp for the new elite police force known as the Scorpions. The Scorpions will specialize in investigating public corruption, organized crime and money laundering and will cross-train at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.; their first class just graduated this summer.

Holder and his sidekicks will also visit Robben Island, the notorious prison where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years; a residential home for kids with AIDS; an organization that deals with domestic violence; the offices of a new Web site to share information on missing children; and the program run by the Biehl Foundation. The foundation was set up by the parents of Amy Biehl, the young American woman brutally murdered in South Africa seven years ago. There will also be numerous official meetings and receptions.

Traveling with Holder will be one of his aides, Deborah Smalover, and the much-loved head of public affairs, Myron Marlin. Marlin is a notorious workaholic who had to do some fast talking to explain to his fiancée why he was canceling a few days of vacation to undertake this arduous trip instead. We were all bemused and amused to learn that he has also been designated protocol officer for this mission, and so immediately gave him much false information about which forks to use when.

CHIPPING AWAY AT THE DNA DATABASE BACKLOG

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