If US Attorney Steven Biskupic isn't corruptly stupid, why did he prosecute Georgia Thompson? Esteemed readers have asked for an alternative theory. So here goes:
The most logical possibility is that Biskupic though Thompson was guilty of a crime. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said emphatically she wasn't.
Biskupic alleged a crime where there was no crime. Now that the Seventh Circuit has spoken, lots of folks are rushing to slap Biskupic around and suggest that he railroaded an innocent woman just to please a seriously wounded Bush administration and hold on to his job two more years.
That's the part that doesn't make sense to me. That Biskupic would risk everything to continue working for people like John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and George Bush for two more years. Yes, there is political pressures in public jobs, but that does not mean that people cave to it. Political pressure works best when the pressuree doesn't have a good employment alternative, but that was not Biskupic's case. He's been around a long time -- he could have had his pick of jobs.
It's important to remember that Biskupic's charging decision did not look so bad until the Seventh Circuit acted. The case made it past US Magistrate Judge Patricia Gorence -- who actually worked for Jim Doyle in the AG's office -- and through the courtroom of (the very, very conservative) US District Judge Rudolph T. Randa.
And Gov. Doyle, after Thompson was charged and convicted, did not exactly rush to her defense. He got all righteous only when it was safe to do so.
My theory is that Biskupic a) thought Thompson committed a crime and b) really likes high-profile cases.
That combination shattered Thompson's life and blinded Biskupic to the case's weakness.
Does that make him stupid? I guess that depends on your definition of 'stupid.' It certainly points to something being seriously wrong somewhere. It doesn't demonstrate that he was sucking up to the White House, though.
Does it mean he should not be US attorney? Maybe. I just would like to know more about what happened and what the Appeals Court has to say in its written decision before making up my mind on that one.
Georgia Thompson's case was flawed and its high-profile nature made it particularly devastating for her. Being in the limelight now, though, is working to her benefit.
When some poor schmuck's conviction in a drug case gets thrown out, no one is clamoring for him to get his job back and to get back pay and reimbursement for legal fees. Certainly no one screams for the prosecutor's job.
When young black men get draconian sentences in crack cocaine cases, there is not an outpouring of rage over the inequity in federal court drug sentences.
When Sheriff Clarke was found in contempt of court for incarcerating mostly poor people in the county jail in deplorable conditions, nothing happened. The County Board didn't investigate, the state was silent -- Gov. Doyle just plain forgot to speak out on behalf of those people.
So: did Steve Biskupic absolutely screw up on the Georgia Thompson case? Yes. Was that terrible for Georgia Thompson? Yes. Should Steve Biskupic be US attorney? Don't know yet.
Do other prosecutorial and law enforcement agencies in Milwaukee and Wisconsin screw up? Yes. Sometimes deliberately and knowingly? Yes.
Does that mean that Biskupic should be given a pass? No.
Does that mean that he should be dealt with more harshly than law enforcement professionals who knowingly or erroneously unjustly mess up the lives of people who are not white, middle-class, and work for state government? Hmmm....