Blagojevich v United States -- cert reply (FINAL) (March 8, 2016)_Page_01Blagojevich v United States — cert reply (FINAL) (March 8, 2016)

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Victory in United States v. Brian Wilbourn






Click Here to Read: Wilbourn_Opinion

Len Goodman and Patti Blagojevich Press Conference on Appellate Court Opinion


Obama’s Drone Policy Crashes and Burns Yemen, the poster child for drone-based foreign policy, has collapsed on itself.


Published in In These Times – March 19, 2015

Obama’s Drone Policy Crashes and Burns

Yemen, the poster child for drone-based foreign policy, has collapsed on itself.

BY Leonard C. Goodman

The unraveling of Yemen should be a wake-up call for Obama loyalists. Obama was elected in large part because of his opposition to the disastrous Iraq War and his promise of a smarter Middle East policy, one less reliant on invasion and occupation. Nevertheless, in office, Obama has supported the occupation of Afghanistan and the NATO-led overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, which led to chaos.

Still, as Obama explained in a September 2014 foreign policy speech, the centerpiece of his strategy in the Middle East has been a more long-distance approach: “taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines.” In other words: air strikes, drones and military aid. He touted the success of this strategy in Yemen and Somalia.

Indeed, Yemen has been the poster child for Obama’s Middle East strategy. Using the U.S. military bases that surround Yemen, we have propped up the corrupt and repressive regimes of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his successor, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi (i.e., our “partners on the front lines”). In exchange, they let us incinerate alleged militants. And when we slaughter innocents (like 35 women and children in a 2009 bombing, or 12 members of a wedding party in a 2014 drone strike), our partners help cover up our crimes, even jailing the Yemeni journalist who exposed the U.S. role in the 2009 attack.

Of course, the cover-up was effective only in the United States, where most of our news comes from corporate sources that almost never challenge official pronouncements about military or CIA missions. The Yemeni people know all too well our criminal acts. Last September, 13-yearold Mohammed Tuaiman al-Jahmi told the Guardian that “he lived in constant fear of the ‘death machines’ in the sky that had already killed his father and brother” in 2011, as they were out herding the family’s camels. In February, Mohammed himself was killed by a U.S. drone.

The Obama “success story” in Yemen had already come to an end in January, when Houthi rebels took control of the presidential compound in Sanaa, ousting Hadi, his prime minister and his entire cabinet. The motto of the new leaders is “Death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam.” On February 10, the State Department confirmed that it had closed the U.S. embassy in Yemen, the third in an Arab country since 2012.

In truth, Obama’s foreign policy is similar to George W. Bush’s. The war contractors want to keep the rivers of taxpayer cash flowing into their coffers, while multinational energy firms want the U.S. to keep supporting brutal, undemocratic regimes that keep their boots on the necks of restive citizens who might object to foreign firms exploiting national resources. And as long as our laws permit corrupt ties between corporate interests and politicians, we will continue to see disastrous failure after failure of our foreign policy.

In February, Obama led a three-day summit on countering violent extremism. The president’s remarks at this summit, of course, made no mention of our odious drone policy. No citizens of Yemen or Pakistan were invited to speak about how living with the constant anxiety caused by armed drones buzzing in the sky drives residents to join anti-U.S. terror groups. Nor was there any talk of the blowback caused by the U.S. military bases which garrison the greater Middle East, or of the corrupt, repressive regimes that those U.S. bases support. Instead, leaders of some of those regimes attended the summit.

Obama did offer empty rhetoric about how we are not at war with Islam. Such words are unlikely to impress Muslims outside the United States, who know that it’s Muslims who populate Obama’s kill list, who are indefinitely detained at Guantánamo without charges and whose systematic torture by the CIA was swept under the rug by Obama.

Americans, who are ill-informed about our actions overseas, will hear Obama’s empathetic rhetoric and quite rationally conclude that the reason we are losing in places like Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan is because Obama is too soft. Perhaps our next president will be someone who promises to get tougher on Muslim extremists. But until we end the partnership between government and corporate power, three things will remain constant: Our foreign policy will be expensive for U.S. taxpayers, profitable for the war contractors and disastrous for everyday people.

Leonard Goodman is a Chicago criminal defense lawyer and Adjunct Professor of Law at DePaul University.

Read it at In These Times:

The Afghan Militant in the Photo? The Wrong Man, and He’s Not Happy By TAIMOOR SHAH and JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN. FEB. 16, 2015


Len Goodman’s client Shawali Khan released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay


Four Afghan Gitmo Prisoners Repatriated

December 20, 2014, New York – In response to the repatriation announced today of four Afghan prisoners, including Shawali Khan, whose case the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has long worked on with lead counsel Leonard C. Goodman and co-counsel Kent Spriggs, CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy issued the following statement:

We welcome Shawali Khan’s transfer. Shawali was sent to Guantanamo on the flimsiest of allegations that were implausible on their face and never properly investigated, and held for 11 years without charge. We hope that soon he will be reunited with his loved ones.
As hostilities in Afghanistan come to a close with President Obama’s announcement that the last combat troops will leave by the end of the year, the conflict in which most of the men imprisoned at Guantánamo were captured and held for more than a decade without charge or trial is also ending. The Afghanistan conflict has been the longest in U.S. history, and under U.S. and international law, including the laws of war, the remaining detainees must be released without delay.
Any ostensible justification for detaining our clients and other Guantánamo prisoners will unravel as U.S. combat troops leave Afghanistan. Any detention authority under which these men were captured will end—if, in fact, it ever properly existed.  Continuing to hold prisoners at Guantánamo under the guise of an endless, worldwide “war on terror” would be both unlawful and, itself, terrifying.  Endless war is anti-democratic and fundamentally inconsistent with basic liberty.
Shawali Khan grew up on a farm in southern Afghanistan.  His family was poor, and he had little formal education.  At the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was living in Kandahar and working as a shop keeper.  After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he was employed for several months as a driver for the U.S.-backed Karzai government.  He was held at Guantanamo for 11 years without charge.

Len Goodman Interview with NBC5’s Phil Rogers: Blagojevich Approaches One Year of Waiting For Decision


One year and counting.

As of Saturday, that’s how long former governor Rod Blagojevich, his family and attorneys have been waiting for a decision from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

“This opinion is going to have far reaching effects,” said Leonard Goodman, one of Blagojevich’s attorneys. “Not just for Rod and Patti, and their two daughters, but for any politician who has to go out and raise money.”

But why the wait? Goodman says he believes it’s simply because the Blagojevich case was so complicated, unfolding during two trials, with dozens of undercover recordings and labyrinthine charges. Others aren’t so sure.

“They want to put it out when it’s going to cause the least ruckus!” said Leonard Cavise, professor emeritus of law from DePaul University. He calls the former governor’s 14-year sentence “outrageous” and is convinced the appellate court is prepared to make a change.

“I think they’re going to reduce his sentence,” Cavise said. “And if you’re going to reduce his sentence, it’s a good idea to serve a little more time.”

The appeal rests on two key pillars: that Blagojevich’s behavior did not constitute a crime and that he was not allowed to present an adequate defense.

“Your ordinary political corruption case involves a politician putting money in his pocket, whether it’s taking money from his campaign fund or cash bribes or trips … jewelry,” Goodman said. “Rod never did any of that!”

Indeed, the most famous charge — that Blagojevich hoped to “sell” the Barack Obama Senate seat — actually rests in the eye of the beholder. And that is key to what the court will decide.

“You know, I can’t think of another politician who has been put in the dock for purely political acts,” Goodman said.

During the oral arguments before the court last December, Judge Frank Easterbrook pushed the prosecutor to explain how a political horse trade rose to the level of a crime. Specifically, he cited the example of California Governor Earl Warren, making a deal to deliver his support to Dwight Eisenhower in exchange for an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ironically, it was an argument Blagojevich himself had made during his second trial.

“Under the standard that Blagojevich was held to, Governor Warren should be in jail and so should Eisenhower,” Goodman said.

The bottom line, of course, is that many believe Blagojevich’s stiff 14-year sentence was intended as a message to other politicians not to even think about chicanery lest they join him behind bars. And now observers agree that whatever the Appellate court does, they will be sending a message as well.

“You know, this case is about politics,” Goodman said. “And every politician is going to look at what the Seventh Circuit does.”

Blagojevich himself recently moved from the low security Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado, to an adjoining camp. That minimum security facility has more freedom of movement and is generally considered to be a bit more accommodating.

But it’s still prison. And unless he gets good news from the Appellate court, Illinois’ famous former governor is not scheduled to be released until 2024.

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Blagojevich Oral Argument Set for December 13, 2013: Read Blagojevich’s Reply Brief


Oral arguments for Rob Blagojevich have been set for December 13, 2013. Our office’s reply brief has been filed and can be accessed through the link below.

reply brief-Blagojevich

Len Goodman Appears on ‘Chicago Tonight’ to Discuss Blago Appeal


Click the following link to view Mr. Goodman’s interview: Len Goodman appeared on WTTW’s television program, Chicago Tonight, to discuss Rod Blagojevich’s appeal.

Rod Blagojevich’s Appellate Brief


On July 15, 2013, the Law Office of Leonard Goodman filed Blagojevich’s appeal. To read the brief, click here: appeal brief-Blago-final

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