by digby

As we all naturally bless George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for keeping us safe from terrorism and street crime we must be sure to add this to the list of important things the small government conservatives have spent your tax dollars doing:

Federal prosecutors said today they would retry marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal on cultivation charges, even after a federal judge urged them to drop the case and chastised the government for lodging charges solely to punish the self-proclaimed "guru of ganja."

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer demanded to know who in the Department of Justice made the decision to continue pursuing Rosenthal, who had his original conviction overturned last year.

Rosenthal can't be sentenced to prison even if he is convicted because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the one-day prison sentence ordered by Breyer in 2003.

Newly appointed U.S. Attorney Scott Schools made the decision, said Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, but he was not sure if Department of Justice officials in Washington were involved.

The judge said the government's position to go forward left him no choice but to hold a trial, which he scheduled for May 14.

"This isn't a criminal case, this is a political case," said Rosenthal, who appeared in court dressed in a blue wizard's robe with a golden marijuana leaf emblazoned over the breast. "I may as well get my money's worth and have a trial."

Rosenthal has written numerous books with titles such as "The Big Book of Buds" and "Ask Ed: Marijuana Law. Don't Get Busted." He also wrote an "Ask Ed" column for High Times magazine.

Rosenthal was convicted of three felonies in 2003 for growing hundreds of plants for a city of Oakland medical marijuana program. Breyer sentenced him to one day in prison on grounds that Rosenthal reasonably believed he was immune from prosecution because he was acting on behalf of Oakland city officials.

A federal appeals court overturned his conviction last year because of misconduct by a juror who consulted an attorney on how to decide the case. The appeals court also ruled against the government and said that the one-day prison sentence was fair, which means Rosenthal doesn't face any more prison time even if he is convicted again.

When federal prosecutors indicted Rosenthal again on three growing charges in October over the same marijuana operation, they also added four counts of money laundering and five counts of filing false tax returns.

But Breyer tossed out those additional charges last month, saying they were solely to punish Rosenthal for winning his appeal to overturn his initial conviction. Prosecutors said Friday they wouldn't appeal the judge's decision to toss out those charges.

California has legalized medical marijuana. The citizens of the state have expressly said that they do not believe it should be a crime and many jurisdictions have voted to put it at the very lowest priority for law enforcement, even when there is no prescription. But the Pat Robertson U alumni of the US Department of Justice are still on the case, saving all America from the scourge of the ganja.


Thousands of white-collar criminals across the country are no longer being prosecuted in federal court -- and, in many cases, not at all -- leaving a trail of frustrated victims and potentially billions of dollars in fraud and theft losses.

It is the untold story of the Bush administration's massive restructuring of the FBI after the terrorism attacks of 9/11.

Five-and-a-half years later, the White House and the Justice Department have failed to replace at least 2,400 agents transferred to counterterrorism squads, leaving far fewer agents on the trail of identity thieves, con artists, hatemongers and other criminals.

Two successive attorneys general have rejected the FBI's pleas for reinforcements behind closed doors.


Among the findings of a six-month Seattle P-I investigation, analyzing more than a quarter-million cases touched by FBI agents and federal prosecutors before and after 9/11:

* Overall, the number of criminal cases investigated by the FBI nationally has steadily declined. In 2005, the bureau brought slightly more than 20,000 cases to federal prosecutors, compared with about 31,000 in 2000 -- a 34 percent drop.

* White-collar crime investigations by the bureau have plummeted in recent years. In 2005, the FBI sent prosecutors 3,500 cases -- a fraction of the more than 10,000 cases assigned to agents in 2000.

In Western Washington, the drop has been even more dramatic. Records show that the FBI sent 28 white-collar cases to prosecutors in 2005, down 90 percent from five years earlier.

* Civil rights investigations, which include hate crimes and police abuse, have continued a steady decline since the late 1990s. FBI agents pursued 65 percent fewer cases in 2005 than they did in 2000.

* Already hit hard by the shift of agents to terrorism duties, Washington state's FBI offices suffer from staffing levels that are significantly below the national average.

Considering all that, you can see why it's so important to prosecute someone over and over again for crimes the state they live in don't even consider criminal. What an excellent use of scant federal resources.

But I suppose it does send a powerful message to criminals: stay away from sick people unless you are committing fraud against them or stealing their identities, in which case the government can't be bothered. And if you want to discriminate against them, that's ok too. But grow medical marijuana and we will harrass you until you have nothing left and no federal judge or state law will stop us.

In almost every possible way, the Bush years have been a lesson in sheer irrationality.