My old boss Conrad Black is currently serving a six-and-a-half year sentence in Coleman, Florida for a “crime” that looks like chump change next to almost anything you’ve read on the business pages since last September. Meanwhile, the price of the Justice Department’s pursuit of Conrad has been the destruction of one of the few American corporations that knew how to run a newspaper.
During his trial, I came to the conclusion that the federal justice system was a kind of capricious steamroller and that, once it had determined to flatten him, he’d be better off saving his gazillions in legal fees and (Andy McCarthy, avert your eyes) climbing under the tarp in the bed of my truck and letting me drive him over the border to Quebec and thence by fishing boat to a remote landing strip on Miquelon where a waiting plane could spirit him somewhere beyond the reach of the U.S. Attorney. Stuff and nonsense, said Conrad. He was not a fugitive but an innocent man, and eventually he would be vindicated by this great republic.
Amazingly, he seems to have inched a smidgeonette closer to that today:
US Supreme Court To Review Conrad Black’s Conviction
Almost every “expert” thought this was a pathetic if expensive last roll of the dice that would come up empty, so congratulations are in order. As to the alternative options, in the British Spectator, Taki provides this glimpse behind the curtain:
Brian Mulroney, the ex-prime minister of Canada, and Tony Blair both went to see W in order to plead Conrad Black’s case during the closing days of the Bush presidency. The two men went separately, and neither asked for a Black pardon. They were after a commutation of Lord Black’s outrageous and unfair sentence of six years in a tough prison. ‘I don’t pardon well-connected folk,’ was the answer, which sounds good, just like weapons of mass destruction did…
I’m not an ex-Prime Minister or especially well-connected, but I wrote to the White House on Conrad’s behalf and I regret that President Bush chose to frame the issue in terms that having nothing to do either with the principles of justice or the merits of the case.