Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paranoid Connections: The Case of Lanny Breuer -- I Forgot Mr. Cohen!!

Lanny Breuer, Esq. was named by President Obama to head the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in the year 2009.

Breuer had been a partner at the D.C. law firm of Covington and Burling. While in private practice, Breuer made headlines when a friend from the White House, Sandy Berger, asked for representation after an investigation disclosed Berger’s theft of classified documents from the National Archives.

Sandy Berger -- a prominent actor of the Camp David 2000 Summit together with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yassir Arafat -- was the National Security adviser to former President Bill Clinton (1997-2001) in the years following Berger's private law practice at Hogan and Hartson. Coincidentally, I worked as a paralegal at Hogan during the period mid-September 1985 to late February 1988.

Interestingly, Sandy Berger and his wife Susan are apparently friends of Jewish cookbook maven Joan Nathan and her husband, the Washington attorney Allen Gerson.

Joan Nathan apparently resides in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, DC.

On January 15, 2010 two Justice Department officers were sent to my residence to interview me about a law enforcement matter concerning a federal official about whom I made several references on this blog, My Daily Struggles. I told the officers that it was my belief that that official resided in Cleveland Park; but I'm not sure, and certainly the officer would not confirm that.

The law enforcement interview lasted about an hour. I was particularly struck by the number of questions the officers posed about food in the Cleveland Park neighborhood where I live.

"Where do you eat out?" "I don't eat out." "You never eat out?" "No, I never eat out."

"Do you shop at supermarkets in the neighborhood?" "Yes, there are two supermarkets in the neighborhood." "What are their names?" "There's one supermarket up the street. It's a Giant Supermarket. Then there's another supermarket." "What's the name of that supermarket?" "Brookville."

The Justice Department officer seemed to reflex when I mentioned "Giant" and "Brookville." He seemed to have some kind of emotional investment in these two establishments. Why would an officer of the U.S. Department of Justice have an emotional investment in neighborhood supermarkets? I recall that at the end of the interview, the other officer (the silent partner, as it were) walked around to look at my kitchen area.

In all honesty, while the officers were questioning me about food and eating out, thoughts of Joan Nathan passed through my mind. I thought: "I wonder if all this has anything to do with that blog post I wrote about Joan Nathan back in July?" 

During the interview one of the officers asked: "Do you visit a library in the neighborhood?"  I said, "yes."  He asked: "Does it have a name?"  I said, "It's the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, located at 3310 Connecticut . . ."  The officer abruptly cut me off before I could give the complete address.  He strongly reflexed when I stated the word "Cleveland."  I noted that, but had no idea what it signified.  The opening sentence of my blog post about Joan Nathan reads: "It's 4:30 on a Friday afternoon at the Cleveland Park Public Library in DC, and Joan Nathan, the world renowned authority on Jewish cuisine is talking to Barbara Gaunt, one of the librarians, about research on her latest book."

Early in the interview the officer asked: "Couldn't you do volunteer work?"  I saw that as an express reference to my psychiatrist's advice that I do volunteer work.

I found it odd that the officer asked if I could do volunteer work, but did not recommend that I seek employment or that he considered me employable.  A U.S. Secret Service agent had told me in February 1995 and again in February 1996 that he considered me employable and that I should seek employment.  I found the officer's reference to "volunteer work" to be gratuitous and peculiar.

After the interview, i.e., after one of the officers turned off his tape-recorder, I was chatting with both men.  One officer said: "Do you have any pets?  A dog or a cat?'  I said, "no," adding: "We're not allowed to have dogs in the building.  I'm allowed to have a cat, but I don't want one.  Once a cat has an accident, you're left with the smell forever."  I thought, "Why is he talking about dogs and cats?" 

(My blog post dated October 14, 2009 contains the following question and answer:

[Prosecutor]: Do you own any pets, sir?

[Witness]: Yes, I have two pets. I own a dog and a cat.

And I noticed, oddly, that the officer reflexed noticeably when I used the word "smell."  In my blog post about Joan Nathan I had written: "Do I smell something fishy here?"

The theme of "smells" and "restaurants" also arises in my blog post dated November 18, 2009: "Yes, Mr. Cohen, What Stinks in Here?"

At the conclusion of the interview the officer asked for the names of residents I spoke with in the building. I said: "I don't speak to anybody in the building." The officer replied: "You don't speak to anybody?" I said: "I speak to an elderly woman in the building, Isabel Fine." When I mentioned the name Fine, the officer reflexed.

Early in the interview, I had given one of the officers a copy of my book Significant Moments as a gift.  When the officer was about to leave, he handed me a pen, and, in a friendly manner, asked me to autograph the book for him.  In my blog post about Joan Nathan I had written: "If I weren't so shy I would ask for her autograph."

Several weeks after I wrote the above blog post, I happened to see Joan Nathan talking to the pharmacist at my local CVS pharmacy. I was seated in a chair, immediately to her left. She turned, looked at me, seemed to recognize me, then quickly looked away. Yes, I had the (paranoid) suspicion that she recognized me. But how on earth would Joan Nathan recognize me?

In a blog post dated May 19, 2004 accessible in The Freedman Archives, I talk about my paranoid ideas about Sandy Berger:

This post should be good for another $50,000 in disability payments from the federal government. God, I love free money!  As Sonia would say: "I love to be in America.  Everythings free in America."


Gary Freedman said...

My blog post about Joan Nathan refers to a convicted felon, Martha Stewart:

NEW YORK – Martha Stewart was convicted Friday of obstructing justice and lying to the government about a superbly timed stock sale. The devastating verdict probably means prison for the woman who epitomizes meticulous homemaking and gracious living.

Stewart was found guilty of conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of justice. The charges carry up to 20 years in prison at sentencing June 17, but she will almost certainly get much less than that under federal sentencing guidelines.

Her ex-stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, 41, was convicted of conspiracy, perjury, making a false statement and obstruction of justice, but was acquitted of making a false document.

Stewart grimaced upon hearing the verdict, and her eyes widened.

Gary Freedman said...

Some things are just coincidence. Though Bob Strauss, himself a former FBI agent, once said, "I don't believe in coincidence."