Actual Malice

Actual Malice

Actual Malice

Actual Malice


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Actual Malice is a true crime thriller that will take you through the backrooms of political gamesmanship, deception, and cover-up. If it were a novel, readers would marvel at the rich character development, riveting pace, and often-bizarre twists that make Actual Malice a compelling read. The fact that it is scrupulously documented nonfiction is sobering.

If you know nothing about Gary Condit or the tragic death of Chandra Levy, there has never been a more engaging and thoughtful introduction to the sordid interplay between politicians, law enforcement, and the media. Actual Malice should be required reading for any public figure.

If you followed the story of the murdered intern and the congressman driven from office by one of the most intense media cyclones in history, Actual Malice will challenge virtually everything you think you know.

Breton Peace takes readers on a roller coaster ride through Congressman Condit's eyes, as corrupt and incompetent cops and a dark, insidious team of "scandal management" experts manipulate a willing press.

To begin, Carolyn and Gary Condit had come an incredible distance together since setting out from Oklahoma for California where Gary and the Condit family name became synonymous with the Central Valley.

In May of 2001, the moderate Blue Dog Democrats—of which Condit was a founding member—held significant power in Congress. Condit had used the coalition to deliver bipartisan victories in Bill Clinton's second term and was now flexing that muscle on the House Intelligence Committee. Condit accomplished what few of his generation could achieve—genuine political independence from both political machines.

The sky was the limit.

When Chandra Levy—a twenty-four-year-old Bureau of Prisons intern—disappeared in 2001, the wheels came off Gary’s ambitions. Accused of having an affair with Levy, a whirlwind of rumor, intrigue, and treachery surrounded him.

More than a decade of lies, manipulation, and deception followed until, in 2016, the justice system cracked under the stress of its own spinelessness.

Actual Malice chronicles in vivid detail the heartache and intrigue behind the salacious, if fanciful, headlines that too often drive public debate and derail the serious business of our nation and its system of justice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781939457646
Publisher: Ghost Mountain Books
Publication date: 10/25/2016
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 713,803
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Breton Peace is an attorney specializing in the representation of domestic and international clients involved in the development of a variety of complex energy, infrastructure, and real estate projects.

Bret is a graduate of Stanford Universitywith an undergraduate degree in religious studies, and the Universityof Michigan Law School where he was the recipient of the school’s most prestigious academic scholarship, the Clarence Darrow Award. At Michigan, he also earned awards for highest class mark in the areas of corporate criminality and civil procedure, served as an associate editor for the Journal of Law Reform, and graduated cum laude.

Bret’s legal work includes a wide range of first-of-a-kind transactions in highly regulated industries such as nuclear energy, federal land management, gaming, and telecommunications. His prior experience includes practice at an international law firm and as in-house counsel for a new build nuclear power plant project in the Middle East.

Bret lives in El Cajon, California, with his wife, Noel; his daughter, Elena; and his two sons, August and Ezra.

His work takes him regularly to the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Korea.

This is his first book.

Gary Condit was the cofounder and leader of the moderate “Blue Dog” Democrats that held the balance of power in Washington during Bill Clinton’s second term.

This brief but productive period marks the only time in American history that an organized group of congressional members successfully drove policy around the entrenched partisan interests of the two dominant political parties.

Condit’s public career began in California. The partnership that made it tick, however, had its roots in an Oklahoma high school where Gary Condit and Carolyn Berry met, fell in love, and began a lifetime relationship that would produce two children, Chad and Cadee.

Condit’s career path to Washington began as the youngest Vietnam-era mayor in America, and weaved its way through a lost battle with California’s legendary self-described “Ayatollah of the Legislature,” Speaker Willie Brown.

When a political Wall Street scandal erupted in Washington and lead to a local congressman’s resignation, Condit had a clear path out of Sacramento and into a new life as a California congressman in DC.

As he did in Sacramento, Condit wasted no time before charting his own course on the national stage. He opposed NAFTA, despite intense lobbying from his own district’s wine industry and President Clinton himself. He voted against the landmark repeal of Glass-Steagall protections and was one of a handful of members who voted for the first war in Iraq and against the ill-fated second intervention triggered by intelligence community claims of weapons of mass destruction.

Condit’s conflict with the intelligence community began with the CIA orchestrated intervention in Yugoslavia. In the aftermath of that war, Condit, a member of the House intel committee, was a persistent force in compelling the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević.

Condit was at the apex of a career marked by extraordinary bipartisan influence in both Washington and in the California Capitol. All of that derailed when, in May 2001, Chandra Levy, disappeared.

What followed was one of the most bizarre periods of American history. It tested and denied justice to two families, and revealed the ugly underbelly of DC’s political, media, and law-enforcement establishments.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS Part I - Before She Disappeared Chapter 1 - Condit Country Chapter 2 - Public and Private Trust Chapter 3 - Warning Signs Chapter 4 - Intern Chapter 5 - Turning Points Chapter 6 - Exchanges Chapter 7 - FLOTUS and POTUS Part II - The Search Chapter 8 - Fumbles Chapter 9 - Going National Chapter 10 - Tempest Part III - The Circus Chapter 11 - Suspect CM Chapter 12 - Post Position Chapter 13 - Albatross Chapter 14 - Unreliable Sources Chapter 15 - Open Season Chapter 16 - Contradictions and Misses Chapter 17 - Fighting Back Part IV - Judgment Chapter 18 - Horse Whisperer Chapter 19 - Sentencing Chapter 20 - What Remains Chapter 21 - Legacy Part V - Chief Chapter 22 - Civil Liability Chapter 23 - Guilt Part VI - Accused Chapter 24 - Decade Too Late EPILOGUE


I came to this project as a young lawyer in a large law firm with both the advantage and disadvantage of growing up knowing Gary Condit as my father’s friend.

I say “disadvantage” because I was trained as a lawyer, and as such, I was conscious of my obligation to look at the public evidence objectively while simultaneously having been privy to how the story unfolded privately.

I shared with Chad and Cadee Condit the common experience of growing up in a political family. Our moms both stayed home to raise their kids despite the trend to the contrary. It was based on these familial connections and common experiences that Gary’s kids asked me to help their father tell his story.

I was initially stunned by the overwhelming physical evidence in the case. Chad Condit had maintained and secured every scrap of paper during the tumultuous events. And, after his first encounter with police, Gary and his attorney, Abbe Lowell, had made a critical decision to have detailed records taken of every interaction with law enforcement thereafter. This book would not exist had they not done this.

In writing, I was committed to pulling the story from the records in a way that gives you a sense of the manic pace with which the saga unfolded, as well as honestly depicting the Kafkaesque cast of characters and kaleidoscope of subplots that—but for the body of evidence in my care—would seem too entertaining, bizarre, or tragic to be true.

For every ounce of adrenaline generated by a new revelation of corruption and unforeseen connection as I researched and wrote, there was a greater dose of sadness knowing that this was not a work of fiction. A sadness that was, and remains today, specific to Chandra Levy, Joyce Chiang, and the other real people that you will meet in this book, and more general sadness grounded in the recognition that the only closure is acceptance that there can no longer be any.

This is not a redemptive story, and there are no heroes. Laced amid the personal tragedies is a painful truth about a broken system of justice in which so many with power are bent by ambition, indifferent to truth, incompetent, or all three.

Breton Peace

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