Paragraph One of the plea agreement states that "The defendant is entering into this agreement and is pleading guilty freely and voluntarily ... without threats, force, intimidation, or coercion of any kind."
Kleiman has identified one of the great unspoken myths commonly applied to all plea bargains -- that they're just contracts freely entered into by defendants without coercion. It's pure B.S., though, one of the biggest of the criminal justice system's Big Lies -- unhappily, one that's turned our court system into an enormous plea mill. Without that myth enshrined in stare decisis, most justifications for a plea-bargain-based system of adjudicating guilt crumble.
Yes, I know that's just the boilerplate, but I find the false recitation obnoxious, especially the crashingly false "of any kind" thrown in as an afterthought. The agreement is indeed free, voluntary, and uncoerced in the sense that Abramoff faced no extra-legal force or threats. But to deny that being told you might die behind bars if you refuse to talk constitutes "threat" and "intimidation" is to stretch the language completely out of shape.
An act can be voluntary even if made under pressure: that is, I can freely choose to accept a lesser evil rather than a greater, as when the surgeon tells me he needs to amputate my leg to save my life. But when someone says he will damage me unless I do what he wants me to do, that's a coercive threat, and the fact that he is legally entitled to damage me because of my own past bad acts doesn't change that fact.