The Very Rich Hours of the Lambrights

a digital diurnal

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July 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

I try not to get too strident when making political comments here but I’m going to beg your indulgence today.  Two stories in the news got my attention, both of which have to with the Bush Administration.

Today, the President commuted Scooter Libby’s prison sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice. This is not a pardon, so Libby will still have the felony conviction on his record and will have to pay a hefty fine. But prison time is now out of the picture. In issuing the commutation, the President called the 30 month sentence “excessive”. After all, he only lied to investigators and did his best to hamper an investigation into who leaked the identity of a highly-trained CIA operative. Besides putting her life at risk, the US has now lost its investment in this particular agent. All of us little people are supposed to “support the troops” and can’t even criticize the President without being accused of “aiding the terrorists”. But it’s apparently OK for White House officials to commit treason* while other officials do their best to block the ensuing investigation.

In the second story, it is revealed that at least 88 White House staffers, including Karl Rove, have been using non-White House email accounts to conduct official government business. Why does this matter? Because the White House email system is backed up regularly to create a record of the government’s dealings. These non-official email accounts, on the other hand, are apparently purged on a pretty routine basis and many (if not most) of the messages have been destroyed. Makes it kind of hard to know what your government is up to.

Watergate proved how important it is that the documents of the President remain the property of the people, not to be destroyed at the whim of any single government official. Accordingly, Congress passed the Presidential Records Act requiring the President to “take all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented … and maintained as Presidential records.” The Bush administration doesn’t appear to be following this clear-cut and simple law. To make things even worse, one witness has already testified to Congress that Alberto Gonzales, who was then the head of the Office of the White House Counsel, knew this was going and and said nothing. Gonzales is now the US Attorney General, our government’s top law enforcement official.

As an aside, I have a prediction–in the coming months, there will be a whole slew of “experts” on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s show talking about how complex email is and how hard it is for the poor, stressed White House officials to keep track of what email account they are using.

In light of all this, maybe I should have titled this post “Shameless.”

*Yes, I know that this may not rise to the status of a crime if you apply some tortuous logic to the applicable law.  And Treason is defined broadly enough in the Constitution that no one is going to be impeached for outing Plame.  But how about this?  Go up to 100 Americans on the street and ask if deliberately exposing the identity of a secret government agent should be considered a crime.  See how many say Yes.  The main reason no one has been convicted of this crime is that people like Libby lied under oath and obstructed the investigation.  So let’s not split hairs for political gain, OK?

Tags: Politics

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