Saturday, December 11, 2004

Hypocrisy alert: presidential pardons

Remember the outrage when Clinton pardoned the fugitive financier Marc Rich in the waning hours of his Presidency? Well imagine how the media and the right-wing establishment would feel if a new Democratic administration were to give Rich the post of, say, an SEC commissioner?

Well something very much like that is going on in the current Bush regime, with regards to Iran-Contra felons. A number of these felons, you may dimly recall, received lame-duck pardons by George Bush senior, who noted that these men had paid a "disproportionate price" in terms of, inter alia, lost careers.

Turns out that their careers weren't compromised all that much at all. In fact, several of these confessed felons and liars are now back in senior policy positions in the current Bush regime. In particular, Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty October 7, 1991, to two misdemeanor charges of lying to Congress, and was pardoned by the current President's dad in the waning hours of his presidency, was appointed in 2002 to be special assistant to the president and senior director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs -- a role for which he has no qualifications other than ideological congeniality, a publication record of strong support for the Likud, and (obviously) a personal loyalty to Republican Presidents so fierce he is willing to perjure himself before Congress.

To reiterate: the first step in cutting off the possibility of political rationality is to suppress information. When politicians refuse to release information, they are undermining the cognitive foundation of effective democracy.

It's a sign of how little respect the Republican Congress has for its own institutional integrity that they would confirm someone who confessed to lying under oath to them about a matter of high policy. Let's not forget that these are the largely the same people who voted to impeach President Clinton for lying under oath not to them, but to a grand jury, and not about matters of state, but about personal pecadillos.

P.S. Here's a prediction: Bush's last acts will include, inter alia, pardoning Enron criminals like his buddy "Kenny Boy" Lay, noting that these people paid a "disproportionate price" as the result of a liberal witch-hunt.

No comments: