Funny Stuff From Cohen
Just the first paragraph should tell you what he's going after:
Monica Goodling is not my kind of gal. A graduate of two schools not known for partying (Messiah College and Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School), she would not be my ideal seatmate on a long airplane flight. But for vowing to take the fifth in the ongoing probe of why and how eight U.S. attorneys were fired, I offer her my hearty congratulations. She knows that in Washington, free speech can cost you a fortune in legal fees.
Cohen, like a lot of us has figured out that even telling the truth, as you recall it, is tantamount to lying on purpose on Capital Hill these days.
He does misfire on a few points in his column, such as (Referring to Alberto Gonzalez):
Political hire and firing of US Attorney's has gone on since they were invented, they are political appointees, charged with enforcing the law, but held accountable to the President.
...May I suggest, further, that he and Karl Rove and, of course, George W. Bush have unforgivably politicized the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys --
By nature the job is political as much as law enforcement, and has been for two centuries. This is just one of few Congresses to decide they don't like how the system works (though it's in the Constitution).
The rest of the column though, is true to his point, he uses the example of Scooter Libby, who was convicted because of a fishing expedition for perjury; the Special Prosecutor knew BEFORE Libby testified that there had been no crime in the Plame case.
The Clinton's, both Whitewater and Monicagate get some ribbing from him for the same reason, Special Prosecutorial fishing trips.
As Cohen put it, "After all, it is a permissible exaggeration to say that in recent years more senior federal officials have had sit-downs with prosecutors than have members of the Gambino family." It's a sad, but too close to true statement.
Where does this come from? The power split in Washington. The out of the White House party, for the last two plus decades has consistently looked for a way to make the party in the White House look bad, for political gain if they've controlled on chamber of Congress.
What they are doing and why isn't really 'for the good of the country' as they like to tell us. It is, in fact for their own good in the polls. The GOP was guilty of it in the 90's with Clinton and the Democrats are today, just like the were with Iran-Contra in the 1980's.
None of those three time periods though actually brought anything new or really unknown in Washington to light. Funneling arms, as in Iran Contra wasn't a new practice, it wasn't something unheard of. It's been done by our government for as long as we've been around. When it's felt to be appropriate to arm the rebels, we've done it.
Whitewater was no better or worse land deal than probably a dozen Senators and Representatives have enjoyed before and after that debacle. Hell, Clinton's blow jobs weren't illegal, just a little shady (he could have done better than Monica, face it).
The problem with the Special Prosecutor laws that Congress has passed is they don't really limit them; if the original crime isn't there, they just kind of keep looking until they find something to justify the expense reports and time. Both parties have complained about them, but not done anything because by the time it gets to the front burner again, the complainers are out of power.
The fix to it, and the way to get folks like Monica Goodling to actually talk to Congress is to rewrite the law, so that Prosecutors scope is very limited, and their term and their Grand Juries term ends when they know that what they were appointed for doesn't exist.
Fitzgerald would have been done within the first few months, though the Plame's wouldn't have been happy. Instead we got 18 months, $30 million spent, for a perjury conviction that's got 3-1 odds of being overturned.
But don't look for that change in the law right now, maybe in January 2009, if the Democrats gain control of the White House and keep Congress.... Though if that was the case it should have been fixed in 2001.
Technorati Tags: Washington, Richard Cohen, Congress, Perjury, Monica Goodling, Alberto Gonzales, Special Prosecutors, Fifth Amendment