Monday, July 9, 2007

I'm no expert, but I know INTEGRITY when I see it

What is integrity? I see it as the courage to do what's right regardless of personal consequences. Integrity is an attribute too few people possess, especially in politics and government.

Here are a few examples of how the lack of integrity displayed by some members of the Executive branch led us into the Iraq war/occupation/genocide, and also covered up a blatantly illegal act by our President, who instituted an illegal wiretapping program over the strong objections of the Department of Justice. Lastly, I will show you an example of real courage- an op-ed piece by a still-employed attorney in the DOJ.

Let's start with Colin Powell, Bush's former Secretary of State. He said recently that he spent a solid 2.5 hours(!) trying to dissuade Bush from invading Iraq.

From Times Online July 08,2007
Sarah Baxter, Washington
THE former American secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that he spent 2½ hours vainly trying to persuade President George W Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by US forces.
“I tried to avoid this war,” Powell said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. “I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.”
Powell has become increasingly outspoken about the level of violence in Iraq, which he believes is in a state of civil war. “The civil war will ultimately be resolved by a test of arms,” he said. “It’s not going to be pretty to watch, but I don’t know any way to avoid it. It is happening now.
Link to full article here:

This really sounds great, but Powell was the guy who helped sell this freaking invasion by appearing in front of the United Nations and presenting "evidence" that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program, possessed stocks of bio-terror weapons such as anthrax, and had missles hidden and ready to deliver death and destruction on a moments notice. All the while he KNEW he was spouting lies, and told an aide immediately afterward that it was all "bullshit".

So why did he do it? Because he was more loyal to the President than to the truth. He was so used to saying "YES, SIR" and following orders unquestioningly throughout his whole career in the military that it was much easier to go along and lie with a straight face than to show disloyalty to a "superior officer" by immediately resigning his position in protest, and possibly stopping the Iraq disaster in its tracks. He proved himself a weak man with no integrity at all, and just look what happened. Thanks, Colin, for speaking out when it could have done some good.

Next up- James B. Comey,Deputy Attorney General, then Attorney General John Ashcroft, Ashcrofts chief of staff David Ayres, and others. In a nutshell, these men were aware that President Bush OK'd a secret wiretapping program that the DOJ refused to certify was legal and NEARLY resigned in protest, but didn't. You really HAVE TO READ the Washington Post article linked below to get an idea of how vile the people in the White House are. This is a story that should be made into a movie.

Here's my problem- Comey, Ashcroft and the others SHOULD have resigned in loud protest because they knew that Bush instituted an illegal program. How could they NOT, if they had any integrity. The crime had been committed! The fact that Bush relented after the fact should have made no difference. Those men were working for a man who was so intent on doing what he wanted that legality didn't matter. Those cowards stayed put and stayed silent, and the clearly impeachable offense by Bush stayed secret until a few months ago. In the interval, the destruction of our Constitutional rights proceeded unabated, and the DOJ has become so politicized that true justice is not being served and citizens across the nation have lost faith in our entire legal system. Another disaster that a display of integrity could have avoided.

Lastly, I offer an example of true integrity, a display of courage by John S. Koppel, a still-employed career attorney in the DOJ, who wrote an opinion piece published July 05,2007 in The Denver Post. Mr Koppel tells it like he sees it, and boy is he pissed.

Bush justice is a national disgrace
By John S. Koppel
Article Last Updated: 07/05/2007 11:48:30 PM MDT

"As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.
The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.

In the course of its tenure since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has turned the entire government (and the DOJ in particular) into a veritable Augean stable on issues such as civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights, as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices. It has systematically undermined the rule of law in the name of fighting terrorism, and it has sought to insulate its actions from legislative or judicial scrutiny and accountability by invoking national security at every turn, engaging in persistent fearmongering, routinely impugning the integrity and/or patriotism of its critics, and protecting its own lawbreakers. This is neither normal government conduct nor "politics as usual," but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate - which, in fact, I believe it eclipses.

In more than a quarter of a century at the DOJ, I have never before seen such consistent and marked disrespect on the part of the highest ranking government policymakers for both law and ethics. It is especially unheard of for U.S. attorneys to be targeted and removed on the basis of pressure and complaints from political figures dissatisfied with their handling of politically sensitive investigations and their unwillingness to "play ball." Enough information has already been disclosed to support the conclusion that this is exactly what happened here, at least in the case of former U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico (and quite possibly in several others as well). Law enforcement is not supposed to be a political team sport, and prosecutorial independence and integrity are not "performance problems."

In his long-awaited but uninformative testimony concerning the extraordinary firings of U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales did not allay these concerns. Indeed, he faced a no-win situation. If he testified falsely regarding his alleged lack of recollection and lack of involvement, he perjured himself and lied to both Congress and the American people. On the other hand, if he told the truth, he clearly has been derelict in the performance of his duties and is not up to the job. Either way, his fitness to serve is now in doubt.

Tellingly, in his congressional testimony, D. Kyle Sampson (the junior aide to whom the attorney general delegated vast authority) expressed the view that the distinction between "performance" considerations and "political" considerations was "largely artificial." This attitude, however, is precisely the problem. The administration that Sampson served has elided the distinction between government performance and politics to an unparalleled extent (just as it has blurred the boundaries between the White House counsel's office and the attorney general's office). And it is no answer to say that U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. The point that is lost on those who make this argument is that U.S. attorneys must not serve partisan purposes or advance a partisan agenda - which has nothing to do with requiring them to promote an administration's legitimate policy priorities.

As usual, the administration has attempted to minimize the significance of its malfeasance and misfeasance, reciting its now-customary "mistakes were made" mantra, accepting purely abstract responsibility without consequences for its actions, and making hollow vows to do better. However, the DOJ Inspector General's Patriot Act report (which would not even have existed if the administration had not been forced to grudgingly accept a very modest legislative reporting requirement, instead of being allowed to operate in its preferred secrecy), the White House-DOJ e-mails, and now the Libby commutation merely highlight yet again the lawlessness, incompetence and dishonesty of the present executive branch leadership.

They also underscore Congress' lack of wisdom in blindly trusting the administration, largely rubber-stamping its legislative proposals, and essentially abandoning the congressional oversight function for most of the last six years. These are, after all, the same leaders who brought us the WMD fiasco, the unnecessary and disastrous Iraq war, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, warrantless domestic NSA surveillance, the Valerie Wilson leak, the arrest of Brandon Mayfield, and the Katrina response failure. The last thing they deserve is trust.

The sweeping, judicially unchecked powers granted under the Patriot Act should neither have been created in the first place nor permanently renewed thereafter, and the Act - which also contributed to the ongoing contretemps regarding the replacement of U.S. attorneys, by changing the appointment process to invite political abuse - should be substantially modified, if not scrapped outright. And real, rather than symbolic, responsibility should be assigned for the manifold abuses. The public trust has been flagrantly violated, and meaningful accountability is long overdue. Officials who have brought into disrepute both the Department of Justice and the administration of justice as a whole should finally have to answer for it - and the misdeeds at issue involve not merely garden-variety misconduct, but multiple "high crimes and misdemeanors," including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

I realize that this constitutionally protected statement subjects me to a substantial risk of unlawful reprisal from extremely ruthless people who have repeatedly taken such action in the past. But I am confident that I am speaking on behalf of countless thousands of honorable public servants, at Justice and elsewhere, who take their responsibilities seriously and share these views. And some things must be said, whatever the risk. "

Re-read Mr Koppel's last paragraph-That's INTEGRITY.

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