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Accountability and the Maverick

By       Message Lynne Glasner       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 7/14/09

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In spite of Attorney General Eric Holder's reported reconsideration of prosecuting former Bush officials, on Sunday's Meet the Press, Sen. John McCain agreed with President Obama, who still opposes it.

Without due process of trial or even formal indictment, McCain stated quite unequivocally that his colleagues are guilty: "We all know that bad things were done," he said when asked about the use of torture under the Bush Administration watch. "We all know that the operatives who did it most likely were under orders to do so. For us to continue this and harm our image throughout the world -- I agree with the president of the United States, it's time to move forward and not go back."

What a difference a decade makes. When it came time to investigate "bad things that were done" by then-President Clinton, McCain said at the Senate impeachment hearings as he proceeded to vote 'Aye' for impeachment of the president: "Most officers of my acquaintance would have resigned their commission had they been discovered violating their oath." Since torture is against both US and international law as well as against the Military Commissions Act, it is indeed also a violation of the oath taken by both military and civilian personnel. None of those who were the framers of the policy resigned, not to mention those in the lower echelons. In fact, the people who did wind up resigning were whistleblowers and others who refused to carry out the policy (for example, General Antonio Taguba).

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When David Gregory further questioned McCain about reconciling his statement with the need for accountability, McCain's response was revealing: "Well, the accountability, obviously, is that people's reputations have been harmed very badly," he told Gregory who didn't mention McCain's position on Clinton. For McCain, Clinton's sexual exploitation-plastered all over the news for weeks on end- wasn't enough punishment then and McCain was glad to lead the pack in trying to remove Clinton from office. Perhaps McCain is hypersensitive about sexual liaisons, given his own infidelity during his first marriage for which Nancy Reagan was not so forgiving.

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McCain's statement could only come from someone whose reputation was indeed once very much on the line, and not only for sexual infidelity. Flashback to 1989. Using his own reasoning, clearly McCain believes that he should never have been investigated for his role in the Keating Five debacle. Certainly McCain's reputation was at risk for, at best exercising poor judgment in associating with Keating (as charged by Congress at the time), and at worst, for bribery, conspiracy, corruption and/or violation of campaign contribution laws. In McCain's mind, damage to his reputation was punishment enough.

Beyond this obvious hypocrisy, using McCain's reasoning, none of those caught up in Iran-Contra should ever have been investigated (although they were "just following orders," too). In fact, McCain supported the Contras and had "empathy" for people like Ollie North, who he mused, "... saw their comrades and friends spill blood and die on the battlefields in a war that they believe the politicians wouldn't let them win--I think that leads to a mind-set which could rationalize deviating from the established rules and regulations." [Chicago Tribune, July 29, 1987].

North did not resign his commission and he, too, got a pass from McCain. As far as is known, McCain didn't contribute to shaping the Iran policy at the time, but he did serve on the Advisory Board of a group called The US Council for World Freedom, a group that, as it turns out, was actively involved in trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government and thus was squarely in the center of the Iran-Contra scandal. But of course, that, in McCain logic, doesn't explain his early support for the Contras; nor is it cause for investigation. Better to leave him to his clean-as-a-whistle reputation.

In McCain-speak, all lawbreakers wear their own scarlet A so they can skip all that highfalutin stuff like formal trials and even hearings. Presumably this applies to Jack Abramoff and Bernie Madoff, among other recent examples of combined moral turpitude and financial genius gone awry.

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The real McCain believes that he was unfairly investigated and almost lost his career over something that should never have come under public scrutiny. McCain continued his rap to David Gregory: "... what's going to be the positive result from airing out and ventilating details of what we already knew took place and should never have, and we are committed to making sure never happens again?"

Translation: we don't really ever need to know what criminal acts have occurred so long as we are committed to ensuring that they never happen again. I bet many of those languishing in prison would support such mea culpas and would gladly swear they won't do it again. (Channeling OJ ...)

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Lynne Glasner is a freelance writer/editor based in New York City. She has edited numerous books, fiction and nonfiction, many on political subjects. Her essays have appeared in Commondreams, MediaChannel.org, and Huffington Post as well as OpEd (more...)
 

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