London Sunday Telegraph a real newspaper - USA papers NOT! : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Andy thought you might enjoy some good reporting from back home. Nope not Y2K but IMHO Y2K related.

1356Wednesday 10 February 1999

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Republicans let Clinton off the hook

Ex-friends' perjury feud could end in jail for both The Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Archive

IT is time to admit defeat. For the past six years I have been shouting that Bill Clinton is a wicked man, with past ties to organised crime and a tolerance for vicarious violence. I assumed that Americans would catch on to this, and that most would object. For though they are famously slow to anger, they are - or used to be - harsh in judgment. But the fat times have dulled the senses and absolved all sins.

As for the Republicans, they are too timid, or too enmeshed in Clintonian intrigue themselves, to pursue the real charges. They picked on an Oval Office sex scandal instead.

During Watergate, the trio of press, Congress and the inquisitor (a Democrat partisan and Kennedy protigi) worked together in synergy. As they nudged the story forward, they gradually persuaded a sleepy nation that something was amiss in the Nixon White House.

This time the media are on the sidelines - or fraternising. The Washington Post has been caught feeding media intelligence to the White House Counsel's office. NBC Television is sitting on an interview with an Arkansas woman who was allegedly raped by Bill Clinton. She now admits signing a false affidavit in the Paula Jones lawsuit, under duress.

This is combustible stuff. It is also directly relevant to the impeachment trial, which stems from witness tampering in the same case. NBC may have grounds for caution, but does anybody believe it would have hesitated to strike against Nixon?

Still, the Republicans have only themselves to blame for the bjtise of indicting Mr Clinton on Monica Lewinsky charges. The counts were bound to be mischaracterised as "lying about sex", and bound to serve as a perverse vindication for the President. If that is all his persecutors could find, we keep hearing, there cannot be much else.

But there is so much else. Congress did not have to confine the impeachment to the findings of Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel. By doing so, it became a prisoner of Mr Starr's own subtle agenda. This is not to accuse Mr Starr of conjuring Miss Lewinsky as a distraction, while orchestrating the real cover-up. His actions were never so calculated. But Mr Starr is most assuredly not an "independent" counsel. He is a creature of the Justice Department, where he once served as chief-of-staff. His team in Washington has been dominated by fellow insiders, and he has relied slavishly on the FBI to do the donkey work.

But it is precisely the politicisation of the Justice Department and the FBI that forms the core scandal pervading the abuses of this administration. Mr Clinton began his presidency by firing all senior prosecutors, giving him direct control of the investigative machinery.

He then carried out a putsch at the FBI, sacking its director for the first time in its history. This was taboo. The FBI director is appointed for 10 years, like a judge, to ensure political independence.

Mr Starr has instinctively recoiled from confronting the FBI, limiting his zeal to harmless follies that could be prosecuted without collateral damage. He turned a blind eye when his deputy warned him about an FBI cover-up in the investigation into the death of Vincent Foster, Hillary Clinton's closest friend. Negligently - or worse - he failed to take testimony from key witnesses in the "Filegate" affair, in which the confidential FBI files of more than 900 Republicans were slipped to the White House.

The story is emerging instead from a civil lawsuit. We have learnt that the raw data were fed into computers for purposes of political espionage, at the behest of Mrs Clinton. Had the Republicans folded this into the impeachment inquiry, Americans might have taken a very different view of the current trial. Misuse of the FBI, after all, was Nixon's cardinal sin during Watergate.

But the Republicans have always been skittish about exposing the dirtiest of Mr Clinton's dirty linen, lest their own (lesser) indiscretions come to light. There is a Washington etiquette in these matters, or put another way: they, too, are "mobbed up". That is why, I believe, they backed away from probing whether Mr Clinton knowingly solicited laundered campaign funds from Chinese military intelligence in exchange for restricted missile technology.

It is also why they have been so wary of discussing Mr Clinton's astounding ties to Arkansas's 1980s cocaine king, Dan Lasater. Dig a little and you discover that Arkansas played a role in the Reagan administration's clandestine supply flights to the Nicaraguan Contras, with a messy spill-over into the Dixie Mafia. A forbidden subject. Mr Clinton gets another free pass.

Impeachment is thus reduced to two measly counts on Monica Lewinsky, and the Republicans cannot even get that right. They put on a show trial with a scripted outcome of acquittal, calibrated to wound but not to kill. Undertaken in the wrong spirit, it has turned against them. The Senate Republicans have humiliated their House colleagues by refusing to try the case properly, stripping the impeachment of its legitimacy.

So the man caught red-handed in perjury, obstruction of justice and ungallantly smearing his lover as a demented stalker is hailed as the winner. The world knows that he is guilty, but he is the one enjoying a victory cigar.

What a way to end the 20th century.

-- Ed (, February 20, 1999


Hey thanks Ed,

It's a real shame that more people haven't had the chance to read his articles - they are mainly published in London - some are picked up by the American Press - not many. I understand that Ambrose has returned to the UK so we may not get this type of independent reporting in future.

If you are interested - these are THE archives - see what Jollyprez has been up to on taxpayer money...


Cheers, Andy

-- Andy (, February 20, 1999.

And Y2K comes in where? Did I miss something?

-- Tom Carey (, February 21, 1999.

Yes Tom, the chap ultimately responsible for y2k policy in this country has proved himself to be untrustworthy on many occasions - any insights into the character of this man are y2k-pertinent, surely?

I realise I've been posting on peripheral y2k areas recently but y2k is more than just code - if the worst comes to the worst it will affect us in undreamed of ways. And Clinton will be the cornerstone IMHO.

-- Andy (, February 21, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ