4.28.2005

on the off chance

I doubt that anybody else besides Andrew and I cares much about the Whitewater debate (my side=whitewater was a desperate but clever right-wing attack on what republicans then saw as a dangerously popular and effective Democratic president. The plan was orchestrated by Newt Gingrich and implemented by Ken Starr, whose primary technique was to leverage Clinton's friends and associates with the threat of prosecution to get them to testify against Clinton, regardless of the truth or falsity of their testimony. And when Clinton came out clean from these approaches (only after many lives lay in ruins), Starr cynically exploited Clinton's sex-life to embarass him, again for obviously political purposes, and these events, at least the sex part, were overcovered by the media). (His side=Whitewater was a legitimate investigation, occasioned by compelling evidence of wrongdoing, carried out in a fair and professional way by Ken Starr, who aggressively but dutifully did his job, who uncovered substantial evidence that Clinton was engaged in criminal behavior, and who prosecuted those crimes that he came across during his investigation. Finally, the media under-covered these events due to their liberal bias.)
If, on the off chance you do care, I found an interesting interview with Susan McDougal, whose husband went to prison and died there, and who herself was inprisoned for refusing to testify against Clinton. In the interest of finding multiple points of view, read her version and decide for yourself if you believe her.

8 comments:

Andrew said...

Honestly dude. Why are you so invested in a version of events that doesn't stand up to even the most casual challenges? I don't care how convincing an individual’s version of events are Ken Starr did not use some Jedi mind trick to repeatedly convince grand juries that an indictment was warranted and then use his black arts to compel even more juries that Susan McDougal and pals should be convicted. How on earth do you expect anyone to find your positions credible when the only people you’re using to back up your position are entirely dependant on the “Ken Starr as Torquemada” version of events you also inexplicably believe? Do you really understand just how incredible this “right wing conspiracy” would have to be to achieve what you’re saying? Also, why is it that Mr. Starr isn't giving tear jerking interviews about how traumatic it was having hippies harrass his family incessently for the duration of the investigation? Could it be because just maybe he's a professional?

Joe said...

It does stand up to casual challenges. Which point of Susan McDougal's (if you read the interview) do you take issue with? Do you dispute that Starr used threats of prosecution to try to get these people to turn on Clinton? Do you dispute that Starr's objective was to go after Clinton and that these other indictments were strong-arm techniques? Prosecutor's do this all the time in drug cases; find some low-level dealer, then cut him a deal if he rats out his boss. In drug cases, it makes sense, because it's obvious that the boss's crimes will be more serious. In Whitewater, it's unethical, because there was no evidence that the Big Fish (Clinton)had committed more serious crimes than the Little Fish. If so, the only justification for going after Clinton would be politics.
The point isn't whether these people were guilty or not; the point is that Starr didn't care. He wasn't prosecuting them because he cared about their fraud case. He was blatantly using them to get to Clinton. He didn't just try to enforce the law; he used the law a s a coercive device to get people to talk. And this case consequently has the same problem as the aforementioned drug cases; the witnesses' lives depend on their giving somebody else up. Some people are going to be willing to lie if that's what it takes for them to stay out of jail. Indeed, this happens all the time in drug cases (see the frontline documentary "Snitch.")
Yes, Starr convicted people. He did it by starting with one definitely guilty person (Mark Hale) and got him to inform on other people in exchange for a lighter sentence. That process gave up Jim McDougal, who also caved to the pressure, and who later testified against his wife. And who wouldn't be scared? Starr and his team were very good lawyers with unlimited resources; they would be tough and expensive to beat. Again, maybe these people were all guilty, and I'm not so sure that my side wouldn't have done the same thing to your side if we could have, but it all stinks to high heaven.
This version of events isn't "incredible." It doesn't require the presence of shadowy figures or secret handshakes or discussions in hushed tones. It required the independent council law, a republican congress that initiated the process, the president who agreed to it, the conservative judge who appointed Starr, and Starr himself--a seasoned republican political operative and a very good lawyer. I know who the player are, what they did, and (I think) why they did it. It was a conspiracy in the sense that everyone on the republican side knew what this was about from day one--make Clinton look bad. I guess it wasn't that vast, though.
And one more thing about Janet Reno. How would it have looked for her and Clinton if she had fought Starr on these other prosecutions? It would have looked like Clinton was trying to impede the investigation, and it would have been an even huger cluster fuck.
As to why I care about this, I guess because I think I'm right, because I care about truth, because I like Clinton, and because it shows how hypocritical those on the far-right can be--acting outraged at Clinton's sex life while simultaneously ruining peoples' lives, spending millions and millions of dollars, in a poltical assasination attempt. I'm glad they failed, though.
I saw Starr interviewed on Tucker Carlson's PBS show a while back, and it wasn't particularly tear-jerking. Maybe it's cause he's rich and hasn't had to go to jail or have his sex life drug out for the public to scrutinize.

Andrew said...

You may think you're right but that’s not good enough if you want to persuade others. You’re now just repeating the same “vast right wing conspiracy” spiel over and over again. A shred of evidence to back it up besides people who clearly have an ax to grind would be great.

If you read my stuff you would have seen there was plenty of evidence to tie the Clintons to this including checks from the McDougals S&L with "Clinton Payoff" in one of the memos. There was also a lot of testimony by a David Hale that tied the Clinton's to Whitewater, but because, unlike you, juries typically don't find people convicted of fraud credible Starr had to go elsewhere. Again, let me remind you that Janet Reno thought there was enough evidence linking the Clinton's to this.

K, Here's a casual challenge:
From a CNN article on the Whitewater proceedings:

"Instead of giving Clinton the hoped-for acquittal, which could have buried the issue and discredited Starr, the jurors handed the president's critics additional credibility. For one thing, they rejected a central tenet of Clinton's Whitewater theology. By basing their decision on documentary evidence and discounting the testimony of both Clinton and the defendants' chief accuser, David Hale, they undermined the White House argument that the investigation was a baseless, partisan witch hunt.".

(http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/resources/1999/whitewater/first.trial.html)

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew said...

the damn editor isn't letting me post this link:
http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/
resources/1999/whitewater/
first.trial.html

Joe said...

The "Clinton payoff" check means nothing...are you trying to argue that someone, in the process of intentionally and knowingly committing a crime, said so on their check? The McDougals and the Clintons had a lot of financial dealings that were legitimate; I'm sure they wrote a lot of checks to each other. The fact that it says "Clinton payoff" is not evidence of wrongdoing. I'm not going to pay a hooker with a check on write "payment for hooker" on the memo line. It probably meant simply "payment."
More importantly, the very article you cite proves that Starr was cutting these people deals in exchange for their testimony against Clinton. Which begs the question, why would he do that? These peoples' crimes were worse than anything the Clintons were even alleged to have done. Answer this question: why would Starr give these people sentencing leniency in exchange for dirt against the Clintons if embarassing them wasn't his goal?
Notice that I am citing factual information here that is undisputed. Starr worked to lessen people's sentences in exchange for their "cooperation" againt Clinton.
I am willing to concede that there were some very shady activities regarding the Madison Savings and Loans and David Hale's company, but that doesn't get Starr off the hook. He has to answer 1) for his prioritizing of the Clintons as targets and 2) for the extension of the investigation into Clinton's sex life, which is obviously unconnected to government bank fraud. (I know that Janet Reno gave the ok. Again, what else was she going to do?)
Starr spent close to 40 million dollars in this process. The people convicted of fraud had not stolen anywhere near that much.
Starr was admonished for his overzealousness by several people.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv
/politics/special/clinton/stories/
counsel021398.htm

See also: (Judge refuses Starr's request to expand investigation, also showing that he circumvented Reno on some occasions)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv
/politics/special/clinton/stories/
hubbell070298.htm
(Both CNN and the Washington Post have "special" sections devoted to whitewater).

I think there's plenty of evicence, and even more common sense, to suggest that Starr's investigation was politically motivated and politically driven, that he was not an objective law enforcement officer, but rather a partisan idealogue. I think that, given the financial cost of the investigation and the paltry nature of the crimes alleged, especially the Paula Jones/Lewinski part, that it was unwarranted and unethical, That's my final word on it.

Andrew said...

First to address your contention that the checks are “meaningless”:

From the WashPo:
Prosecutors have tried to learn whether the Clintons told the truth about those dealings under oath, including President Clinton's videotaped testimony at the McDougals' 1996 bank fraud trial. Clinton said then he had no role in helping Susan McDougal obtain a fraudulent $300,000 loan, part of which went to benefit the Whitewater Development Corp., which was jointly owned by the Clintons and the McDougals. Clinton also testified he never had any loans or financial dealings with Madison Guaranty.
Included in the indictment is a partial transcript of McDougal's appearance before the grand jury two weeks ago, during which prosecutors questioned her about the $5,081 check, drawn on her then-husband's account and signed over to Madison Guaranty. The memo section of the check had the notation "Payoff Clinton."
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/starr050598.htm)
The fact that Susan McDougal was paying Clinton – an elected official – anything is suspicious but when she refused to provide any explanation at the Presidents urging doesn’t in anyway prove guilt, but is highly suspicious.

My response for the first of the 2 offenses you feel Ken Starr needs to answer for is fairly obvious. The ONLY reason for Ken Starr’s existence as an investigator was to attempt to investigate any possible involvement the president may have had in crimes the attorney general felt warranted investigation. He did not have a personal “vendetta” in his focused pursuit of the president. Attempting to indict the President was his only function for being codified in the Ethics in Government act of 1978. The Attorney General or the three judge panel could have fired him at any time if they felt the special prosecutor was abusing his powers. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Counsel)

As for the second; to characterize that the Lewinski matter was an investigation about the “sex life” of the President is simply dishonest. Janet Reno approved an investigation into obstruction of justice and subornation of perjury. Specifically that the President pressured Lewinski to lie under oath in exchange for being taken care of from friend Vernon Jordan. That it was found that the president himself lied under oath was completely by accident and not pursued in any way be Ken Starr. The impeachment events that followed were entirely political in nature.
(http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/resources/lewinsky/timeline/)