Starr Probe of President Clinton Really Scary
Special Prosecutor Ken Starr
President Bill Clinton
The ongoing ever-expanding investigation of the president by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr has reached downright scary proportions.
The American people have seldom, if ever, witnessed such a sweeping abuse of power at the highest levels of the federal government.
Abuse of power is always cause for great concern, but it is especially so when virtually unrestrained authority is put in the hands of one person -- and especially one who, as a practical matter, has a single target, unlimited funds and all the time in the world.
Untrue and Illegal Leaks
Apologists for Mr. Starr try to excuse the often untrue and illegal leaks of grand jury information by saying he's investigating them (Is there anything he isn't investigating?)
Worse, his apologists say his unfair and un-American tactics are OK because he's only doing what all prosecutors do: exploring every avenue that might lead to evidence against his target.
Aye, there's the rub; for what does this tell us about prosecutors in general and the way they work?
Prosecutorial Fishing Expedition
If a U.S. president can be the subject of a prosecutorial fishing expedition, what kind of chance do you or I have if we become the target of a state or federal prosecutor?
Prosecutors hold all the cards when they present their findings (read that opinions) to grand juries -- and most of the cards when they go before a judge or panel of judges. That's why we're left with the disaster of plea bargaining (in which prosecutors have found a way of convicting people when they haven't enough evidence to convict on the appropriate charge.)
The First Lady's characterization of Starr's investigation as a right-wing conspiracy, however, missed the mark. It's not a conspiracy. It's just an anti-administration witch hunt and a fishing expedition that began with an investigation (part of a failed Republican effort to put money into the hands of wealthy Savings and Loan executives) of Whitewater and expanded into a probe of the mythical sex life of the president.
The president has been accused of everything from murder and lying and suborning perjury to a whole list of unsubstantiated sexual dalliances.
But, despite the fact that not one of the allegations has ever held any water -- and none should have been taken seriously to begin with -- right wingers looking for political advantages and radio/TV personalities looking for better ratings keep saying the president should "just tell the truth."
And it has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. It is just as unwise for an innocent person to try to explain why he's innocent as it is for a guilty person to speak out.
When it's a president that's accused, it's wise, both legally and politically, to allow such wild and political accusations to run their course.
There's no way the president can, or should, say, as President Nixon did in 1973: "People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook: Well, I'm not a crook."
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Feb. 28, 1998. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.