We really need to start getting angry. If our public servants can abuse legal processes to slap around the high rollers, what keeps us safe and secure?
Martha Stewart was accused of insider trading. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the case, and found no evidence of a crime. So, end of story, right? Well, no, this was a high profile case that was extensively covered in the media. Nobody wanted to look stupid, or walk away empty handed, so they had to come up with something. Not to worry. Any statement that is incorrect, or does not match answers to other, similar questions becomes â€œlying to a federal agent,â€ or, â€œobstruction of justice.â€ An indictment was born.
Getting the conviction was easy. The jurors were, in general, prejudice toward Stewart, and cared little for the law. When asked how he arrived at the guilty verdict, one of Stewartâ€™s jurors said, â€œI did it for the little guy.â€ I suspect that the juror had no clue as what was going on, unless the FBI special agent in question was, in fact, a little guy.
More recently, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald found himself in a tough spot. His investigation into who â€œleaked the identity of a covert CIA agent,â€ showed that Valerie Plame had not performed any â€œcovertâ€ work for over ten years, and was quite free about telling people that she was an employee of the CIA. He also learned from Bob Novak himself that Novak heard about Valerie Plameâ€™s employment from Richard Armitage, one of the State Departmentâ€™s Bush haters. Nobody from Bush or Cheneyâ€™s staff had anything to do with it. In fact, as Fitzpatrick admitted in a press conference, no crime was committed.
As we have learned, the fact that no crime was committed was of little import. He was able to â€œMartha Stewartâ€ Dick Cheneyâ€™s chief of staff, Louis Libby. This conviction was even easier. Since the trial was in the District of Columbia, the jury pool was five to one Democrat over Republican. All he had to do was rag on Bush and Cheney to get it. So little time was spent discussing the actual case that the jury, days into the deliberations, had to ask the judge what the heck Libby was charged with anyway.
Stepping out of the national spotlight does not appear to help. In 1996, then again in 1998, Arizonans passed, through the ballot initiative process, provisions for the legal, medicinal use of marijuana. The state legislature thwarted the first one, while the feds rendered the second pointless.
More recently, the citizenry overwhelmingly passed a property rights initiative (prop 203) that is now under assault by, get this, municipal government bureaucrats. Our public servant neighbors are requiring the signing away of Prop 203 property rights as a prerequisite to zoning changes, building permits, etc.
Now, whether or not one happens to agree with either of these initiatives, we should all get pissed-off at any government person, or agency, that shows such contempt for legal processes. If government officials flout the laws resulting from these processes, if the legal system processes become the toys of prosecutors, we are all in heap big trouble.
If we are to live under the â€œrule of law,â€ as opposed to the â€œrule of men,â€ then we need to understand what that means, and demand it. I admit that this problem is neither new, nor particularly exciting, but it is very, very, important. It is no longer a problem peculiar to Washington, or even a problem peculiar to Phoenix, it is a problem that stretches from federal prosecutors to city staff.