16 August 2005

Fitzgerald's investigation appears to be in its final stages

Murray Waas is still in relentless pursuit of the PlameGate story, penning this piece on the cozy Attorney General Ashcroft relationship with Karl Rove and its impact on the investigation.
Several of the federal investigators were also deeply concerned that then attorney general John Ashcroft was personally briefed regarding the details of at least one FBI interview with Rove, despite Ashcroft's own longstanding personal and political ties to Rove, the Voice has also learned. The same sources said Ashcroft was also told that investigators firmly believed that Rove had withheld important information from them during that FBI interview.

During his initial interview with the FBI, in the fall of 2003, Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed Plame with Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper, according to two legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter. Federal investigators were also skeptical of claims by Rove that he had only first learned of Plame's employment with the CIA from a journalist, even though he also claimed he could not specifically recall the name of the journalist.

As the truthfulness of Rove's accounts became more of a focus of investigators, career Justice Department employees and senior FBI officials became even more concerned about the continuing role in the investigation of Ashcroft, because of his close relationship with Rove. Rove had earlier served as an adviser to Ashcroft during the course of three political campaigns. And Rove’s onetime political consulting firm had been paid more than $746,000 for those services.

In response to these new allegations, Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the current ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and former chairman of the committee as well, said in a statement: "There has long been the appearance of impropriety in Ashcroft's handling of this investigation. The former attorney general had well documented conflicts of interest in this matter, particularly with regard to his personal relationship with Karl Rove. Among other things, Rove was employed by Ashcroft throughout his political career, and Rove reportedly had fiercely advocated for Ashcroft's appointment as attorney general. Pursuant to standard rules of legal ethics, and explicit rules on conflict of interest, those facts alone should have dictated his immediate recusal. The new information, that Ashcroft had not only refused to recuse himself over a period of months, but also was insisting on being personally briefed about a matter implicating his friend, Karl Rove, represents a stunning ethical breach that cries out for an immediate investigation by the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility and Inspector General."

Sort of like telling an obese person not to eat those doughnuts.

What are the odds that the corrupt Bush cabal can outstonewall Mr. Fitzgerald?

3 August 2005

Freedom in jail

After the senseless destruction he observed while stationed in Iraq in 2003, US Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman became a conscientious objector to war, applied for CO status and refused to return to Iraq with his unit for a second tour last January.

The Army charged the 10-year veteran with Desertion and Missing Movement by Design. Last week, Sgt. Benderman was found not guilty of Desertion, but was convicted of Missing Movement and sentenced to 15 months confinement.

Although I do not agree with the pacifistic basis of Sgt. Benderman's decision not to return to Iraq, I support fully his decision to obey his conscience. And I greatly respect his willingness to stand and face his accusers, to make his best case, and to take the legal consequences of his decision, rather than going AWOL or fleeing the country.

As a Christian I am convinced that, just as the Bible permits an individual to use deadly force to defend himself or his family from criminal attack, it also permits a nation's rulers to go to war to defend their nation when another nation aggresses against them. Thus, I believe that across-the-board pacifism — the general philosophy of "non-violence" — is unbiblical. But because the Bible also teaches that God alone is Lord of a man's conscience, I support Sgt. Benderman's actions, which he has taken out of obedience to his conscience.

I had once hoped to counsel my three sons (ages 17, 14 and 12) to serve our country by doing at least one hitch in the Marines or the Army. (I'm a USAF vet, and didn't think the USAF was "military enough.") But over the last several years, I've come to realize that the chances they would be ordered into an unjust military action were too great to take that chance, and our invasion of Iraq is but the latest example. So now I'm counseling my boys not to volunteer for military duty — unless we go to war because of an actual or imminent attack by an enemy force. (And if that ever happened, I'd be right behind them, asking the recruiter if they could still use a 40-something jet engine mechanic who also knows how to shoot!)

Re. Sgt. Benderman's sentence, Debbie Clark writes:
Cpt. Gary Rowley, the ... company commander who had been flown in from Iraq to testify against Kevin, was quoted as saying, "He got what he deserved. He's doing 15 months in prison. We're serving 12 months in Iraq."

I have to admit that Cpt. Rowley does have a point there and, in that respect, Kevin has definitely got the sweeter deal. How much better to serve 15 months in prison as a free man of conscience than to serve 12 months in Iraq fighting an illegal war.
I'm grateful for Sgt. Benderman's honorable service and moral courage, and I hope that he will ultimately prevail against the Army. Keep him and his wife, Monica, in your prayers. Our nation desperately needs more conscientious men and women in the ranks of her military. May Sgt. Benderman's desire to do what is right, rather than what is merely expedient, inspire scores of others.