The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, May 14, 2005
 

Clinton and the whistleblower


They're all the same is not satisfactory as a conclusion about the norms and practice of politics, but it's a salutary working hypothesis. Politicians, by and large, do what they can get away with, for both good and ill.

The debate about the filibuster is a current piquant example: what is presented (on both sides) as a matter of defend-to-the-death principle (with a Jimmy Stewart obbligato) is in fact a mere matter of historical happenstance and political convenience.

And the fact can be (and is) illustrated by quotes from Democrat and Republican legislators dating from the days when the Dems controlled Congress: these are, naturally enough, the polar opposite of the line being spun right now!

Thus I'm not surprised to find, in a 2003 statement to the Senate Rules Committee by Prof Stephen Smith on the subject of the Senate 'hold', reference to the case of a State Department whistleblower, Linda Shenwick, who was sacked by Clinton for making noise about misappropriation of UN funds in Bosnia and Somalia.

I recall the case of translator Sibel Edmonds who blew the whistle on incompetence in the FBI's counterterrorism operations, and was booted for her pains.

The differences (so far as I can see) are merely ones of degree: Bush was trying to squelch matters of life and death, whereas Shenwick was merely dealing with fraud. But, true to type, neither administration acted like boy-scouts.

Of course, the fact that Kerry blew it means we've not had a chance to hear the likes of Air America squirming in defence of such actions by a friendly administration...


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