Third Party & Independents Archives

Hypocrisy Run Amok

It has been a wild week in Washington capped by Richard Clarke’s dramatic testimony before the 9/11 commission. His revelations have been devastating to the Bush Administration and they threaten to take 9/11 away from Bush as a campaign issue which would all but doom his chances in 2004. The Karl Rove smear machine wasted no time in going after Clarke but those efforts seemed strangely ineffective against the only government official, Republican or Democrat, who had the courage to take responsibility for 9/11 and apologize to the families of the victims and to the nation as a whole. Character is an amazing thing and if the Bush Administration had any they might have been in a better position to deal with this latest threat.

The one issue to come out of this that I found the most interesting was Condoleezza Rice’s refusal to testify under oath before the 9/11 commission. Citing constitutional issues and executive privilege Rice asserts that it is not possible for her to do this but claims that she would love the chance to testify under oath. Poor Condi. That darn Constitution is preventing her from publicly clearing up all the misrepresentations made by Richard Clarke. Of course it hasn’t prevented her from speaking to the press and hitting the television circuit to make her case. She just can’t do it under oath. It must be frustrating.

Normally I would write the whole thing off as political maneuvering and move on to other things but there is a level of hypocrisy at play here that I just can’t ignore. You see this is a Bush Administration that thinks nothing of watering down the constitutional rights of American citizens as a logical consequence of the war on terror. We have people, some of them American citizens, who have been locked away at Camp X-Ray in Guatanamo Bay for years now with no access to lawyers or their families. We have things like the Patriot Act which threatens the privacy of all Americans and we are told that this is necessary because we are a nation at war (though none has been declared).

So when I see Condoleezza Rice hiding behind the Constitution to avoid testifying under oath before the American people on an issue of such vital importance it makes me shake my head in disgust. Doesn’t she know that we are at war? Doesn’t she know that sacrifices have to be made and that constitutional protections must sometimes be set aside for the good of the country? It is hypocrisy run amok and I hope the American people have what it takes to see this for what it is and reject this latest insult to our country.

Personally I would prefer if we just stood behind the Constitution at all levels. This means we allow the detainees at Camp X-Ray proper access to legal aide and to the courts. This means we shelve the Patriot Act and yes this means that Condaleezza Rice does not testify publicly and under oath. You can’t have it both ways though. If you want to shred the Constitution as it applies to the average American then you better be prepared to face the music and not hide behind that same Constitution to save yourself from political embarrassment.

Note: Do you think anyone on the 9/11 commission plans to ask why John Ashcroft stopped flying on commercial aircraft back in July 2001 because of a threat assessment from the FBI? If they haven’t already done so I hope they do.

Posted by William Flynn at March 27, 2004 4:34 PM