Absolute Power: The Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department

Article excerpt

Absolute Power. The Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department

by David Limbaugh

Regnery Publishing * 2001 * 385 pages * $27.95

Reviewed by Arch T. Allen

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton's famous admonition underlies both the title and subtitle of this account of how President Clinton's promised "most ethical administration" in American history came to include a politicized and corrupt Justice Department. Critical of Clinton and Janet Reno, his appointed attorney general to head the Justice Department, author and attorney David Limbaugh describes and documents their politicized corruption of the administration of justice.

The U.S. Constitution vests federal executive power in the president, who is under oath to execute the office faithfully and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. Among the president's constitutional duties, he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Underlying those constitutional provisions is the political philosophy of protecting liberty through the rule of law. As Limbaugh notes, the rule of law is the core maxim "that we are a government of laws, not men." Accordingly, no man is above the law, and the law restrains the government itself. Nevertheless, what James Madison called "the great difficulty" remains: "You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

Limbaugh "bookends" his case against Clinton-Reno abuse of the governed with accounts of the Waco disaster and the Elian Gonzalez abduction. At Waco, agents of the Clinton-Reno Justice Department executed a military-style seizure of a sect's compound under the pretense of serving search and arrest warrants, resulting in the deaths of scores of American citizens including children. In Elian's case, other Clinton-Reno agents executed a pre-dawn commando-style raid of an American home under the pretense of a search warrant to abduct a legalalien child at gunpoint, resulting in his return to communist Cuba. In both cases, Clinton and Reno piously proclaimed the primacy of the rule of law, but, as Limbaugh demonstrates, the law required neither the Waco seizure nor the Elian abduction; they were Clinton-Reno decisions.

Between those bookends, Limbaugh chronicles the Clinton-Reno failure to apply the rule of law to themselves and their government. …