Misdeeds with Willing Abettors

By Roberts, Paul Craig | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 20, 1996 | Go to article overview

Misdeeds with Willing Abettors


Roberts, Paul Craig, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Those of us who wrote early and often about Whitewatergate predicted the "pattern of concealment and obstruction," which "continues even to the present day," to borrow the words of the Senate Whitewater Committee's just-released report. But despite obvious wrongdoing, Whitewater was associated with President Clinton's misdeeds as governor of Arkansas, not with the office of the presidency, and did not produce the same level of alarm as Richard Nixon's Watergate.

All of this changed on June 14 when FBI Director Louis J.Freeh charged the White House with "egregious violations of privacy" that are "without justification." The White House has broken the law in a major way by illegally obtaining confidential FBI files on more than 400 Republicans, including congressional staffers involved in the Whitewater investigation.

Not even Richard Nixon had an enemies list this big. Mr. Freeh knows what it means for the FBI, supposedly the nation's premier law enforcement agency, to be caught red-handed as an accomplice to high level law-breaking. That is why he put so much distance between himself and the Clintons, slamming the White House for "victimizing" him and the FBI.

If this were a Republican administration, Mr. Freeh would already have been forced to resign, and the president would not be far behind. But it doesn't work that way in the Clinton administration. Instead, the FBI has been assigned the task of investigating itself, and the White House is lowering the political profile of the personnel security office by assigning the job to a 10-year veteran of the White House staff.

Blame is being slowly settled on Democratic political operative D. Craig Livingstone, who was inappropriately in charge of White House personnel security. The White House is gently easing him out in the hopes that he will take the fall without a public squawk.

The Republicans are grateful to Mr. Freeh for blaming the White House, which is what they want to do. But if it is really possible for the FBI to be unknowingly victimized 400 times in succession, then the bureau should be promptly shut down before we read a story in the papers about the FBI being victimized by drug gangs using it for money-laundering operations.

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