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Jewish World Review / Nov. 23, 1998 /4 Kislev, 5759

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas Ken Starr's moment of truth

AFTER FOUR YEARS OF A ONE-SIDED ATTACK on his integrity and professionalism by paid and unpaid defenders of the president, Independent Counsel Ken Starr spent his first two hours before the House Judiciary Committee dispassionately laying out a series of charges.

Among the most serious were that Bill Clinton lied under oath to a grand jury and he lied to the public about his affair with Monica Lewinsky; that he promised to cooperate with the investigation but did not and, in fact, misled others and caused them to lie in his behalf; that he deflected and diverted the investigation by telling aides and Cabinet members false stories that some of them relayed to a grand jury; that he refused invitations to testify before a grand jury; that he further delayed the investigation through multiple privilege claims, all of which were denied by federal courts; that his surrogates attacked the credibility and legitimacy of the grand jury; that he and his surrogates attempted to persuade Congress and the public that the matter was unimportant.

Starr quoted Democratic Sens. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, all of whom said that thwarting an investigation is not a private matter. Repeatedly, Starr said the president had lied under oath, obstructed justice, tampered with witnesses and used the powers of his high office and much of government to obscure the truth.

"No one is entitled to lie under oath for any reason,'' said Starr, even if the person testifying considers the investigation frivolous or politically motivated. "On six occasions between Dec. 17, 1997, and Aug. 17, 1998,'' said Starr, "the president had to make a decision.'' In each instance, he said, the president chose deception over truth.

Most of this we had heard before, but it was compelling to hear it woven together in a relatively uninterrupted fashion and to hear names associated with various acts. President Clinton either corrupted others or he used those already corrupted in an attempt to save his skin. Starr had something to say about them all: Monica Lewinsky, Betty Currie, Vernon Jordan, then U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, presidential attorney Bob Bennett, who was misled by Clinton into producing Lewinsky's affidavit, which the president allegedly knew to be false at his deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

The president's motive at each step, said Starr, was to delay the investigation. In each situation, Starr noted, the president's decisions were "premeditated.'' "By making false statements under oath,'' declared Starr, "the president failed to adhere to (his) oath (of office).''

Furthermore, said Starr, the president engaged "in a pattern of behavior to thwart the judicial process.'' He and Lewinsky agreed that each would make false statements under oath; he provided job assistance to Lewinsky when the Jones case was proceeding and when Lewinsky's truthful testimony would have been harmful to him; he engaged in an "apparent scheme'' to conceal gifts that had been subpoenaed from Lewinsky; and he "coached'' a potential witness, his own secretary, Betty Currie, with a false account of relevant events. Starr said these and other actions constituted a "pattern'' of obstruction that is ``fundamentally inconsistent with the president's duty to faithfully execute the law.

The president's defenders are reduced to repeating their meaningless mantras. They never claim he told the truth, as many once did. Now they say he "only'' lied about sex. If they truly believe that some lies under oath don't matter, they should sponsor a bill to amend the criminal code and a constitutional amendment spelling out which lies should be protected from prosecution and if such immunity should apply only to the president or whether lesser citizens may also enjoy similar benefits.

The committee's ranking member, John Conyers (D-Mich.), sounded like a Cold War conspiratorialist when he suggested that Starr is motivated by former tobacco industry clients, "many of whom are fighting President Clinton's efforts to curb teen smoking,'' and by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who contributes to Pepperdine University where Starr once expressed interest in a law professorship. "Is this just coincidence?'' asked Conyers. Apparently we haven't moved far enough from the time when Republicans once accused Democrats of "fellow traveling'' with communists.

ABC's Ted Koppel once said of truth that it's "not a polite tap on the shoulder, but a howling reproach.'' Ken Starr delivered a howling reproach to the president of the United States. Now it's up to the House to decide whether the law that applies to the rest of us should also apply to Clinton. Starr has been "meticulous and credible'' in doing his job in the face of a nonstop smear head wind. Now let's see if the House will do its job and hold the president accountable.


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11/17/98: Republicans drift while conservatives float
11/13/98: Supreme Courtupholds freedom of school-choice
11/10/98: The revolting Republican 'revolution'
11/06/98: Hulk Hogan for president?
11/03/98: Clinton's greatest peril isn't Monica
10/30/98: Mother Teresa was right about killing
10/27/98: Clinton to Netanyahu: 'You're despicable'
10/21/98: A 'peace' agreement: Wye not?
10/19/98: Vanity Fair snubs some of the greatest women 'leaders'
10/14/98:The mean machine
10/09/98: Impeachment: an outside perspective
10/07/98: The corruption of the Secret Service
10/02/98: Land erosion in Israel
10/01/98: The race panel: lies in black and white
9/18/98: The Clinton strategy and the Clinton legacy
9/18/98: Stopping him before he sins again
9/15/98: Repenting when the end is near
9/11/98: Faithfully executing: Congress vs. the President
9/10/98: The degrees of separation between Dan Burton and Bill Clinton
9/08/98: Joe Lieberman and the Democrats' conscience
9/04/98: Clinton vs. Reagan and the struggle for power
9/02/98: If only Bubba had been a Boy Scout
8/31/98: Liberal clergy and the Lewinsky affair
8/27/98: Combating the terrorists among us
8/25/98: The president as 'Chicken Little'
8/20/98: That was no apology
8/18/98: Big government's crab grab
8/14/98:Untruths, half-truths and anything but the truth
8/12/98: Lying under oath: past and present impeachable offenses
8/10/98: Endangered species
8/04/98: In search of an unstained president
7/31/98: The UK is ahead of US in one area...
7/28/98: Murder near and far
7/21/98: Telling the truth about
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7/17/98: One Nation? Indivisible?
7/14/98: Who cares about killing when the 'good times' are rolling?
7/10/98: George W. Bush: a different 'boomer'
7/08/98: My lunch with Roy Rogers
7/06/98: News unfit to print (or broadcast)
6/30/98: Smoke gets in their eyes
6/25/98: Sugar and Spice Girls
6/19/98: William Perry opposed
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6/19/98: The Clinton hare vs.the Starr tortoise
6/17/98: The President's rocky road to China
6/15/98: Let the children go
6/9/98: Oregon: the new killing fields
6/5/98: Speaking plainly: the cover-up continues
6/2/98: Barry Goldwater: in our hearts
5/28/98:The Speaker's insightful remarks
5/26/98: As bad as it gets
5/25/98:Union dues and don'ts
5/21/98: Connecting those Chinese campaign contribution dots
5/19/98: Clinton on the couch
5/13/98: John Ashcroft: another Jimmy Carter?
5/8/98: Terms of dismemberment
5/5/98: Clinton's tangled Webb
4/30/98: Return of the Jedi
4/28/98: Desparately seeking Susan
4/23/98: RICO's threat to free-speech and expression
4/21/98: Educating children v. preserving an institution
4/19/98: Analyzing the birth of a possible new nation
4/14/98: What's fair about our tax system?
4/10/98: CBS: 'Touched by a perv'
4/8/98: Judge Wright's wrong reasoning on sexual harassment
4/2/98: How about helping American cities before African?
3/31/98:Revenge of the children
3/29/98: The Clinton strategy: delay, deceive, deny, and destroy
3/26/98: Moralist Gary Hart
3/23/98: CNN's century of (liberal) women
3/17/98: Dandy Dan
3/15/98: An imposed 'settlement' settles nothing
3/13/98: David Brock's Turnabout

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.