Browsing the Bookshelf
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
or Does It?
Debbie W. Wilson
Abraham Lincoln said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
David Limbaugh grades the character test for the Clinton Justice Department under Janet Reno. The results aren't pretty!
In Absolute Power: The Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2001, 385 pages, $27.95) David Limbaugh chronicles the controversial decisions made by Janet Reno's Justice Department.
Limbaugh starts with the Waco debacle. He gives the background of the situation, describes the event and explains what the Justice Department did that was illegal. In this case, they used falsified documents that claimed the Davidians possessed drugs to gain military aid. During the Danforth investigation of the raid, the Justice Department repeatedly delayed and obstructed Danforth's search for evidence.
Limbaugh discusses the tobacco wars, the White House Travel Office firings and smearing of Billy Dale, the attacks on Kenneth Starr and Linda Tripp, President Clinton's repeated attempts to use presidential privilege to block investigations, the president's sidetracking of the Senate's role in confirming Bill Lann Lee, his allowing terrorists access to the White House and the decision to return Elian Gonzalez to Communist Cuba.
The most powerful section of the book chronicles the White House campaign scandals. They unfolded so quickly during the administration that I found them hard to keep track of. Frequently, reporters and commentators had a difficult time understanding the legal and political issues surrounding the various illegal donations.
Limbaugh explains and relates these to one another. He clarifies the Justice Department's obstruction and cover up. For instance, though FBI director Louis Freeh and Justice Department Task Force chief Charles La Bella urged Attorney General Reno to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Al Gore's fund-raising, she refused. During her investigation, she did not allow officials to question Al Gore's Buddhist Temple fund-raiser nor the President's involvement with John Huang. Instead, Reno granted special protection to higher-level officials in order to go after lower ones.
David Limbaugh, though a lawyer, offers ordinary readers with basic political knowledge clear explanations of the legal violations of the Clinton-Reno Justice Department. However, he goes beyond this to explain the danger to our republic in the politicizing of the Justice Department. Attacking Billy Dale, Ken Starr and Linda Tripp sets the precedent of using the overwhelming power of the government's legal arm to destroy any individual who speaks out against a corrupt executive. In an international dimension, the Justice Department's cover-up of the tie between Clinton's illegal foreign fundraising and the
empowerment of the Chinese military with our nuclear weapons secrets endangers every American because China considers us her greatest impediment to world prominence.
Liberal Harvard professor Lawrence Tribe perhaps sums up the Reno Justice Department best when he writes of the seizure of little Elian: "Ms. Reno's decision to take the law as well as the child into her own hands seems worse than a political blunder. Even if well intended, her decision strikes at the heart of constitutional government and shakes the safeguards of liberty." (page 325)
Limbaugh points out that the Clinton administration by politicizing the Justice Department did indeed "shake...the safeguards of liberty."
For anyone interested in law and politics, this book is worth reading.Copyright 2001
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