Thursday, February 5, 2009

John Deutch? And Why Not?

Former CIA Director John Deutch (1995-6) was stripped of his security clearances in 1999 and was about to plead guilty to "mishandling government secrets." But Bill Clinton preemptively pardoned Deutch (sound familiar?) just before leaving office in January 2001 (sound familiar?), that is to say before the Justice Department could run the case against him (ringing bells?).

Most Americans have not even heard of John Deutch, much less his criminal offense and pardon. Why? Because more ink was spilt on the expectation that George W. Bush would misuse the pardon power - in the manner of Clinton - than was actually spilt on Clinton's misuse of the power! Now, it is reported that National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has asked Deutch to sit on an advisory panel on spy satellites. And why not? At least Deutch pays his taxes and had no part in the Marc Rich or FALN terrorist pardons. See story here.

Here is how The Nation described Clinton's pardon of the former CIA Director:
The most serious of Clinton's pardon excesses, that of former CIA Director John Deutsch, does not rise to that level, but it is odd that it has not been criticized. By pardoning Deutsch, Clinton ended an inquiry into how sloppily top secrets are handled at the highest level. The Clinton Administration had held former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee in solitary confinement for mishandling data that wasn't even classified as secret at the time. It was Lee and not Deutsch who deserved a pardon. But that would have meant enduring criticism, and Clinton only does that for well-connected people.
Here is what Jack Kemp had to say about the Deutch pardon:
Similarly, President Clinton pardoned his CIA director, John Deutch. The pardon of Deutch spared the former CIA director any criminal charges for mishandling secret information on his home computer. Deutch, had resigned in 1996 and had his security clearance stripped. He had been considering a deal with the Justice Department in which he would plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of keeping classified data on home computers when President Clinton provided a pardon.
And Kemp also noted other Clinton pardons with a "prospective" nature:

President Clinton pardoned each and every person convicted of anything in the investigation of former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy by independent counsel Donald Smaltz. Those persons included Tyson Foods official Archie Schaffer, whose conviction was pending on appeal at the time of the pardon. These pardons didn't go through the "normal" process at the Justice Department.
Bruce Fein wrote the following in the Washington Post:

Mr. Deutch's pardon, unlike Portia's mercy in "The Merchant of Venice," was twice cursed. It cursed both the giver and the taker. Mr. Deutch was less than 24 hours away from pleading guilty to a national security crime when Mr. Clinton's meddling shipwrecked law enforcement. Mr. Deutch's recidivism aggravated his disturbing offense. As a grandee at the Defense Department, he was guilty of the same disdain for protecting classified information from our nation's enemies. Moreover, Mr. Deutch was no unschooled sleuth. He had undergone repeated catechisms from national security watchdogs stressing the criticality of keeping national security secret secret. Think of the many CIA agents or informants killed by the Soviet Union because of Aldrich Ames' betrayals. ... What Mr. Clinton did and Mr. Deutch accepted inflicted evils on the CIA that will live long after the pair of miscreants and Marc Rich have faded from the scene.
The Hope and Change dog and pony show continues ...

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