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EDITORIAL
The Constitution according to Cheney

July 6, 2007 | Page 2

TURNS OUT federal inmate no. 28301-016 won't spend even a single night in the clink.

As Socialist Worker went to press, George Bush sparked yet more outrage by commuting the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Dick Cheney, who was convicted of perjury for lying during the investigation into the politically motivated leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Bush claimed that Libby's sentence was "excessive"--that fines and the loss of his "stellar reputation" were enough of a punishment.

More likely, Bush was concerned about what kind of squealing Scooter might do when faced with the inside of a prison cell--and doled out the commutation as payback for Libby taking the heat for Cheney, who by most accounts directed the Plame leak.

The commutation of Libby's sentence was the latest in a series of new revelations that further highlight--if that's actually possible--the colossal arrogance and apparently criminal behavior of the vice president of the United States.

It also turns out that Cheney avoided having to hand over classified documents to the National Archives by claiming--in defiance of everything you ever learned in government class--that he isn't part of the executive branch, and that his office isn't an "entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information."

The claim that his office doesn't possess of classified information begs a question. Why, then, does Cheney's office contain a human-size safe, as the Washington Post recently reported.

Maybe all his secret dirty dealings have made Cheney paranoid. The recent Post series on the vice president shows how Cheney twisted the law like a wet noodle to permit the torture of detainees, gut environmental regulations, slash taxes on the wealthy and business, and install his minions in powerful positions.

Cheney may be just the most outrageous current example, but it should be remembered that America has a long traditions of presidential administrations willing to use dirty--frequently vicious and illegal--methods to pursue political aims.

The release of the CIA's "family jewels"--a heavily censored archive of more than 700 pages of classified material--shows alliances with the Mafia to kill Fidel Castro; then-Attorney General Bobby Kennedy approving wiretaps on journalists; and the secret use of LSD on unsuspecting U.S. citizens, among other crimes. And these are just the things we know about.

Under the surface, U.S. "democracy" isn't really so very democratic at all.

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