After reaching middle age, will completing a course in good behavior change someone who has not exhibited ethical conduct before? Specifically, what are the ethical violations of the White House staff that the
Bush administration acknowledges led to such remedial study for its officials? Just what is to be done with any staffer who fails an ethics class?
In part, the President must be requiring such courses because a majority of Americans now say the indictment of White House aide Scooter Libby is an indication of wider ethical problems in the Bush administration. The same polls also show that nearly half of Americans believe that honesty in the government has declined since President Bush took office.
The following is a list of appropriate courses and instructors for the White House staff.
Torture 101 taught by Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. The secretary will be sure to begin with the premise that the Geneva Convention (outlawing torture and abuse of prisoners) is no longer relevant. Even though the U.S. is a signatory, White House lawyers have proven international laws do not apply to us after 9/11/01.
Sure, torturing Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians, etc. endangers our own troops when Americans are imprisoned and abusive interrogation has proved to be ineffective. Still, U.S. torture of captured foreigners is okay, even preferable, because ah . well, because Rumsfeld says so. Oh yeah, terrorists cut off the heads of their enemies, so isnt it ethical for us to respond in kind?
Mr. Rumsfeld is sure to emphasize that U.S. officials should be working to track down and prosecute those who are leaking locations of our secret prisons around the world that avoid Geneva Convention restrictions, not prevent torture itself.
Plumbing 2005: When to leak and not to leak by Karl Rove. There can be only one instructor for this important course political guru emeritus Karl Rove. The Bush administrations top advisor knows it is a felony to disclose the identity of intelligence officers to the public it puts lives in danger. He also knows that it is effective to intimidate political opponents at critical moments
(like just before going to war).
Rove will teach in his course that it is only ethical to leak sensitive information illegally when it helps your party stay in power. If others take the fall (i.e. Scooter Libby and reporter Judith Miller) - no problem. They will receive their reward later see the course on cronyism below.
Advanced Cronyism 901 instructor President Bush (with guest speaker V/P Cheney via live webcast from an undisclosed location). To his credit, the President values his friends so highly that he continually selects them for high positions in government despite their lack of qualifications.
When he nominated a loyal campaign worker, Mike Brown, to head FEMA, who could have guessed that Brown would actually need experience in coordinating disaster relief efforts during hurricane season? It was more important that Brown needed a job and his old buddy, the President, had compassion on him.
Harriet Miers seemed like the perfect choice by Bush for a vacant Supreme Court justice position a couple of weeks ago. Sure, she had no experience as a judge, let alone reviewing Constitutional law cases, but she is the presidents loyal, personal attorney. When his own Republican supporters accused him of cronyism, the president reminded them that Miers goes to church almost every Sunday.
We could all learn a valuable from the president. When society turns on us, all we have left are our friends. It is better to take care of old buddies than to please millions of fickle voters we dont even know.