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2008 JFM


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New England Patriot coach Bill Belichek.
News and Opinion

Specter Of The Tapes
NFL 7 - CIA 0.

-- Ben Burrows

Associated Press recently reported that Senator Arlen Specter was incensed over the destruction of National Football League tapes, purporting to prove that Patriots coach Bill Belichick stole hand signals from opposing teams, by filming coaching gestures at the sideline, and comparing these gestures to actions on the field in other game tapes. While these may be considered of import to issues of sportsmanship and friendly betting pools, the issue of destroying evidentiary tapes has not been a foreign issue to Senator Specter’s office.

The recent destruction of CIA tapes, which document the "enhanced interrogation" techniques used to interrogate captured terror suspects, have also been the object of Senator Specter’s attention and protest. Unfortunately, Specter’s protest does not rise to the level of Congressional contempt, the prosecution or impeachment of civilian and military personnel responsible for that destruction, nor does it extend to joining the impeachment legislation of Rep. Dennis Kucinich. or Rep. Robert Wexler. This showboat indignation has become rather a feature of Senator Specter’s most recent term in office. Before assuming the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Specter initially indicated that he would oppose activist conservative judges, and used the Roe decision as a cited criterion case: by the time his term in the chair began, he had already denied his opposition three times by morning.

Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) says Belichick has been taping opponents' signals since 2000.
After initial protest at the national Bush-Cheney deception on Weapons of Mass Destruction, and expressing his indignation on the revelation of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert agent CIA identity, Specter’s indignation died once again without more than token hearings. The excuses coming from the White House in these cases simply did not hold up to scrutiny. The rejection of WMD evidence by our allies France and Germany (on whose evidence, the "Curveball" WMD testimony originated) turned out to be well founded, despite the heated attestations of "slam dunk" evidence. The denial of WMD presence by United Nations inspectors (including Iraq War activist protester Scott Ritter) turned out to be thoroughly vindicated. The passive acceptance from the White House that Richard Armitage was first to reveal Plame’s identity, simply does not make sense as an excuse for Libby’s and other later revelations: if the count was for murder, and not for "revelation," there is no question that every violation of secrecy was equally criminal; the culpability is thoroughly equal, if one considers that Libby and others apparently were not aware of Armitage’s prior revelation.

One hopes that Specter’s indignation over the National Football League destruction will lead to successful prosecution for destruction of evidence. One hopes that such success will lead to the prosecution of other cases of more important national import, which so far have led Congress quietly only into the wilderness. When we read in Shoftim that we should pursue justice, intensified twice over, I do not think that Hashem was talking about a couple non-essential hearings and press releases.

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