Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Alito and the Wiretapping Memo

Conservative spin is that even the Carter administration (such a bastion of liberalism? and don't "conservatives" realize that -- even though they by default support everything St. Ronnie did -- we liberals don't automatically support everything every Dem. president has ever done) supported not allowing for any personal liability of attorney generals, etc., for activities ruled to be extra-legal.

On the one hand, this sounds reasonable. It would be wrong for an attorney general to have to pay out of pocket because a judge ruled against a motion s/he filed in good faith. On the other hand, this stance is wrong. Professionals are held personally liable all of the time for actions they perform in the course of their profession. That is one reason why they get paid the big bucks. And that is why there is a such thing as malpractice insurance. Indeed, litigators can and are hit with contempt fines and other, potentially out of pocket, expenses relating to their work. They might get reembursed ... or, depending on the nature of the judge's ruling and how their boss feels about them, they might not. So for Alito to have argued that an attorney general should be immune from lawsuit related to a wiretap that the attorney general ought to have known was illegal and was likely done maliciously, is absurd. Malpractice is malpractice -- professionals are often held personally liable for what they do on the job. It's called personal responsibility, which last I heard, conservatives supposedly supported (yet another reason why BushCO is not conservative!). Of course, there is no guarantee a suit will hold up in court or be judged in the plaintiff's favor, but the idea that Mitchell had immunity for what he did simply because he did it on the job is absurd.

Unfortunately for our side, most people are not professionals and have no idea of the ethical, legal and financial obligations professionals have. And while you cannot fool all the people all of the time, in a democracy, you only have to fool the majority of the people and that only in election years. I fear BushCO may yet again be able to fool enough people on this one that this memo of Alito's will have no traction.

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