July 06, 2005

White Collars

This post started in the comments of this dKos diary about Lil' Kim's conviction for lying to a grand jury. From the diary, where the author suggests that what the likely perjurer in the Plame investigation did is definitely worse than what she did:

... Damaging national security seems like a pretty bad underlying offense to me as well. Not exactly white collar crime.

Damaging national security through the structural equivalent of locker-room gossip is archetypal white collar crime. It's something that only rich white people are usually in a position to do, it doesn't always seem obviously bad to the public and it isn't made out that way in the media.

Somewhere in the back of most people's heads is the belief that short of actually taking ou a hit on someone, there's nothing you can do in the typical corporate office that's inherently worse than the street punk they fear lying in wait in an alley. Which is, for most intents and purposes, exactly backwards.

White collar crime gets a pass even though its effects are usually far worse than the sort of crime people generally conjure up when you say the word crime, sans 'white.' It reaches all neighborhoods, it threatens all households and it can affect the most safety conscious people. There is no car theft ring in the country, or even all of them combined, that cause the sort of economic damage created by white collar financial crimes.

The white collar crimes involved in lying our country into war with Iraq can sound arcane and forgettable, but they've cost more lives than 20 Jeffrey Dahmers roaming at will.

White collar crimes can leave seniors penniless, create mass unemployment and they can certainly kill. They're very often worse and more heinous than other types crime, especially because of the combination of large scale potential destruction and the personal cowardice of perpetrators who want to steal or murder without taking the risk of facing their victims.

Those are the crimes that deserve the highest penalty of law available. Life in prison, public whipping, or whatever else seems appropriate.

And for all of Andrea Mitchell's fawning a**-covering for Miller and Cooper on Hardball, and almost everyone's blind eye towards that smirking perp Novak, the person who leaked Valerie Plame's name has likely already cost lives. Every CIA employee who was associated with the outed front company is at risk. Every contact they've made, every long-term associate overseas is at risk. If anything happens to any of them, we'll probably never hear about it, but they're under the gun just the same.

This doesn't begin to account for the lost opportunity for Plame and any fellow agents put at risk to counter WMD proliferation, which was her job before Novak's column ended her career. We can't know what she might have prevented, or whose lives she might have saved. Maybe even while sitting in a perfectly bland, corporate-looking office.

Posted by natasha at July 6, 2005 08:57 PM | Corruption & Graft | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

A key moment in The Godfather was when Vito Corleone realizes that a lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.

Here's a shock. People with a lot of money are held to a different standard than people without a lot of money.

Posted by: James E. Powell at July 7, 2005 03:08 AM

I believe that lesson is one of the many reasons why The Godfather is one of the greatest movies of all time.

Posted by: natasha at July 7, 2005 07:43 AM

Bill Clinton was convicted of perjury as well, how much time did he serve?

Posted by: justaying at July 7, 2005 11:58 AM

The nature of the charge and the circumstances are very relevant to the sanction applied. Clinton lied during a deposition, not in front of a grand jury, and about a personal matter in which no bodily injury or financial crime was involved.

Posted by: natasha at July 7, 2005 02:43 PM