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Crime and punishment 

Finally, Democrats are speaking out against the lies of the Bush Administration. Yes, it's partly because an election's under way. Yes, it's partly because the invasion of Iraq has become a debacle, making it safe to criticize. But it's also because the administration continues to use policy and bureaucracy on an unprecedented scale to further its political aims.

The list is chilling: investigating former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill after he criticized the President; revealing that Joseph Wilson's wife was a deep-cover CIA agent after he exposed the yellowcake lie of the State of the Union address; threatening to fire a Department of Health and Human Services actuary worker if he revealed the true costs of last year's Medicare bill; and now, bashing the reputation of former White House anti-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke for exposing the administration's disinterest in al Qaeda before 9-11.

First, here's an excerpt of what Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said Tuesday in Congress. He even cited the silencing of U.S. Park Police Chief (and former Durham Police Chief) Theresa Chambers ( democrats.senate. gov/~dpc/releases/2004323740):

"The purpose of government isn't to make the President look good. It isn't to produce propaganda or misleading information. It is, instead, to do its best for the American people and to be accountable to the American people. The people around the President don't seem to believe that. They have crossed a line--perhaps several lines--that no government ought to cross.

"We shouldn't fire or demean people for telling the truth. We shouldn't reveal the names of law enforcement officials for political gain. And we shouldn't try to destroy people who are out to make country safer.

"I think the people around the President have crossed into dangerous territory. We are seeing abuses of power that cannot be tolerated."

Last week, our own U.S. Rep. David Price blasted the Administration for railroading through the House a resolution praising American troops and the Iraqi people on the first anniversary of the invasion, without allowing debate about how to characterize the war's success:

"This resolution isn't necessarily objectionable because of what it says but because of what it omits. There is no reference, for example, to the mid-course correction that is called for in terms of financial accountability, contracting practices, securing international cooperation, and repairing our relationship with longstanding allies whose support is integral to our ultimate success.

"The minority has been denied the opportunity to improve this bill: to give our troops the body armor they need; to achieve pay equity for our National Guard and Reserve personnel; to assemble a true international coalition in this effort; to provide much-needed health care and benefits for our wounded servicemen and women; to offer condolences to the families of those killed in Iraq.

"This resolution rightly affirms our support for the Iraqi people as they adopt an interim constitution that upholds the values of open debate and democracy. How ironic that this very bill is structured to shut down discussion and debate!...

"We should be proud of the progress we have made in Iraq; at the same time, we should address the deficiencies in our pre-war intelligence and our post-war occupation plan.

"No one disputes that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein gone. But we are doing our troops and the American people a grave disservice by perpetuating the illusion that they are safe or that our mission in Iraq is accomplished. Many difficult tasks still lie ahead, and glossing over the serious questions that remain un-addressed by this administration jeopardizes our mission to secure and stabilize Iraq."

This administration doesn't acknowledge mistakes. It punishes the people who point them out.

More by Richard Hart

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