That Dang Petard

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I’d like to give our poor, beleaguered president the benefit of the doubt regarding his friendship with political wheeler-dealer Jack Abramoff, but I fear running afoul of his Justice Department.

Those folks aren’t about to cut anyone some slack. Heck, they’ll toss little old ladies in the poky for supporting causes the boss doesn’t like. Nor does their zeal to jail the geriatric stop at American waters: these fearless fanatics will go halfway around the world to beat up on Grandma. In December 2004, Deputy Associate Attorney General and Heartless Hack Brian Boyle actually argued before a U.S. District Judge that if “a little old lady in Switzerland” mailed a check to an orphanage in Afghanistan, the United States could arrest her should the orphanage forward some of that donation to al-Qaeda.

You know, when it comes to fair play, there’s nothing like George’s America! Most dictatorships would just haul Grandma down to Gitmo and be done with it. Not ours. We demand evidence first and sic the IRS on her to collect it. Or so I assume: how else would the Justice Department know which charities Grandma’s supporting? Alas, Infernal Revenue is more omnipotent than we thought, with the power to audit Afghan asylums and Swiss bank accounts. (Whoa! Watch the weasly, rich tax dodgers squirm!) But that’s a small price to pay for living under despots so enlightened they won’t imprison a terrorist without evidence, even one disguised as a kindly Swiss grandmother…

Or will they? Well, it’s about time we simplified the War on Terror anyway. Might as well dispense with evidence, because we sure as shootin’ got rid of motive. When the judge asked whether Grandma could be locked up even if she didn’t know how the orphanage spent her contribution, Heartless Hack answered, “Someone’s intention is clearly not a factor that would disable detention.”

Yikes. This doesn’t bode well for George, who’s been squealing he knew nothing and had no intentions.

Worse, Grandma gave money, while George took it. Wanna bet that alone strikes the anti-capitalists at Justice as mighty suspicious? Geez, look how they went after Martha Stewart, and she actually earned her riches: what will they do to a president so avaricious he accepted money simply for doing favors? And lots of it, too. Abramoff raised at least $100,000 for George’s 2004 re-election efforts besides donating $6000 directly to him. Hmmm. Wonder whether George funneled any of the loot to terrorists who bomb villages, kidnap folks, torture them, and hold them without trial. Wonder whether the IRS is investigating said funneling. Wonder whether Abramoff and George will be waving to Grandma on Gitmo’s chow line.

The plot thickens. George seems to have known the $6000, at least, was dirty money because he laundered it a few days after Abramoff pled guilty. Oh, the professional prevaricators at the White House didn’t call it that, of course: George’s campaign “donated” it to the American Heart Association. But I daresay that won’t fool the legal beagles at Justice. No doubt they’ve seen guilty suspects shuffle money around before.

George also keeps flapping his gums as though he’s never heard his Miranda Rights. We’re still reading those to suspects, right? Or maybe they’ve become another casualty of the War on Terror, along with evidence and motive, because neither the president nor his lawyers are remaining silent. One of them, Dan Bartlett, announced that George “doesn’t have a personal relationship with [Abramoff],” despite photos of the two yukking it up. Now, Dan, come on: would Grandma be presumed innocent if pictures of her with Bin Laden surfaced? Not on your life, not even if the picture was with one of his underlings. Heck, she could pose with her grandson and Justice would nab her so long as the boy wore a towel on his head.

Dan blundered on. “We acknowledge [Abramoff] attended some Hannukuah celebrations.” Reckon my invitation got lost in the mail, because I wasn’t there; were you? Funny how the White House, which supposedly belongs to “the people,” is off-limits to its owners. Good gracious, they’d shoot us for climbing the fence we’ve paid for: it’s not as though we’re welcome to visit. I bet Abramoff wasn’t, either. I bet he was screened and cleared and background-checked worse than a poodle at a dog show, and if he still got in, it wasn’t because the FBI didn’t know about his shenanigans and advise the president. Though maybe George could argue that the team investigating Abramoff was the one that didn’t see 9/11 coming.

Dan’s desperate, as most lawyers with obviously guilty clients and bad cases are. He huffed, “Any suggestions by critics or anyone else to suggest the president is doing something nefarious with Abramoff is absurd.” As if that’ll cut any ice with Justice! Look, the only evidence those whizzes need to get Grandma — a foreign citizen, no less — is a contribution to an orphanage. No grip-’n'-grin photos, no money dancing from presidential pockets to Heart Associations, no dirty dealers invited to her home, yet she’d still do time. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the president’s prospects are grim.

Which explains the howls as George is hoisted overhead. His petard’s too tight.

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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