The other day Kenneth Starr said that the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller might be overstepping its bounds, and should not turn into a “fishing expedition”. He said the original “gravamen” of the investigation was Russian collusion in the election, and that it would be inappropriate to go beyond this question into other areas.
On hearing this, everyone who remembers Ken Starr’s years-long quest to find something, anything, that would reflect badly on Bill Clinton threw up a little bit in their mouths. CNN filed this story under the headline “Ken Starr killed irony today”.
For those too young to remember, Ken Starr was the “Independent Counsel” charged with investigating the potential wrongdoings of Bill and Hillary Clinton in a failed 1970’s real estate development called “Whitewater”. The Clintons lost money on this investment, there was never any wrongdoing found , and they were never charged with anything. There was no “there” there.
Starr was appointed to head a three-judge panel to investigate “the scandal” in 1994, just a year and a half into the Clinton administration. Even though there was never anything to it, Republicans were bound and determined to keep the travesty going, and Starr moved from one subject to the next until, with the investigation finally winding down in 1998, he got wind of some inappropriate sexual conduct between Clinton and an intern named Monica Lewinsky.
The Lewinsky scandal became a 24/7 cable news obsession in 1998, basically blocking out the sun and other real news for months on end. It led ultimately to Clinton’s impeachment trial for lying under oath about the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky. He was absolved and continued in office.
Today is the anniversary of the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The bombings were carried out by operatives of Osama bin Laden, and presaged the 9/11 attacks. 224 people were killed in the bombings, including 12 Americans, and 4500 were wounded.
On August 20, 1998, Clinton ordered a retaliatory attack on bin Laden’s sanctuary in Afghanistan and 70 missiles hit three al Qaeda sites there, killing 24 people, but not bin Laden. 13 missiles hit a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, killing a night watchmen.
But because of the relentless and idiotic persecution of Bill Clinton by Ken Starr, who had clearly exceeded the “gravamen” of his original investigation, none of these events were regarded as particularly alarming or even newsworthy, and, tragically, none led to any increased effort to neutralize al Qaeda.
Instead, the events were reported, mainly but not exclusively by the young FoxNews network, as “wagging the dog”, meaning Clinton trying to create a distraction to get Monica Lewinsky off the TV for a day or two. A typical example of the coverage from the Washington Post:
Several Republicans yesterday raised the issue expressly. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said: “After months of lies and deceit and manipulations and deceptions — stonewalling — it raised into doubt everything he does and everything he says,” Coats said.
Administration officials said yesterday they had anticipated criticism that Clinton was following a “Wag the Dog” strategy — so-named after the recent movie in which a president tries to draw attention away from a sexual scandal by staging a phony war — but had no choice but to ignore it.
Perhaps there is a legitimate discussion about Mueller’s scope to be had now, but Ken Starr should not be part of it. His past transgressions and current hypocrisy exclude him. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that without this biased, self-important, corrupt and disingenuous fool, we may well have succeeded in limiting al Qaeda’s ability to carry out the 9/11 attacks.
To Ken Starr, I would say, “Thanks for nothing and shut the fuck up.”