Corruption and accountability

The assigned readings this week left us with many options, but the Iran Contra scandal seemed the obvious choice to me personally. For those of you who do not know already the Iran contra affair, was the culmination of a plot, in the 1980’s, to support CIA backed rebels in Nicaragua by using funds from the sale of arms to Iran. This attempt to do an end run around congress which at that time had ended the funding for the Contras, was blatantly illegal, and when it came to light came very close to ending the political career of not only president Reagan, but many of his staff as well. What seems like a simple scandal on the surface turns into a convoluted morass of middlemen and backroom deals, when you start to browse through the documents.

So whats the big deal ? No one remembers the event now, in fact if you ask most UT students, you will not find many that are familiar with the incident at all. After all american has a track record of allowing things like this to happen with few if any repercussions for the participants. While the author of the article has his focus firmly set on the Reagan and Bush administrations, we can simply walk backwards through similar incidents. Bill Clinton has a plethora of them, sex scandals aside the Clinton white house was caught funneling money from the Chinese government into his campaign coffers, possibly in exchange for technology considerations. George H Bush was involved in the Iran Contra scandal. In fact if you go back you will be hard pressed to find a president who did not have a major issue and walked away from it unscathed. Nixon being the obvious exception. Most Americans seemed resigned to the fact that our elected officials will get away with pretty much anything.

Each time an event like this occurs, the bar is lowered a little further, and our laws seem to matter a little less. Political corruption is nothing new, nor is a presidential overreach. Whether it is a group of cold warriors sitting in a back room, working out questionable ways to slow communism, White house staff members routing questionable funds into campaign war chests, or men in power illigaly using that power to keep tabs on thier “enemies”, elected officals should be held accountable to the system they serve, and if they are not, then we must rely on history to tell us about thier mistakes.