Friday, May 18, 2007

Accentuate the positive

If I ever need me a lawyer, I'm going straight to Peter Lushing, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Mr. Lushing writes a letter to the New York Times [sub. req.] today, in which he shares his thoughts about the domestic surveillance program of such egregious illegality that top Justice Department and F.B.I. officials, including John Ashcroft, spoke of resigning over it:

. . . there's something about the story that critics of the administration seem to be overlooking.

The denouement is that President Bush approved methods of eavesdropping that are legal according to high Justice Department personnel . . . So did the president do good or bad?

I think this is a winner of an argument. I can just see the jury in an embezzlement prosecution falling all over itself to acquit a defendant after a closing argument like this:

Sure, my client was caught embezzling thousands of dollars. But there's something about the story that the prosecutor seems to be overlooking.

The denoument is that when a co-worker threatened to go to the police, my client stopped taking money illicitly and, instead, took out a loan that bank officials agree was legitimate. So did my client do good or bad?

Of course, this may just be the best argument available to the die-hard Bush supporter. But it's not too far removed from the case of the boy who kills his parents and then throws himself upon the mercy of the court as an orphan.

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