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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Analysis - Voter's Voice

Ken Starr's testimony: What readers thought

Here's some of the reader e-mail we've received since Independent Counsel Ken Starr outlined his case against President Bill Clinton before the House Judiciary Committee on November 19.

If you have a comment on the day's news, drop us an e-mail and be sure to include your name and home town.

'Heavy-handed tactics'

One good thing that has come out of the Starr investigation is that now we know about the heavy-handed tactics prosecutors employ as a matter of routine in trying to get witnesses to testify the way they want them to -- how they intimidate them, threaten them with long jail terms if they don't cooperate, how they indict them for insignificant things just to get them to incriminate someone the prosecutor is trying to nail, how prosecutors are always violating people's privacy by investigating potential witnesses (and they use private investigators amply for this task).

Just think: Starr investigated Julie Steele's entire life once he realized she would not testify the way he wanted her to. They looked at her credit report; they looked at whether her adoption of a baby from Romania was legal.

Why are prosecutors allowed to violate people's privacy in this manner? These are the kind of dirty tricks conservatives are accusing Clinton of having committed, that Nixon committed (but they seem to be perfectly acceptable when practiced by prosecutors in the name of the "rule of law").

When Starr was confronted with his own heavy-handed tactics, his answer was practically always, everybody does it. Well, in my view, that makes it even less acceptable, that prosecutors around the country have been getting away with dirty tricks for years. It's high time someone investigates this. It deserves, at the very least, a critical expose. I hope your organization has the guts to assign a reporter to this task.

(By the way: Starr kept saying last Thursday, when confronted with how his agents approached Monica Lewinsky at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, that this matter has been "litigated" and it was found that "the witness in question," Monica Lewinsky, was treated fairly by his agents. Excuse me? I have been following this case very closely ever since it broke. When did we hear a federal judge say the conduct of Starr's agents towards Monica Lewinsky that day was "acceptable"?)

-- Frances Del Rio, Oakland, California, November 24

'Zero interest'

There is zero interest in Silicon Valley companies where I work to continue the hearings or impeach Clinton. If the Judiciary Committee dares to send a partisan vote to the House for a House vote, they will forever dishonor themselves as lacking wisdom and intelligence, and they will embarrass the U.S. world-wide. Our allies don't care at all about the Lewinsky scandal and think we're nuts to be pursuing impeachment on the basis of a perjury trap!


-- Linda C. Hallak, San Jose, California, November 24

'Calm, cool and collected'

I thought Ken Starr appeared to be much different than the news portrayed him. He didn't have horns and he was calm, cool and collected. I don't know what should be done about President Clinton, but I do detest the way the Democrats attacked the prosecutor and forgot the infractions themselves. How can any other person charged with perjury be convicted if the president proves it's OK to commit perjury on any subject, sex or not? I think the Republicans are obsessed and should either get to it and hold the hearings, get them over and come to a conclusion, or just forget it if they are not sure.

-- C.T. Dunsford, Cooper City, Florida, November 24

'Dignified, caring'

Starr came across as a dignified, caring and intelligent individual, quite unlike the pariah portrayed in the ultra-elite liberal media. Conversely, the Democratic Party had their "fangs" bared, showed their true colors by attacking the messenger, and did not one single time challenge any evidence that Starr presented.

Democrats used this occasion to denigrate Starr, painting him with a broad brush of "right wing extremist." It is sad that not a single Democrat in Congress will take the side of truth and justice.

Cannot these hearings be conducted on a bipartisan basis, and in a civil manner befitting the offices the Congress holds? Our country is plunging down the slippery slope of socialism. Wake up, Congress!

-- Jan Ford, Hobbs, New Mexico, November 24

'A bunch of spoiled street punks'

I felt that the independent counsel conducted himself in a very respectable manner. I left the Democrat party because it no longer is the party it used to be. I am embarrassed to admit that I was once a Democrat. I don't remember any time during the 12 hours of testimony that the Democrats questioned whether the president was guilty or not. They were trying to make the impeachment process about Mr. Starr instead of the president.

If the president is innocent of any major crimes then give him his day in court to prove his innocence. I believe that the impeachment should go forward so that the president can go before the Senate and make his arguments there. The Democrats complained about the president's lawyers not getting enough time when they should have been happy that they were given any time. There was not a requirement that the lawyers be given any time.

It appears to me that the Republicans went out of their way to try to be considerate and the Democrats acted like a bunch of spoiled street punks who were not getting their way. Where is the civility and moderation that they talk so much about? We tell the third-world countries that they need to change the way that they govern themselves. Maybe the Democrats need to take some lessons from some of them because at least most of them are honest at least to themselves. They have now lied to themselves so much that they are starting to believe it really is the truth.

Twenty-one years in the U.S. Army taught me what moral courage was but I guess that is an idea that most of them would not understand. Proud to be an American but not proud of many of the leaders.

-- Connie Arthur Kerr, Rolla, Missouri, November 23

'A disgrace'

My wife and I taped the impeachment hearings so we could watch them at our leisure and be able to re-run any segments where we felt we might have missed something. The impression we got of what transpired and the impression your news agency is presenting to the public are 180 degrees opposite.

You, and most of the Democrats present at this hearing, do not seem to be able to understand that this president is a disgrace to the Democratic Party as well as to the country.

It is also dangerous to have a man who lets his genitals do his thinking for him, be at the nuclear buttons. He has shown how reckless he can be when it comes to his trysts. The next time he wants to cover one of his sexual encounters he may decide to launch a nuclear missile instead of a cruise missile. The behavior of the Democrats at this hearing is, in every way, the "mean-spirited, partisan behavior" the Republicans have been accused of...

... The philosophy that "everybody does it" may be true for Hollywood and some of the rest of society but there are a lot of us old squares who are not, and have not, been having extra-marital affairs. An affair, conducted during working hours, in a public building, is certainly not a private matter.

-- Gary Poole, Wallowa, Oregon, November 22


AllPolitics readers aren't shy about speaking out. See what they've said on a wide variety of topics.


Wednesday, November 25, 1998

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