By Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A.
#497 Column Written 2/18/2001
All Rights Reserved

In the political, media-driven scandal that marks the
latest allegation of calumny against the now-departed
ex-president, Bill Clinton, once again the forest is
being missed, by acute examination of the trees.

While the major media plays the story as if it is some
kind of "breaking news," and therefore grabs our
attention (at least until after the next commercial
break), the Marc Rich controversy is, in fact, hardly
controversial.  For, as a first-year law student will
easily attest, the U.S. Constitution grants wide,
absolute, and unreviewable pardon power to the
President.  The Constitution's Article 2, Section 2,
which sets forth the powers and duties of the
President, grants him or her the unlimited power to
pardon or reprieve anyone charged with an offense
against the United States, with one single exception:
in case of Impeachment.

Thus the media-made brouhaha, the TV glare, the
hyperbolic inch-high headlines, are each and all, what
Shakespeare once called "Much Ado about Nothing."

Neither Congress, nor the U.S. Courts, nor the Justice
Department, can do anything about it.  So the noise
and volume mean, really, nothing at all.  Nor is it
somehow remarkable that Clinton gave his presidential
power of pardon to a really, really rich guy (named
Rich).  Most of those people, who are able to retain
the legal talent and political connections necessary
to get it done are-surprise-rich guys.

Does it really seem weird?

A review of the Reagan, Bush, Carter, Ford and Nixon-
era pardons will undoubtedly reveal the same basic
profile.  Rich guys.

In truth, rich white guys.

So, this last minute Clinton pardon is hardly
historically objectionable.  That's how the game is

What's really disturbing, is not who did get pardoned,
but who didn't.

The 8 years of the entire Clinton Administration will
be long remembered for the explosion of the nation's
prisons and jails.  With upwards to 2 million men and
women entombed within the confines of the prison-
industrial-complex, it is the forest that is
compelling, not a few, isolated trees (the relatively
few people pardoned).

By concentrating on the one or two "bad" (meaning
those many politicians wouldn't have agreed on)
pardons, the outlines of a truly repressive system are
left in place, unquestioned, and therefore accepted as
somehow normal.

The Clinton rate of pardons, in number, or kind, is
not remarkable.

And when placed in context to the rates of mass
incarceration, that's what makes it truly remarkable.
What a contrast.

And this, the media-business class, never notes, for
it is a norm, with which they are in agreement.

Why no pardon of the ailing, veteran warrior of the
Lakota nation, Leonard Peltier?  His unjust
apprehension, trial, and incarceration has broken more
international, (and national) laws than can be

But, ignored he was, for Clinton, in essence, a
conservative, would never have used his political
capital for a poor Indian.  Pardons for the Rich are

The Clinton Administration was the height of political
irony in that way, for despite the massive support
shown them by those at the economic and social lower
rungs of society, it has always sought the interests
of the wealthy and well-to-do, first and foremost.

Therefore, millions of people voted against their own
interests, caught in the spider's web, of the lesser
evil.  The lesser evil is still evil, and thus, we
always end up voting for our own repression.

It's as illogical, and as insane, as putting our own
hands in handcuffs, or locking ourselves up-when we,
the people, hold the key!

We must break the bonds that tie us to two-party
politics, a vast pendulum swing that sends us from one
party to the next, and never at home; never in a body
that protects our interests.  It's time to build the
change that we want to see. (c)MAJ 2001

This column may be reprinted and/or distributed by
electronic means, but only for non-commercial use, and
only with the inclusion of the following copyright

Text (c) copyright 2001 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights
reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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