Water Man Spouts

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Modus Operandi

"Modus operandi" is a term used by investigators to describe the characteristic method used by a person in certain acts. It is Latin for "mode to work." In the media, we often hear it referred to as "m.o."

By finding patterns in the modus operandi of an individual criminal, or an organized association of criminals, investigators are able to identify suspects in unsolved crimes. It is the older sibling of "criminal profiling," and is a forensic science that the general public can easily understand and appreciate when they are exposed to coverage of criminal investigations in the media.

The current Bush administration scandal, concerning the "politically motivated" firing of federal attorneys, is an interesting example. Citizens who watch Fox News are likely to believe that the firing of these attorneys is simply the m.o. of all administrations. Each and every day, Fox journalists chant the mantra, "Clinton did it, Clinton did it, Clinton did it." Fox News reports that firing federal attorneys is simply the characteristic method used by every administration.

Much of the media has been more fair and balanced than Fox, however, and have noted that there is reason to suspect the Bush administration may have been doing something beyond "playing politics." There are reasons to believe the administration was attempting to manipulate the justice system. And progressive democrats recognize that this type of illegal activity is the Bush administration’s m.o.

Many of us have read Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s book, "Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy. (Harper Collins; 2004) In Chapter 5 (Science Fiction), we find the following: "When the administration can’t actually suppress scientific information, it simply issues a new set of facts. The White House has taken special pains, for example, to shield Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company, Halliburton, from sound science. ….

"Interior Secretary Gale Norton seems particularly inclined to manipulate science. …. During the late winter and spring of 2002, Norton and White House political adviser Karl Rove pressured National Marine Fisheries scientists to alter their findings ….. Norton has also ordered the rewriting of an exhaustive 12-year study by federal biologists detailing injuries that Arctic drilling would impose …. She reissued the biologists’ report as a two-page paper showing no negative impact to wildlife. She ordered suppression of two studies by the Fish and Wildlife Service …. She suppressed findings that mountaintop mining would cause ‘tremendous destruction of aquatic and terrestrial habitat.’ She forced Park Service scientists to alter a $2.5 million environmental impact statement that found that snowmobiles were damaging Yellowstone’s air quality, its wildlife, and the health of its visitors and employees. A federal judge has reprimanded her office for interfering with scientists in the case.

"Manipulating data leads to one pesky problem: scientists who stick to their guns. And when scientists resist the White House agenda, the Bush camp threatens, intimidates, or purges them. …. During the first few years of Bush’s presidency, the assault on science was still somewhat ad hoc. But by midterm, his advisers were moving to institutionalize the corruption."

The Bush administration’s modus operandi is institutionalized corruption. And there is no part of the administration that has not been corrupted. The Congress needs to move forward on the investigations – including but not limited to the federal attorney scandal, the Plame scandal, and the purposeful lying to bring our nation to war in Iraq – and they must enforce the law. There have to be consequences for the institutionalized criminal behavior of the Bush-Cheney administration.


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