The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Indicting Mr. Kerik

Indicting Mr. Kerik

Bernard Kerik’s indictment
on fraud and corruption charges is disturbing on its own, but it also
raises broader issues. It is sobering to think how close Mr. Kerik came
to becoming secretary of the Homeland Security Department, and it is
also troubling that Rudolph Giuliani, a leading candidate for
president, has been so close to him for so long, as a friend, boss and
business partner.

Because of Mr. Giuliani’s role in Mr. Kerik’s life, the nation has a
compelling interest in learning more about the former police chief’s

Mr. Kerik has been accused of accepting renovations to his Bronx
apartment from a company that was suspected of having ties to organized
crime and was seeking a license from the city. He allegedly used his
office to help the company obtain the license. Mr. Kerik also has been
accused of hiding the renovation income on his tax returns, along with
more than $200,000 in rent payments on an Upper East Side apartment
that a developer allegedly paid on his behalf.

It is always a sad day, as United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia
noted, when a law enforcement official is accused of breaking the law.
That is especially true when the official was New York’s top jailer,
the head of the nation’s largest police department, and nearly became
the chief of a 180,000-member federal department charged with keeping
America safe.

Mr. Kerik must be presumed innocent. But he has already pleaded
guilty to state charges arising out of the home renovations. After he
did, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stripped his name from a Manhattan jail
that had been named for him. Even those charges were not Mr. Kerik’s
first brush with the law. He was fined by the city for sending police
officers to do research on a book he was writing. His associates have
also had more than their share of troubles. When he was correction
commissioner, one of Mr. Kerik’s top deputies was convicted of taking
$142,000 from a charity he managed and another was convicted of using
department staff to work on Republican political campaigns.

Yesterday’s indictment and Mr. Kerik’s whole troubled record raise
questions about Mr. Giuliani’s judgment. The men have an
extraordinarily close bond. Mr. Giuliani plucked Mr. Kerik from
obscurity to make him correction commissioner. He made him police
commissioner even though he may have been briefed about Mr. Kerik’s
ties to the company suspected of links to organized crime. Mr. Giuliani
also made him a partner in his security business and promoted him for
the Homeland Security Department post.

As recently as this week, Mr. Giuliani made the remarkable statement
that any mistakes Mr. Kerik made were outweighed by his success in
fighting crime — presumably not including the crimes Mr. Kerik himself
was committing. Mr. Giuliani has since spoken more critically of him,
but the public is entitled to know more.

Two important questions are precisely what are the mistakes the
former mayor thinks he made in trusting Mr. Kerik, and how can voters
be sure that he would not make them again as president, when the stakes
for a disastrous appointment would be so much higher.

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