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Faster, Please!

You’re in the government, not in one of the plum jobs, but it’s a pretty important position.  In this case it doesn’t matter if you’re a career official or a political appointee.  What matters is that you’ve just been fingered by somebody, and a journalist or a reporter threw your name into the scandal septic tank.  You haven’t done anything wrong, in fact you pride yourself on doing The Right Thing.  So you’re angry and hurt, but not really worried.  After all, it’s easy to see you haven’t done anything wrong, and there’s not the slightest hint of evidence against you.  So you’re actually relieved when your department’s inspector general asks if she can drop by for a chat.

Wrong!  Don’t be relieved.  Be frightened.  Tell the IG, even if you think she’s a friend, that she’ll be hearing from your lawyer shortly.  DO NOT TALK TO HER OR ANY OTHER INVESTIGATOR BY YOURSELF.  Trust me,  I’ve been there, and I survived.  I had my very own special prosecutor for years in what became known as Iran-Contra, and even though I didn’t do anything wrong (as the prosecutor had to admit, although he weasily said “we can’t find anything wrong”), lots of my colleagues, who likewise didn’t do anything wrong, were ruined.  Some of them incredibly ended up pleading guilty to crimes or misdemeanors they didn’t actually commit, to escape the crushing expenses of standing trial.

So listen carefully.  Don’t listen to anybody who hasn’t been through one of these things.  They have their own rules, and some of them are totally counter-intuitive.

Get a lawyer.  Yes, I know you haven’t done anything wrong, but you need that lawyer to make sure that you don’t make a fatal mistake now.  It is totally wrong to think “I’ve got no reason to worry about answering questions.”  You should be terrified at the very thought of answering questions, because it turns out that “making a false statement” can be a criminal act.  And it’s easy to make a false statement.  Your memory is imperfect, even if you’re young (I was in my forties and had a fabulous memory, and yet when I wrote out a timeline of everything that I had done for my lawyers, there were errors, including one whopper, which they caught).  There are ways to protect yourself against failures of memory, and a decent attorney knows them.  You need help.

If you doubt this, ask Scooter Libby.  He was a lawyer, quite a good one.  He had a friendly chat with a couple of guys from the FBI, and was prosecuted, convicted, disbarred, and shamed.  Note that the “guilty” party, the one who committed the presumed crime the FBI was supposed to be investigating, wasn’t even indicted.  His name is Richard Armitage, he was Colin Powell’s deputy, and he’s a Washingtonian in very good standing today.

The investigators, especially if they are working for prosecutors or for Congress, are looking for scalps.  They may also be interested in the truth, but that’s secondary.  Their rewards depend on scalps, and you’ve got one.  They are intent on getting it, and they’ll use all manner of cunning to carve it off your skull.

You say you can’t afford a lawyer?  Not to worry;  in big Washington scandal investigations (of which three or four may soon be empowered) every major law firm wants to play.  Pro bono (free) legal representation can usually be found.  At a minimum you’ll get a substantial discount.  Once you’ve got one, he’ll tell you not to discuss the case with anyone.  Not with media people, not with colleagues, not with friends. (By the way, you’re about to discover who your friends aren’t.  You don’t really know–yet–the list of names.  But you will, soon enough.  This is one of the side benefits of going through scandalmania, and it will serve you in good stead for years to come.  They won’t be able to trick you any more).  Just listen to the big guys, including the president and various press spokesthings.  They say “sorry there’s a criminal investigation on, I can’t discuss it.”  Memorize those words.

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All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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Whenever you are asked to talk to any investigator, be they government or police the first thing to remember is to not talk to them without a lawyer present. I worked in LE for twenty years and can tell you that 95% of the people in prison talked their way in there. Above all, do not have a "friendly chat" with any investigator
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your account reminds me very much of how the Soviet Union operated in the 1950s and beyond regarding political "enemies". Just read Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, and you will encounter the same initial responses among the victims: "I'm innocent. If I just cooperate everything will be fine." And the same MO among the political operatives: it's not a matter of justice, it's a matter of political expediency; we must make examples, we must find scapegoats to appease Dear Leader. This is how tyrannies operate.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I understand the author completely. I was railroaded by one of these witch hunts and had my career destroyed, ultimately losing EVERYTHING! And, they KNEW I was not only innocent, but righteous. I was the good guy. But, when scalps are being sought, truth is irrelevant....
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're not alone jackcarlson. After getting consistently excellent job evaluations for 8 years at one particular workplace, I was blacklisted for politely expressing some opinions that were not politically correct. I was then laid off during the next round of layoffs.

I make a lot less money than I used to, but my conscience is relatively clear, and it was worth it to voice my opinion.

Hang in there.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you're a Republican in a scandal, worry. Maybe resign right now to please your attackers. Don't grow a spine. Roll over to make them happy. If you're a Democrat, don't worry...be happy. Nothing will happen to you. You will get plenty of cover from the Lamestream Media and other Democrats who will support you and do whatever it takes to keep you in power.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jim Woolsey -- wow. I absolutely love that guy. Really, I'm not joking. I think he's fantastic. I practically worship the ground he walks on (ok, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration). But ever since I read all about him fighting the good fight in his church with respect to their proposed "Israel Boycott," I've been seriously impressed with him. He really went to bat for the forces of good in that -- and I think it even happened twice. I forget his particular denomination.

I've also read many articles by him. In particular I was again most impressed by his taking up the cause of some supposed guilty aliens who were being held ad infinitum in a sort of legal limbo by the Federal government. Even for those aliens who are *actually* guilty of something, being held (locked in a prison) forever is of course not right. But in the case of the men Woolsey was defending, the government had shamefully concocted a case which bore no resemblance to the truth. It was a real travesty -- but his defendants would never have seen the light of day without his tireless efforts.

That's the thing about a guy like Woolsey, if he's defending someone, you *know* there's a damn good reason for it (i.e. they're not only innocent, but there's likely a miscarriage of justice going on).

So it's because Woolsey defended you, Ledeen, that I *know* you were in fact innocent.

What a great friend to have. You were lucky.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
right, falafel. he defended some iraqi shi'ites who had worked with us during the Saddam period, and then were "Rewarded" by being denied entry to the US...he won that one, too. wonderful man.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I spent a lot of years as the very worst thing that could happen to an employee of my state's government. Only an idiot would have talked to me without a union rep or a lawyer present, yet lots of them did. They came basically in two general types, the one who genuinely thought himself innocent with nothing to fear and the one who thought he was smarter than me. I took no pleasure in messing with the one who thought himself genuinely innocent and often would strongly suggest that he at least get the shop steward, but the one who tried to game me was meat; I was going to get him for something.

There's a fairly significant process burden with any public employee and the burden goes up considerably if they're unionized and exponentially if they're unionized cops. If you're planning to do anything to them at minimum you have to tell them the charges, give them an explanation of the evidence against them, and afford them an opportunity to provide any obviating or mitigating facts, which facts you must consider before making a determination. Bottom line, in an administrative investigation, the employee is never surprised. If it is a true law enforcement investigation, the process burden is lessened but the employee has the right to refuse to cooperate, a right they don't have in a strictly administrative investigation. We would almost always give notice in writing and a part of the notice would be a written order not to discus the matter with anyone other than a union rep or their attorney. Then we'd start monitoring their email and most would just start blabbering to one and all about what the evil employer was doing to them. That's called insubordination because they were given a direct order and told they'd be fired if they didn't follow it. They become amazingly cooperative about the original charges when confronted with an absolutely certain firing for insubordination.

Despite the mythology of how difficult it is to fire or prosecute public employees, it is actually remarkably easy if you know how and set your mind to it. Most of the myth is because of feckless management who really don't want the controversy or are worried about being on a union hit list any time the Democrats come to power. I was on the hit list in every transition from 1988 until I retired in 2006; they never really got me but I did get so sick of working for corrupt Democrats that I quit the executive branch in '96 to work for the Republican Legislature. Then, in '99 the Democrats were so sick of their union friends they hired me back to clean up the mess they'd made, but I made sure we had a firm understanding about what I could and could not be asked to do; corruption just comes too naturally to Democrats, so you always want a clear understanding with them.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow.

Thank you for your candor.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Michael, it sounds like you read, "A Matter of Principle" by Conrad Black.

You have distilled, or condensed, what he wrote into a column.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whoever writes the PJMedia headlines needs to be taken to the woodshed. A few days ago we saw "T*rd" prominently displayed, and now there is "WTF" with this article.

You might be trying to attract ignorant twenty-somethings by doing this, PJMedia, but you're turning off thoughtful readers.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
sorry about that. don't blame anyone except me. i thought it would work.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks Mr. Ledeen. I appreciate your articles, and the fact that you took my concern seriously.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
You aren't using it correctly. WTF is an interjection, like "Wow!" or "Gadzooks!" so it shouldn't really be used as a fragment of a sentence. You could've written "WTF? Now what?" if you really wanted to use it. But WTF conveys astonishment more than anger, and it seems to me you wanted to convey more anger.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
no, astonishment is just right. but i shouldn't have used it at all...
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
of course if you're a Democrat little or none of this is necessary. Things get minimized or ignored, terms like "witch hunt" fly in the wind, and the investigation usually dies.
The current set of scandals confronting the WH is an exception. Shortly put, the bloody fools wouldn't be going through this right now if they had left the AP alone, a crime of lese majeste. Benghazi for example was going no where, why should it not have, it was only Americans left to die at the hands of islamists? But touch the media, AP? A far different story & and an indicator of blatant stupidity from the WH.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the great advice! I had once given serious consideration to embarking on a political career. But then I realized I could get the same experience by slashing myself with broken glass and then jumping into a tank full of piranhas. The main advantage was not having to kiss the piranhas' butts before they ate me. I don't think piranhas even have butts.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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