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Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese Steps Down

July 16, 1988

In defending Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III, Paul Craig Roberts missed the point as to why Meese has been criticized, as well as why independent counsels are used ("Hounded From Office: Now Meese Falls to Left Wing's Criminalization of Differences," Op-Ed Page, July 6).

James C. McKay stated in his report that "there is no basis for criminal proceedings." That is all we know about the 830-page report that took 14 months to complete. Whether Meese is guilty of any misconduct unworthy of prosecution will not be known until the report is released.

While Meese has not been charged with criminal misconduct in the past, his actions could and often have been described as "ethical misconduct." He has received interest-free loans in return for handing out job appointments, and his ties with the Wedtech Corp. and E. Robert Wallach are questionable, to say the least. His ties to the Iraqi pipeline project are also suspicious, and the world may never know what documents were destroyed as a result of Meese's delay in investigating the Iran-Contra scandal.

Since Watergate, Americans have demanded that their leaders do their jobs in an honest, ethical fashion. There is nothing wrong with that. Gary Hart did not do anything for which he should be prosecuted, but his conduct was beneath what we expect from our leaders. Meese is the top man in our Justice Department; we have the right to expect integrity from him and demand an investigation when we feel he is not delivering.

The purpose of independent counsels is to provide an impartial, qualified panel to investigate allegations of wrongdoings. Nobody hounded Meese or anyone involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. Legitimate accusations were made, and independent counsels were called upon to do their job. A Supreme Court partially comprised of Reagan-chosen conservatives upheld the legality of the counsels.

Meese is a loyal friend and adviser to the President. His rulings and priorities have been criticized since the day he took office. He will be missed only by those who look to cite examples of Reagan's "sleaze factor."


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