Op-Ed: On Fast & Furious, A Mike McQueary Moment

“You don’t want to be the outsider who betrays the institution; whistleblowers are always the weirdos.”

“And it’s really easy for us to overlook how our inaction to step up and do even the simplest thing leads to profoundly destructive consequences in our society.”

These are the words of Harvard Law School Professor and child sex abuse survivor Lawrence Lessig, victimized as a teenager in the 1970s.

Maureen Dowd cites this quote in her op-ed about the Sandusky trial, “Moral Dystopia.”

She notes that Lessig went on to sue the school on behalf of another victim in 2004, and won.

I have often heard it said that in the Watergate scandal, the worst thing wasn’t the burglary, but rather the cover-up. 

Because the cover-up, as David Goodloe writes,

“was mostly about continuing to conceal all the other, more serious things that had been going on in the Nixon White House.”

In the case of pedophile Jerry Sandusky, Mike McQueary walked in while the rapist was actually committing the crime. He testified:

What would a normal person have done? I can imagine a range of responses – yell “Stop!” (since he knew the attacker). Run and call the police. Freeze, in the moment maybe, then get the police right after.

Instead McQueary let the attack continue. In his own words, as Dowd reports, he was “shocked, flustered, frantic.” This although lthough he literally “met their eyes.”

So he waited overnight, then told Penn State football god Joe Paterno. A sports idol the players worshiped, who unfortunately was not as good at morality as he was at winning football games.

Paterno testified later that he waited too, to tell Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and campus police overseer, Gary Schultz of the accusations:

But then again why should we expect more of Penn State officials than Sandusky’s own wife, Dottie?

In her own words, Dottie’s hearing is

But then again, as one victim recalls, she may not have heard anything. Dottie

Maybe that’s why the sounds of her own foster son being assaulted didn’t register.

Now, after 15 years(probably more like 30 or 40, since Sandusky may have started Second Mile in 1977tofind and recruit victims), the monster has finally been convicted

But the people who covered up for Sandusky – the wife, university officials, athletes - did they not in a way conspire to enable a predator? If they knew, and did nothing, isn’t that a crime?

Sandusky essentially admitted what he did to Bob Costas on NBC:

“Every” young person?

Where is the accountability for the co-conspirators?

Consider a separate incident in Texas. A father catches an attacker in the act of molesting his 5-year-old daughter. The father immediately intervened to stop him physically, then called 911 to make sure the attacker received medical attention. (A grand jury decided not to indict the father for homicide.)

Commented a neighbor:

Upon learning that a French diplomat was accused of repeatedly raping his 3½  year old daughter. France refused to give him diplomatic immunity.

But not before the toddler had been raped for more than two years because his wife did not report it:

The mother was emotionally torn:

Every situation involving a scandal is emotionally charged, on both sides.

In the case of Penn State, students riotedwhen they learned that Joe Paterno had been fired for his failure to act. They loved “JoePa.” How could this happen?

We are in the throes of a parallel situation, in the case of “Fast & Furious.”

Something terrible has happened. A thing that has brought the integrity of our government into question. It is highly charged; it’s an election year; and there are charges of “witch hunt,” “gun nut delusions,” racism, conspiracy(on both sides), etc.

But Democrats and Republicans alike agree on one thing: the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society.

All parties agree: We want to know who knew what, and when, and how far back does it go?Especially now that executive privilege has been asserted.

The people who brought this issue into the forefront are not partisans on a witch hunt. They are government employees.

They were made to subvert their own duties. Their oath to the public trust. They were told, “If you want to make an omelet, you’ve got to scramble some eggs.”

Per the Congressional report (these citations have been quoted widely in the blogosphere):

Page 27: [Special Agent John Dodson, the original whistle blower]

“Well, every time we voiced concerns…But every day being out here watching a guy go into the same gun store buying another 15 or 20 AK-47s or variants or . . . five or ten Draco pistols or FN Five-seveNs . . . guys that don’t have a job, and he is walking in here spending $27,000 for three Barrett .50 calibers …and you are sitting there every day and you can’t do anything…”

Page 38: [Dodson, speaking about ATF supervisors in Phoenix and their disregard for lives lost due to Fast & Furious]

“[T]here was a prevailing attitude amongst the group and outside of the group in the ATF chain of command… I was having a conversation with Special Agent [L] about the case in which the conversation ended with me asking her are you prepared to go to a border agent’s funeral over this… because that’s going to happen. And the sentiment that was given back to me by both her, the group supervisor, was that…if you are going to make an omelette [sic], you need to scramble some eggs.”

Whoever is behind this thing, the public needs to know.

The quest for transparency is not a conspiracy of any political persuasion. It is fundamental to our society. It makes us who we are.

Wherever this trail leads, it is time to release the documents.

(Note: as always, all views are my own.)