Zelikow Has Got to Go

By David Swanson

Philip Zelikow may be best known as the guy who oversaw the 9-11 Commission’s utter failure to investigate George W. Bush’s criminal negligence in the lead up to September 11, 2001. He also directed the Carter-Baker commission on elections that led to the Help America Vote Act, which in turn led to the most high-tech but least credible system of elections yet devised and the dubious and disastrous outcome of the 2004 presidential contest.

Zelikow served on Bush’s transition team when he was first selected president, and then served on the president’s foreign intelligence advisory board, and in 2002 drafted for Condoleezza Rice a major statement of Bush’s foreign policy. So, of course, he was the appropriately disinterested party who should have run any investigation of Bush and Cheney. If President Obama creates a commission to review the crimes of his predecessors, don’t be surprised if Zelikow’s name pops up again.

But Zelikow is newly in the news, because he’s now claimed that while working for the Bush administration, he objected to the use of torture. He went so far as to circulate a memo within the administration objecting to such criminal behavior. But the White House collected all the copies of the memo it could and destroyed them. And what did Zelikow do? Did he go public? Did he resign? Did he protest? No, he kept his head down and his mouth shut until this week. He knew felonies were being committed and he kept silent, which means that he could be charged with the crime of misprision of felony.

Now, I’m glad that Zelikow is speaking out now, and I want to encourage other late-blooming whistleblowers to do the same. If such people seem to receive too much gratitude, so be it. We need the truth told, and it’s better told late than never.

But Zelikow, in yet another conflict of interest, is teaching modern history at the University of Virginia, my alma mater. UVA has an honor code. If you know of wrong doing by others, you are required, on your honor, to report it. An honor violation results in expulsion from the university. These are the rules that students live by. Students are permitted to take tests at home and trusted not to cheat because they have honor and maintain a system of honor.

Zelikow can be thanked and lauded in the corporate media. That’s what the corporate media does. Those are its standards.

But should the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, employ as a professor of history a man who facilitated through his silence the destruction of our Bill of Rights, a man whose principles have been so compromised that they appear more grotesque than the inhumanity of those lacking principles altogether?

I wouldn’t send a child to learn from an institution that employs Zelikow as a history professor and plants big wet kisses on him in the form of profiles in alumni magazines. I don’t think Virginians’ tax dollars should pay this man to teach what he considers to be our history.

The phone number for the office of the president of UVA is 434-924-3337.

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