Tuesday, October 17, 2006

After Lots of Fanfare, McCallum Deposition Turns Up Nothing

It received lots of fanfare, but the deposition of former Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum turns up no evidence that he did anything wrong in his handling of the DOJ tobacco litigation or in his response to a FOIA request from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

After a lot of fanfare, CREW won a court decision that forced the release of McCallum's videotaped deposition. While the videotape is not immediately available online, the text of the deposition is.

And let me tell you, you won't want to stop what you're doing to read that text. Despite all of the public brouhaha made by Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (TFK) about McCallum's supposed ethical violations in his handling of the tobacco case, there is absolutely nothing in the deposition that suggests any wrongdoing occurred.

If ANR and TFK are looking for evidence to support their public attacks on McCallum - evidence that they should have had prior to issuing their attacks - they are certainly not going to find it here.

If anything, the deposition casts McCallum as reluctant to intervene in the actions of the trial team except in the desperate circumstances when they seemed to be ignoring the dictates of the appellate court and when their expert witnesses appeared ready to base their testimony on remedies that were not allowable under the Appeals Court decision.

The Rest of the Story

It seems to me that with the Foley scandal, with pages being sexually harassed, there are a lot better uses of taxpayer money to conduct ethical investigations than having to go through the hours and hours of seemingly wasted time questioning McCallum about actions that appear to be entirely appropriate, just because a few anti-smoking organizations and politicians seem to want to make a political issue of this.

In light of the lack of anything of interest in the deposition, despite the great buildup preceding its release, and in the spirit of David Letterman, I therefore offer my top ten list of things to do instead of reading Robert McCallum's videotaped deposition. These are the most boring things I can think of, yet they offer far more excitement that plowing through this document in search of damning evidence, expected based on TFK's and ANR's claims, that simply is not present.

Top 10 List of Things to Do Instead of Reading Robert McCallum's Videotaped Deposition

10. Attend a curling match
9. Watch television re-runs of What's Happening
8. Watch any Temple football game this season
7. Listen to Wagner's Ring Cycle
6. Watch the first quarter of a professional basketball game
5. Listen to three Philip Glass albums in a row
4. Watch four hours of golf without any beer
3. Be a spectator at a chess tournament
2. Sit through the Ohio State graduation ceremony
1. Stand on line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew your license a year early

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