Scoundrels and Public Inquiries

The current spate of demanded, ongoing, and completed public inquiries around the world serves to remind us they’re the preferred weapon of the scoundrel.

A friend of mine once had a brief conversation with an old billionaire. “What’s the one lesson you’ve learned from your career?”, he asked. “Most people are scoundrels”, the billionaire replied, sadly.

Scoundrels are easily recognized by their combination of dishonesty and timidity. They use the public inquiry to give credence to false accusations (smearers), or conceal scoundrel failures (hiders), or both (hider-smearers) – here’s the taxonomy of the current crop.

The Democrat Ruled Congress: Smearers

Has convened itself as a permanent public inquiry into the Bush administration, the most honest and competent in recent memory.

The Democrats hope to rewrite that history.

The Brit Defense Establishment: Hiders

This responded to the capture of the seamen and their subsequent authorization to sell their memoirs with two inquiries, the second of which will be published.

But the facts in both cases are simple and widely known, and the officials and officers that authorized the publication should just resign, and the officers responsible for the bungled force protection should face a courts-martial.

The scoundrels hope the inquiries will ensure none of the above happens.

The Israeli Polity: Smearers

The report on the handling of the recent Lebanon War is flawed by its assumption that a better result could have been obtained.

In fact the Israelis did well, learning some useful lessons for the next war – the need for better bunker-busters (actually bunker-burners), for low-cost short-range missile defense, and for better media management. Plus the critical importance of knocking out Syria at the get-go.

It’s a bit unfair to class the Israeli polity with the Democratic Party, since the former are patriots.

The 7/7 Survivors: Smearers

It’s conventional to cut victims slack, but some are behaving outrageously (my ellipsis):

“It was tempting to believe that (the 7/7 bombers) had never been known to the police or the security services, that they had somehow managed to make these bombs and drive down to London and get on Tube trains and a bus, and that it was a terrible tragedy and there was nothing anybody could have done to stop them.

“When it transpired that was not the case, it was devastating. This has fuelled my desire for an independent inquiry because it appears we have not been told the truth about what we knew about these bombers prior to 7/7.”

Such an inquiry would merely give Al Qaeda a guide to avoiding Brit surveillance and capture, causing more death and mutilation. Hardly a price worth paying to enable the 7/7 survivors to claim more compensation.

Tenet: Hider-Smearer

He’s here because his book is public and he presents it as an objective inquiry. But he has lied to conceal his own incompetence and that of his agency. And of course to make money from his book.

Still, he’ll serve as a bleak reminder to future Republican presidents never to keep Democratic appointees in positions of trust.

The World Bank: Hider-Smearer

The board and employees of this organization have gone after Wolfowitz because he doesn’t like corruption, and they live by it – about 13% of the employees earn more than Condoleezza Rice.


The good news is that because scoundrels can’t or won’t work co-operatively with others, they deny themselves the many pleasures of human society, and are incapable of progress.


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