Here is a
on the bizarre afterlife of the one major Clinton-era Independent Counsel investigation still chugging along. Appropriately enough, it's David M. Barrett's investigation of Henry Cisneros -- which was just given yet another extension to continue its work. Needless to say, Cisneros himself is no longer even at issue. Not only was he investigated, he was investigated, indicted for lying to the FBI about how much money he gave to his one-time mistress, prosecuted, copped a plea and paid a fine, and for good measure got pardoned by Bill Clinton.
(As long as we're at it, Cisneros' crime -- that of low-balling the amount of money you paid to your former mistress when the FBI asked you about it during your background check for becoming a cabinet secretary -- is a pretty good example of the sort of bogus crime I referred to earlier.)
In any case, of all the Clinton-era IC appointments, Barrett and his subsequent investigation always had the strongest hint of political payback about it. Rather than a career prosecutor, Barret is best described as a career GOP activist, DC lawyer, lobbyist, rain-maker, and influence peddler -- a common species in the Washington ecosystem. Most particularly, Barrett was knee-deep in the multifarious doings of the notoriously corrupt Reagan-era HUD department. As the Washington Post gently put it a couple years ago "Barrett was part of an interconnected group of lobbyists, consultants, and current and former HUD officials who benefited from high-level access to HUD at a time when corruption in the department was rampant."
So the three judge panel which appoints ICs thought Barrett, an oily crony from HUD's corrupt days, would be a judicious pick to head up an investigation of the reforming HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Now Barrett has gotten yet another extension to continue investigating whether various government officials tried to criminally obstruct his probe.
Barrett's endless investigation, though, was always less grand conspiracy or perversion of justice than some pale echo of Arendt's banality of evil. There's less Vast Right Wing Conspiracy here than marquee time-serving, a third-tier DC influence peddler, perpetually on-the-make, unwilling to give up his roving commission to kick up trouble for fun and profit.