The Walkerville Weekly Reader

National Desk: Hard-hitting journalism from your completely un-biased (pinky swear!) reporters in Walkerville, VA.

Walkerville, VA
Monday, June 10, 2024
Carolyn Purcell, Editor

Tomorrow Never Came

In light of the current controversies in Washington, the Reader presents this Fred Barbash article from several years ago.

The following editorial by Fred Barbash was originally published in the Washington Post on Sunday, August 16, 1998, and is reprinted here to explain the gravity of perjury:

Lying about a crime, the accusation against President William Jefferson Clinton, has itself been a crime since the time of Hammurabi.

Then, it was punishable by death. Today, perjury is punishable in federal courts by a fine and up to five years of prison for each count.

Then and now, the theory has been essentially the same: If people are allowed to lie during the investigation of a crime, the crime cannot be proven. It may go unpunished or an innocent person might be wrongly punished.

That is why perjury has never required proof of an underlying crime. Without access to the truth, there may be no way to show the underlying crime. (A perjury indictment unaccompanied by a charge of an underlying crime remains, nonetheless, controversial because critics sometimes see it as the product of a failed probe.)

Perjury, the Supreme Court has said, is “an obvious and flagrant affront to the basic concepts” of justice.

Fred Barbash is deputy editor of Inlook.

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