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BILL'S STRATEGY: DELAY, DECEIVE, DENY, DESTROY

President Clinton has come close to an apology. Not for the growing number of laws he and Hillary allegedly have broken. Not for the lengthening list of women whose dignity he has apparently violated. But for something of which he is not guilty: slavery.

While in Uganda, Clinton said: "European-Americans received the fruits of the slave trade. And we were wrong in that." Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called the idea of a U.S. apology for slavery "rubbish." He noted that "African chiefs were the ones waging war on each other and capturing their own people and selling them. If anyone should apologize it should be the African chiefs."

The Clintons are using Africa as a backdrop for their grand strategy to delay legal proceedings, deceive the public about what they allegedly have done, deny all allegations and destroy the reputations of anyone who threatens their hold on power.

The latest outrage is Clinton's claim of "executive privilege" for some of his top aides. So deceptive is this administration that neither the president nor his lawyers will tell the public whether executive privilege has actually been claimed. It is reported he may even claim executive privilege concerning Mrs. Clinton.

Richard Nixon attempted to use executive privilege to prevent the testimony of top aides. "The core White House tactic," writes journalist Fred Emery in his book "Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon," was "to shelter the president's men under the cloak of executive privilege. They would consider answering written interrogatories but they would refuse to appear at hearings, arguing that traditional confidentiality of the president's dealings with them within the executive branch of government could not be overridden by another branch -- not the legislative, in Congress, or the judicial, in the courts." That "doctrine" would later be abandoned when it was clear it wasn't working. The Supreme Court later ruled that, while executive privilege could be claimed as a valid doctrine, in Nixon's case it did not apply. The claim that evidence could be withheld on the grounds of "the generalized interest in confidentiality," said the court, could "not prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal justice." In other words, no president is above the law.

Hillary Clinton knows this, since she served with former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum on the House Judiciary Committee, which eventually returned articles of impeachment against Nixon. Then-Hillary Rodham believed Nixon didn't deserve the normal protections the law affords to every citizen.

As recounted in David Maraniss' book, "First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton": "Rodham's section analyzed the constitutional intent of impeachment and its historical basis in 400 years of English history . . . At one meeting they spent four hours arguing over whether to use the phrase 'to the modern ear' in describing how high crimes and misdemeanors should be interpreted. Their report concluded that 'to limit impeachable conduct to criminal offenses would be incompatible with the evidence concerning the constitutional meaning of the phrase and would frustrate the purpose that the framers intended for impeachment.' "

The real game is to help Clinton avoid the same day of reckoning that Nixon faced. The only difference now is that this bunch learned some things from Nixon and are better at delaying, deceiving, denying and destroying. Don't look for Clinton to apologize for that.

Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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