The Starr Report - The Sexual Details Were Needed But the Details are NOT the Issue.
by Carolyn Gargaro
September 12, 1998
The Starr Report - everyone has a different preliminary view on it. Many Democratic and Republican leaders have stated how well written and complete is was, and that the report was "consistent, detailed, and well-documented throughout." There are some Democrats and Republicans alike, though, who have expressed disappointment that the report did not include more information. However, the question I have heard many people ask, is why the report had to be so sexually graphic?
First, the vote was 363-63 to release the report, which means that many Democrats voted to release it. Thus, the release of such a report is not some right-wing agenda to embarrass the President. Despite the salacious acts described in the report, we must realize that the important issue here is NOT sex - the important issues are perjury, obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and witness tampering. (see a summary of these charges.) THAT is serious. But many seem to wonder why, if the issues here are perjury, obstruction of justice and witness tampering, why is there so much sexual detail in the report? Why are all the details of this sort necessary?
In brief, the sexual details were needed to prove that President Clinton committed perjury. And we are not just talking about perjury in a civil case (which, incidentally is considered just as serious as lying in a criminal case), we are talking about his also lying to the Grand Jury. (again - please see a summary of these charges.)
Because of President Clinton's denial under oath that he had a sexual relationship, a sexual affair, or sexual relations with Monica, the graphic details were necessary to prove his denial was a lie. Clinton insisted that his denial of a sexual relationship was not perjury.
The Independent Counsel had to prove that the sex did obviously fall within the definition in Exhibit 1 of the Paula Jones deposition. Clinton was the one who has been playing word games, insisting that whatever he did with Monica was not really "sex" as was defined in the Jones Deposition Exhibit 1. Perhaps if the President had not insisted on playing word games, these details would not have been necessary.
As to his denial in the Jones deposition that he and Ms. Lewinsky had not had a "sexual relationship," the President maintained that there can be no sexual relationship without sexual intercourse, regardless of what other sexual activities may transpire. He stated that "most ordinary Americans" would embrace this distinction.
The President also maintained that none of his sexual contacts with Ms. Lewinsky constituted "sexual relations" within a specific definition used in the Jones deposition. Under that definition: (Definition in Exhibit 1)[A] person engages in "sexual relations" when the person knowingly engages in or causes -- contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person . . . . "Contact" means intentional touching, either directly or through clothing.Mr. Clinton is a smart man - are we really supposed to believe that he does not consider his actions with Lewinsky as sex, as described in Exhibit 1?! COME ON! I am not repeating the sexual details here - people can read the report themselves, but can anyone honestly say, after reading the report and the details of Lewinsky and Clinton's relationship that the President's actions with Lewinsky were not sex under Definition 1? Clinton also testified that he didn't remember being alone with Lewsinsky - are we to really believe that? He stated that Monica's original testimony, in which she stated there was no sexual contact, was accurate. Can people honestly say that isn't a lie?
Again, people should read the entire report and pay attention to the parts that show that the President committed perjury, obstructed justice, abused power and tampered with witnesses. It is unbelievable that people would claim the above actions are acceptable - but many are! They are ignoring these facts and focusing on the sexual details. It is a shame that people can't open their eyes and see past the sex and see how serious some of these other issues are.
The point is, the sexual details were needed to prove that Clinton knew darn well that his actions constituted sex under Definition 1, and thus, by saying that he did not have sex with Lewsinsky meant he LIED UNDER OATH. He LIED UNDER OATH in the Paula Jones deposition and again lied under oath to the Grand Jury. THAT is serious.
If the details had not been included in the report then it could be easily argued that possibly the President perhaps did not have a relationship that constituted sex under Definition 1. For that reason, the details were needed to prove that the President knowingly lied.
I notice that no one seems to even question whether the details are true - they instead choose to harp on the sexual details and argue that "oh well, he [Starr]shouldn't have brought up the lurid details" and they again BLAST KEN STARR! If Starr had not included the details, I guarantee that people would say that he did not prove that what transpired between Clinton and Lewinsky was enough to constitute sex under Definition 1.
We should not, as hard as it may be, focus on the sexual details of the case. Focus must be kept on the fact that the evidence shows the President lied under oath, obstructed justice, tampered with witnesses and abused power. We unfortunately, have to wade through sexual details in the process.
There is still NO EXCUSE for perjury or obstruction of justice, even if it is about sex. If we want to go down that road, then we will have to accept perjury in sexual harassment and adultery cases, or any other case that involves a sexual matter. Is that what we want? If not, then why would be accept a President who did these things?
It doesn't mater WHAT you are lying about when you LIE UNDER OATH. It doesn't matter if you lie about sex, or if you lie about knowing about an incident of breaking an entering, or if you lie about where you were at 9pm last Saturday evening - it is still LYING UNDER OATH. Unfortunately, people are using the sexual details of the case to try and hide the underlying proof that President Clinton abused his power.
People like to ask snidely, "Are you telling me that other people never lie about their sex life?" Well guess what - that question lacks one very important item - UNDER OATH. We are not investigating a President because he "lied about sex" - it is because he lied in a civil case and then again in front of a Grand Jury - he tried to obstruct justice, and he tried to get other people to lie. I say these things over and over and over, yet people would rather talk about the sexual details of the case. Why? Perhaps because they find it more interesting, or perhaps it is because they don't want to admit that our President did more than just "cheat on his wife."
Lying under oath destroys the judicial system, and tramples on people's rights. If there was a right-wing conspiracy it was a conspiracy to reveal the facts - facts which show that we have a President who has not qualms about abusing his power, committing perjury, or obstructing justice.
This article copyright © 1998 by Carolyn Gargaro, and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.