The Bush administration has been so extreme in its disregard for quaint ideals such as justice and truth that any tactical aberration is immediately seized upon as a moderating force. We therefore have the spectacle of Powell being lauded for his efforts to talk sense to a power-drunk president. While it would be comforting to believe that there are powerful forces in the U.S. government working to bring the Bush attack dogs to heal, nothing changes the fact that government officials must be accountable for their actions. Powell lied. And he did so knowingly. After his U.N. speech, numerous inspectors (one of whom I personally heard speak at a conference) emphatically said that Powell made statements that everyone on the ground knew were false. Non-administration experts who weren't on a government paycheck pretty much unanimously agreed. So why should we let Powell off the hook? Do we let a drug dealer go if we learn that he urged his boss to reduce the shipment in order to avoid the danger of getting caught? Do we let the mafia thug off if we learn that he convinced his boss to break someone's legs instead of murdering them? Hell no. Powell actually deserves to be in a jail somewhere, but if that isn't possible, we sure as hell shouldn't honor the bastard as a "moderate." For this reason, I would disagree with the position put forth by bloggers such as Julie Saltman and Juan Cole. Julie said that while "it might have seemed like he [Powell] was just bowing to Dear Leader's every whim, but behind the scenes he played an important role in curbing wingnuttery and moderating the extreme policy coming out of the DOD." My position is that if you get in bed with the corporate-driven right-wing mafia running this country, you should have to pay the price when the posse comes knocking. Powell's opportunity to change his mind was before he accepted the job. Of course Rice will be much worse. But we shouldn't be reduced to simply choosing between the various shades of evil from among the latest gang of hucksters and sycophants.