“Tangled Webs – How false statements are undermining America: from Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff” by James B Stewart

This is a very “journalistic” book. I read it with a touch of schadenfreude re Martha Stewart.

In addition to the two public figures named in the title, Steward discusses “Scooter” Libby and Barry Bonds. By way of review (public scandals fade fast!)…

  • Martha Stewart is a “business magnate, writer and television personality” (thanks, Wikipedia) who was convicted of perjury in a stock trading case. She was jailed for five months.
  • “Scooter” Libby was an advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney who leaked the identity of CIA operative (spy) Valerie Plame. (Or did he protect the person who leaked the information?) He was convicted of perjury and disbarred from the practice of law.
  • Barry Bonds was a top baseball player who testified that he never knowingly took steroids. He was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
  • Bernie Madoff ran a colossal Ponzi scheme and was convicted of several kinds of fraud plus perjury, money laundering, and theft. He will be in jail for the rest of his life.

This book deals specifically with PERJURY, the crime of lying UNDER OATH. It examines not just what these people did wrong, but the lies they told in their attempts to cover up.

One lesson – if you are in the wrong, it is better to be silent than to lie. (Witness the recent Casey Anthony trial. She never testified. She was exonerated, mostly because of lack of evidcence. The circumstances of her child’s death have not been clarified.)

The book discusses the question of “truth vs loyalty”. Does loyalty to your employers mean you must lie to protect them? IF you make that choice, what if anything does the employer owe you in return? This is discussed in the chapters about Martha Stewart Inc. (We really aren’t talking about an individual here.)

The “Scooter” Libby case involved responsibility for a “leak” which destroyed a career. Interestingly, President Bush (Senior) said he wanted to know the truth about the leak, but eventually he declined to act on it.

You could read any one segment of this book and the author’s conclusion, and gain important insight into the question of WHY TRUTH MATTERS.


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