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The difference between recording v. no recording is not whether the conduct of federal agents will be an issue in a trial. The difference is whether there will be an accurate or inaccurate record of what these law enforcement agents are doing to extract statements and obtain confessions.
So here we have several disturbing revelations pertaining to the way the Justice Department operates. And all were revealed via a series of emails pertaining to just one U.S attorney by way of an unrelated scandal. We see from this one example that a federal prosecutor's attempts to make just a few recommendations on good government and proper procedures with respect to the way federal crimes are prosecuted were shunted aside as unnecessary hurdles to more charges, more convictions, and more sentences. That's worth knowing. And it makes you wonder what else we'd discover were this administration not so hell-bent on keeping everything it possibly can hidden from public scrutiny.
As unseemly and overtly political as the U.S. attorney scandal may be, then, the one thing it has done—perhaps by accident—is demonstrate the importance of transparency in government.
Radley Balko is a senior editor of reason.
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