Thomas Sowell
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In the wake of recent bombshell revelations in the Duke University "rape" case, even some of District Attorney Michael Nifong's supporters have started backing away from him.

It was not just that the head of a DNA laboratory testified under oath in December that he and Nifong both knew back in April that there was no DNA from any of the Duke University lacrosse players found on the body of the stripper who accused them of rape -- or even that the DNA of other men were found in her underwear and in intimate areas of her body.

What was really damning was that he and Nifong had agreed to keep this fact secret, despite requirements that exculpatory evidence be turned over to the defense. Moreover, last May District Attorney Nifong filed a statement saying that the prosecution "is not aware of any additional material or information which may be exculpatory in nature."

But he already knew what the DNA evidence was before he signed that statement.

The leading newspaper in town, which had supported Nifong in its editorials before these new revelations, now called his actions "flawed" and "inexplicable."

Nifong's actions are inexplicable only if you assume that his purpose was to get at the truth about what actually happened at the party where the stripper claimed to have been raped.

That assumption has never been made in this column. From day one, I have never believed that this case was about rape, about the Duke lacrosse players or about the "exotic dancers" or strippers.

District Attorney Nifong's actions are perfectly consistent and logical from start to finish, once you see that this case is about Nifong's own career.

Let us go back to square one. Where was Nifong before this case came along?

He had worked in the District Attorney's office for years and was appointed interim District Attorney himself only after the previous District Attorney left to become a judge. Now Nifong faced a tough election against a woman he had once fired and who would undoubtedly fire him if she became District Attorney.

Where would that leave Nifong? Out on the street at an age when most people are not likely to be starting a new career. His pension as well as his job could be in jeopardy. Moreover, his opponent was favored to win the election.

Then along came the Duke University "rape" case, like a deliverance from heaven.

Politically, the case had everything: white jocks from affluent families at a rich and prestigious university versus a black woman who was a student at a far poorer and less distinguished black institution nearby.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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