Thomas Sowell

One of the reasons FBI files on individuals are kept confidential is that anybody anywhere can make any unsubstantiated charge about anybody to the FBI.

People can anonymously accuse you of being anything from a petty thief to a pedophile. Can you imagine how valuable it is to a politician to have hundreds of such files on his enemies?

Just the knowledge that you have such political dynamite in your possession can have a chilling effect on your opponents and corrupt the whole political process.

Who knows whether the impeachment vote in the Senate might have gone the other way if some Senators did not have to worry that Clinton might take them down with him if they forced him out of office?

As for the FBI discovering whether you checked out a cookbook or an X-rated novel from your local library, does anyone seriously believe that they have the time, the manpower or the motivation to look into the reading habits of 300 million Americans, when they have all they can do to try to keep up with the terrorists?

It was a scandal when shock jock Don Imus made a typical shock jock kind of cheap remark about black girls on a college basketball team. But it is no scandal when black "leaders" like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson make racist remarks.

Yet who has more influence -- most of it bad -- on race relations in this country? Outrage at Imus by people in the media who give Sharpton and Jackson a free pass is a little much.

But that is not a scandal, since the media are who determine what is and is not a scandal.

Thomas Sowell

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

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