Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Six Degrees of Vernon Jordan: The Plagiarist or "That's What She Said"

I would give almost anything I have to reverse the course of my life in the last year. The past doesn't change for anyone. But at least I can learn from the past.

I've learned a lot about life. I've learned a lot about myself and about the responsibilities any man has to his fellow man. I've learned a lot about good and evil -- they're not always what they appear to be.

I was involved, deeply involved, in a deception -- I was involved in plagiarizing the words of a federal official and I got caught by the U.S. Department of Justice.  I took "what she said" and presented those statements as my own.   I have deceived my friends, and I have millions of them. I lied to the American people. I lied about what I knew and then I lied about what I did not know. In a sense, I was like a child who refuses to admit a fact in the hope that it will go away.

Of course it did not go away. I was scared, scared to death. I had no solid position, no basis to stand on for my self. There was one way out and that was simply to tell the truth.

It may sound trite to you, but I've found myself again after a number of years. I've been acting a role, maybe all my life, of thinking that I've done more, accomplished more, produced more than I have. I have had all the breaks. I have stood on the shoulders of life, and I've never gotten down into the dirt to build, to erect a foundation of my own. I have flown too high on borrowed wings. Everything came too easy.

The foregoing (with a minor addition) is the testimony of Charles van Doren before a Congressional committee investigating the TV quiz show scandal of the late 1950s.

Admission: When the Justice Department officers questioned me at my home on January 15, 2010 about a law enforcement matter involving my former employer, the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, I knew the answers before the officers asked their questions.

Richard Goodwin worked as special counsel to the Legislative Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, in which position he was involved in investigating the Twenty One quiz show scandal.  Goodwin is married to the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who is a friend of Vernon Jordan's, an Akin Gump partner.

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