One short phrase in an article bmaz alerted me to yesterday set my blood to boiling. I fumed about it off and on through the rest of the day and even found myself going back to thinking about it when I should have been drifting off to sleep.
The phrase? “Good faith”
Here’s the phrase in the context of the article:
The U.S. Justice Department’s stepped up enforcement in the pharmaceutical industry has struck “the fear of God” in executives, a top lawyer at GlaxoSmithKline said today, addressing whether prosecutors have gone too far in building cases rooted in business conduct.
The panel’s moderator, Jonathan Rosen, a white-collar defense partner in the Washington office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, described what he called a “highly aggressive” enforcement environment.
Rosen posed questions to the panel members to explore the extent to which the government is criminalizing good-faith business decisions.
So, why would the longer phrase “criminalizing good-faith business decisions” set me off so? When I read that phrase, my mind flashed back to April, 2009 and the release of the torture memos. Here is Eric Holder, as quoted by ABC News:
“Those intelligence community officials who acted reasonably and in good faith and in reliance on Department of Justice opinions are not going to be prosecuted,” he told members of a House Appropriations Subcommittee, reaffirming the White House sentiment. “It would not be fair, in my view, to bring such prosecutions.”
But Holder left open the door to some legal action, saying that though he “will not permit the criminalization of policy differences,” he is responsible as attorney general to enforce the law.
Uh-oh. Now it’s even worse. See the additional parallel? Holder decried the “criminalization of policy differences” at the same time he said he wouldn’t prosecute those who acted in “good faith” on the torture memos. The “good faith” in the business article above was smack in the middle of “criminalizing” “business decisions”. Read more