Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007 | I would offer perhaps a dissonant perspective to the loss of U.S. Attorney Lam which concerns the case of Duke Cunningham.

My newspaper, ESPRESSO, once reported the tale of a local man who developed a landmine destroying device nicknamed the “Armadillo.” This was enthusiastically received by the Marine and Navy specialists who tested it — it took a licking and kept on ticking — and it eventually progressed to the office of Duke Cunningham who then sat on the committee for military appropriations.

Cunningham’s words to the inventors were to the effect that if “they couldn’t bring anything to the table” they couldn’t expect Cunningham to support the Armadillo. There, the chances for the simple, cheap and effective machine stopped cold. When last I saw it, the Armadillo sat under a tarp in the San Diego machine shop it was made in.

But what did that mean to the U.S. troops engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan? Many of the IEDs that kill and maim them are made in the forms of landmines — that could be destroyed safely by the Armadillo. ESPRESSO once published a photo of a ten-year old Iraqi boy who found one of these the hard way, and whose mutilated body will form one more testimony to a mines’ effectiveness in the pathology journals. That boy and the soldiers cruelly mutilated like him are the result of a venal lawmaker’s failure to get his bribe.

That venal law maker was removed from office by a U.S. attorney who understood the importance of attacking corruption. While Carol Lam may have had Quixote-like moments during her tenure in San Diego, her able prosecution of Duke Cunningham should be remembered and respected for stopping the practices of a corrupt, dirty blackguard who put a taste for 18th century commodes above his responsibility to our soldiers in harm’s way and to the people of the United States.

The people of San Diego would do well to demand that the next U.S. attorney sent by the administration should be as alert to this kind of corruption. We seem to be at war after all and we should do what we can to win it. Carol Lam may be seen as a kind of casualty of that war.

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