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Ethics of public servants

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  1. Introduction
  2. Issuing of Ethical Principles for Public Servants
  3. Political accountability
  4. The idea for the President of the United States
  5. President George W. Bush's instruction
  6. Plame's identity
  7. The show of integrity firing Rove
  8. The threat of 'retaliation' against the administration
  9. Conclusion
  10. References

Federal elected officials, appointed political officials and civil service officials are held to a separate standard for their behavior. These people are chosen by the American public and by other officials to serve at their behest. What commonly unites elected and non-elected officials is that their actions should all be held to a high standard of ethics; these people are elected or selected as those who are most capable of serving the public. These standards come from common notions of ethical behavior as well as a creed of ethical principles for true civil servants. When these people have been elected or selected, they should have already met these standards. However, it is well known that bad decisions can be made and corruption can ensue. The most recent example of this happening is in the current administration where a CIA leak occurred. A look into the actions of major players in the scandal will reveal the ethical nature of their behaviors.

Ideally, all government officials should abide by a set of high caliber ethics. In 1992, the Council for Excellence in Government, which strives to improve government at all levels, issued Ethical Principles for Public Servants that true public servants should abide by. Among the set of virtues a true public servant should have are that they will ?respect the competence and view of others?, ?contribute to a climate of mutual trust and respect? and ?unflinchingly accept responsibility? (Council for Excellence in Government 1998). The rest of this creed announces other qualities that a public servant should have.

[...] This goes against the portion of the Ethical Principles for Public Servants stating that a true public servant, as Cheney should be, ?will not act out of spite, bias, or favoritism? (Council for Excellence in Government 1998). Although Wilson's op-ed was critical of the administration, it is allowed to be; a basic freedom of speech is outlined in the U.S. Constitution. Also, there are many op-ed, editorials, articles, television shows, talk show hosts et cetera, that are critical of the government, and yet no plot is devised to counter them. [...]

[...] So where should the standard line for ethical behavior of public servants lie? Not in set regulations, but at the voting booths and the desk of those appointing officials. The candidates for public office should adequately meet the ethics standards of people who are voting for them and appoint them. These standards should at least be akin to those outlined in the Ethical Principles for Public Servants (1998) issued by the Council for Excellence in Government. In voting, the American people are responsible for making decisions about who leads this nation. [...]

[...] Several desirable characteristics of these public figures lie within a doctrine put forth by the Council for Excellence in Government, which calls for integrity, honor and the unwavering commitment to service of the public among others. However, it is apparent that not all government officials, even though they have ideally met ethical standards by virtue of being appointed or elected, hold true to their ethical virtues once in office. So where does that put the American people? Are the voters to be held accountable for not knowing that these civil servants would not live up to the ethical standards that were expected of them? [...]

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