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Tilting at Windmills

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May 23, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

CONGRESS WAKES UP....I'm a little late on this, but let me join the bandwagon of mockery directed at members of Congress who have finally decided that the executive branch has overstepped its congressional boundaries. After six years of signing statements, domestic surveillance, habeus corpus violations, torture of prisoners, and secret overseas prisons all done with no oversight from Congress what finally woke them up was a raid on a congressman's office. That can't be tolerated. Not for one second.

Well, maybe not. But at least the FBI got a search warrant signed by a judge. Congress should feel lucky they were treated with such sensitivity.

Kevin Drum 7:09 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

Who let the FBI in? I knew that the capitol police were having some problems at the top, but I never thought that this would be allowed (or that the leadership wouldn't be asked beforehand).

Posted by: jhm on May 23, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans are just protecting their own. You know, criminal elected officials.

In all seriousness, the FBI had every right to raid that idiot's office, as by all indications he's a criminal and ought to be in jail.

Posted by: Monkey on May 23, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Of course it's okay to raid his office. He's a Party of Death member, not a real American.

Posted by: wahoofive on May 23, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK
I'm a little late on this, but let me join the bandwagon of mockery directed at members of Congress who have finally decided that the executive branch has overstepped its congressional boundaries.

Um, no.

While, certainly, I'm disappointed, when people who have been wrong finally get the idea, mockery isn't the appropriate response.

And when someone took as long as you did to clue in on the wrongness of the Iraq War, well, they aren't qualified to mock anyone for being slow to get that George Bush is out of line.

And, inasmuch as the phrase "congressional boundaries" has any meaning, most of those other things you pointed to wouldn't be examples of the administration crossing them.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 23, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow it's like the White House Press Corps getting its collective teat in a wringer over Cheney not informing them of the face-shooting event. But then should we be surprised? Warner, Specter and the whole Republican crew should resign.

Posted by: horatio on May 23, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

"...let me join the bandwagon of mockery directed at members of Congress who have finally decided that the executive branch has overstepped its congressional boundaries..."

Congress deserves all said mockery, but if we voters keep re-electing the same negligent congresspersons, the mockery should rightly be directed at us.

To that end, lemme shill for the immediate removal of my own congressional mis-representative: Jane Harman (CA-36). Since 2003, Rep. Harman was one of only four Democrats in this entire nation who'd been briefed about the NSA's illegal warrantless spying program. By her own account, during each of those secret briefings, Rep. Harman never once expressed opposition (public, private, or otherwise) to the Bush Administration's program. Not once. Only when this illegal program was publicly exposed on the pages of the New York Times did she finally voice some outrage... not at the Bush Administration, but at the NYT! As to the program, Jane termed it "vital and necessary." And instead of standing with the progressive constituency of CA-36 in backing the end to this illegal program, Rep. Harman chose to stand with George W. Bush, in announcing her support for the program's continuation.

To the extent that Rep. Harman is voicing any opposition now, it's a result not of FBI searches of congressional offices, but rather of the lefty primary challenge she's receiving from a progressive Democrat named Marcy Winograd. Truth be told, Jane's got the electoral fight of her life on her hands, and she stands a very solid chance of being turned out by her own liberal constituents. Clearly she realizes this: witness her newfound crocidile tears over such niceties as civil liberties, executive misconduct, and the rule of law.

Well it's too late for that.

Election day is June 6th, which means the clock's running out on Jane, but only if we make it so. That's why I'm asking y'all to help me replace my pro-war, pro-Patriot Act, pro-spying "representative" (Blue Dog Jane Harman) with a true progressive Democrat (Marcy Winograd).

Her website is here:

www.winogradforcongress.com

Thanks,

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

p.s.: I'm not a campaign staffer for Marcy. I'm just a pissed off constituent of Jane's who's fighting for a change.

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on May 23, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot the Repub staffer/hacker (Miranda) who broke into Dems computers and stole stuff.
But that's okay, he worked for the R's.

Posted by: arelia on May 23, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

I have the feeling this Republican outrage re: the raids is targeted more for keeping this case of Democratic corruption alive in the news cycle. It's easier to explain and endlessly hype a la Natalee Holloway as compared to the Republican scandals, especially if this goes to the Supreme Court: endless replay of the Democratic congressman on videotape, stories of cash wrapped in aluminum-foil hidden in his freezer, etc.

The worst case would be if it is clear that Jefferson is guilty, but that he gets off on an evidence-collection technicality via a Supreme Court ruling.

Posted by: Betty Black on May 23, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

It's very simple.

Now that a Dems office has been searched, the outcry will prevent any searches necessitated by the Duke/DeLay/Abramoff/Wilkes/Wade investigation.

Posted by: lib on May 23, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

If Congress still had an ethics committee, then the FBI might not have needed to investigate.

They can all just blow it out their tight little blow holes.

Posted by: lilybart on May 23, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

The Constitution is pretty clear. This was a legal search. Of course, The King's Men will use this as a jousting post for their own malfeasances. What the Dems need to do is turn this around and tell it like it is. That search was legal--the parts where you take people to undisclosed places and torture them is patently illegal. Period. Then, well, you might say there was a Democrat with a spine. And a clue. Til then, may the "smarter" of the two factions prevail...er...or something even better? Please?

Posted by: parrot on May 23, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Lol, it is all cash in a freezer boys. And snakes on a plane.

R2K

Posted by: Alex on May 23, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Congress is asserting immunity from judicial process. Do you think that's right?

Consider the following hypothetical: Suppose the FBI had probable cause to believe that a congressmen was dealing cocaine out of his office and that he stored a couple of kilos in his desk. Just to make it interesting, suppose it were a Republican congressman. Do you think that said congressman is immune from judicial process under the Speech and Debate clause of the constitution? Does the FBI need permission from the House before it can search the Congressman's office, even if it has obtained a search warrant on the basis of probable cause?

I'd like to see Cong. Hastert and Cong. Pelosi stand up and in front of the cameras and assert that they and their colleagues would have immunity in that case.

Posted by: DBL on May 23, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Betty Black is right.

The only reason Hastert and his fellow republicans are expressing outrage over this is to establish in the minds of the press and the public that congressional corruption is fully bipartisan.

Posted by: Disputo on May 23, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

How much does this guy's voting record track with the Republicans and Dubya? Anyone know?

Posted by: BB on May 23, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Honey disconnect the phone.
Im back in the USSR!

Posted by: Red on May 23, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck William Jefferson.

If the FBI had enough cause to search his office like they did (and from the sound of it, they did, what with Jefferson essentially taking a bribe from an informant if reports are correct), they were in full right to do so. Corrupt jackass.

It's funny, but I'm not sure if I've seen a Democrat defend this yet. Am I just blind?

Throw the book at 'em danno. No mercy for the corrupt, even if it's on 'our side'.

Posted by: Kryptik on May 23, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Throw the book at 'em danno. No mercy for the corrupt, even if it's on 'our side'."

Amen.

Posted by: Tom on May 23, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Congress has not yet asserted immunity from judicial scrutiny. However, given that many of them are as corrupt as the Executive who *has* asserted that immunity, it's probably only a matter of time...or elections.

Posted by: parrot on May 23, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

But they missed the marijuana I hid in the cereal boxes!

Posted by: William Jefferson's Freezer on May 23, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

maybe the WMDs are in me!

Posted by: William Jefferson's Freezer on May 23, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Look in back of the peas. I think Bush's poll numbers are hiding there!

Posted by: William Jefferson's Freezer on May 23, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

When you close me, does the light go out... on the Republican majority ?

Posted by: William Jefferson's Freezer on May 23, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

If the FBI raided the office of every member of Congress tomorrow, in how many instances would they discover enough evidence of illegal activity to rise to the level of an indictment?

If the FBI raided the office of every member of Congress tomorrow, how might that affect the willingness of of members of the legislature to oppose the Executive Branch?


Posted by: mark safranski on May 23, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Heh, the repugs should encourage the Leftie's to make this a high-profile issue by offering 'fake' support.

Nothing excuse corruption like the other guy being corrupt and proud of it.

Posted by: McA on May 23, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Congress has its own statutory police force, which in this case was ignored by the executive branch. It is not even clear that the FBI has jurisdiction within Congressional buildings.

IMHO, it sets a bad precedent when the Executive can raid the offices of the Legislative branch. That can easily be used for purposes of intimidation: "If you don't vote how I want, I'll have my agents ransack your offices every day for the rest of my Presidency."

Want to bet that if the Congress tried the same thing in the Oval Office most people would say that was a violation of Executive Privilege?

Posted by: Angus on May 23, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Just getting started on this thread. But I see cmdicely is still an asshole! Good to have constants.

Posted by: Arminius on May 23, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: biu991 on May 24, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

What's with blu991's Chinese shit in (apparently) every comment? Can anyone read this stuff?
Jefferson was once my congresscritter before the 2000 census moved the boundaries, and he's probably toast. But Hastert et al do have a point: what would the post-Katrina congressional reports have looked like if congress had seized the White House documents they wanted/needed to see? What about the multiple
WH visits by Abramoff we won't know about? Or the Cheney energy task force documents? A little congressional tit for tat WH raiding would be equally informative and entertaining.

Posted by: Brian Boru on May 24, 2006 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Congressional members seem to feel that they, like their wealthy owners, should be exempt from the laws they wreak on the rest of the US population.

Posted by: Jame on May 24, 2006 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

If I were Dennis Hastert I'd be moving my boxes
of incriminating evidence off site as soon as
possible. Come November there might be a lot
more investigations of errant House members.
Except this time they will have the letter R
after their names.

Posted by: anthony v. cuccia on May 24, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

OT, but as long as we're kvetchign about our Congresscritters, Michael Hayden's nomination as CIA director was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee. That event was no surprised, but I was disgusted by the vote: 12-3. Once again the Democrats abandon their so-called principles (Torture? Domestic spying? Fine by us!) and roll over for yet another Bush nominee.

At least my own Senator, Evan Bayh, voted against him.

Posted by: Gregory on May 24, 2006 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

BTW - I have to point everyone to what Pelosi and Reid said. (source Post this morning) Neither of them whined about the raid. Pelosi in fact asked Jefferson to step aside from Ways and Means while being investigated.

This seems to be the most appropriate response: not guilty until proven guilty, but on the other hand no decision-making power while under investigation.

Well done Democrats!

Posted by: Samuel Knight on May 24, 2006 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Credit to Pelosi for asking Mr. Jefferson to step aside from Ways and Means. Now she needs to twist his arm and make him resign.

In the meantime, the search was proper: the executive branch, in investigating a potential crime, got a warrant from the judicial branch to conduct a search. Two arms of the government thus check the third, which is exactly how the Constitution intended it.

For the people still concerned about the executive branch investigating legislators (it's been going on for 200+ years), recall that there are plenty of times when we have the reverse: legislative committees issuing subpeonas against the executive (in fact, you progressives want more of that). You don't get one without the other.

Posted by: Steve White on May 24, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

Actually, in over 200 years prior, the executive branch has never searched an office of the legislative branch, nor has the legislative branch ever searched an office of the executive branch.

Posted by: Angus on May 24, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

"If you don't vote how I want, I'll have my agents ransack your offices every day for the rest of my Presidency."

The 'precedent' set by this search seems to be, "If you were caught on video taking a $100,000.00 bribe- and we subsequently found $90,000.00 of the marked bills in your freezer- we're also going to search your office".

I really don't have a problem with that...
------------------------------------------------

But, I agree with "Betty Black" and "Disputo" above-- this is nothing but a 'cynical' attempt by Repubs to keep a 'criminal' Democratic name at the top of multiple news cycles in an attempt to neutralize the "culture of corruption" meme...

Karl Rove is still the man!

Posted by: fletch on May 24, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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