Royally Kranked

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rallying Around One Of Their Own

Well, it appears that the GOP and the Dems have found a way to actually rally themselves silly, bipartisan silly, over being held to the same laws Congress insists everyone else follow

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FBI Raid on Lawmaker's Office Is Questioned

An unusual FBI raid of a Democratic congressman's office over the weekend prompted complaints yesterday from leaders in both parties, who said the tactic was unduly aggressive and may have breached the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.), who is at the center of a 14-month investigation for allegedly accepting bribes for promoting business ventures in Africa, also held a news conference in which he denied any wrongdoing and denounced the raid on his office as an "outrageous intrusion." Jefferson, who has not been charged, vowed to seek reelection in November.

"There are two sides to every story; there are certainly two sides to this story," he said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "There will be an appropriate time and forum when that can be explained."

Yeah, hopefully when your ass is under oath on the witness stand

Jefferson's the clearly corrupt scumbag who seems an odd choice for the Reps & Dems to rally around with their off-key caterwauling about how unseemly it all is for the authorities to search his Capitol Hill office, something apparently never done in our Govt's history before

The Saturday raid of Jefferson's quarters in the Rayburn House Office Building posed a new political dilemma for the leaders of both parties, who felt compelled to protest his treatment while condemning any wrongdoing by the lawmaker. The dilemma was complicated by new details contained in an 83-page affidavit unsealed on Sunday, including allegations that the FBI had videotaped Jefferson taking $100,000 in bribe money and then found $90,000 of that cash stuffed inside his apartment freezer.

Oh the quandary of focusing on a "Culture of Corruption" while rallying around ethical free-fire zones like Rep Jefferson

About 15 FBI agents, wearing suits, entered Jefferson's office in the Rayburn House Office Building about 7:15 p.m. Saturday and left about 1 p.m. Sunday. Authorities said it was the first time the FBI had raided the office of a sitting congressman.

The FBI is investigating allegations that Jefferson, acting as a member of Congress, took hundreds of thousand of dollars in bribes to promote high-tech business ventures in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana. Two people -- Brett Pfeffer and Vernon L. Jackson -- have pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson to promote iGate Inc., a Louisville-based company that was marketing Internet and cable television technology in Africa.

Jefferson and his wife, Andrea, are targets of the investigation, and the government is moving closer to deciding whether to indict, according to those familiar with the probe.

Lets get real here too-there's blood on Jefferson's hands regarding Katrina-That people died in spite of what was known about the clear weaknesses with the levees, and due to a fiasco-ridden evacuation policy, are direct reflections on politicians in both parties, from the local level, the country level, the state level and the Federal level

Corruption and rampant cronyism meant that money that should have gone toward strengthening those levees, towards coming up with a logical plan of evacuation-ESPECIALLY for the poor and physically infirmed/enfeebled-went instead in the pockets of campaign contributing cronies and family members, and this fleecing at the publics expense cost lives when Katrina hit, New Orleans drowned and people died

Everyone who fleeced even a dollar from the Hurricane Planning & levee construction is to bear for those horror shows at both the Superdome and Convention Center, in which the clear lack of a Governmental response at ALL levels insured that people went hungry, thirsty and unmedicated in the most appalling of conditions of heat and sanitation, and Jefferson is a prime example of what's wrong with our political leadership today-Get ahead at the expense of your constituents, their property and their lives

Jefferson needs to be scourged as harshly as possible, as does every other politician who helped Katrina's devastation come about, but it appears that standard scares defenders of the current elitist leadership and rank & file membership

Hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth when it comes to putting the lawmakers on the same footing as those their laws affect, the perfidy of being held to the same workplace searching standards as their constituents, a truly clamorous Greek Chorus of of foreboding and woe

Republican leaders, who previously sought to focus attention on the Jefferson case as a counterpoint to their party's own ethical scandals, said they are disturbed by the raid. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said that he is "very concerned" about the incident and that Senate and House counsels will review it.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressed alarm at the raid. "The actions of the Justice Department in seeking and executing this warrant raise important Constitutional issues that go well beyond the specifics of this case," he said in a lengthy statement released last night.

"Insofar as I am aware, since the founding of our Republic 219 years ago, the Justice Department has never found it necessary to do what it did Saturday night, crossing this Separation of Powers line, in order to successfully prosecute corruption by Members of Congress," he said. "Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement that "members of Congress must obey the law and cooperate fully with any criminal investigation" but that "Justice Department investigations must be conducted in accordance with Constitutional protections and historical precedent."


At issue is the "speech or debate" clause of the Constitution -- language intended to shield lawmakers from intimidation by the executive branch. Historically, courts have interpreted the clause broadly, legal experts said.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), in an e-mail to colleagues with the subject line "on the edge of a constitutional confrontation," called the Saturday night raid "the most blatant violation of the Constitutional Separation of Powers in my lifetime." He urged President Bush to discipline or fire "whoever exhibited this extraordinary violation."

I'd say this clause is applied far too broadly if a reading indicates that searches can't take place at the offices of our lawmakers, an overly-broad principle also at play with the Administration's dubious claims of imperial powers that it alleges allow the President to violate the same Constitution he's sworn to uphold

And while Dinh's not my favorite legal advisor, I have to agree with his response to those law scholars who felt searching Jefferson's office was "an intimidating tactic that has never before been used against the legislative branch.", and "really an over-the-top move, and it could create some real blow-back problems for them in the courts,"

But Viet D. Dinh, a former assistant attorney general in the Bush administration who is now a Georgetown University law professor, said that "the raid on his offices itself does not define a constitutional issue."

The constitutional privilege for lawmakers does not "expand to insulate everything that goes on in a congressional office, especially if there's allegations of abuse of process or bribery," Dinh said. ". . . The fine line is whether or not it relates to a legislative process or not, not whether they've raided his office."

Absent "Exigent Circumstances", a warrant is required for searches & seizures, and I find nowhere that Congressional Offices are somehow immune and sacrosanct to a legally issued search warrant

In effect, the politicos are upset that while a warrant was apparently presented-and I'm basing that on no mention anywhere in the article that the search took place without one-the documents in question were seized in the raid instead of being turned over after being requested with a subpeona

Oh the shock, the perfidy, the unseemliness of being treated as the lowliest of serfs & peasants

Of course, documents are seized whenever offices and workspaces are raided, so apparently what's required here-besides smelling salts for easily swooning politicians unaccustomed to being treated like their constituents when it comes to the legal process-is less whining from those upset at one of their own being embarrassed due to being held legally accountable for his own actions

And here's why it's odd ANYONE is rallying around a parasite like Representative Jefferson, his own actions during Katrina, in which he used the National Guard to help him at the clear expense of his Constituents


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