Condi Rice to respond by writing a letter to Congress

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by swordfishME, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. swordfishME

    swordfishME Member

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    Just read on CNN that Madame Secretary of State is going to respond to her congressional summons by writing a letter to respond!

    This is one smart woman; a letter is not under oath, one can lie all they want in a letter and not be breaking any laws regarding their testimony to congress.

    P.S- I know there is another thread on the subject but I am not willing to engage that OP since he has nothing of value to add to anything on this topic.
     
  2. HotBulge

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    Lowells talk to Cabots, Cabots talk to God
    Thank you for your wisdom:smile:
     
  3. Iscream

    Iscream Active Member

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    Another Bush hack who is striving for the "rule of law." Impressive way they are "restoring dignity to the White House."
     
  4. B_JQblonde

    B_JQblonde New Member

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    Oh a hack, right? Not qualified, right?
     
  5. Group51

    Group51 Member

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    For some reason I was expecting 'Condi Rice to respond to allegation of Lesbian fling'
     
  6. HotBulge

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    But don't you know that Condi is secretly in love with George Bush?
     
  7. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Don't you wish.

    With photos, I presume, courtesy of the National Enquirer or Larry Flynt.

    Won't happen, even if it happened.
     
  8. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Congress can compel testimony when conducting an investigation pursuant to its Constitutional mandate to legislate. It's been doing so for centuries. However, there is very little Constitutional justification for Congress to play amateur sleuth if investigating criminal matters, as such investigations are specifically delegated to the Justice department, which is in the Executive branch ... like it or not, separation of powers problems crop up immediately. And Congress can't claim that any particular investigation is simply an attempt to ensure that properly legislated laws are being obeyed, as the Supremes long ago determined that Congress has no such function. That pesky separation of powers thing again. So it's not at all clear that a Secretary can be forced to appear. To a considerable degree it hangs on precedent. On the other hand, a deposition, which can be a letter, can be made under oath. Not that that means a whole lot after the Clintonian acquittal for lying in such a deposition.

    Refresh my memory - has Congress successfully forced a Secretary to testify to a committee?

    If not, and if she wants to stall, for good or bad reasons, she could probably do so for years.
     
  9. dong20

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    Not to my knowledge, for the reasons stated, though could they not cite her for 'contempt of congress' if she refused? For what that's worth, or seek impeachment.

    Like either of those is going to happen. I guess executive privilege has it's perks, at least as an opening tactic, before getting into the separation of powers bit. Though I'm not sure EP applies to other than the Office of the President, perhaps as former NSA which though non Senate confirmable is statutory....just maybe.

    Even then it's without constitutional validity and indeed questionable in the context of the 6th amendment (the framers saw that one coming) and while it's not entirely denied by the USC it's hardly smiled upon either. Nixon saw to that. I believe Jefferson set the precedent, despite failing in his attempt.

    Anyway, Waxman is a media hungry bully with an ersatz agenda, in response I'd say Rice is jerking his chain,and no doubt having fun. If the characters were more than one dimensional, the plot even remotely challenging and the outcome anything other than predictable I'd get the popcorn....:rolleyes:
     
  10. kundalinikat

    kundalinikat Member

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    Congress can actually arrest Rice- rather, the House can, with its own sergeant-at-arms- if she does not show up as summoned. Personally I hope it comes to that, and that she is charged with contempt of Congress. This is a very basic example of how the separation of powers plays out.

    Why Congress has the power to make arrests. - By Josh Chafetz - Slate Magazine

    According to this writer in Slate,
    "Federal law can allow the executive to punish disobedience to Congress, but it cannot take away Congress' own punishment powers. Back in 1833, Justice Joseph Story said those powers were utterly necessary "for either house to perform its constitutional functions," a conclusion also reached by the Supreme Court as a whole in 1821. Once a house of Congress finds someone in contempt, it can order its sergeant to go after him. It's really that simple."

    This executive branch has claimed more power than it has under the Constitution and I'm glad to see it being reclaimed.
     
  11. DC_DEEP

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    Hmm. Condi is a US citizen. I'm a US citizen. If she can refuse a subpoena, does that mean I can, too?
     
  12. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    That's part of the question. If Congress has no right to force her to testify, then her failure to testify isn't contempt. And in that case her failure to testify isn't a crime of any sort, so impeachment is out.

    All three branches have unique responsibilities and powers. A refusal by one branch to give up one of those powers to any other branch is not the great crime that some think it is - in fact, it's part of the job. In the few times that such a thing has happened, it has later been found to be unconstitutional. The line-item veto was the last time I remember. The Executive and the Legislature interact in certain specified ways, and neither branch can give up one of its powers to the other, even voluntarily. Think of these "powers" as "responsibilities", and the situation is perhaps clearer.

    Now the exact place of cabinet secretaries in the Pantheon isn't perfectly established, as the position didn't achieve much prominence before the Jackson administration. There were secretaries right from the beginning, of course, but the posts didn't seem to be as important as they later became (or at least so it seems to me). So exactly how high up the chain Congress can go before it becomes a serious matter of Executive Privilege has maybe never been exactly determined.

    Executive Privilege is a real and important concept, not just something to hide dodgy behavior. George Washington found early on that Congresscritters couldn't keep a secret if their pensions depended on it. Apparently negotiations with foreign powers, particularly, appeared in the papers the day after Congress was briefed on them, and George decided, probably correctly, that that would never do. Hence the concept of privileged information appeared. And if anything it's more important now than ever, as I think we'd all agree that Congress hasn't improved with age.
     
  13. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Well, no, it's really not that simple. The constitutional functions of the Congress are not just anything Congress feels like doing. The constitutional functions of Congress are legislation, and very little else. Law enforcement is specifically excluded from the constitutional functions of Congress. Law enforcement is the constitutional function of the Justice dept, which is in the Executive branch. And there's that old separation of powers thing again. So to the extent that Pelosi et al whine about criminals in the White House, it becomes more difficult for them to claim that their demands on the White House have to do with legislation rather than Congressional fantasies about law enforcement.
     
  14. rob_just_rob

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    Neither has the presidency.
     
  15. DC_DEEP

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    By "congress," do you mean the house and the senate, or just the house? I believe the senate does have some "power to compel," but I'll have to check on that.

    At any rate, I think the Congress can require testimony (under oath) by government officials.

    I so often hear "Congress" used to mean specifically the House of Representatives, when actually it refers to the House and the Senate. Of course, each half of our bicameral Congress has different powers and obligations.
     
  16. dong20

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  17. dong20

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    Contempt of Congress goes back, I believe the end of the 18th Century, then described, loosely as; "The act of obstructing the work of the United States Congress or one of its committees."

    These days it really requires refusal to comply with a subphoena for it to be considered contempt of congress. As I understand it, Congress does have the power to compel testimony and a refusal is a crime though whether it would if necessary enforce it in Rice's case (as a cabinet secretary) is unknown and if so what the resulting testimony would be worth which is what I was speaking to.

    As for the penalties; well, the offense of 'inherent contempt' could result in the arrest (by the Seargent at arms) of the contemptee and their being brought to the floor to give testimony. However that has not been done for an age, about 70 years or more. The reason being it's complex and limited in scope hence the statutory procedures introduced in the mid 19th Century.

    While a criminal offence contempt of congress is likely to amount to little although should Rice be held in contempt the presiding officer is required to refer the matter to AG who should have a Grand Jury consider the matter. Civil procedures can also be invoked.

    On your earlier posts, have a look at Wilkinson v. United States, 365 U.S. 399 (1961) which suggests as you said that while so long as a Subphoena is valid and it needs to be issued peruant to a valid legislative purpose. However it need not involve legislation and need not state Congress' ultimate purpose. Also look at Eastland v. United States Servicemen's Fund, 421 U.S. 491 (1975) which suggest that in general the courts consider motions to quash Congressional Subpheonas as being outside their jurisdiction, tending to rule them as 'political' and falling within the area of "Speech and Debate" and, thus unsuitable for judicial remedy.

    A few have been 'in contempt' over say the last 30 years, Janet Reno being one I especially recall, what with the Clinton saga and all. Ultimately Clinton's impeachment found what was required.

    I still believe impeachment is an option, the impeachment would relate to the (alleged) crime for which a subphoena may (or may not) be issued, not the mere refusal to comply with it, though that would probably do.

    Exactly, as I alluded to when I said I was unsure if, in this case Rice would be able to claim EP on the basis of being former NSA.

    It is, but even so it's not a constitutional provision. The theory is one thing, the reality another. It's been my experience that for the most part (and especially when politicians are concerned) claiming EP to cover 'dodgy behaviour' is exactly what it is.
     
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