Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A golden opportunity missed by Pelosi

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and minority leader Nancy Pelosi have reached across the aisle to express bipartisan dismay at the raid by the FBI on the offices of Rep William Jefferson (D La).

Shame on them, but especially shame on Pelosi. As I posted yesterday, I and a whole lot of others who share my concerns have been very vocal regarding the separation of power. My voice has been raised loudly in protest of the administrations power grab on several issues directly bearing on the separation of powers.

But the bloggers who feel like me and myself have also been hot and bothered by the heavy handed stench of corruption that has settled over national politics while Republicans have exclusively held the power. With the raid of Jefferson's offices by the FBI, Pelosi had a golden opportunity, without sacrificing principles regarding the separation of powers, to show how Democratic leadership reacts to a scandal involving one of it's own. In fact a principled stand would have reiterated the notion that the rule of law applies to everyone, including Congress and the President. Futhermore the notion that the current party in power would be seen defending corruption, even when it is from a Democrat, would support the narrative that Republicans are invested in a culture of corruption. Democrats castigating one of their own over this issue as the Republicans defended him would provide proof of the very narrative the Democrats are trying to tell the American people going into the midterms.

Now we are witness to the mainstream press feeding us the line that corruption affects both parties, and Pelosi has fed right into that line. Anyone who cares to look at the issue knows full well that there are small fry crooks on both sides of the aisle, but the huge... the massivley explosive type scandal currently enveloping Washington entirely involves Republicans. Pelosi allows the mainstreaming of the equation of the small time crook with the Abramoff scandal by seeming to question, in concurrence with the speaker, the right of the FBI to raid the crooks office.

Furthermore there is no separation of powers issue here in the first place. The FBI had a warrant. There is no clause in the constitution that offers an umbrella from prosecution for members of Congress. In fact there were very particular protections in the case of this raid to make sure that not all of the papers in Jefferson's office were gone over by investigators. There were in effect 2 layers of purview of the documents in question. They were collected, reviewed by a judge, and any documents the judge determined pertained to the investigation were then turned over to prosecutors.

Any normal crook facing a warrant would have their office busted into and the FBI investigators on the case going through the suspects effects entirely. Jefferson was granted special status as a Congressmember and the separation of powers doesn't mean that he can get away with being a crook!

I'm sure Pelosi's first instinct is to start swinging away at anything coming from the administration, but this time she is wrong. She ought to have realized that straight away when she saw who else was on her side on this one.

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