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August 20, 2007

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Here's some food for thought from Think Progress' bipartisan foreign policy experts' report:

92 percent said the war in Iraq negatively affects national security.

53 percent oppose decision to increase troops in Iraq (up 22 points from six months ago).

68 percent favor redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq over the next 18 months.

64 percent of conservative experts say the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact. 25 percent of the conservatives favor immediate withdrawal.

Only five percent of the experts believe al Qaeda will be weaker as a result of the escalation, and only three percent believe Iraq will become a “beacon of democracy.”

Wonder what the GOPers heard from the home folks if this is what the (generally more hawkish) "experts" are saying?

Nobody agrees with me but Rove was FIRED! He was fired by the leadership of the rank and file Republican Party. He was chopped off in one fell blow and gave the standard excuse when you are fired: I HAVE to spend more time with the fam. It is obvious he has already started honoring that excuse by appearing in every media market he can think of over the past week. No cleaning out his desk, closing files and fond good byes for him.

Rove is a silver tongued snake. So soothing that after a few minutes of his cynisism you just fall asleep. No wonder Bush loved him so much.

Wonder what the GOPers heard from the home folks if this is what the (generally more hawkish) "experts" are saying?

Mimikatz, if they are anything like my GOP congressman, they didn't bother to take the time to hear from the home folks. My congressman scheduled short (1 hour) "town hall" meetings at inopportune times. It was almost as if he did not want to hear anything...

Well, one of thge premises of the Constitution is that politicians have a very strong instinct for self-preservation, and that would always act as a corrective. Between the consultant-captive Dems and the Bush-bot GOPers, I think we are going to see that severely tested in the next 15 months.

Thanks emptywheel, progressives can take pride imvho, in the splintering GOP. Bush and the GOP are now reaping the bitter fruit of all their "Victory" over those cut and run Dimmocrats rhetoric.

Nobody, I (and I think others agree) fundamentally agree with you that Rove was pressured into resigning. It's a testimony to the tone deafness of the Vichy Dems, that they have made it so easy to blur their positions with recently converted chicken hawks.

The Brits are likely to see Petraeus rallying to their support in the south east area where drawdown is laconically described, 'rout', by year's end. That part of the nation may be the first test for ability to govern in the civilian paradigm.

Rove was not fired.

"But I do find it curious that Rove leaves--all the while promising glorious success in Iraq. Republicans--even Fox News--is surprisingly and publicly gleeful at his departure.

The Fall-back Strategy

Perhaps something to consider in regard to Turdblossom's rather "sudden" desire to resign:

The WH has been pushing "Executive Privilege" all over the place as a means of "shielding" its wrong-doers bozos from the reach of Congressional investigators.

This, however, may just be the 1st part of the WH strategy. The 2nd part of the "Circle The Wagons" strategy comes about like this.

Let's assume for the sake of this hypothesis, that the WH legal beagles (like Fielding, Addington, etc.) that are gaming the system have figured their odds are "dangerous" of losing in Federal Court on one or more Executive Privilege claims.

Claims put forth to shield folks like Turdblossom for example. *g*

Let's suppose that the WH legal beagles believe that if a Federal Court reviewed their claim of Executive Privilege regarding Turdblossom's involvement in the US Attorneys Firing or perhaps Hatch Act violations, the Court would find "strong" evidence of "wrongdoing" that negated any claims of Executive Privilege, and instead strongly supported Congressional Oversight rights to investigate by means of supeanas for WH staff.

So Turdblossom "gets" to leave town. Just why is that you ask?

'Cause folks who are actually "employed" by the US Government are not able to claim the 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination when testifying!

One has to be a "private citizen" before these critters can have 5th Amendment rights when testifying.

US Government "employees" gots to answer when Congress comes calling!

As a "private citizen" however, one gets to plead the 5th!

If scuttlebutt were to leak from, let's say a little fat birdie in the AG office, that good ol' Turdblossom was in serious jeopardy of "criminal" Hatch Act violations, why then Turdblossom jest might find being a private citizen a tad bit more comfortable.

It don't mean he's gotta stop his political feckin' of Democrats. No, it don't mean that at all! It jest means that he'll be dipping his beak in the private funding trough (which by the way is far more rewarding) instead of collecting a government paycheck.

Gotta admit, sure sounds like a plan.

How about this? They are playing politics with our troops. Why will they be withdrawn as Nov 08 approaches? Not because "the mission" has been "accomplished", but because the election approaches. Try floating that meme and see what happens to the political landscape.

Mad Dogs -- do you have a reference for that? I'm not aware of any exclusion of government employees from the Fifth Amendment.

"Rove was not fired."

In corporate speak, "spend more time with my family," ALWAYS means "fired." Not only was he forced out, it happened very quickly, before he could call Ken Starr at Pepperdine or some other wing nut and line up a soft landing.

BTW, some of the other wingnut trolls who post here under "Jodi," use "off-color" language that the real Jodi and her grandmother have said they do not tolerate.

It would indeed be logical for the congressional GOP to be demanding changes, but since there have been numerous points in the past where congressional electoral reality has crashed on the shores of Bush's stubbornness, I'll believe it when I see it.

Considering the top-down authoritarian nature of the GOP, I'm not convinced they can do anything other than what Bush wants until he actually leaves office.

Redshift,

No reference, and IANAL *g*

I'm making the "case" that there cannot be such a thing as taking the 5th while one is still a US government employee and is called via subpoena to testify before a Congressional committee.

Seems pretty straight-forward to me and compellingly logical to me, but maybe that is its problem.

Mad Ogs - Redshift is absolutely right. In fact, there was a classic display very recently in relation to Sara Taylor. Sorry about your name; I mistyped it a long time ago, I think at FDL, and wanted to see if you remembered....

bmaz,

Wasn't Sara Taylor a "former" WH employee when she testified before Congress?

bmaz,

An additional item for your consideration is a post at FDL that asked this question (and didn't get an answer that I can see):

"If she asserts her Fifth amendment privileges, wouldn’t it be the first executive branch employee to assert it during congressional hearings?"

The question was by CTuttle - see http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/07/09/sara-taylor-to-testify/

And again, as far I can find out, Sara Taylor was an "ex-employee" at her Congressional testimony, and that is exactly my point regarding one's "ability" to use the 5th Amendment.

So it still comes down to:

US Government Employee - No 5th Amendment right at Congressional Testimony?

Private Citizen - 5th Amendment right is operative at Congressional Testimony.

But not when she asserted. It is a Constitutional right via the Fifth Amendment, contained in the Bill Of Rights. It cannot be abrogated simply because of the nature of your employment.

"I'm making the "case" that there cannot be such a thing as taking the 5th while one is still a US government employee and is called via subpoena to testify before a Congressional committee."

IIRC, a lot of police departments fire employees as soon as they take the 5th. That may be the source of the confusion.

If the 5th Amendment were ironclad for a gov't employee, then why would they need Executive Privilege? I've seen gov't employees lie often enough in court, but I can't see how one could take the 5th before Congress while still employed. If it were personal liability, I'd assume the person would be fired or forced to resign. If it was under orders, the person would be shielded somehow. Isn't that why Monica Goodling and Sara Taylor had to resign?

I never believe this 'GOP X in revolt' crap when I see it. When it comes down to it, they are Republicans, period. There are no 'moderates', they do what the leadership tells them to do, which is usually 'support the President' - and which is fine by me - they are killing their brand. I approve of them running it into the ground. More please.

All the rest is just noise.

bmaz,

I would still make the argument that as an "employee" of the US Government, one is "bound" to answer to one's employer, the US Congress.

Of particular "apparent" relevance on this subject is this:

This is exactly the rule that Congress enacted, and President Abraham Lincoln signed into law, in 1862. Two federal government clerks had embezzled bonds worth $2 million and then confessed in a Congressional hearing. They went on to claim that they could never be prosecuted because Congress had required them to talk. Congress cured the problem with a statute obliging future Congressional witnesses to speak when so ordered. Anyone refusing to speak could be held in contempt, and anyone lying could be charged with perjury...

Found in http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/2002Taking.pdf

Reading further in that document, it seems to leave the issue of 5th Amendment usage by government employees in Congressional testimony "up in the air".

Is there a lawyer in the house? *g* I've looked all over the place and I can't find any specific judicial ruling on this issue.

bmaz is an attorney.

"bmaz is an attorney"

Excellent! Now the question is whether bmaz is right. *g*

Everything I've found seems to lend itself to the conclusion that Congress has the inherent power to "compel" testimony of its employees, 5th Amendment notwithstanding.

Mad Dogs - It is not up in the air at all. It just flat out cannot and does not impinge on an individual's right to plead the Fifth. You can, and absolutely should be, fired. But you still retain the right. If you lie, perjury is appropriate; but that doesn't really involve the 5th at that point because you have waived it in order to testify. Irrespective of what the law review article says, the remedies of any contempt finding would be very limited, and certainly would not include incarceration of any variety. And with all deference to Boo, being an attorney doesn't mean diddly squat. There are plenty of nimrod attorneys around; and I am far to often in that very category. Here, however, I am pretty sure I have given a correct reading of the law.

bmaz,

Hmmmm...couple of more points.

Your last posting only confuses me more because it seems to evidence an unsettled case of "irresistible force meets an immovable object".

Irresistible force = Congressional power to "compel" testimony of US government employees.

Immovable object = A person's 5th Amendment right.

I do not disagree that any "private" citizen has both the right and the ability to stand on their 5th Amendment right in Congressional testimony.

I also can find it understandable that the Constitution doesn't speak to a "difference" between a citizen and a US government employee.

Still...it sure seems that there is no "settled" case for a US government employee in Congressional testimony.

I've looked a good deal, but I can not find a single instance where a US government employee was able to plead the 5th Amendment during Congressional testimony. Anybody have any references?

Knock yourself out. I applaud the effort. It is an interesting concept and there is a compelling morality to it. But it would take a Constitutional amendment to implement.

One addition to my last comment:

I do indeed understand that one may stand on one's 5th Amendment right in Congressional testimony, and that Congress may then provide "immunity" to that person in order that the testimony then would be forthcoming.

So perhaps this is the sole means which with an assertion of the 5th Amendment is overcome by Congress.

I still have issues with respect to the difference between a private citizen and a US government employee, but I'll get over it. *g*

In any event, I posit that folks find it far less tortuous to plead the 5th in Congressional testimony as a private citizen than as a US government employee.

Technically, Goodling announced she would plead the Fifth was she was still employed. She resigned before she actually got there, though, and of course they gave her immunity.

Marcy,

Re: Goodling. That was what brought this whole topic to my mind with regard to Turdblossom's "resignation". I seem to remember more than a few up-raised Congressional eyebrows questioning just how she could be intending to plead the 5th as a government employee.

Sounds like Leahy informed Bush & Co in no uncertain terms that SJC would be hauling in Rove to testify. And that inspired him to quit before having to say "5th Amendment" while working in the WH.

It's always nicer to say 'goodbye' rather than 'I was fired.'

But, as was said above, that's no reason for him to cease political activities/consultations if he wants.

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