Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Searching Congressional Offices

I'm a bit amazed that the politicos are posturing this way. I can understand that they are upset that the FBI has gone into their house to get evidence that they think should be immune to search.
(Washington, D.C.) Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) issued the following statement today regarding the recent Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) search:

"It is the duty of the Justice Department to root out and prosecute corruption wherever it is found, including in the U.S. House of Representatives. I believe that all Members of the House should cooperate fully with any criminal investigation.

"That being said, I am very concerned about the necessity of a Saturday night raid on Congressman Jefferson's Capitol Hill Office in pursuit of information that was already under subpoena and at a time when those subpoenas are still pending and all the documents that have been subpoenaed were being preserved.

And so on. I have a bit of sympathy since I don't think you'd want those disruptions in the government, but then, they are denying the fact that the subpoena for this information has been ignored by Jefferson.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to strike a conciliatory tone, saying, "We have a great deal of respect for the Congress as a coequal branch of government."

But he also defended the search: "We have an obligation to the American people to pursue the evidence where it exists."

Justice Department officials said the decision to search Jefferson's office was made in part because he refused to comply with a subpoena for documents last summer. Jefferson reported the subpoena to the House on Sept. 15, 2005.

Makes you wonder by what standard Hastert is working. How long does a congressman get to comply with a subpoena before it becomes unreasonable? I'd also like to know how Hastert has come to the conclusion that the records in question were being preserved.

I still can't find anything in the constitution that gives the congressman's documentation protection from warranted search.

QandO points out the question that the politicos are waving about with respect to the speech and debate clause providing them protections. Though I looked it up and I don't see anything saying that there is a protection of their documents.
Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Maybe I have the wrong section?

I wonder what exactly is meant by "Breach of the Peace?" Sounds pretty light to me.

Guess I'm going to say that Hastert got his tin-foil hat askew on this one.

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