Congressional Omerta

Monday, November 21, 2005
From The American Thinker

Americans justly pride themselves on having the most open government in the world. Aside from our intelligence services and certain aspects of the Justice Department, the business of governance is supposed to be conducted in sunlight. Anyone in the world with knowledge of the English language, access to a computer and the patience to learn a rather simple search system can visit the House of Representatives and the Senate and the Congressional Record for as detailed a view of the process of governance as has ever been available to a country's citizens in the history of the world.

Americans are also very attentive to Lord Acton's dictum concerning the propensity of power to corrupt. Through their elected representatives they have established various controls from time to time to assure impartial investigation and prosecution of malfeasance by elected or appointed officials. One such attempt was the Office of the Independent Counsel, established in 1978 in reaction to President Nixon's firing of Archibald Cox in order to forestall the investigation into Watergate. The statute authorizing the Office of Independent Counsel required that each counsel report to Congress the findings of the investigation of the incident(s) that gave rise to the appointment.

The OIC had a somewhat checkered history and the statute authorizing its existence was allowed to expire on September 11, 2001. At the time of its expiry there was one investigation remaining to be completed. That investigation initially concerned allegations that President Clinton's then Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros, had made false statements to FBI agents during a background check. Mr. Cisneros plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge, paid a $10,000 fine and was one of those pardoned by President Clinton just before his exit from the White House.

It would seem that Independent Counsel David Barrett who was appointed in May of 1995 should have been able to write and publish his report sometime in the year 2000 from the facts presented by the Minority Report of the Committee on Government Reform. The report presents Counsel Barrett's failure to publish his report as if it were some sort of misbehavior on his part. It appears to allege that he is wasting money and that the Democratic Minority Report has actually found a major boondoggle worthy of close scrutiny.

It is odd that the Democratic Minority Report mentions not one word concerning the actual reasons that David Barrett's operation continues to this day. One might imagine that at least one Democrat might have noted Tony Snow's piece back in April when Senators Kerry, Dorgan and Durbin tried to kill funding so that Barrett's report would never see light. They might also have taken note of the Wall Street Journal editorial of October 7 or Byron York's NRO piece of October 25 or his subsequent piece on November 18. Finally, they might even have noted the meticulously buried item in their favorite paper, the Washington Post in an article on October 1.

The Post forgot to edit out one sentence that solves the entire mystery of 'the report which couldn't be buried'.

Barrett has expanded the probe to look into allegations that a regional Internal Revenue Service audit into Cisneros's payments to the mistress was transferred to Washington and then stifled.


What in the world does the Barrett report contain that requires three US Senators and the entire Democratic membership Committee on Government Reform (now that's chutzpah)to bury? Why did the Conference Committee overseeing IC Barrett agree to keep the most critical part of the report buried after the DC Court of Appeals finally halted the flood of motions by William & Connolly that sought to push the reports release into the 22nd Century?

Americans love a good mystery almost as much as they love sunshine. Independent Counsel Barrett has fought for disclosure to the very end. The order by a panel of the DC Court of Appeals that the "sealed" Section V of Barrett's final report be made available to nine named members of Congress for distribution by them to other members and staff is tantamount to tearing out the last chapter in a mystery novel.

The American public will hear of the published but restricted contents of Section V via anonymous leak and innuendo and the redacted portions will be subject to surmise based upon political advantage. The order by the Court of Appeals is a compromise that will satisfy no one.

Senator Chuck Grassley and the Hon. James Sensenbrenner should be encouraged to be more forceful on this issue. Directing the IRS to impede an investigation of the Executive is a matter requiring sunlight's disinfectant properties.

Sen. Chuck Grassley
135 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC
20510-1501
202.224.3744

Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.
2449 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4905
Telephone: (202) 225-5101

8 comments:

David Thomson said...

There’s one thing we can pretty well take for granted: the Democrats are not worrying about Henry Cisneros! He is a voice from the distant past and no longer a viable candidate for any major office. Most Americans have forgotten him. No, the Democratic establishment is most assuredly concerned that the contents of this report will prove damming to themselves. So much so, that even the Republican hating MSM will not be able to ignore it. Isn’t it hysterically funny? The attempted coverup of this report barely causes a ripple in the news. Republicans could never get away with this nonsense.

Knucklehead said...

DT,

This definitely has nothing directly to do with Cisneros. I've read through the material, in particular the ruling that releases all of the report except section V. It makes clear that Section V deals with Barret's investigation following the conclusion of the Cisneros bits. It also makes clear that there is information in there that is not otherwise available to the public and that the interested parties have "explicity and implicity" requested that the material not be released.

The power the court uses to deny the release of Section V is based upon previous rulings wrt other independent council reports; ie. from the two other independent council cases they cite there have been developed a list of "criteria" (questions to be asked) which should be used to govern the release of the information in this sort of report.

I find the notion of "implicit" requests not to release fascinating. Apparently some "commenters" felt they could not not come right out and "explicitly" request that the report, or Section V, be withheld.

It seems, from the sketchy info available, that there are some folks who would not like what is in Section V to become public knowledge. I'm not sure that, in and of itself, is enormously meaningful. If whoever it mentions for whatever reasons wasn't charged with a crime I can see them not wanting the matter entered into public knowledge. I mean, after all, the appearence of impropriety and such.

This is pretty fascinating stuff. The infighting over an investigation that began over a charge long since resolved and pardoned tells us something. What it tells us isn't clear.

Rick, I didn't spot anything obvious telling us who the nine congresscritters who receive the full report will be (I just scanned the stuff and it didn't jump out at me). Is that the members of the Judiciary Committee or some subcommittee? (I'm too lazy to look up how many critters sit on the Judiciary committee.)

Anonymous said...

Very good piece, Rick..C

Rick Ballard said...

Knuck,

The order names by position rather than by an individuals name, the positions and the names of the current officeholders are:

Senate Majority Leader – Bill Frist
Senate Minority Leader - Harry Reid
Speaker – Dennis Hastert
House Majority Leader – Roy Blunt (until Tom comes bac)
House Minority Leader – Nancy Pelosi
Chairman Senate Judiciary – Arlen Specter
Ranking Member Senate Judiciary - Patrick Leahy
Chairman House Judiciary – James Sensenbrenner
Ranking Member House Judiciary – John Conyers

I interpret "to such of their members and staff as they deem necessary" to mean any member of the House or Senate or any of the House or Senate staff.

"deem necessary" is a hole big enough to accept a freight train.

Reading the WaPo coverage of this and contrasting it with their coverage of Fitzgerald's Mr. Hamon Rye indictment makes me believe that the editorial staff at the WaPo could never be convicted of committing journalism. Toss in the blatant premature burial attempt by the Democratic membership on the Committee on Government Reform (snicker) and I think that the Encyclopedia Britannica has a fine example to use when defining hypocrisy.

Knucklehead said...

Thanks for the info, Rick.

There's nothing to worry about re: this attempt to hide information from the American people. No doubt NPR is all over this and the Natty Chatterers will never allow this outrage.

terrye said...

Hmmmmmm,

Where is Libby when you need him?

Isn't it amazing that secret intelligence reports from the CIA gets leaked, but this is not out there yet?

vnjagvet said...

Deep Throat told W and B to "follow the money".

If you want to know how sensitive this information is, I say, "follow the [lawyer's] fees".

What firms are fighting to keep this out of the public eye? Who do they represent? This will tell you a lot.

vnjagvet said...

Rick:

Great article. And thanks for taking the time and effort to get it in the American Thinker as well.

This is especially timely as background for analyzing the latest series of orchestrated attacks on the administration's activities before the Iraq war began.

Someone said that the Democratic party is the party of "impressions". Thus it is very important for them to set the stage and also frame the questions under debate. That is 3/4 of the battle, as we have discussed before.

Trying to get out in front of that is very important. Your article helps to do that.