[See update at bottom of article, for response from whistleblower in Don Siegelman case.]
Given the questions concerning whether or not Karl Rove and Harriet Miers will be required to testify under oath as part of their agreement to give "transcribed depositions under penalty of perjury" concerning the U.S. Attorney purge scandal, as announced yesterday by House Judiciary chairman John Conyers, we thought we'd seek some clarification.
We asked a senior source on the U.S. House Judiciary team whether or not taking an oath before testifying would be required, or whether the agreement requires Rove and Miers not be placed under oath. Writes our source in reply:
NO oath is required for congressional testimony. 18 USC 1001 (copied below) make it a crime to lie to congress, regardless of whether there is an oath. Penalties are the same as traditional perjury, where an oath is given (as in a court of law). There is no difference. When oaths are given in congress, it is generally for the cameras or to remind the witness of his obligations. On the latter point, the same can be accomplished by reminding about a witness's obligations under 18 usc 1001. This is a non issue.
See the copy of 18 USC, Sec. 1001, as sent by the House Judiciary source below...
Just in from Conyers' office. Rove and Miers will testify, under oath [see explanation in update below], in "transcribed depositions under penalty of perjury"...
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
House Judiciary Committee Secures Rove and Miers Testimony in U.S. Attorney Firings
In an agreement reached today between the former Bush Administration and Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Karl Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in transcribed depositions under penalty of perjury. The Committee has also reserved the right to have public testimony from Rove and Miers. It was agreed that invocations of official privileges would be significantly limited.
In addition, if the Committee uncovers information necessitating his testimony, the Committee will also have the right to depose William Kelley, a former White House lawyer who played a role in the U.S. Attorney firings.
The Committee will also receive Bush White House documents relevant to this inquiry. Under the agreement, the landmark ruling by Judge John Bates rejecting key Bush White House claims of executive immunity and privilege will be preserved. If the agreement is breached, the Committee can resume the litigation.
Chairman Conyers issued the following statement:
"I have long said that I would see this matter through to the end and am encouraged that we have finally broken through the Bush Administration's claims of absolute immunity. This is a victory for the separation of powers and congressional oversight. It is also a vindication of the search for truth. I am determined to have it known whether U.S. Attorneys in the Department of Justice were fired for political reasons, and if so, by whom."
We're on the road and off the grid most of today/tonight for duties in Phoenix, so without the time to offer proper context for the above. But suffice to say the latest report, as linked above, in concert with The BRAD BLOG's detailed series of coverage from last year --- linked below for your convenience --- suggests, the perpetrator or perpetrators of the most deadly biological attack ever carried out on American soil, still likely walks free.
And no, as we've also argued previously, George W. Bush didn't "keep America safe following 9/11".
Links to some of our noteworthy, and at times "Exclusive," coverage last year of the Anthrax case and the FBI's supposed "Anthrax Killer" follow below...
Only in America can elected officials go on TV and confess to felonies (including torture and warrantless spying, not to mention aggressive war) and the resulting debate focus around the question of whether investigating the "possibility" of wrong-doing would be too radical. This week a coalition of dozens of human rights groups including the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Society of American Law Teachers released a statement, as drafted by The Robert Jackson Steering Committee, cutting to the chase.
It reads in its entirety:
We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.
Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations. The former president has confessed to violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
We see no need for these prosecutions to be extraordinarily lengthy or costly, and no need to wait for the recommendations of a panel or "truth" commission when substantial evidence of the crimes is already in the public domain. We believe the most effective investigation can be conducted by a prosecutor, and we believe such an investigation should begin immediately.
I wrote this statement with some helpful tweaks from colleagues and have been screaming the same basic message for about three years, but I sense more than ever right now that more ears are open to it.
While actually enforcing laws and "getting tough on crime" is now considered the radical leftist position and a "truth" commission the reasonable compromise, it is clear that a bipartisan commission would create the bipartisan bickering our elected officials are so eager to avoid. It would also, in Senator Patrick Leahy's view, investigate the complicity of Democrats as well as Republicans in the crimes of the past 8 years, thus guaranteeing that neither Democrats nor Republicans will support it.
If Congress can't take the heat and won't even enforce its own subpoenas, it should leave well enough alone. Statutes of limitations are running out fast, and we don't have time for another commission. If President Obama wants to distance himself from enforcing the law, he can do what he is supposed to do and leave the matter in the hands of Eric Holder. And if Attorney General Holder wants distance he can do what is required and appoint a truly independent prosecutor. Doing so would please the following organizations. More are signing on every hour, and both organizations and individuals can sign on at ProsecuteBushCheney.org.
"It is through the Constitution that we control the reins of government and insure that it remains the protector of individual, unalienable Rights - i.e., the servant of the People.
"Therefore, it behooves the People to show the Government that the People know what their Rights are and what Government's obligations are, that the People are watching Government as it exercises its delegated powers and that the People are prepared to act if the Government steps outside the boundaries drawn around its power by the Constitution." --- We The People Foundation
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) works for the People. It doesn't work for special interests. It doesn't work for the voting system vendors. The EAC has an obligation, spelled out in its past advisories, public statements and, most importantly, in federal law, to carry out oversight of the voting systems we, the People, use in our federal elections. It does not matter that the EAC commissioners are not elected to their positions. They are still servants of the People.
Not long after being created by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, the EAC published, on June 8, 2004, "Chairman Soaries' Remarks about Electronic Voting Security Strategy for the November 2004 Presidential Election." The comments, by then EAC Chairman DeForest "Buster" Soaries included recommendations "to insure election integrity and promote voter confidence in the administration of the 2004 federal election," and stated, in part: "[The] EAC should solicit information about suspicious electronic voting system activity including software programming and should request aggressive investigative and prosecutorial responses from the U.S. Department of Justice Elections Crimes Branch in the Criminal Division."
It's clear that if there is to be any federal body to recommend investigation and/or prosecution to the DoJ, in regards criminal violation of federal law concerning voting systems, it is to be the EAC, the body charged with testing, certifying, and performing as the "national clearinghouse...with respect to the administration of federal elections" (42 U.S.C. § 15322) and the electronic voting systems employed across the country.
And yet, the EAC has continued to utterly fail in those duties, as a particularly maddening chain of inquiries and emails --- back-and-forth and round-and-round --- that we'd sent to the EAC commissioners and their spokesperson over the past three months illustrates all too well. All we were trying to do was get a simple answer to a very simple question...
In today's Tim Dickinson interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Rolling Stone, it sure seems like she's leaning towards accountability for the criminals in the Bush Administration. Many of her words sound like the correct ones, even if she's a bit too enamored of Leahy's "Truth and Reconciliation Committee" proposal, which, among other "shameful" things, would likely results in a whole bunch of immunity, to a whole bunch of folks who deserve no such thing.
But she says she supports what Conyers is doing in the Judiciary Committee, in continuing to pursue Rove, Bolten and Miers. She says she can foresee a scenario in which senior members of the Administration are actually prosecuted. She says "The American people do not want wrongdoing to go unaddressed." She even said similar words to Fox "News" two days before the Inauguration.
So why does it always feel like she's still sitting on a fence? And, if she really believes these words she says, as House Speaker, can't she do more to make them happen?
Here's the snippets of note from Dickinson's interview. You tell us what the inscrutable Speaker really means. Or does she even know herself?...
U.S. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) has subpoenaed Karl Rove today, yet again (the third time, for those keeping score at home), to give sworn, public testimony before the committee on February 23rd concerning the politicization of the U.S. Dept. of Justice during the Bush Administration.
Today's subpoena was sent to Rove's attorney Robert D. Luskin. It's accompanied by a brief, two-page letter [PDF] in which the Congressman politely refuses a request by the attorney to delay Rove's appearance, yet again. The previous subpoena required Rove's appearance on Feb. 2nd, but was delayed at his request and rescheduled for the 23rd at that time.
Following the previous subpoena, Rove told Fox "News" that he would refuse to testify, and committee member Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) responded on MSNBC by saying that he would either testify, or go to jail.
At the end of today's letter, refusing Luskin's request for further delay, Conyers, rather amusingly, notes:
[G]iven Mr. Rove's public statements that he does not intend to comply with the subpoena, I am puzzled as to why Mr. Rove needs a mutually convenient date to fail to appear.
RAW STORY's John Byrne reports that request for comment from Luskin was responded to with an auto-reply email stating that Luskin would "be out of the office and unable to check emails or voicemails until February 23, 2009."
UPDATE 2/14/09: "White House counsel Gregory Craig issued a statement late Friday encouraging former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove to cut a deal with Congress, an indication the new administration has begun to put pressure on President George W. Bush's former chief adviser." More details...
UPDATE 2/16/09: "Representatives of the Bush White House are no longer advising former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove that he is protected by executive privilege as regards testimony about the alleged political prosecution of an Alabama governor.
"In an exchange with Raw Story, Rove’s Washington, D.C. attorney, Robert Luskin, also said Rove won’t invoke his Fifth Amendment right to protect himself from self-incrimination, if and when he testifies about the firing of nine US Attorneys and the prosecution of the former governor." More details...
An official state investigation is now underway into multiple voter fraud charges against Rightwing author and one-time attorney Ann Coulter in Connecticut. The investigation began after a complaint was filed with the state's Elections Enforcement Commission on January 29, 2009.
The BRAD BLOG has exclusively obtained a copy of that one-page complaint which is posted in full, as filed with Joan M. Andrews, Director of Legal Affairs and Enforcement for the commission, at the end of this article.
The complaint was filed by Daniel Borchers, a conservative Christian critic of Coulter's following allegations in the New York Daily News in January that she had illegally voted by absentee ballot in CT, using her parents address there, in 2002 and 2004, despite being a resident of New York City at the time.
Though the allegations of Coulter having committed voter fraud in CT in 2002 and 2004 would be her first known instances of casting ballots illegally, they are not the first allegations of such crimes against Coulter. In 2005, after she moved from NY to Palm Beach, FL, she knowingly falsified her Voter Registration Form (a 3rd degree felony), knowingly voted at the wrong precinct (a 1st degree misdemeanor), as well as gave a false address for her drivers license (another 3rd degree felony).
Despite an inaccurate report from AP in May of 2007, subsequently picked up by other media, Coulter was never "cleared" of the voter fraud charges in FL.
A senior Democratic Congressman on the U.S. House Judiciary has said that either Karl Rove will testify before the committee, or he will go to jail. In the meantime, it has also now been learned, legal counsel for George W. Bush issued a letter just days before leaving the White House, claiming Rove, Bush, and other senior staffers have "absolute immunity" from testifying to Congress in the future.
Speaking on MSNBC, Judiciary member Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said last night that if Rove fails to show, in answer to a subpoena issued earlier this week, he'll be cited for Contempt of Congress. Then, he said, "the grand jury indicts him, you arrest him for contempt, and you put him in jail until he is prepared to testify to obey the subpoena." (More details, as well as video of the Nadler interview, follow below.)
Well, now, this could get interesting. Just in from Conyers' office...
Monday, January 26, 2009
Conyers Subpoenas Karl Rove: "It's Time to Talk"
(Washington, D.C.) --- Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. issued a subpoena to Karl Rove requiring him to testify regarding his role in the Bush Administration's politicization of the Department of Justice, including the US Attorney firings and the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. The subpoena was issued pursuant to authority granted in H.R. 5 (111th Congress), and calls for Mr. Rove to appear at deposition on Monday, February 2, 2009. Mr. Rove has previously refused to appear in response to a Judiciary Committee subpoena, claiming that even former presidential advisers cannot be compelled to testify before Congress. That "absolute immunity" position was supported by then-President Bush, but it has been rejected by U.S. District Judge John Bates and President Obama has previously dismissed the claim as "completely misguided."
"I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today's action is an important step along the way," said Mr. Conyers. Noting that the change in administration may impact the legal arguments available to Mr. Rove in this long-running dispute, Mr. Conyers added "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk."
President Obama announced the nomination on Thursday of a former government lawyer, who had been critical of the legal rationale for the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, to lead the Justice Department’s national security division.
The lawyer, David Kris, served as a senior Justice Department official in both the Clinton and Bush administrations from 2000 to 2003, and is widely respected in Washington for his knowledge of intelligence law.
In late 2005, following the public disclosure of the N.S.A. wiretapping program approved by President Bush, Mr. Kris wrote a 23-page legal analysis that described as “weak’’ and likely unsupportable some of the Bush administration’s key legal arguments in justifying the program.
And when he was still at the Justice Department, he advised his boss, who was at the time Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, not to sign a mysterious batch of wiretapping warrants — which grew out of the program — because intelligence officials would not reveal how the information in the wiretaps was obtained.
Eric Holder just told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the behavior of president Bush has been illegal, and that he, Eric Holder, will uphold the rule of law. It will be very hard to maintain those positions and not prosecute or appoint a Special Counsel to prosecute Bush's crimes.
Here's roughly what was said:
10:29 a.m. Leahy: is "waterboarding" torture and illegal?
Holder: yes, it is torture.
Leahy: Can other nations legally torture Americans?
Leahy: Can President of the United States immunize acts of torture?
Holder: Nobody is above the law. President has Constitutional obligation to enforce the laws. We have laws and treaties. The president acts most forcefully and has the greatest power when consistent with Congressional intent and directives. The president does NOT have the power that you have indicated.
Leahy: Washington Post yesterday reported that the top Bush Admin. official on military commissions says we tortured a detainee.
If he's confirmed, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings today, he'll review the Bush U.S. Attorney's decision to not prosecute former DoJ Civil Rights attorney Bradley Schlozman for his grotesque bastardization and politicization of the department as we detailed earlier this week. Schlozman, the DoJ's Inspector General found, broke federal law and custom vis a vis his hiring practices of only fellow whack-a-doodle wingnuts, and further went on to lie to Congress about during hearings (which is also a federal crime).
Said Holder during questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein...
I've had this picture in my mind lately, an editorial cartoon-like drawing, of a dam about to break and someone (Obama?) leaning hard up against it in futile hopes of keeping it from bursting forth. The dam and its contents, in my mind's eye, are labeled "Bush Administration Crimes and Failures." I've been pondering, over the last several days, how we're soon likely to learn that everything we think we already know about the historically-unparalleled failures, crimes and cover-ups of the Bush administration, will likely prove to be barely the tip of the iceberg as the Bushies lose their power, and "the files" are finally opened for all to see.
It's likely to take years, after President Obama is sworn in next week, to unearth the entire breadth of the degradation, filth, corruption and dismantling of federal law and U.S. Constitution under the current administration, and to piece together all of the unshredded and likely-shredded evidence both, and to take in the information likely to pour forth from officials and former officials who finally find the courage to tell the world just how bad it all really was and is (even if many of them would now be doing so only to salvage their own hide.)
One hint of what will be found beyond the tip of that iceberg, or inside that near-to-bursting dam (take your metaphorical pick) comes in today's remarkable report [PDF] from the DoJ Inspector General on the illegal politicization of the hiring practices at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division and "other improper personnel actions" in the division.
It's remarkable on several fronts. Not only because it describes the politicization of the department under the Bushies, their strictly illegal hiring practices; their determined dismantling of a core of career attorneys devoted to years of legal-processes in the fight for civil rights; as well as perjury and out-and-out lying to Congress, but also because the report itself --- in one last classic stroke of corrupt Bush Administration gaming of the system --- was completed last July, prior to the election, but held for release until today, just 7 days before the criminals (or at least those who won't be still-embedded like cancer cells within the federal buearocracy for years to come) take their leave.
And, as if all of that isn't bad enough, with the out-and-out finding of criminal wrongdoing in the report (such as illegal hiring practices and lying about them to Congress), the Bush Administration's own DoJ has decided that no prosecutions should be brought against the Bush Administration's own DoJ for the Bush Administration's own DoJ's now-well-documented actions in breaking federal law.
The bastardization of the DoJ Civil Rights division is a topic which we've covered closely over the years here at The BRAD BLOG, and even played a part in helping to expose, for example, when the head of the Voting Section in that division, John Tanner, was forced to resign from his post, not long after we'd video-taped and published controversial (and inaccurate) comments he made at a 2007 conference in Los Angeles declaring that disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at the polling place were more of a concern for the elderly than for African-Americans because "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
(See our now-infamous video, shot by our own Alan Breslauer, at right.)
As today's (actually July's) report reveals, that wouldn't be the only unfortunate --- and one might say, "ironic", given his position --- derogatory remark made about African-Americans by Tanner. But the bulk of the report, it seems, is devoted to one Bradley Schlozman, who insidiously twisted the mission of the Civil Rights division, brought political prosecutions in order to try and affect the outcome of elections, in violation of written DoJ policy, and attempted (and arguably succeeded) in helping to engineer an outright illegal, and ideological purge --- an ethical cleansing, if you will --- at the department, in an attempt to stack it with far rightwing brethren from the Federalist Society, or "right thinking Americans" (RTAs), as he referred to them among friends...
The Republican IT guru, recently described as a "high tech Forrest Gump" for his proclivity to be "at the scene" of so many troubling elections since 2000, and even at the heart of the "lost" White House email scandal, has been ordered by a federal judge to appear for an under-oath deposition next Monday in Ohio.
The BRAD BLOG has learned that Mike Connell, the Republican IT guru whose company, GovTech Solutions, created Ohio's 2004 election results computer network, appeared in federal court today, as compelled, and has been ordered to appear for his deposition on Monday, November 3, just 24 hours before Election Day 2008.
Though Connell's attorneys have fought to quash the subpoena, recently issued after the judge lifted a stay on the case several weeks ago, it looks like his options to avoid testimony, or at least jail for avoiding it, may have come to an end. The attorneys in the case have said that Connell's testimony may well lead to the subpoenaing and under-oath questioning of Karl Rove, who, they say, would be unable to use Executive Privilege as an excuse to avoid such a subpoena in a civil RICO case...