Representative William Jefferson, a Louisiana Congressman is under investigation. The charge is bribery. Apparently, serious allegations have been made. It is said that this prominent political leader was videotaped accepting $100,000 from an informant.
The case against Mr. Jefferson has been building for months. This week the court awarded a search-and-seizure warrant. Federal Bureau of Investigation examiners were sent out. Ninety thousand dollars in cold, hard, and ice-covered cash was found in the Congressman’s home freezer. The suspect’s computer was taken from his office. The money, while fascinating, has caused little clamor. The legality and constitutionality of a Congressional office search has brought much comment.
Rummaging through the workplace went on for eighteen long hours. Others in Congress, also under investigation; however, on different charges, feared for themselves. These persons were decidedly nervous. They questioned privately, might these unprecedented exercises affect them? I wonder how it might affect us all. When there is no separation of power, no checks, or balances, what is there? Oh yes, totalitarianism, exactly what this administration claims we are fighting against.
Publicly, some Congresspersons rancor was raised. They asked what of our system of checks and balances. They pondered and proposed legal scholars to do the same. Does a practice such as this suggest that we, as a nation, endorse policies that negate the separation of power? These rabble-rousers, normally calm and contrite were criticized. It was said they are more worried about themselves than the law of this land. However, orators such as House Speaker Dennis Hastert declared, “Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years.”
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, proclaimed, Justice Department investigations must follow “constitutional protections and historical precedent.” House Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, chimed in stating he has “grave concerns” about this search and seizure.
Democratic Representative William Jefferson, who has not yet been charged, felt justified in stating an FBI search of his Capitol office “an outrageous intrusion.” The Congressman said, “There are two sides to every story. There are certainly two sides to this story.” He was empathic; though asked by leader Pelosi, Jefferson said, no, he will not resign. Interestingly, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might.
Attorney General Gonzales conceded, “I will admit that, these were unusual steps that were taken in response to an unusual set of circumstances.” Nevertheless, he thinks these actions were necessary and just. You might recall, dear reader, this same man thought it wise to discount standards set by Geneva Convention. He stated they were obsolete. Principles of compassion, and humanitarian gestures are archaic.
George W. Bush did as well; however, now, with the weight of polls looming large on his shoulders, he is more repentant or reluctant to cause himself greater grief. The President is seeking solace and therefore, wants to end the wrangling. King George II wishes to give each side time to think, a novel concept coming from this White House.
Mr. Bush explained everyone needs time to cool down. Possibly, they might meet in William Jefferson’s freezer. In an attempt to achieve greater calm, President Bush has asked the Justice Department to seal all the documents and keep them for 45 days. Mr. Bush is expectant that in the interim more facts will emerge, tempers will cool, and all persons involved might have a cleared perspective.
The Attorney General is clear. Gonzales has offered to tender his resignation if the President enforces his command. Cool, as cash is in a well-insulated freezer.
References For Review . . .
• Bush challenges hundreds of laws By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe. April 30, 2006 for PDF Bush challenges hundreds of laws
• Congressman in bribery inquiry won’t resign Associated Press. MSNBC. May 22, 2006
• Angry lawmakers demand FBI return seized documents CNN News May 26, 2006
• GOP, Dems blast FBI for searching congressional office. CNN News May 25, 2006
• Alberto Gonzales: A Record of Injustice Center for American Progress
• Memorandum on the Geneva Conventions Center for American Progress
• Hastert Irate at ABC Story; Bush Freezes Files, by Luke Burbank. All Things Considered. National Public Radio. May 25, 2006
• Gonzales was ready to quit over evidence, By David Johnston, Carl Hulse, New York Times. San Francisco Chronicle. Saturday, May 27, 2006
• Hastert, Pelosi issue rare joint statement Joint Statement from Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Pelosi. By Lynn Sweet. Chicago Sun Times. May 24, 2006
• Bush Orders Jefferson Documents Sealed CBS News. May 25, 2006
• Finally, a search warrant is used--and Republicans in Congress don't like it By Mitchell J. Freedman. MF Blog. May 25, 2006