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Don’t Criminalize the Investigations. Immunize the Witnesses!

May 22nd, 2013 - 9:11 pm

Keep your eye on the mission, which is to save us from an ambitious tyranny.  We cannot accomplish this life-and-death task if we turn it over to the lawyers.  It’s a political mission, not a law enforcement roundup.  We need to know, in detail, what happened.  We have to know the details, which will, if we are good, enable us to dismantle an enormously ambitious attempt to change America in precisely the way Alexis de Tocqueville predicted.  As I wrote four years ago, American tyranny would not resemble those of the past.  It would consist of a series of rules and regulations than would enervate us, and reduce us to objects of manipulation by an arrogant state:

That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild.  It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.  For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

We can see this impulse at work in an amazing number of governmental initiatives, from the truly terrifying new speech code for all American colleges and universities that receive federal funds, to the previously unimaginable intrusion of the Feds into our privacy, whether via the IRS or the Justice Department, as in the criminalization of journalists doing their jobs.  It goes on and on, from Obamacare to the greatly expanded role of Washington in corporate enterprise, and to myriad regulations–many of which we do not even know–and executive orders.

For the future of the American enterprise, it does not matter if Obama and his colleagues deliberately set out to create a Tocquevillian American tyranny, or if it is simply a hell that grew out of good intentions.  It’s there, and it’s getting worse.  We need to block and undo it, which requires that we have a full picture of it.

The scandals give us a chance.  They open windows into the progress of that “absolute, minute, regular, and provident” power, and we need to look through all of them.  But if we criminalize the investigations, if witnesses are afraid they will be indicted, prosecuted, and punished if they tell the truth about what they’ve been up to, our chances of getting the full picture will be enormously, maybe even fatally, diminished.

We want the truth, the whole truth.  The best way to get it is to immunize congressional witnesses who tell the story.  That way, they will be part of a common effort to understand what went wrong, rather than targets of a criminal investigation.  It may surprise you to learn that there are many civil servants who have quietly asked to be subpoenaed so their superiors will not accuse them of ratting out their bureaucratic cohorts.  Fair enough.  Subpoena them, and give them the protection of immunity, provided they tell the truth.

The cudgel of criminal action should be reserved for those who insist on clamming up, for they are obstructing investigations desperately needed to protect and advance our freedoms.  But, as Andy McCarthy argues with his usual brilliance, for heaven’s sake let’s not have special prosecutors, who will throw a mantle of secrecy (“can’t talk about it, there’s a criminal investigation here”) over the whole thing.  We want transparency, not secrecy.  Secrecy is part of the problem and no part of the solution.

This requires Congress to carry the burden, and ferret out the truth.  It’s hard to imagine our elected representatives will do themselves proud.  So be it.  It’ll be messy.  But then, democracy is messy.  Chaos can be creative.  The pols will need an attentive and responsible press to call attention to their errors and their omissions. Hard to imagine that, too.  So be it.  There’s a lot of journalists, editors, talk show hosts, bloggers and even entertainers out there.  I think we can sort it out.  Bring it on.  Give us a chance.

I sure hope we can get this right, even approximately right.  When we elected Obama I said that we were in for a hell of a fight.  We’ve got it.  Let’s make the best of it.  It’s political, stupid, in a very fundamental way:  it’s about freedom and tyranny, the essence of American politics.  Don’t turn it over to the lawyers.  Get the story.  Tell it all.  Then we’ll figure out how best to deal with the mess we’re in.

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Top Rated Comments   
The House Repubs are doing as much as they can do, it seems to me. They passed another a bill to overturn the Un-affordable Healthcare law and just yesterday passed a bill to bypass Obama on the Keystone pipeline. I think it is unhelpful to berate them when they are doing their best.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bull. Do not immunize them from prosecution. There have been no criminal charges filed. We're not even clear as to which laws might have been broken. If you immunize Lerner, she will claim that they were her orders, and no one else was involved. End of scandal.

No, we must force her to testify. If she refuses, charge her with contempt of Congress. If we can jail her for that until she does testify, then do so. She has no basis at the moment for pleading the Fifth. It is to protect against self-incrimination against criminal activity, not so she can use it to obstruct a Congressional hearing trying to get at the root of a political scandal.

Start by asking her what the basis is for her pleading the Fifth. Is there a specific crime involved? Is she admitting that there is some crime by this administration for which she might be culpable? If not, then she must talk.

Only after the situation is established can we talk about immunization. Have this discussion in private, in arrangements for her immunization. Do not just give her carte-blanche, only to have her betray us. Proceed very carefully. Immunization is supposed to be in exchange for specific testimony.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (103)
All Comments   (103)
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CAN they be immunized? Doesn't it take the DOJ, which will refuse?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Were the US not to learn from this mess accurately described by ML, others can.

Otherwise, we are in more trouble than what some perceive to be the case.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"it's about freedom and tyranny" - no, it's about good vs. evil.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
FORGET IMMUNIZATION. PEOPLE WHO TALK NEED WITNESS PROTECTION.

We're dealing with a Chicago thugocracy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
EVEN IF WE IMMUNIZE DUBBYA, I DON'T THINK HE'LL TALK.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
when we don't know the story, all theories are possible...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
ii'm sure you know a lot. and i'm grateful for your help.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Some of the witnesses are among the guilty. They should fear going to jail. There are too many crooks in government as of now. How many Congress people aqrrived at their current jobs with average income and the prospect of earning whatever the average attorney or whatever makes....now that same person may be rich. Hastert, a former speaker certainly gave the impression of being an honest ex-coach. He retired a rich man.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
i can't begin to tell you how often i heard and read those words "...among the guilty...should fear going to jail..." about myself during iran-contra. at the end of the day, there was nothing...so don't be so sure. remember that the best is often the enemy of the good. we're facing a national crisis, we have to get the full picture, we want people to talk...lots of them will be more willing to talk if they can just tell their story...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"....we're facing a national crisis, we have to get the full picture...."

I couldn't agree more but in a completely different light of facts. Our national crisis is one of 'internal warfare' by two opposing ruling classes well outside the elected and appointed government, for absolute ideological power. NO nation divided like this has proven to stand in its historical greatness. The continuing and growing shadow government of ideological special interest groups is going to fall this once great nation and nobody is paying attention. They're all being had-fed diversions far away from the real cortex of destruction. Everything you complain of has its 'origins' from these unelected and non appointed ideolog's who have formed the shadow government. Our worst enemy is within from foreign relations to economics, privacy and on down the pike. Corruption in the public and private sectors from top to bottom and bottom to top. The communists are peanuts compared to the shadow government destroy our nation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Shall not be infringed" means what it says and says what it means.

While "Shall not be compelled" is subject to interpretation.

Yeah...

That doesn't make any sense. "Shall not" means one thing over here, but means something else entirely over there.

Unless, of course, we're all choosing who gets to play Piggy in the next production of "Lord of the Flies." Then, it makes sense...kinda. If you're nuts.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Exactly correct. immunize all witnesses from prosecution 'if the tell the truth'. But if they are caught in a lie then full prosecution is the order of the day.
This is the only way to get to the bottom of a cabal of liars and thieves, those who tell the truth walk, those who do not get a stripped suit and a private place to live....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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