Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Immunity for Goodling?


Could be. The House Judiciary Committee is considering it, and might be able to get the requisite 2/3 of the congress persons who hold seats on the committee to agree. It would mean that four Republicans would have to vote with the Democrats who control the Congress (and therefore the committees). Given the lack of support for the Attorney General, it is not unthinkable that four would stand up and defy the White House. (If your congressperson is on the committee, avail yourself of the contact information I provide in the sidebar and drop him or her a line.)

They know, and so does the White House that in 2008 we are selecting a different president no matter what. But every single Congress critter is up for re-election every two years. They virtually never stop running for office. And for the first time in any of their careers Americans suddenly seem to be paying attention to absolutely everything. In this climate of heightened awareness among the electorate, the Republicans on the committee might be a bit reluctant to be seen as carrying water for this feckless president and his mendacious minions.

Americans are more than a little bit put off about the fact that an innocent woman spent four months in prison for doing her job in a Democratic administration. (We like to think of political prisoners as a big part of the reason we engaged in that 50-year ideological struggle with the USSR. Remember? I for one didn’t show up for duty during the Cold War just to pave the way for a worse brand of authoritarianism to take over at home. Just sayin.’)

Monica Goodling threw a change-up that had the White House swinging wildly when she announced preemptively that she would be “taking the Fifth” when testifying before Congress (she at one point indicated she wouldn’t even appear. That contemptuous talk was stifled quickly).

Conyers cited Goodling's dual role as Gonzales's aide and the Justice Department's liaison to the White House for the unusual immunity offer, saying she could "clear up the many inconsistencies and gaps surrounding this matter."

"Ms. Goodling clearly has much to contribute to the committee's understanding of the surrounding circumstances," Conyers said.

If the Committee grants immunity to Goodling, the only way the Justice Department could mount any objections would be if it could show objectively that an ongoing criminal investigation would be jeopardized by the arrangement. The Purge has sparked no criminal probes, but the department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility are exercising caution and conducting reviews to determine if any policies were violated.

Immunity would compel Goodling to answer questions in exchange for the promise that she would not face criminal prosecution based on evidence obtained by her testimony. (The Fifth guarantees a protection against self-incrimination).

The White House is anxious about any testimony she might offer – she was the liaison between Justice and Karl Rove. They do not want her to testimony under oath, and have been quite insistent about it. That they are so eager to keep her quiet is reason enough to grant her immunity and compel her testimony. And if she still balks, let her sit in a cell on contempt charges for a couple of days. I have a feeling a few days shock time would loosen her tongue right up.

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