Taking the Fifth Amendment

We have just finished pointing out the inconsistency of Left’s hand-wringing on issues of the treatment of illegal combatants captured during the War and Terror, while ignoring the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s willingness to grant little weight to the First Amendment’s freedom of religion. Now we see some Democrats ignoring their better angels in a fit a political rage with regard to the issue of the Bush Administration’s dismissal of eight federal district attorneys.

We can reserve the discussion of the wisdom and ethics of the dismissal of the district attorneys until later. What is disconcerting now is the reaction of some Democrats to the invocation by Monica Goodling, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales liaison to the White House, of her Fifth Amendment rights not to testify before Congress.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) remarked that “The American people are left to wonder what conduct is at the base of Ms. Goodling’s concern that she may incriminate herself in connection with criminal charges if she appears before the committee under oath.” This is eerily reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s suggestion that those who did not testify before his committe had something to hide and were likely “Fifth Amendment Communists.”

The American are free to make privately ant judgment they wish based on Monica Goodling’s invocation of her Fifth Amendment rights. However, it is irresponsible for a high government officials to suggest that use of the Fifth Amendment suggests guilt. Given this atmosphere, it not unreasonable for anyone not to be apprehensive about testifying before Leahy’s committee that appears more anxious to hang someone politically than to determine facts.

2 Responses to “Taking the Fifth Amendment”

  1. Repack Rider says:

    You can’t just skate on testifying by yelling “fifth Amendment!” Congress has every right to find out whether you are in real jeopardy or just don’t want to show up.

    Then they can grant you “use immunity” and compel your testimony and send you to jail if you don’t want to testify.

    The best part? Even if you are granted use immunity, you are still subject to perjury charges if you lie. Considering how many diferent and conflicting stories have come out of the DoJ in the last few weeks, there is no doubt that several people have lied to Congress, and I’m looking forward to sorting the lies out and sending a few of them to prison.

    Once Goodling told Congress that she was in criminal jeopardy, they have every right to use other means to find out what that jeopardy is and send her to prison anyway. They also have every right to believe that there is criminal behavior to be exposed, even if they cannot compel her to incriminate herself.

  2. Frank Monaldo says:

    Dear Repack Rider,

    Yes, Congress can grant immunity. However, they have not yet done so. Of course, they can inquire further. Has Leahy suggested immunity? Is Congress on a fishing expedition trying to turn any inconsistency into a criminal matter? This especially problematic when inconsistencies many hinge on ambiguous definitions a “political” and “performance.”

    However, to suggest that the invocation of the Fifth Amendment, in and of itself, implies guilt smacks of McCarthy’s tactics. Your eagerness for “sending a few to jail” does not suggest a quiet mood of a dispassionate inquiry.

    Do I suspect a faux indignation? Wasn’t it only a few years ago that some seemed perfectly willing to accept obvious perjury in a federal civil rights case by a Democratic president?


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