Monday, July 23, 2007

Congress can exercise alternative methods of interrogation

I didn't get a chance to blog about it last week, but I'm sure you caught the buzz on Bush's declaration that the president's office is not answerable to the Congress and can't be held in contempt via the Justice system for failing to answer Congressional subpoenas. Since then, attention has been focused on obscure case law that allows Congress to invoke an inherent contempt provision and arrest non-compliant witnesses who fail to answer when served process.
Thus, the congressional alternative. Instead of referring a contempt citation to the U.S. attorney, a house of Congress can order the sergeant-at-arms to take recalcitrant witnesses into custody and have them held until they agree to cooperate -- i.e., an order of civil contempt. Technically, the witness could be imprisoned somewhere in the bowels of the Capitol, but historically the sergeant-at-arms has turned defendants over to the custody of the warden of the D.C. jail.

I know it's kind of silly but I'm amused by the idea of building a dungeon in the bowels of the Capitol building and holding Rove and Miers there until they talk. It would seem somehow fitting for an administration that seeks to turn back the legislative clock to the Dark Ages to be subjected to the techniques prevalent at the time.
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