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COUPWATCH: Ashcroft's First Order of Business--Investigate Self For Perjury

by Paul Rosenberg Monday, Feb. 05, 2001 at 9:37 AM

If John Ashcroft had a single shred of integrity in his bones his first order of business would be to investigate himself for perjury in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing. But don't worry, he doesn't have a shred of integrity! Dozens of Republican Senators are on record denouncing perjury by the highest law enforcement officer in the land. But don't worry, that only applies to Democrats! Will the Democrats complain? Does a jellyfish have a spine?

COUPWATCH: Ashcroft's First Order of Business--Investigate Self For Perjury

By Paul Rosenberg

Senators and Congressmembers are allowed to lie with impunity. It's called Congressional im(p)unity, and it's supposed to serve a high-minded purpose: preventing nutcases from suing elected representatives and tying the legislative process into knots. But when the nutcases get inside Congress and start taking over, then it's Katy bar the door, as Martin Dies, Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy proved so well back in the '30s, '40s and '50s. Newt Gingrich kept their spirit alive in the '90s and many of his erstwhile good friends are still around to see that this hallowed tradition of politicans slandering ordinary Americans keeps on going strong into the new millenium.

John Ashcroft won't be there among them, though. The voters of Missouri saw to that. Instead he'll be the nation's number one law enforcement officer. The US Senate saw to that. In doing so, they voted for man who not only lied viciously on the Senate floor-a privilege shared by all who voted for him-but who also lied *to* them when testifying before the Judiciary Committee. This latter act is not privileged. In fact, it's a felony-perjury.

Ashcroft viciously lied about Ronnie White on the Senate floor in order to defeat White's nomination as a federal judge. That's Congressionally protected slander. But then he lied about his oppositin to White to the judiciary committee. That's perjury. The difference may seem slight, even non-existent to some, but it's precisely the reason that Republicans claimed a *duty* to impeach President Clinton: lying about sex may be universal and understandable (just ask Henry Hyde, Helen Chenoweth, Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, etc.) but doing so under oath strikes a dagger at the heart of our justice system.

Unless, of course, you're a Republican.

Ahscroft lied about Bob Jones University, and about Southern Partisan magazine as well. He lied about his opposition to a voluntary desegregation plan as well. All of these lies were reason enough to vote against him, of course. But they were much more than that. They were grounds for indicting him for perjury. And now that Ashcroft has been confirmed as Attorney General, they are grounds for his impeachment. Which, of course, it's now John Ashcroft's duty to pursue. (No special prosecutors anymore, thanks to our fair-minded Republican friends, it's all up to Johnnie Boy hisself.)

If John Ashcroft had a single shred of integrity in his bones his first order of business would be to investigate himself for perjury in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing. But his confirmation hearings made one thing perfectly clear: John Ashcroft doesn't have a single shred of integrity, so there's nothing to worry about. We're in good hands with total hypocrisy.

"*Total* hypocrisy?" you may wonder. Yup! Just consider a few of the choicest statements recently made by Republicans on the subject of perjury. The following are excerpted from a collection by John Aravosis at

Arlen Specter (R- PA): Perjury and obstruction of justice are serious offenses which must not be tolerated by anyone in our society."

Unless, of course, you're a US Senator.

James Inhofe (R- OK): "I have a hard time reconciling the idea that there might be certain permissible exceptions to telling the truth under oath."

Unless, of course, you're a Republican testifying to Congress. (Tell 'em about it, Ollie!)

Frank Murkowski (R- AK): "if we turn a blind eye and allow people to lie under oath, destroy or hide evidence, or conspire to present false and misleading testimony, the entire notion of justice and truth become meaningless."

Sorry, Frank, the Rehnquist Gang got there first. But it's nice to know-by your own admission--that your eyes are as blind as theirs.

Mike Crapo (R- ID): "Tampering with the truth-seeking functions of the law undermines our justice system and the foundations on which our freedoms lie

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