imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

FBI stages unprecedented raid on congressman’s office

by Kate Randall Thursday, May. 25, 2006 at 6:18 AM

The FBI conducted a search of the office of Louisiana Representative William Jefferson over the weekend in what is the first such intrusion by an agency of the executive branch into the office of a sitting congressman in US history. In a press conference on Monday, Jefferson, a Democrat, denounced the raid as an “outrageous intrusion into the separation of powers.” The raid on Jefferson’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building on Saturday night was a politically motivated breach of constitutional boundaries aimed at asserting the power of the executive branch over the legislative. It is yet another political marker in the government’s moves towards dictatorial forms of rule.

The action was an unmistakable signal to any congressmen who might be inclined to seriously investigate the myriad illegal and unconstitutional actions of the administration, and hold leading members of the administration accountable.

There were, no doubt, other political calculations as well. The choice of a Democrat as the target of the raid was not accidental, given the welter of bribery and influence-peddling scandals that have beset the Republicans in recent months.

Jefferson is the subject of a bribery investigation. The FBI is probing allegations that he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to promote business ventures in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana. His New Orleans and Washington-area homes were search by the FBI last August.

In a search-warrant affidavit unsealed on Sunday, the FBI states it has videotaped evidence of Jefferson taking 0,000 in bribe money and that it found ,000 of the same cash inside his apartment freezer. Two other individuals have pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson to promote the Kentucky-based Internet and cable TV company, iGate.

Underscoring the unprecedented and egregious character of the Justice Department operation is the reaction it has provoked from leading Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist stated he was “very concerned” about the incident and said Senate and House counsels would review it.

In a strongly worded statement, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican, Illinois) protested the “overreaching and abuse of power by the executive branch.” He continued: “I am very concerned about the necessity of a Saturday night raid on Congressman Jefferson’s Capitol Hill Office in pursuit of information that was already under subpoena and at a time when those subpoenas are still pending and all the documents that have been subpoenaed were being preserved.”

Hastert added, “The Founding Fathers were very careful to establish in the Constitution a Separation of Powers to protect Americans against the tyranny of any one branch of government. They were particularly concerned about limiting the power of the Executive Branch.

“Insofar as I am aware, since the founding of our Republic 219 years ago, the Justice Department has never found it necessary to do what it did Saturday night, crossing this Separation of Powers line, in order to successfully prosecute corruption by Members of Congress... Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sent an email to congressional Republicans Sunday night, commenting, “What happened Saturday night... is the most blatant violation of the Constitutional Separation of Powers in my lifetime... I am shaken by this abuse of power.”

Representative David Dreier, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Rules Committee, said “I think this is really outrageous.”

Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner, speaking with reporters in an off-camera briefing, said he wondered whether people at the Justice Department had looked at the Constitution lately. He predicted that the matter might eventually go to the Supreme Court.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California) issued a milder rebuke, stating that “members of Congress must obey the law and cooperate fully with any criminal investigation,” but that “Justice Department investigations must be conducted in accordance with constitutional protections and historical precedent.”

The search of a congressional office violates the “speech or debate” clause of the US Constitution, contained in Section 6 of Article 1, concerning the legislative branch. This clause was aimed at shielding legislators from intimidation by the executive branch, and has been broadly interpreted by the courts throughout history. It traces its origins back to a clause in the English Bill of Rights of 1689, aimed at protecting the independence of Parliament against the monarchy.

Charles Tiefer, a University of Baltimore law professor, commented to the Washington Post that the raid on Jefferson’s office constituted “an intimidating tactic that has never before been used against the legislative branch.” He added, “The framers [of the Constitution] would turn over in their graves.”

Donald Ritchie, a historian with the Senate, said his office could find no record of a similar incident, though the homes and business offices of lawmakers had been searched in the past.

Information that has emerged since Saturday night makes clear that Bush administration officials were well aware they were treading on constitutionally protected ground in executing the raid. In seeking a search warrant from a federal district judge in suburban Virginia, the Justice Department outlined special procedures they would follow, including the use of a “filter team” to supposedly ensure that the search did not infringe on privileged legislative material.

This “filter team”—comprised of prosecutors and FBI agents whom the Justice Department contends are unconnected to the investigation—would review any seized items or documents to determine whether they are privileged and therefore immune from the search warrant. It is clear, however, that the members of this team would be answerable to the Justice Department, an executive branch agency ultimately accountable to the White House. As such, this “safeguard” would serve again to establish presidential powers over the legislative branch.

Another sign of the calculated nature of the operation is the fact that FBI officials activated a special command center for the sole purpose of monitoring the raid.

Defending the raid in response to the outcry from members of the Senate and House, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday would only say, “I admit that these were unusual steps that were taken in response to an unusual set of circumstances.” On Tuesday he claimed that his office had decided the search of Jefferson’s office was “absolutely essential to move forward with that investigation.”

This is hardly plausible, given the mass of evidence the government had evidently already assembled against the Democratic congressman. There was, moreover, no legitimate reason for sidestepping the normal procedure of issuing subpoenas.

The Justice Department search of Jefferson’s office must be seen in the context of the frontal assault on traditional democratic procedures and constitutional safeguards being carried out by the Bush administration. This is a government that operates in secret and refuses to hold itself accountable either to Congress or to the American people.

Its methods and policies—an illegal war based on lies, the use of torture, secret prisons and kidnappings, the denial of due process and habeas corpus rights, a vast and secret program of warrantless spying on the American people, the repeated refusal to hand over documents to Congress or allow White House officials to testify in congressional investigations, the use of the military for domestic policing operations in violation of the posse comitatus act—constitute preparations for police state forms of rule that are well advanced.

Only three days ago, Gonzales indicated that the government was considering prosecuting journalists for reporting, on the basis of leaks provided by intelligence agency whistle-blowers, information on the National Security Agency data base of the phone records of more than 200 million Americans and the existence of secret CIA prisons abroad where alleged terrorists are being held indefinitely without any access to legal process. He said that the government had the legal authority to prosecute newspapers and journalists for such disclosures.

A week earlier, on May 15, two ABC News reporters revealed that the FBI, at the request of the CIA, had been tracking their phone calls.

To condemn the FBI raid in no way implies political support for Jefferson or suggests he is innocent of the corruption charges. In fact, the rampant corruption in Washington, which involves both parties, with corporate money shamelessly used to buy congressmen and their votes, is itself a manifestation of the same process of political decay. Both parties are complicit in anti-democratic measures whose essential purpose is to defend the rule of a narrow financial elite that is enriching itself by driving down the living standards of the broad mass of working people.

In this case, the Bush administration used allegations of corruption as the pretext for a further assault on the constitutional principle of the separation of powers between co-equal branches of government—executive, legislative and judicial—so as to move further toward the establishment of a presidential dictatorship.

-World Socialist Web Site

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Congress got what it deserves... @ Thursday, May. 25, 2006 at 1:34 PM

Local News


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy