What are your Republican representatives up to this Friday? Oh, nothing much – just stripping away a few more constitutional rights. The usual, you might think — only this time, they’re stripping the Fifth Amendment rights from someone with Republican affiliations, so that’s a fresh take on their liberty-theft theme.
On Friday, Darrell Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines to strip IRS official Lois Lerner of her Fifth Amendment rights on the grounds that she waived them when she asserted her innocence before she pleaded the Fifth.
One must be very careful these days when dealing with Republican “lawmakers”.
Democrats were distressed, as this is not a good precedent to set for a civilized/modern society, leading Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) to elaborate while voting, “No, I’m voting no to this McCarthyite tactic.”
“Who are we in this committee to take away anyone’s Constitutional rights?” asked Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), according to NBC’s First Read. Well, Sir, ask the party in charge who y’all are to take away Constitutional rights. From voting rights to women’s bodies, Republicans are big on taking away legally protected rights and individual freedoms.
When Republicans first got their hands on Lois Lerner, who oddly outed the alleged “IRS scandal” during an American Bar Association meeting, they claimed that by pleading the Fifth, she was admitting guilt. Back on May 22 (before the IRS scandal fizzled into the non-scandal it always was), Lerner taking the Fifth was “evidence” of Obama’s guilt. They claimed this was ALL they needed to indict Obama. But now pleading the Fifth has deflated to a mere loss of Constitutional rights for Lerner, who was first appointed during the very politicized Bush II years.
The right against self-incrimination is spelled out in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution; this is known as “pleading the Fifth”. It is perhaps germane to modern day American politics to point out the origins of the Fifth. It was a result of religious persecution in 17th century England, when the Puritans refused to cooperate with their interrogators and they were considered guilty if they remained silent while being tortured. From this sordid history, we got the right to plead the fifth and not have it incriminate you.
In Issa/Republican world, pleading the Fifth not only incriminates you, but the President of the United States (even if you have never spoken to him), as well as being an at-will right granted and taken away at whim by a Republican-led witch hunt.
By asserting her innocence, Lois Lerner has lost her right to plead the Fifth, according to Issa and House Republicans. In fact, you may assert your Fifth amendment rights at any time during questioning, so we have to wonder why Republicans are going with this. However, even if they can make a dodgy case for stripping Lois Lerner of her Constitutional rights, why do it? Why would they publicly brand themselves as the party willing to resort to McCarthyite tactics?
The answer to that question is because they have been humiliated by the actual evidence in the IRS “scandal”, which does not support any of their public hysteria. Instead of backing down, they’re choosing to save face by amping up the witch hunt. Someone will be hanged in the public square because the party needs blood to get out the vote in 2014.
The real irony here is that I would like Lois Lerner to tell, under oath, how she happened to reveal the “scandal” that would ostensibly make her look bad, in public. I would like to know who she spoke to prior to making this revelation. I’d like to know if she had any meetings with Congressional Republicans and/or their aides/staffers. I’d like to hear about her associations with any political groups, PACs, etc.
I suspect the answers may not help Darrell Issa’s scandal mongering, and I suspect that they might end up hurting the Republican witch hunt, just like the full IRS hearing testimony that Issa refused to release did.
Overreach and backfire are the themes underlying Republican accusations, much like their Benghazi witch hunt, and refusal to air the interview with the actual experts on the situation. Republicans are running a tight propaganda ship from the House of Representatives, and I doubt they can afford for Lois Lerner to answer questions truthfully under oath. Of course, if she says anything that isn’t helpful to their 2014 witch hunt, they’ll simply refuse to make it public, because their goal is to get to the “truth”, as defined by their political ambitions.