Okay, so technically this isn’t Chicana, Feminist, Texas, or donut-related, but it’s definitely political and definitely regarding civil liberties, and it’s something I think many of us have been waiting for for almost 8 years:
More than seven years too late, it appears as if a growing number of congresspersons are realizing that they are part of a co-equal branch of government. After allowing their institution to be disrespected and at times ignored by the executive branch, top officials in Congress are finally expressing a willingness to use their full power under the Constitution to rein in an out-of-control administration.
The current target: Karl Rove.
Rove has been asked by the House Judiciary Committee to testify about his involvement in the Justice Department’s prosecution and imprisonment of former Alabama Governor Don Siegleman. As Rove has so far refused to testify voluntarily, members of Congress have started sending signals that they are prepared to go to the mattresses over this.
Yesterday, Rep. Robert Wexler sent out a strongly worded E-mail – pasted in full below – advocating the use of “inherent contempt” against Rove, which would allow the House Sergeant-of-Arms to forcibly bring Rove to the House to testify.
Also yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers alluded to the use of inherent contempt. “We’ll do what any self-respecting committee would do,” Conyers said. “We’d hold him in contempt. Either that or go and have him arrested.”
We need you to let your representative know that you support this forceful action. If you agree that Congress should arrest Karl Rove, if necessary, and force him to testify before the House, please click on this link and send an E-mail to your representative immediately:
Once you have taken action, please forward this E-mail as widely as possible or use the tell-a-friend page on the American Freedom Campaign site to spread the word.
Thank you in advance for taking action.
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund
An E-mail from Rep. Robert Wexler, May 15, 2008:
Last night, I appeared on MSNBC’s Verdict with Dan Abrams to discuss Karl Rove’s outrageous refusal to appear before Congress regarding serious allegations that he used the US Justice Department to take down a prominent Democratic politician. It is alleged that Mr. Rove personally instigated the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegleman. The case has been criticized by legal experts, and 52 former state attorney generals – both Republicans and Democrats – have criticized the case and called for an investigation.
If Rove refuses to testify voluntarily and ignores the subpoenas that will certainly be issued, he should be held in Inherent Contempt of the House of Representatives.
No American is above the law. None of us should be able to ignore Congress without consequence. If Mr. Rove ignores a subpoena from the Judiciary Committee, then the House of Representatives should pass an Inherent Contempt citation and exercise our right to send the House Sergeant-of-Arms to gather Mr. Rove and bring him before Congress to testify.
I do not advocate this option lightly, but the reality is that Congress has few options left against an Administration that totally refuses to submit to any type of reasonable Congressional oversight. Congress has both the right and obligation to investigate these matters. Never before has an Executive so upset the checks and balances inherent in our Constitution. If we back off or delay, we effectively forfeit the power of Congress to investigate the Executive branch
Rove is not the first White House official to ignore Congress. We have seen a pattern of refusals based on laughable claims of executive privilege. First, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers ignored subpoenas on the investigation into the firing of US Attorney Generals for partisan political motives.
Their refusal to testify was unprecedented: never before have executive officials totally refused to even show up before Congress. Bolten and Miers are the highest officials ever held in contempt of Congress. Unfortunately, Attorney General Mukasey – in a dereliction of duty – has refused to enforce the contempt decree and now Congress is suing them in District Court to demand compliance. Then, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, David Addington, refused to testify on the investigation into the Bush Administration’s ordering of torture. Now, Rove continues this executive arrogance by also refusing to testify.
Enough is enough. We have a Constitutional obligation to provide accountability to a White House that is trying to usurp the constitutional powers of Congress.
These are the very reasons why I have been pushing for impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney. The Bush Administration has been running roughshod over the Constitution for eight long years. We should not allow the promise of a positive election be used as an excuse to ignore our duty to investigate crimes that weaken the very fabric of our Democracy.
I thank you again for your commitment to the causes that we hold so dear.
With warm regards,
Congressman Robert Wexler