Monday, October 24, 2005


Can I just say that it's really, really funny that the people most associated with decrying "technicalities" in the decisions of the judiciary, are now relying on "technicalities" to shield the Bush White House from the fallout of the possibility of indictments this week?

From Meet the Press this morning:

SEN. HUTCHISON: Tim, you know, I think we have to remember something here. An indictment of any kind is not a guilty verdict, and I do think we have in this country the right to go to court and have due process and be innocent until proven guilty. And secondly, I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.

I think we should be very careful here, especially as we are dealing with something very public and people's lives in the public arena. I do not think we should prejudge. I think it is unfair to drag people through the newspapers week after week after week, and let's just see what the charges are. Let's tone down the rhetoric and let's make sure that if there are indictments that we don't prejudge.

MR. RUSSERT: But the fact is perjury or obstruction of justice is a very serious crime and Republicans certainly thought so when charges were placed against Bill Clinton before the United States Senate. Senator Hutchison.

SEN. HUTCHISON: Well, there were charges against Bill Clinton besides perjury and obstruction of justice. And I'm not saying that those are not crimes. They are. But I also think that we are seeing in the judicial process--and look at Martha Stewart, for instance, where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime. I think that it is important, of course, that we have a perjury and an obstruction of justice crime, but I also think we are seeing grand juries and U.S. attorneys and district attorneys that go for technicalities, sort of a gotcha mentality in this country. And I think we have to weigh both sides of this issue very carefully and not just jump to conclusions, because someone is in the public arena, that they are guilty without being able to put their case forward. I really object to that.
Perjury, of course, is a "technicality" the way pre-meditated murder is a "technicality": that is, it requires a much stronger showing of malicious intent than lying under oath or obstruction of justice, as pre-meditated murder does above manslaughter or negligent homicide.

But beyond that, it's a crime. And a crime is a crime is a crime. The only "technicality" involved is: can the state prove the defendant did it, beyond a reasonable doubt.

And that's as technical as the system is, for anybody. For the accused thief; the drug kingpin; Tom DeLay; or anyone named in any indictment that Patrick Fitzgerald might seek from a grand jury.

But then again, it's all a matter of whose ox is being gored. Less and less, however, is it okay if you're a Republican.

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