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Searching Congress

Shocking! Outrageous!

The FBI recently searched Rep. Jefferson's (D-LA) Congressional office and home as part of a corruption investigation. He was caught on videotape accepting a $100,000 cash bribe. He's guilty. But his guilt isn't what interests me about this situation.

The interesting thing here is the way that other Congressmen are complaining about the searches:

On Monday, both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Hastert said they were "very concerned" about the search, which was conducted under a warrant issued by a federal judge.

Hastert said the search was the first time a lawmaker's office had been searched in U.S. history.

"Our founders in their wisdom placed this separation of powers into our Constitution, not to put anyone above the law but to protect the American people of the abusive power of the executive branch," Pelosi said.

Any sense of controversy here is manufactured. This is an embarrassingly simple situation to analyze from a separation of powers context. No branch of government gets carte blanche — it's always restrained by the other two branches. In this situation, the FBI (executive branch) obtained a search warrant from a federal judge (judicial branch) to search Congressman Jefferson's (legislative branch) office.

Two branches of government thought the search was appropriate. Only one branch of government objects. Majority wins — the search is fine. There's not even a whisper of any overriding factors (national security or somesuch excuse) that would be a reasonable basis to forbid the search.

Congressional offices cannot be protected from the law. That would turn them into thieves' dens. <hrumph>

As an aside, what is the deficiency in Pelosi's thought process that causes her to single out the executive branch for attack? What about that federal judge who issued the warrant? It is fundamentally wrong to level accusations at one actor while totally ignoring a coequal actor.

A pox on Congress!

Tiny Island