Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Put Them Under Oath and Make Them Testify

Jacob Hornberger’s Commentary

President Bush has placed an interesting condition on permitting senior adviser Karl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers to talk to Congress about the widening scandal over the firing of U.S. Attorneys by Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Bush says that Congress has to agree that Rove and Miers will not be put under oath when they answer questions.

Bush’s condition reminded me of a story my father, who was an attorney, once related to me. After interviewing a witness in a case, he called the witness to testify at trial. As the witness began answering questions, his answers shocked my father, who said to him, “Isn’t what you’re now saying completely opposite to what you told me when I interviewed you?” The witness responded, “Yes, sir. But when you interviewed me, I wasn’t under oath and today I am.”

Now, ask yourself: Why would President Bush insist that his aides not be sworn to tell the truth when they answer Congress’s questions about why Bush and Gonzales fired those federal prosecutors? When a person intends to tell the truth, why should it matter to him whether he is under oath or not under oath?

Rove and Miers are much more likely to tell the truth if they’re under oath, especially knowing what happened to their cohort Scooter Libby for lying under oath to the grand jury. The American people have a right to know why the president and his attorney general wanted those federal prosecutors fired, and they’re entitled to truthful answers. Put Rove and Miers under oath and make them testify.

Unrelated interesting tidbits: Fans of the television series “Lost” might have noticed that in last week’s segment, the book that Sawyer was reading while lounging on the beach was Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” Fans of the movie “Dirty Dancing” (starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray) will recall that “The Fountainhead” was also the book that Robbie the creep gave to Baby Houseman in the scene where he was waiting tables and learned from Baby that his girlfriend Penny was pregnant.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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