“Now we know what it takes to make Congress mad enough to stand up for constitutional rights.”

I largely agree with this editorial in USAToday, although it doesn’t directly address the second part of the issue (as we discussed in this thread), which is the concern that the FBI raid of Jefferson’s office was the first of its kind amidst a slew of criminal investigations. None of the Republicans being investigated have been subjected to the same. The line “there's no evidence that the Jefferson raid was an abuse of power” is therefore not totally true; the appearance of partisanship in how these inquiries are being conducted certainly suggests a possible abuse of power, even if the search itself was intrinsically not.

Nonetheless, there are some good points here about the seeming hypocrisy of the Congress, who didn’t nearly seem as excised about the Bush administration’s tactics until it directly affected them.

When the government snoops on your phone calls and records without warrants, lawmakers barely kick up a fuss. But when the target is a fellow congressman — one under investigation for taking a bribe, no less — they're ready to rumble.

…A more appropriate response from congressional leaders would have been remorse over their failure to do anything meaningful to make members act ethically. Hastert, for instance, replaced a House ethics committee chairman last year after he attempted to enforce some rules. Congressional offices, obviously, should not be sanctuaries for crime, but the outcry from Capitol Hill brought quick action. On Thursday, President Bush ordered the documents seized in Jefferson's office to be "sealed" from the investigators' view for 45 days, while the Justice Department and Congress settle their differences.

What a pity that Congress' leaders haven't used their clout to protect the public's rights as eagerly as they defend their own.
Indeed. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who’s as happy as anyone to trample the rights of Americans and is such a partisan prick that he’s denied meeting space to Dems and shut off their microphones in hearings when he didn’t like what they had to say, has dubbed next week’s scheduled hearings about the Jefferson office raid "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?" Please. Where were the histrionics when people were asking the same thing about his strong support of the Real ID bill, or the Patriot Act, or the NSA spy program? Oh, that’s right. Sensenbrenner was busily casting the opposition as delusional and preventing them from speaking.

The GOP getting outraged about this is laughable. This is the same group of miscreants who are currently seeking (yet again) to codify discrimination against the LGBT community into the Constitution. Are they really just so self-involved that they can’t see the double-standard (that’s certainly part of it), or are they casting their concern as a separation of powers issue (something that hasn’t bothered them before as they’ve happily championed the Bush administration’s notion of the unitary executive) to mask a more cynical motivation of self-protection?

Hastert is suggesting that the reports he is under investigation are based on leaks designed to intimidate him, after he raised questions about the search on Jefferson’s office, as opposed to assumption that he is sounding the alarm because he might need the same protection in the not-too-distant future. I don’t know what the truth is. Tony Snow has denied that the Justice Department leaked the information as a threat, in which I put absolutely no faith whatsoever; it would be entirely typical and expected of this administration to selectively leak information to intimidate someone (see: Plame, Valerie). But to buy into that theory is to assume that Hastert is operating in good faith on behalf of a fellow Congressman, who just happens to be a Democrat, which seems too fantastical to be believed. Since when does the GOP show altruism to the Dems? I find it unlikely Hastert is motivated by some newfound sense of brotherhood. He’s either acting out of self-interest, knowing he’s next on the probing block, or because he knows there are other Republicans who will go down as Abramoff and Cunningham sing. Probably both.

In any case, whether the Congress is simply being egregiously hypocritical, or mendacious (or both), it’s certainly telling that an encroachment on the separation of powers and on civil rights is suddenly a cause for concern, now that it’s affecting them.

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