Selective Subpoenas

Lawmakers have now decided to subpoena the Salahis, the Virginia couple who arrived uninvited to the White House’s first state dinner last month. The couple will appear before the Committee for Homeland Security to answer questions as to what they were doing at the dinner, and why they went there in the first place.

For a country that has become consumed with concerns about national security, over the past eight years, why is it that Congress appears not only to selectively subpoena, but selectively enforce subpoenas? Why, for instance, is it possible for Karl Rove to evade a subpoena, and for a former vice-president, Dick Cheney, to tell George Stephanopoulos, back in 2006, that if he were to be subpoenaed, he would “probably not testify.” Can a former public servant claim executive privilege when he’s a private citizen, too? Does it advance national security to have two public officers operate below the radar of the law, and the U.S. Constitution, and not be answerable to Congress?

What is even more intriguing–how is it that when the new commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal, testified before Congress about his planned mission in Afghanistan, not one member of Congress asked him about the secret assassination squad he headed that was kept classified by order of Dick Cheney for eight years? Why didn’t anyone ask McChrystal to confirm or deny under oath his role in that clandestine operation?

The Central Intelligence Agency concealed information about what was euphemistically called a “counterterrorism program” for nearly a decade, and to this day, the exact nature of that program has never been publicly identified. While Leon Panetta, head of the CIA, said that he ended the program, he refused to describe what it entailed, and as the New York Times reported, back in July, “efforts to reach Mr. Cheney through relatives and associates were unsuccessful.” Is it too late to subpoena Mr. Cheney to find out if the program Mr. Panetta disabled was the one first divulged by Seymour Hersh?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of transparency, but priorities seem to be as important as transparency. If the only crime the Salahis committed was making a fraudulent statement to get into a White House function, then it falls way lower on the Richter scale than what Karl Rove did, and Mr. Rove has successfully managed to evade a subpoena about his role in outing Valerie Plame. The former president of the U.S. Senate, Dick Cheney, publicly acknowledged that he would defy a congressional subpoena and most likely refuse to testify before Congress. And, when the former head of Cheney’s assassination squad appears before Congress, not one peep out of any of our esteemed members of Congress about McChrystal’s former job description. Why on earth not?

Yes, it’s alarming that anybody could get within a hundred feet of the president of the United States at a private White House function especially given that the demands on the secret service are 400% greater today than they were under George W. Bush, so why doesn’t Congress subpoena the secret service agents who allowed that to happen in the first place, and who have been placed on administrative leave?

You may recall when former attorney general Alberto Gonzales appeared before a congressional panel to discuss who signed off on enhanced alternative interrogation techniques, and when, Gonzales alluded to other “programs” that had not yet been divulged. The then-attorney general referenced other programs not once, but a few times, and no one asked him to spell out what he means.

By not demanding equal time for all wrongdoers and those who threaten national security to come forward and tell the whole truth, Congress itself becomes a co-conspirator in those misdeeds.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.



More articles by:

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South