Senators and Representatives Could Have Spoken Out On Waterboarding: the Constitution Protects Their Right to Speak Out Without Fear of Legal Consequences

A number of the best internet commentators are discussing today’s news that a few of the leading Congressional Democrats may have been – probably were – briefed about the administration’s plans to torture (waterboard, and maybe more) suspected terrorists being held in secret CIA facilities abroad. There’s confusion about the facts, with few of the people allegedly briefed confirming the story. Notably, however, it appears that of those briefed, only Rep. Jane Harman objected. (Note that we’re still at an early spin stage here — more facts about who said what to whom are likely to come out.)

The emerging consensus in the blogosphere seems to be that even if they had the presence of mind to object, the Representatives and Senators who were briefed were in a bind: as members of the Intelligence Committees or the leadership, they signed various secrecy pledges which stopped them from going public. To go public, it seems to be agreed, was to “jeopardize their careers and risk jail” as Kevin Drum put it; even so, Matthew Yglesias suggests that this called for civil disobedience, and that the representatives should have dared the administration to arrest them.

All this misses a critical aspect of our constitutional structure. Thanks to the Speech and Debate Clause there was a way for any Senator or Representative who wanted to blow the whistle to do so in a way that involved no risk of jail or fines – at worst they might have lost their security clearances (and even there the law is a little murky).

Article I, section 6 of the Constitution reads as follows,

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

(emphasis added)

The Speech and Debate clause has been interpreted to extend beyond floor speeches, e.g. to committee statements, but it unquestionably applies to floor statements. Thus, it would have been possible for Rep. Harman, or Senator Rockefeller, or the others allegedly briefed to go to the floor, either during the times when members may speak on topics of their choice, or under one of the extraordinary mechanism for privileged statements, and denounce the Bush administration’s determinate to torture helpless captives in secret offshore detention facilities.

I’m not saying this would be easy or politically painless. The political risks are obvious – and recall the Congress was being briefed not all that long after 9/11. But even without the national security angle or the political frenzy angle, there were also counterveilling issues of fundamental personal ethics As Rep. Harman noted,

“When you serve on intelligence committee you sign a second oath — one of secrecy,” she said. “I was briefed, but the information was closely held to just the Gang of Four. I was not free to disclose anything.”

Serious people take oaths like this seriously and are right to do so; but before they took that second oath, they took a first one upon taking office in which they promised to “preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States.” To the extent that the second oath allows the executive to muzzle members of Congress, it is unconstitutional under any theory, including not only the Speech and Debate clause, but also the Incompatibility Clause (which forbids members of congress from serving in the executive branch; a converse conclusion is that this clause forbids the executive branch from turning members of Congress into subordinates).

Although apparently too easily forgotten, the Speech and Debate Clause is, as Justice Harlan said in United States v. Johnson, 383 U.S. 169, 178 (1966),

the culmination of a long struggle for parliamentary supremacy. Behind these simple phrases lies a history of conflict between the Commons and the Tudor and Stuart monarchs during which successive monarchs utilized the criminal and civil law to suppress and intimidate critical legislators. Since the Glorious Revolution in Britain, and throughout United States history, the privilege has been recognized as an important protection of the independence and integrity of the legislature.

The Supreme Court has limited the reach of the Speech and Debate Clause in some relevant respects. In Doe v. McMillan, 412 U.S. 306 (1973), the Court distinguished statements on the floor (or in committee) – which are and remain completely privileged – and their republication elsewhere. In that case a committee print of one of its reports, issued in a routine manner by the Public Printer, contained allegedly defamatory statements about private citizens. They sued for an injunction to prevent further publication, dissemination, and distribution of the report until the objectionable material was deleted, and sought damages. The Court held that the Members of Congress and their staffs could not be sued due to the Speech and Debate Clause, since their actions had all been part of the ordinary legislative process. But the Court also held the Superintendent of Documents and the Public Printer could be sued because they had no broader immunity than Members of Congress would have and their actions in publically disseminating the report outside Congress were not legislative acts, unlike voting, speaking on the floor or in committee, which are protected.

More troubling for third parties, however, is Gravel v. United States, 408 U.S. 606 (1972). Senator Gravel read key parts of the Pentagon Papers at a committee hearing, and then placed the full text of the 47 volumes of it into the public record. That act, the Supreme Court held, was privileged, an argument it called “incontrovertible.” But the Court refused to assume that once the material was in the public record it automatically followed that arrangements to republish them were inevitably legal, nor did at accept that Senator Gravel’s attempts to find a publisher (or his aide’s, which they took to be the same thing for these purposes), fell under the Speech and Debate Clause.

Combine this holding with the administration’s more recent and aggressive re-interpretations of the Espionage Act, which seek to extend it to reach the conduct of parties not holding clearances who share information that they acquire from someone who has one, and you begin to wonder whether newspapers that republished the floor speech might not face some legal attacks from the Justice Department. Although I personally think that the First Amendment must protect a newspaper that republishes a member of Congress’s statements on the floor, it is clear that the current administration has taken positions that would allow it to argue the contrary; more to the point, although I think the newspapers would win such a case, even the main Pentagon Papers case, much less the Gravel case noted above, don’t conclusively foreclose the government from arguing the contrary.

The question of security clearances is the murkiest part of the story. The Bush administration has consistently taken the extreme position that it never has any legal duty to tell Congress anything. It claims the power to ignore subpoenas. It says that the President is the only judge of what he has to do, and any attempt to compel him is unconstitutional. As early as 2001 the administration unilaterally revoked the security clearances of 91 Senators, arguing as GW Bush put it “it’s not in the nation’s interest” that they have access to information they could leak.

I believe that Congress could Constitutionally legislate to preserve the security clearances of members who disclose classified information on the floor. As far as I know (please correct me if I’m wrong), Congress has never passed such a rule, and in its absence, I think it is within the power of the executive to choose to deny clearances to whistle blowing members of Congress. That is a forward-looking loss of privilege rather than a legal disability of the sort that the Speech and Debate Clause protects against. But legally, that’s it. A member of Congress who learned of torture plans and chose to tell the nation about them would face no other legitimate legal risk; (there was, with the Gonzales gang, the not inconsiderable possibility of an improper prosecution, but many of the key events here were when Ashcroft was Attorney General) .

It would have taken great courage, and carried political risk, but our Constitution does provide a channel by which members of Congress can stand up and call the executive to account on its plans to torture someone in a secret CIA prison. At the end of the day it was that courage, not the legal avenue to expose wrongdoing, which was in too short supply in Congress.

(I’ve written the above in something of a hurry and think of it as a very preliminary attempt to explain the role of the Speech and Debate clause. I welcome correction and amplification from those who may know more than I; I would be particularly grateful for any insights regarding the granting and withholding of security clearances for members of Congress, a subject I am sure I have much to learn about.)

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18 Responses to Senators and Representatives Could Have Spoken Out On Waterboarding: the Constitution Protects Their Right to Speak Out Without Fear of Legal Consequences

  1. Lee says:

    Surely the Bushies will argue that disclosing classified info constitutes treason, and therefore the privilige doesn’t apply?

  2. southpaw says:

    Surely the Bushies will argue that disclosing classified info constitutes treason, and therefore the privilige doesn’t apply?

    I believe even a treason prosecution would amount to “question[ing] in any other place,” and would therefore be prohibited. Is that right, professor?

    Also, there would probably a subsidiary argument based on the Political Question Doctrine that a congressperson revealing classified information could rely on.

  3. DCA says:

    I believe the treason exception applies to detainment; the speech and debate clause stands separately, with no exceptions at all.

  4. Mark Kleiman says:

    Rockefeller (but not Harman) could have demanded that the Senate go into executive session, which means no galleries and no staff.

    Either of them could have filed a resolution naming the date of the briefing and requiring the attendees to reveal to the House (or the Senate) what was learned at those briefings. The sponsor could have said “We were told about secret activities, still ongoing and engaged in as a matter of policy, that in my opinion constitute criminal violations of law and treaty. Under the conditions of the briefing, I may not reveal the details, but I thought that my colleagues ought to have a right to decide whether they wanted to know what was being done in or name or whether they prefer to remain ignorant. I have also referred the matter to the Attorney General for possible criminal action.”

  5. Gregory Slater says:

    I have lost any respct for the repub congress long, long ago. Now, I will never believe a word that comes out the mouths of the disgusting dem leadership – pelosi, ried, harmon, clinton, all of them . They have no credibility any more. this explains why they have done nothing whatso-f-ing-ever to end the Occupation, to stop the torture, to block mukasi, nothing! never! This explains why pelosi disgustingly took impeachment ‘off the table’ pre-emptively, before even gaining the speakership – she’s IMPLICATED! and she knew it. She is worthless. She need to resign immediately. I will never believe her. The entire Congress should be frog-marched out of the freaking capitol building. They are disgusting.

  6. Topher says:

    DCA said

    I believe the treason exception applies to detainment; the speech and debate clause stands separately, with no exceptions at all.

    I hope you’re right. Can you please tell us the source of your belief? Is there any judicial precedent on this issue?

  7. inkadu says:

    I also don’t understand why they couldn’t, with their knowledge, order investigations and re-obtained the information in the secret briefings in a way that they could divulge.

    Also, it’s been an open secret that the United States has been torturing people for years. The complicity of the Democrats was implicit. Now it is explicit. Color me not surprised.

  8. Doc Rock says:

    While Congressional members foreknowledge may have possibly made them accessories, it DOES NOT mitigate any possible illegalities which CIA personnel may have been involved in. Prosecute them all as appropriate!

  9. mls says:

    Members of Congress do not get security clearances– both the executive and legislative branches treat their ability to get access to classified information is treated as inherent in their constitutional status as elected officials. However, if a Member intentionally released classified information, even in a manner protected by the Speech or Debate Clause, he or she would face consequences within the legislative body. For example, Representatives are required by the Code of Conduct in House Rules to sign an oath not to release classified information except as authorized by the House or its rules. These oaths, which Representatives must sign before getting access to classified info, are maintained by the Clerk.

  10. PHB says:

    I think you are all getting distracted here. Bush has proved that as the law stands he can torture people.

    What we actually need to do here is to make it impossible for a future President to use torture. To do that we have to make it impossible for someone to give legal advice that would sanction torture or to keep torture secret.

    The secrecy aspect is the key. I propose the following approach (apols for the drafting, IANAL)

    1) All means of interrogation and places of confinement used by or on behalf of any US government party are to be public knowledge. It shall be a criminal act to threaten any person with prosecution or other penalty for revealing same.

    2) Anyone who has knowledge of use of or preparations for the employment of undisclosed means of interrogation and/or place of confinement and fails to reveal it to be guilty of a criminal act.

    3) All interrogations by any US government party to be recorded using audio and video. Destruction within eight years shall be criminal. Congress shall have the absolute right to demand copies of such at any time, failure to deliver shall be a criminal act.

    In other words, kick the whole unitary executive theory out the window. Anyone who complies with the demands from the next Bush/Cheney risks their own neck.

    A side benefit is that the disclosure requirement can be made retroactive in effect. Bush can pardon his administration, including himself for his crimes during office but not for crimes committed after he leaves office. The duty to disclose applies to past acts. If there is a general pardon the fifth ammendment no longer applies.

    The other point that folk seem to be missing in the argument here is that the fact that the US was using torture became public knowledge before the Abu Ghraib photos came out. There was really nothing for the intelligence committee to reveal that was not already known.

    The new information that the tapes had been destroyed was unknown to everyone, that puts us in cover-up territory. Comming on the heels of the NIE report being released it looks like the intelligence community are out to prevent a pre-emtive attack on Iran by any means necessary. All we can know for sure is that there was an order to destroy the tapes, whether the order was actually carried out is another matter. And even if one set of tapes was destroyed there are likely tapes of other investigations.

    What would be really quite bizare is if it turned out that these were the only two interrogations where torture was used. If that was the case why has President Thumbscrews been so adamant on the issue. Why expend vast amounts of political capital?

  11. Gary Chartier says:

    The long-term solution here–not one I expect any participation in the debate may be inclined to take seriously–is to remove the control of the executive over classification. The system is under the control of the Congress, which ought to take steps to alter it by putting in place two basic protections:

    1. No person may be subject to criminal or civil liability for providing any true information whatosever to any constitutional officer (president, vice president, senator, representative, federal judge sitting on a court created per constitutional mandate).

    2. No constitutional officer may be subject to criminal or civil liability for providing to the public (suitably defined–obviously, we don’t want a provision that can be invoked in defense of, say, insider trading) any information regarding any matter of public concern in any forum whatsoever.

  12. Gary Chartier says:

    I argue that we need a more general transparency protection–enacted by Congress, which controls the classification system and, as previous posters have noted, the duties of its own members. The needed twofold provision would say, simply:

    1. No person may be subject to civil or criminal liability for providing any true information to any constitutional officer (president, vice president, senator, representative, federal judge appointed to a court created per the constitution), and any oath taken by such a person is to be understood as entailing no limitation on this right.

    2. No constitutional officer may be subject to civil or criminal liability for providing to the public any true information regarding any matter of public concern (some limitation like this is needed to avoid appeals to this provision in case of, say, insider trading), in any forum whatsoever, and any oath taken by such a person is to be understood as entailing no limitation on this right.

    Perhaps there are other persons who should be entitled to the same protections–it’s just easiest to start, I think, with the constitutional officers.

  13. JC Garrett says:

    ‘Loyalty Oaths’

    The oath of office taken by legislators in which they swear to protect and defend the Constitution, trumps any other oath that may follow, including any subsequent “secrecy pledge”. In fact, if a pledge of secrecy would cause or require them to violate their oath of office in any way, they are prohibited from swearing that pledge, because it would essentially be a de facto “loyalty oath” which is illegal.

    But whatever secrecy pledges members of Congress may take, if at any time they become aware of illegal activity that violates the Constitution, including any Federal law or valid Treaty to which the United States is a signed party, they are obligated by their oath of office to see to it that the law is followed.

    No secrecy pledge can be valid if it requires keeping unlawful acts secret. That would be the very definition of a “loyalty oath”, a term which is usually used today to describe an oath to a political party or other affiliation that would obligate a government official or politician to afford greater allegiance to a person, group, or ideology than to the Constitution as sworn in their oath of office.

    A “loyalty oath” could be something like Sarah Taylor’s “oath to the President” that she takes “very seriously”. Remember when Senators Leahy and Specter nearly jumped out of their chairs when she actually said those words before the Judiciary Committee?

    Transcript:

    Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

    Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you’re correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what–

    Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

    Taylor: I did not. I–

    Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

    Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

    [She obviously thinks she took an oath to serve the President.]

    [The Senator then gave her a quick lesson in Founding Principles]:

    Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government — it’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

    Ms. Taylor fell strangely silent.

    Then there’s Monica Goodling, who admitted before the House Judiciary Committee that she had hired non-political government employees based on their religious and political affiliations. Rep. Robert Scott remarked to Goodling, “…the culture of loyalty to the administration was more important than loyalty to the rule of law.”

    Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee told her, “I noticed that you were described as a loyal person or with extreme loyalty or deep loyalty to the president, President Bush … but you might have been better served if you were loyal to the American people.”

    Rep. Adam Schiff found that getting a straight answer was like pulling teeth:

    SCHIFF: And if a U.S. attorney or any other key Justice Department official demonstrated an excess of loyalty, loyalty more to the person that hired them or responsible for their jobs than to uphold the laws and faithfully execute their office, that might be a reason to put them on a list to be fired, right?

    GOODLING: I’m not sure that I understand.

    SCHIFF: The attorney general has certainly created a perception, if not a reality, that his loyalty to the president is a higher priority to him than faithfully executing the duties of his office. Wouldn’t you agree?

    GOODLING: I don’t know what my perception of that would be… I just don’t know that I can express an opinion on that. I just don’t — I don’t, frankly, know what I think about the topic.

    The Republican National Committee used both signed Loyalty Oaths and spoken Loyalty Pledges as a requirement to attend campaign speeches. During the 2004 presidential campaign, George W. Bush routinely required everyone at its rallies to take a “loyalty oath”. Anyone who refused to take the oath was not allowed to attend.

    While loyalty oaths and secrecy pledges are not inherently illegal, they provide no legal cover for illegal acts. A law enforcement officer may sign a nondisclosure agreement to protect the integrity of evidence of an ongoing case, but that neither obligates nor permits him to act unlawfully or to ignore a serious crime, even if it could possibly jeopardize the original case. If that officer learns that his superior falsified evidence or abused a suspect, he has a sworn duty to report it and to do everything within his power to see that justice is done.

    An enlisted United States Marine has the duty to obey every direct order an officer gives him – except one that is unlawful. If he follows an order he knows to be illegal, he is criminally liable for the consequences of executing that order.

    If a General knew or should have known about crimes perpetrated by his subordinates and took insufficient action to remedy the problem, he can be found guilty under “command responsibility.”

    Conversations between counselor and client are usually privileged, but if he perceives the client to pose an imminent and serious danger to himself or others, he has a duty to break privilege in order to prevent harm.

    The doctor-patient privilege can be waived if the patient is found to have a highly communicable disease, or if he suspects bruises on a young child to be the result of abuse.

    But there is one recent incident that best illustrates how this is supposed to work:

    On August 30, six nuclear warheads were “accidentally” hauled up from a heavily protected underground bunker, “accidentally” attached themselves to cruise missiles, “accidentally” drove themselves out on a fork truck, and “accidentally” jumped into place on a B-52 bomber. A pilot then “accidentally” flew them to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, from which they were supposed to be transported to the Middle East. It never reached its destination, thanks to a few people who finally drew a line in the sand and told the war-mongering neo-con administration the exact orafice in which they were going to shove those nukes if the Bomber lifted so much as one inch off the tarmac.

    I suspect those interceptors were a combination of high-ranking military and intelligence officials who finally said “enough is enough”, and told the administration that there was no way in hell that they would be complicit in the ill-conceived plan to turn the world a nice shade of phosphorescent green.

    One week later on September 6, Iran bombed the “suspected nuclear facility” in Syria. There are rumors circulating now that there was to be a simultaneous strike on Iran’s facilities, which are protected by 70 feet of concrete. Bush had discussed the possibility of launching a nuclear “first strike” against Iran on several occasions, using “Bunker Buster” missiles with nuclear warheads.

    I see that a lot of people are wondering why, after publicly stating that the NIE would not be released, would the decision suddenly be reversed. Some are also wondering why Cheney and Bush first reacted with relative calm and resignation.

    It was because some sane people caught them trying to start a nuclear holocaust, and threatened them with going public if they didn’t back down. For the same reason, they forced the release of the real NIE to thwart plans for another attempt to start a war with Iran.

    All those on the right who are now saying that the NIE was released to stop Bush are absolutely right. But it wasn’t manipulated intel – it was the true intel. That’s why Bush and Cheney have been so uncharacteristically passive. Sure, they try to spin it, and won’t admit they were wrong – but for the moment, at least, they’re pretty much impotent and relatively toothless.

    THAT is the way Congress needs to act.

    Think about this – if it is a choice between letting these fools start another war, possibly a nuclear one, or speaking up to tell the truth and expose grave crimes at the risk of being prosecuted or losing a security clearance, how could any legislator remain silent?

    If it’s a choice between exposing systemic torture practiced by this morally bankrupt Presidency, or allowing it to continue because Congressmen and Senators are afraid of losing their seats on some damn committee – that’s not a very difficult decision.

    But the really frustrating thing is that they don’t realize how much of a difference they could make. Don’t they know that the person who comes out and exposes all of this criminal activity will be treated like a hero? The people would love them for it. They would be seen as courageous and honest, and selfless.

    Just look at the respect bestowed on James Comey for coming out and telling the truth about the lawless, shameful state of the White House and Justice Dept. He was not called a snitch or a traitor, at least not to his face. He was called righteous and morally straight; a strong believer in the Rule of Law. He really didn’t do anything extraordinary – he just told the truth.

    Isn’t that exactly what we should expect from our government? It’s disturbing that America has sunk so low in the last six years that all it takes for any government employee to be viewed as a hero today, is to merely answer Congressional questions with honesty.

    Jack Goldsmith stood up for the Constitution and he was showered with adulation and respect. Again, all he did was tell the truth. That’s not exactly a very high bar to overcome. Why can’t the Congress simply resolve to tell the truth and obey the law?

    One extremely helpful remedy would be to pass legislation that makes it a crime for any government official to possess knowledge of a felony and fail to make it known. If a Senator knows about a colleague who takes bribes, they are obligated to report it. If Condi knows Cheney destroyed incriminating documents, she either makes it known or she goes to prison right along with him. If Senator Jay Rockefeller knows the President is wiretapping Americans outside the law but covers his eyes and ears, he can share a cell with a guy named “Bubba”.

    The bottom line is that an oath of secrecy is only valid if the substance of the secret is lawful. To require, or to agree to secrecy of a crime is un-Constitutional, and therefore renders any terms of a secrecy pledge invalid as to that specific crime.

    But the worst thing of all to come out of this is the use of the “state secrets” defense to avoid the disclosure of brutal torture techniques in interrogations.

    There is nothing – absolutely nothing – more important than human rights. In an attempt to save America from “the terrorists”, Bush has fundamentally transformed it so that it is barely recognizable. No secret can be so critical that we lose our humanity.

  14. John McCorry says:

    Where does the concept of “secrecy” come from regarding Congressional and Executive actions? Where do the Congress and the Executive Branch derive the power to declare information “secret” or “confidential”? Article I, Section 5, Clause 3 of the Constitution states as follows:

    Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same excepting such Parts as may in the Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

    Article II does not contain a similar provision, or in fact any provision that would allow the President/Executive branch to declare certain information “Secret” or “Confidential.” It appears that this power resides exclusively with Congress.

    I recall from my Constitutional Law class (now six years in the past) that many of the Executive branch departments and cabinet level positions have been created by acts of Congress, and that there has been much controversy whether Congress has been improperly delegating its powers to these departments and/or administrative agencies. Do any of these acts (e.g., creating the CIA, FBI, or the DHS) contain provisions allowing these departments to declare information confidential or secret? If so, what are the bases for declaring information secret or confidential? Is this based upon the State Secrets doctrine, which if memory serves was first recognized by the Supreme Court in the 1950s or 1960s as an affirmative defense to requiring the military to release information?

    As with many things over the past six-plus years, it appears that the Bush Administration has taken (or Congress has freely given) a purely legislative power and turned it against the Legislature for its own improper uses. We assume that the Federal Government has the power to declare information confidential or secret, yet from reading the text of the Constitution it is unclear from where this power derives. Has anyone ever challenged the concept of Federal Government power of Secrecy itself, rather than whether certain information itself is secret or should be subject to disclosure?

  15. liberalrob says:

    All this misses a critical aspect of our constitutional structure. Thanks to the Speech and Debate Clause there was a way for any Senator or Representative who wanted to blow the whistle to do so in a way that involved no risk of jail or fines – at worst they might have lost their security clearances (and even there the law is a little murky).

    I think you are overly sanguine about the current administration’s respect for the Constitution. It seems to me almost certain that they would arrest any member of Congress that publicly revealed any “sources and methods” used against “terrorists,” as treasonably giving aid to the enemy in “a time of war.” They would then push their prosecution/persecution all the way to the Supreme Court, which would then be forced to rule on whether the mere revelation of facts constituted “speech and debate” and whether Article 1 Section 6 was overruled by Article 2 section 2 (commander-in-chief powers). Given the current Court’s composition I am doubtful that the Court would rule against the Executive Branch.

  16. Human says:

    The reason Harman, Pelosi and others did not and do not object is because they fully support Torture and the War upon the Iraqi people.

    It sure was nice of Nicolle Bell over at Crooks and Liars to direct readers here. I guess it was her way of a Mea Culpa after excusing Torture.
    Peace.

  17. Dick says:

    JC Garrett: one small quibble. The country that bombed the ” ‘suspected nuclear facility’ in Syria” was Israel, not Iran.

  18. JC Garrett says:

    Slip of the Pen, Dick!

    Thanks.

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