Lying to Congress

petraeus.jpgYou know, Marcy and I went around and around in circles for weeks about the topic of lying to Congress. You see there are varying degrees of lying to Congress.

Type One—on the more venial side of the spectrum

There is your garden variety contempt of Congress version, which may have more to do with lies of omission than lies of commission, which includes refusing to answer a question without legitimate, legal grounds to do so, taking the 5th without legitimate grounds to do so, or pretending to forget—we’ve seen a whole boatload of that last one.

Type two—it gets a little worse

And of course, one of my current favorites in this category: just not showing up at all.

Type three—worse still 

Next is the more blatant, showing up to testify, getting all sworn in and stuff, and then lying your ass off and making shit up. Clear unequivocal perjury. No different than lying about how you found out Valerie Plame’s identity.

Just makin’ stuff up.

Type 999–oh hell, let’s just call it infinity 

At the furthest end of this continuum, is lying in the State of the Union Address. Why is this the worst form of lying to Congress?  Because the President’s annual report to Congress (a/k/a SOTU) is the ONLY form of presidential communication SPECIFICALLY REQUIRED BY THE CONSTITUTION.  Lying in the SOTU is not breaking some Congress made law that can be easily changed; it’s a huge honkin’ violation of the Constitution itself!

Somewhere between the Type 3 and Infinity is a form of lying to Congress that relates to lying in a statutorily mandated report.

Now, there are lots of these mandated reports and I’m not gonna put you all to sleep taking you from Type 4 all the way to the threshold of infinity. I can’t type for that many hours in a row. 

However, I do want to take a moment to discuss the report that General Petraeus was personally and specifically mandated to make to Congress. Lying in this report to Congress would be a very significant thing.

I really hope that the General is spending some time this weekend seriously considering the consequences that could befall him (Oh, and the American people? Oh, and our kids under his command?) if he lies in his report to Congress.

Does he think he is somehow immune from indictment? Does he think his chest full of ribbons entitles him to attempt to perpetrate a fraud upon the Congress and people of the United States?  General, I beseech you, and I hope you see this essay before you testify, please please please put honor, integrity and truth ahead of blind loyalty to your Commander in Chief.

It is NOT insubordination to tell the truth.

By now, I’m sure the well informed pups who frolic here at the Lake already know that the draft version of the GAO report entitled “Securing, Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq: Iraqi Government Has Not Met Most Legislative, Security, and Economic Benchmarks” (pdf) and the accompanying statement of David Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States was leaked by someone in the GAO who feared that its non-partisan conclusions would be watered down on orders from the WH.

Evidently, some folks are saying that the last National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq severely pulled its punches.

According the the WaPO, Congress ordered up the GAO report, as well as a report from an independent commission headed by Marine General James L. Jones (ret.) so that they would have a basis for comparison with the reports to be delivered by General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

The GAO Report says that as to the 18 benchmarks of Iraqi progress that were to be measured for this September 2007 report:

The Iraqi government met 3, partially met 4, and did not meet 11 of its 18 benchmarks. Overall, key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds.

As an aside, can I say how glad I am that Congress has finally wised up a little and is no longer relying solely on what people who are totally in thrall to the WH are telling them. Conversely, how sad is it, that no one can trust the reports of “men of stature” sent to the Hill by the WH?

Bottom line General, laws apply to you too. Are you gonna break ’em?

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