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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Baghdad Jim McDermott (D-WA); Justice almost served

From the congressman who brought you the Cell Phone privacy scandal, one of 30 congressmen who called for impeachment of President Bush, supported travel to Cuba, and visited Iraq before the invasion, we bring you "Baghdad Jim" McDermott. It is a sad day in Liberalville, today. Baghdad Jim has lost his ethics case and has been ordered to pay a fine after an almost 10-year battle. Here is the background obtained from a Real Clear Politics article written in 2004:
"As most of you probably remember, the case against McDermott involves the now famous 1997 conference call regarding the ethics investigation of Newt Gingrich that was surreptitiously recorded off of the cell phone of Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) by a couple in Florida. The couple then passed along a transcript of the illegally taped conversation to McDermott who promptly leaked it to The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. At the time McDermott was the ranking member of the House Ethics Committee.

The Florida pair who taped the phone call eventually pleaded guilty to violating wiretapping laws and received fines of $500 each.

McDermott denied leaking the transcript and was never charged with a criminal offense, but he did resign his seat on the Ethics Committee......First amendment Center 1997, Judge Thomas Hogan held that McDermott's "willful and knowing misconduct rises to the level of malice." McDermott, who appealed the decision, was ordered to pay a $60,000 fine.
After almost 10 YEARS of legal hand wringing, the tally has cha-chinged in excess of $600,000. Don't be alarmed, with all the liberal left wackos in Washington state, they (wacko supporters) raised an estimate of about $300,000 for Baghdad Jim's defense fund. One would assume that the hat is now being passed among the folks with more money than sense to raise more because Baghdad Jim lost his appeal. Imagine, it took almost 10 years. 10 YEARS!!!!

Here is Baghdad's Jim's press release posted on his website this morning:
Concerning the Opinion of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia,March 28, 2006, For Immediate Release

"There is no greater responsibility for a Member of Congress than to defend the Constitution, and I fully accept my duty to protect the First Amendment, which is what this case is all about. That's why 18 major U.S. media companies from across the country joined together and filed a brief in strong support of my position.

"The American people have a right to know when their government's leaders are plotting to deceive them, and that is exactly what was happening during a telephone call in 1996 involving Republican House leaders, including then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Rep. John Boehner.

"Despite prior court decisions, including the U.S. Supreme Court, upholding my position, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a split 2-1 decision today against my position, with a strong dissenting opinion by Judge Sentelle:

'I see no distinction, nor has Representative Boehner suggested one, between the constitutionality of regulating communication of the contents of the tape by McDermott or by The Washington Post or The New York Times or any other media resource. For that matter, every reader of the information in the newspapers also learned that it had been obtained by unlawful intercept. Under the rule proposed by Representative Boehner, no one in the United States could communicate on this topic of public interest because of the defect in the chain of title. I do not believe the First Amendment permits this interdiction of public information either at the stage of the newspaper-reading public, of the newspaper-publishing communicators, or at the stage of Representative McDermott's disclosure to the news media.'

"We respect the court, but respectfully disagree with two judges. We believe they Judge Sentelle's strong opinion in support of the First Amendment and my position rightly defends freedom of the press and free speech in America.

"Our legal counsel is studying the decision, and we will decide on a course of action in the days ahead."

Well Baghdad Jim, what goes around comes around. Quit being a hypocrite. Don't cry, pay your fine, sit down, and be quiet.

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Anonymous said...

From the tone you are taking, I gather that you think this is a good thing, and that the constitutional right to privacy trumps the constitutional right to free speech?

But, outside the "our consitution is a living document" chain leading to Roe vs. Wade, where do you find a consitutional right to privacy? 'cause free speech and the freedom of the press are right there in black and white.

-- MarkusQ

The_Bos'un said...

MarkusQ, What Mr. McDermott was wrong. He was found in violation of ethics. It took several years for the appeal process to be completed. The appeals found that he violated ethics. So, I guess he will appeal again and the cash register will keep adding up monies that he will eventually pay.

I find it curious that he is one of the 30 congressmen who called for impeachment of President Bush. And, latest word is that FISA says President Bush did not violate the law.

Mr. McDermott should realize that he violated ethics, pay his fine, and move on. He is going to remain an honored congressman from Washington State. Just his fine would have be $60,000 now is about $600,000 and if he keeps going may be one heck of a lot more. I just do not want any taxpayer money spent for him to make a fashion statement that has been upheld at different court levels.

Thank you for your comments. We can graciously agree to disagree. Have a good day.

R/ Bos'un