Censure Frist

Bill Frist got up on the floor of the Senate and accused Richard Clarke of committing a felony. He then admitted that he had no idea whether the accusation had any basis or not.

Bill Frist, speaking on the floor of the Senate behind the shield of the “speech and debate” clause, accused Richard Clarke of having committed perjury.

He then “clarified” by saying that he actually didn’t know whether Clark had committed a crime or not.

“Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories under oath,” Frist said in a speech from the Senate floor, alleging that Clarke said in 2002 that the Bush administration actively sought to address the threat posed by al-Qaida before the attacks.

Frist later retreated from directly accusing Clarke of perjury, telling reporters that he personally had no knowledge that there were any discrepancies between Clarke’s two appearances. But he said, “Until you have him under oath both times, you don’t know.”

You don’t know? You don’t know? And you got up on the floor of the Senate and accused someone of a felony?

The Constitution assigns primary responsibility for dealing with misconduct by members of Congress to the two Houses. That’s the point of the “speech and debate” clause: they can’t be held responsible for what they say on the floor “in any other place.”

Resolution of censure, anyone? It seems to me it’s time for a little hardball.

Previous post here

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com