News that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee has issued a second subpoena to former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove continues to reverberate around the country.
The story particularly resonates here in Alabama, which has been "Ground Zero" for corruption in the Bush Justice Department. Alabama attained its prominent status in the DOJ story for two reasons:
* Rove built his national reputation from working on Alabama state-court races in the 1990s, helping turn the state's appellate courts from Democratic to Republican control. Also, Rove and his close associate Bill Canary helped select "loyal Bushies" Alice Martin and Leura Canary as U.S. attorneys in Birmingham and Montgomery, respectively.
* The case of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman is perhaps the best-known example of an apparent political prosecution under Bush.
Rove rebuffed a subpoena last May, and the new order compels him to appear for questioning at 10 a.m. on February 2 at the Rayburn House Office Building. Some legal experts have suggested that Barack Obama's executive order last week regarding presidential records could make it easier for citizens and lawmakers to gather information about possible criminal activity in the Bush administration.
Siegelman had a strong reaction to news that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chair of the Judiciary Committee, seems to be following through on his promise to investigate possible wrongdoing by Rove and others:
Chairman Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena of Karl Rove gives hope to those who want to know the extent of Karl Rove's abuse of power and his misuse of the Department of Justice as a way to win elections.
Chairman Conyers' action gives meaning to the change that has been ushered in by the election of President Obama.
I am sure that I speak for millions of U. S. citizens when I say that I am grateful for Mr. Conyers' determination to seek the truth.
Those who abused their power must be held accountable otherwise their misuse of power will be more likely to happen again. Our democracy has been threatened by the use of the Department of Justice as a political weapon. Chairman Conyers' action will serve to protect our democracy and restore people's faith that no man is above the law.
Glynn Wilson has an excellent overview of Alabama reaction at Locust Fork World News. Wilson's piece includes thoughts from Jill Simpson, a central figure in the Siegelman case:
North Alabama attorney Jill Simpson, who came forward as a whistle-blower last summer and provided the key evidence for starting an investigation showing Siegelman’s case was political, said she was happy to hear about the subpoena.
“Martin Luther King Jr. in the Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963, said in a letter: ‘An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I am glad that John Conyers understands what Dr. King meant, because it is important for our country that no man be above the law.”
And the fact is, she said: “An injustice occurred in the summer when Mr. Rove was allowed to thumb his nose at a Congressional subpoena. It has been a threat to justice ever since.”
Maybe now, she said, “Mr. Rove will raise his right hand and swear to God to tell the truth — as any normal citizen is required to do when facing a subpoena. It is my hope that justice is restored to the justice system in this country.”
What could be the legal consequences of Rove ignoring a second Congressional subpoena? Scott Horton, of Harper's, examines that question at his No Comment blog.