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Analysis

Congress’s 1/6 Committee Claims Absolute Power As It Investigates Citizens With No Judicial Limits

Vice President Dick Cheney and Mrs. Lynne Cheney celebrate Easter with their daughter Liz Cheney, front row center, Sunday, March 23, 2008 at the U.S. Consulate facility at the Lazarist Monastery in Jerusalem

In its ongoing attempt to investigate and gather information about private U.S. citizens, the Congressional 1/6 Committee is claiming virtually absolute powers that not even the FBI or other law enforcement agencies enjoy. Indeed, lawyers for the committee have been explicitly arguing that nothing proscribes or limits their authority to obtain data regarding whichever citizens they target and, even more radically, that the checks imposed on the FBI (such as the requirement to obtain judicial authorization for secret subpoenas) do not apply to the committee. 

As we have previously reported and as civil liberties groups have warned, there are serious constitutional doubts about the existence of the committee itself. Under the Constitution and McCarthy-era Supreme Court cases interpreting it, the power to investigate crimes lies with the executive branch, supervised by the judiciary, and not with Congress. Congress does have the power to conduct investigations, but that power is limited to two narrow categories: 1) when doing so is designed to assist in its law-making duties (e.g., directing executives of oil companies to testify when considering new environmental laws) and 2) in order to exert oversight over the executive branch. 

What Congress is barred from doing, as two McCarthy-era Supreme Court cases ruled, is exactly what the 1/6 committee is now doing: conducting a separate, parallel criminal investigation in order to uncover political crimes committed by private citizens. Such powers are dangerous precisely because Congress’s investigative powers are not subject to the same safeguards as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. And just as was true of the 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that prompted those Supreme Court rulings, the 1/6 committee is not confining its invasive investigative activities to executive branch officials or even citizens who engaged in violence or other illegality on January 6, but instead is investigating anyone and everyone who exercised their Constitutional rights to express views about and organize protests over their belief that the 2020 presidential election contained fraud. Indeed, the committee’s initial targets appear to be taken from the list of those who applied for protest permits in Washington: a perfectly legal, indeed constitutionally protected, act…

To read more visit Glenn Greenwald’s Substack.

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3 comments

Bob Smith January 22, 2022 at 5:25 pm

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Frank McCarthy January 23, 2022 at 8:07 pm

What is occurring is an unofficial start to the Leftish Dem reprehensibles to their re-election campaigns for 2022. The idea is to float and promote ;lies about conservative Americans and their representatives. Thereby granting them a large media platform to interrogate and accuse from the rotunda lectern in order to attempt to score favorable points with their electorate . Most of us know this is a theatrical monkey trial in the guise of a kangaroo court.

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PatKat January 29, 2022 at 11:02 am

This was all evident from the beginning! It agitates me to hear pontificating a YEAR AFTER THE FACT! America suffered a COUP in Nov. 2020, and this is the PURGE, which ALWAYS follows a coup. I’ve been terrified since the FBI started rounding up innocent people, wrecking their homes and injuring family members in the process. WHY ARE WE JUST TALKING ABOUT THIS NOW>??? Were people trying to give the illegitimate government the “benefit of the doubt”?

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