Category Archives: Congressional investigation panels

Congressional Panels are Unprofessional

I surely would not want to face one of these investigative panels of Congressmen and women that we have been seeing on the news channels. The “inquisitors” are rude, accusatory and they have already reached their verdict. They are just hunting the guilty and they will be happy to prosecute the not-so-guilty if that is all they can find. These panels are unprofessional; striking the viewer as rabid witch hunts rather than offering a real chance to testify. Every time a panel is empowered to investigate some issue does not mean they have to go all Joe McCarthy on the witnesses they call. If people felt that they would get a fair hearing, in an objective setting, they might be more willing to answer the questions of the panel members.

The tone of voice used by the investigative committee members in the recent IRS hearings to address Mr. Miller, Mr. Shulman, and Ms. Lerner was snide, judgmental, insulting, and dismissive. I would be shaking in my boots if I had to face this lynch mob, guilty or not guilty.

We really need to get a civil tongue in our heads and when we hold a congressional panel it needs to stop being a show held for the press, and it needs to be something other than a chance to hammer home your partisan talking points. It should be objective and professional, involved with real fact-finding and should never turn into a smear campaign. I swear the hearings I am observing  would only serve to make me confident that parting with any actual information would be a terrible idea. I think I might get so nervous that I would end up convicting myself of some misdemeanor I never committed.

I have included some video footage from the web of the three key IRS officials on the “hot seat” but it was much more interesting to watch the fuller coverage on television news because these videos give some of the grimness involved but not the rudeness that you see when you watch more of the questioning.
Several of these videos are offered by news groups that skew to the right. Perhaps more to the point is some of the narrative published in relation to the IRS hearings:
“The woman at the center of the IRSscandal refused to testify to Congress on Wednesday, but House Republicans said Lois Lernerbotched her attempt to invoke her right against self-incrimination and said they likely will force her to come back and explain why the agency targeted conservative political groups.

Ms. Lerner’s refusal to testify shifted attention to her onetime boss, former Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, who apologized to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee but refused to take responsibility, leaving furious lawmakers warning that the Internal Revenue Service could end up facing a special prosecutor.”


“Meanwhile, the top Treasury Department official who oversees the IRS said the agency’s behavior was “unacceptable” but denied any responsibility.

At the outset, a Democrat on the panel warned that there would be “hell to pay” if witnesses withheld information or danced around lawmakers’ questions.

“We know where that will lead. It will lead to a special prosecutor,” said Rep. Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts.

Ms. Lerner, director of tax-exempt organizations for the IRS, began the witnesses’ testimony by denying that she acted improperly, and then invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws,” she said. “I have not violated any IRSrules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”

Her attorney said before the hearing that she would decline to answer questions because the Justice Department announced a potential criminal investigation.”


“Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, dismissed Ms. Lerner from the witness table, but Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, objected, saying that since she made a brief statement in her defense, that effectively waived her right to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

“She just testified. She just waived her Fifth Amendment right to privilege,” said Mr. Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor. “You don’t get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross-examination. That’s not the way it works. … She ought to stand here and answer our questions.”

Hours later, at the end of the hearing, Mr. Issa said Mr. Gowdy may be correct and that the committee may compel Ms. Lerner to return. He said he would review the legal situation, and he recessed the hearing rather than adjourning it as a way of preserving the option of bringing her back.”