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The Rule of Law Should Matter

Location: Washington, DC

THE RULE OF LAW SHOULD MATTER -- (House of Representatives - February 10, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the order of the House of January 20, 2004, the gentleman from California (Mr. Sherman) is recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.

Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Speaker, just for a second I would like to go over the remarks of the gentleman from Ohio where he says that the Republican administration actually promotes the outsourcing of jobs, reducing jobs here in the United States. It almost makes it sound like the Bush administration does not care about Americans.

Keep in mind, for every 100 jobs we export, we create one or two very rich Americans; and, on balance, that may be thought to be a good thing by the Bush administration.

We also have a huge half trillion dollar trade deficit.


But I want to remind my colleagues of a day back in 1972 when we had a positive trade surplus and when the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic Party was burglarized. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy went to jail for that burglary because Republicans here in Washington believed that the rule of law was more important than Republican success.

Today, a similar crime has been committed. At the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, a computer server that was jointly used by Democrats and Republicans was burglarized, and thousands of the Democrats' documents were stolen, far more than Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy ever thought to steal.

A shared computer server is not an unusual thing on Capitol Hill. My Democratic colleagues need to be reminded that every e-mail we send, every e-mail we receive goes through a shared computer server, under the control ultimately of the Speaker of this House and his staff. But we Democrats here in the House do not believe that the Speaker and his staff are criminals. We believe they are honorable men and women, and so we send e-mail today just as we do every other day.

What is happening in the other body, Mr. Speaker? A small cabal has decided to burglarize documents. That is the same as what happened back in 1972, but what is more interesting is that the predominant power in the Republican party, the predominant power here in Washington, wants to protect this act of robbery.

Sure, one staffer has been fired. Now that staffer is free to obtain lucrative employment and cash gifts without having to report it. Another staffer has left, and that staffer boasts about being in control of stolen documents, stolen property. Instead of going to jail for being in possession of stolen property, he trumpets how he is going to use this property for the support of the Republican position.

The rule of law should matter. We are told, though, that the rule of law is being upheld because a couple of staffers lost their jobs. Since when is it the criminal law in this country that if one steals something the only sanction is they have to go get employment elsewhere?

We are told that this crime is not a crime because it was a shared computer server. That is a little dangerous for Democrats in the House, where every e-mail is going through a shared server under Republican control.

It is also a complete repudiation of American criminal law. If two partners share a safe deposit box or a safe, that does not mean that one can use the combination to steal all the cash and valuables that the other has put in it. It is very clear. Sharing a box does not mean one gets to steal the other person's or other entity's property. Except that is what it seems to mean in the Republican lexicon.

Burglary and robbery are reasons for people to be indicted and sent to jail. That is what happened to G. Gordon Liddy, that is what happened to Howard Hunt, and we will see whether the Republicans in control of this House and the other body, and in control of Washington and all of its agencies, will make sure that there is a criminal investigation of this theft. Stealing from a safe is wrong, even if one has been trusted with the combination.

If this does not happen, then we in the House will have to look at the additional governmental expense involved in having a separate Democratic e-mail server. Because how can we trust a Republican Party that seems to have gone from a party that puts the rule of law first to one that glorifies burglary and defends criminals?

I look forward to the indictment of those who committed robbery.


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