Precinct 333

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

More Proof That Baseball/Steroid Hearings Are A Fraud

Several days ago I noted that I believed that the planned hearing on steroid use in baseball was nothing but a publicity stunt. That my suspicions regarding the fraudulent nature of the hearings were correct is proved by this story.

Less than 24 hours before the start of the highly anticipated session, Jose Canseco's request for immunity was denied by the House Government Reform committee. Canseco's lawyer said the former AL MVP will not be able to answer questions that would incriminate him.

"No witnesses have been or will be granted immunity," David Marin, a spokesman for committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis, said in an e-mail to the AP.

Given that the matter of steroid use is the subject of a grand jury investigation, the failure of the committee to grant use immunity for the testimony given leaves the players and executives abbearing under subpoena subject to criminal indictment and prosecution if they answer any questions. Even Jose Canseco, who has presumably told all in his book, is in danger if he testifies.

Canseco's lawyer, Robert Saunooke, was angry with the decision.

"It begs the question as to what they're convening this hearing for," Saunooke said in a telephone interview. "They effectively cut the legs off from underneath us."

Saunooke has said that without immunity, Canseco would invoke his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions.

"They told me we can't do the Fifth to every question," he said. "It's an absolute right of every citizen to not be compelled to give testimony against themselves. They do not make the decision. We do."

Actually, if Saunooke wants to give his client the best available advice, he will instruct him not to even state his name for the record. There have been cases brought in the past arguing that by answering even such innocuous questions as name and place of residence can be construed as a waiver of Fifth Amendment rights.

So what we have here are hearings being held by a committee that has "anything we want" as its jurisdiction holding hearings at which all those testifying will be obliged to assert their rights under the Fifth Amendment in order to escape a possible indictment for perjury. But it will get face time for the members of the committee on the evening and cable news shows and C-Span And that, ultimately, is what the hearing is all about.


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