the Frist speech in historical context

Yesterday, Senator Frist charged Richard Clarke with perjury, imputing

extremely dishonorable motives to this career public servant. If the Senator is correct, which is certainly possible, then he should produce proof and call for Mr.

Clarke to be prosecuted for perjury. If he is not correct, then Senator Frist’s denunciation reminds me of a famous moment in the US Senate, fifty years ago:

I am equally troubled that someone would sell a book, trading on their

former service as a government insider with access to our nation?s most

valuable intelligence, in order to profit from the suffering that this

nation endured on September 11, 2001. … Mr. President, I do not know

if Mr. Clarke?s motive for these charges is partisan gain, personal profit,

self promotion, or animus because of his failure to win a promotion in

the Bush Administration. … Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories

under oath. In July 2002, in front of the Congressional Joint Inquiry

on the September 11 attacks, Mr. Clarke testified under oath that the

Administration actively sought to address the threat posed by al Qaeda

during its first seven months in office. Mr. President, it is one thing

for Mr. Clarke to dissemble in front of the media. But if he lied under

oath to the United States Congress it is a far more serious matter. As

I mentioned, the intelligence committee is seeking to have Mr. Clarke?s

previous testimony declassified so as to permit an examination of Mr.

Clarke’s two different accounts. … Mr Clarke can and will answer for

his own conduct ? but that is all.  

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, March 26, 2004

The Senator … , in … charging three members of the Select Committee

with "deliberate deception" and "fraud" ….; in

stating to the public press on November 13, 1954, that the chairman

of the Select Committee (Mr. Watkins) was guilty of "the most unusual,

most cowardly things I’ve ever heard of" and stating further: "I

expected he would be afraid to answer the questions, but didn’t think

he’d be stupid enough to make a public statement"; and in characterizing

the said committee as the "unwitting handmaiden," "involuntary

agent" and "attorneys-in-fact" of the Communist Party

and in charging that the said committee in writing its report "imitated

Communist methods — that it distorted, misrepresented, and omitted

in its effort to manufacture a plausible rationalization" in support

of its recommendations to the Senate, which characterizations and charges

were contained in a statement released to the press and inserted in

the Congressional Record of November 10, 1954, acted contrary to senatorial

ethics and tended to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute, to

obstruct the constitutional processes of the Senate, and to impair its

dignity; and such conduct is hereby condemned.

From the resolution

to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy, Nov. 9, 1954.

Nov. 9, 1954 was the end of McCarthyism, because on that day the Senate said that a Member could not make unsubsantiated, personal accusations on the official record, based on secret information allegedly in his possession, without bringing dishonor upon himself and the Senate.

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