Thursday, November 1, 2007

Waxman twists immunity issue

Congressman Henry Waxman has twisted the Blackwater immunity issue to mislead the public about what the State Department's post-Nisoor Square action really means. Brit Hume, Morton Kondracke, Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes discuss the issue on Fox News. A partial transcript follows:

HUME: The issue is Blackwater. And the irrepressible Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Congressman Henry Waxman, the investigator of California, is saying this in a letter to the Secretary of State: "This rash grant of immunity was an egregious misjudgment. It raises serious questions about who conferred the immunity, who approved it at the State Department, and what their motives were."

And what grant of immunity is he talking about? He is talking about a grant of what is called "use immunity" to certain of the Blackwater USA personnel who were involved in that shooting incident last month in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.

There is a big investigation going on. The State Department conducted its own, and immunity was granted. Now, is this all total immunity from prosecution? Who better to ask than Mort Kondracke?

KONDRACKE: This is called a "Garrity warning," and it refers to a 1967 Supreme Court case in which police officers and others public officials whoa re required to testify and give evidence or lose their jobs cannot have what they say be used against them.

HUME: Used against them, but it can be used against others, though.

KONDRACKE: But it can be used against others. So—

HUME: And they are not immune from prosecution, but they just cannot have their own words used against them.

KONDRACKE: right. That is the warning that was given in this case. Now some FBI people, and Jennifer Griffin quoted one of them last night on our air, saying that this is going to make an FBI investigation more difficult, especially because, apparently, some of these guards are using the Garrity, this limited immunity as an excuse not to talk to the FBI, which I do not think is allowed, but, nonetheless, that is what they're doing.
The bottom line here, it seems to me, is that these are professionally trained people. And they ought to be able to do both things that they are required to do—protect Americans, including Congressman, in Iraq, and not kill civilians at the same time.

And the early evidence suggests that on September 16 there was not enemy activity—we do not know this for sure—but there was not enemy activity and they shot up a bunch of civilians.

KRAUTHAMMER: We do not know that there was no enemy activity.

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