The congressional hearings into the deplorable conduct of the IRS in targeting over 500 politically or religiously conservative organizations for special scrutiny and onerous tax exemption requirements took an odd turn yesterday when the head of the relevant IRS section, Lois Lerner, refused to testify.
Perhaps because I'm not a lawyer I don't understand how the fifth amendment, which she invoked, can be used to extricate one from testifying. It seems to me that the law's intention is to protect someone from being compelled to answer questions which would incriminate herself, but that it's an abuse of the amendment to employ it to refuse to answer any questions at all.
If Lerner's application of the amendment is legitimate then what's to keep everyone in the entire agency from invoking the fifth, refusing to say anything, and shutting down the investigation altogether? How can any government agency be held accountable to the people if those under suspicion can simply refuse to speak during any investigation into their possible malfeasance?
It seems to me that if Lerner refuses to testify she should be held in contempt of Congress. She should be required to either answer specific questions or to plead the fifth to each one and let the public, to the extent it cares, make up their own minds as to her guilt or innocence.
As I was preparing to put this post up on VP I came across an article in which the renowned lawyer Alan Dershowitz says essentially the same thing I did. Since he's far more qualified to comment on these matters I urge you to read his comments at the link.
By the way, I implied above that the public might not care much about this scandal. I said that while still reeling from watching the video here. It's disheartening but sadly unsurprising.
And speaking of videos, I can't bring myself to watch the recording of the two British Muslims who hacked the soldier to death, beheading him on the streets of London, but I can't help wonder whether that young man who died such a horrific death might be alive today if someone in the crowd of onlookers had been carrying a firearm.