Whenever someone violates an oath or a vow, either by swearing to what is untrue, or through omission (concealing truth), intentional or otherwise, or to fail to do what has been promised under oath, they are guilty of false swearing. In our judicial system, we call this perjury.
It is a felony, punishable by fines or imprisonment. We’ve even seen where high-ranking officials have been sent to jail for lying to federal law enforcement officers. As an aside, the prefix per– in Latin means “harmful,” so whenever someone perjures themselves, they do harm to the truth. Not all lying is perjury —only lying under oath or lying to a member of the FBI. Now, of course, a person may avoid perjury by refusing to make an oath, or in law enforcement or judicial matters (including testimony in congress) by claiming his or her right against self-incrimination.
What brought me to this discussion was the post of a few days back about the recently elected and seated member of Congress, Rashida Tlaib. The oath she took reads as follows:
“I, (State your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”
This oath, by the way, is required:
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” — U.S. Constitution, Article VI, clause 3
Not everyone back then agreed. During the Constitutional Convention, the question arose, should an oath be required at all in a free country? James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania, said that oaths only provided “left-handed security.” A good government, he argued, did not need an oath, and a bad government ought not be supported at all. Noah Webster agreed with Wilson when he said that oaths were instruments of slavery and a badge of folly.
People would be naturally inclined to support just government, so oaths were unnecessary. Wilson served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, so I suppose to a man who committed treason against his king may not be inclined to offer an oath of allegiance. The Supreme Court finally got around to addressing this issue in 1833, when Justice Joseph Story opined that requiring officials to take an oath “would seem to be a proposition too clear to render any reasoning necessary in support of it.”
All of this happened before there were Moslems in America working to undermine Republican Democracy. A politically incorrect person, such as I, might observe that these Moslems are really no more than wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.
In any case, researching back to the Clinton administration, I could find only one member of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch convicted of perjury. Judge Thomas Porteous (D) (a Clinton appointee) for the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas was convicted of perjury in 2010.
Now a quick word about Taqiyya (spelled in several ways). It is a practice emphasized in Shia Islam whereby adherents are permitted to conceal their true religious purposes to avoid persecution, prosecution, or compulsion. It has been politically legitimized among Moslems in order to maintain unity and fraternity among Moslems of all sects. One Moslem scholar (teaching at Columbia) explained, “Taqiyya is an Islamic judicial term whose shifting meaning relates to when a Moslem is allowed, under Sharia Law, to lie. It is a concept whose meaning has varied significantly among Islamic sects, scholars, countries, and political regimes, and it has become a key term used by anti-Moslem polemicists.” Imagine a judicial system that allows dishonesty …
We could all agree that whenever a member of Congress takes the oath of office and then violates that oath, then that person has committed perjury. They lied. They either lied overtly or through omission, and for intentions that act against the interests of the United States Constitution and the citizens of the United States.
Yet, over the past three decades, people in power routinely ignore the lies told by others —especially within their own party or administration, because who wants to admit publicly that they support telling lies, or misstatements, or concealing the truth? Where we are today is in a land called word-play. Lying has become “mis-speaking,” or “spin.” But a lie is a lie, and concealing the truth is a lie. A lie is unacceptable under any scenario, but apparently, only if one is actually able to utter the word, “lie.” If not, then “spin” is perfectly acceptable —to people who lie.
Rashida Tlaib at the Islamic Society of North America
Now to the issue of Rashida Tlaib: she took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States (not defend it, of course). No sooner had she taken that oath, she turned around and threatened an innocent man with congressional impeachment, adding in a bit of profanity unacceptable under any circumstances, and in so doing, given her position as a member of Congress, assumed the guilt of a man who under the law of the land is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
None of this may matter, though … since even if we had an honest and forthright House of Representatives, there are no real punishments for lying to Congress if you happen to be a member of Congress. The only sanctions offered by the House Ethics Committee are censure, reprimand, and expulsion. In the entire history of the Congress, only five members have been expelled, all of whom were Democrats: three were expelled during the Civil War for violating their oaths to the US Constitution by joining the Confederacy, and two after being convicted of bribery during judicial proceedings (1980, 2002). This is not to say that members haven’t been “reprimanded,” but nothing more drastic as punishment than having to write an essay and pay back the money you stole.
I’m not happy with people, particularly Moslems, who become members of our government and then begin to work against the interests of the American people. They take oaths, then violate them, and no one ever holds them to account. Since there are no real punishment for lying in Congress, it is no surprise to find so much dishonesty in that body. No wonder the American people have such disdain for the Congress of the United States. They’re liars.