Martha Stewart, Barry Bonds, & Marion Jones . . . will Roger Clemens be Next?
Martha Stewart was confined to a dungeon, not for insider trading, but for lying to the F.B.I.
Barry Bonds isn’t being prosecuted for jacking himself up on steroids, but for allegedly lying to a grand jury. No later than March 11, 2008, Marion Jones will begin serving a six-month sentence for lying to Federal investigators. And what kind of lie would so threaten our safety and way of life that the Federal government would imprison Stewart, Bonds and Jones? Each denied their guilt – Stewart of insider trading, Bonds of knowingly taking steroids, and Jones of using “the clear.”
Prison was once reserved for violent criminals and unrepentant non-violent criminals who racked up enough serious convictions. Prison protected us from real criminals that would do us real harm. Who was harmed because Stewart, Bonds and Jones proclaimed their innocence? Not the bloodthirsty Feds, who feed on the witless, the defiant and the frightened. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, by merely proclaiming your innocence or denying your guilt to a Federal investigator you place yourself at risk for long-term imprisonment. The lie is a gift to the Feds, especially when they can’t make a case against you for a real crime.
It is not enough for the system that Bonds’ and Jones’ achievements are tarnished, that Bonds has forfeited his legitimacy and will be denied admission into the Hall of Fame, and that Jones was forced to return her Olympic medals. It is not enough that Marion Jones is now the “disgraced” former Olympic champ. According to the system, she must be consigned to a concrete coffin, stripped of her motherhood, and denied her human dignity to pay for her denial.
Despite being littered with the bodies of fallen heroes accused of lying, Roger Clemens is charging, pell mell, down the same trail. His appearance on 60 Minutes did little to quell suspicion that he artificially extended his career with either steroids or human growth hormones (HGH). Clemens stammered and stuttered when asked on 60 Minutes if he would submit to a lie detector test:
WALLACE: How about a lie detector test?
CLEMENS: Some say they’re good. Some say they’re not. Do whatever. I mean—
WALLACE: So as far as you’re concerned you would conceivably?
CLEMENS: Yeah. I don’t know if they’re good or bad.
WALLACE: Were you to pass a lie detector test, would that help prove that you’re telling the truth and help restore?
CLEMENS: Would it?
WALLACE: I don’t know.
CLEMENS: I don’t either.
If his attorneys are even remotely competent they anticipated such a question and, long before his 60 Minutes appearance, they had Clemens submit to a lie detector. Had he passed it, they would have released the results to every media outlet. There was no such release. So, either Clemens’ attorneys are incompetent or the results of that test have been introduced to Mr. Shredder. Lying to Mike Wallace and the viewing public, however, won’t land you in the crossbar hotel.
Like his former trainer Brian McNamee, Clemens has agreed to testify under oath before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This is no benign congressional inquiry, these lawmakers, freed from the daily grind of legislating, are out to nail Clemens. This Committee has even postponed the hearing to give them sufficient time to gather evidence and sharpen and coordinate their attacks. With Andy Pettite reportedly prepared to give sworn testimony to this committee corroborating McNamee’s claims against Clemens, Clemens is asking for trouble. Giving false testimony before Congress is punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000.00 in fines (18 U.S.C. § 1001 applies to congressional hearings according to United States vs. Bramblett, 348 U.S. 503 (1955)). Should he somehow escape his Congressional appearance unscathed, McNamee’s salivating lawyers will depose him at length — under oath. And then there’s the civil trial – and more under oath testimony. Every time Clemens opens his mouth he risks contradicting himself and his sworn testimony – and a perjury indictment. Even the best confidence man could hardly be expected to successfully navigate such treacherous waters. If Clemens is lying, this is a suicidal run.