Traces of Mr. Smith found in Washington

July 31, 2006

Two cheering developments on the Russell Tice front.

First, his lawyers have successfully got his Grand Jury appearance postponed, on the grounds that the subpoena did not inform him whether he was a target or a witness, and did not give him sufficient time to prepare.

Second, it may be illegal for the government to spend any money investigating him.

That conclusion is based on the interplay between two key whistleblower laws. First, under the Lloyd Lafollette Act of 1912, it is illegal to obstruct communications with Congress. For over 25 years, it has been accepted in the law that media disclosures qualify as communications with the government.

Second, the anti-gag statute shields speech protected by Lloyd Lafollette and other good government laws from any government spending on retaliatory investigations against the whistleblower. It has been passed annually in appropriations legislation since 1988. It states that free speech rights listed in certain good government laws supersede any other restrictions against unclassified disclosures. The government violates the anti-gag statute if it spends money to implement or enforce the superseded policies. Under the Anti Deficit Act, officials responsible for the illegal spending are personally liable to repay the Treasury.


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