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Has Tejada Case Vindicated McGwire?

Migrant Redbird

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What did McGwire say? CNN Article

"My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family and myself,"

Now, what did Tejada get nailed for? Not for using steroids, but for being unwilling to "rat out" one of his former team mates?

Huffingpost: "Free Miguel Tejada"

Tejada wasn't under oath, before Congress, or interviewed by law-enforcement personnel at the time he lied.

The government's complaint alleged that Tejada "unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly did make default by refusing to state fully and completely the nature and extent of his knowledge of and discussions with other MLB players... regarding... use of steroids and HGH."

There are three problems with the charge to which Tejada pled.

First, the criminal complaint nowhere alleges that he was "summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress," only that he was interviewed by congressional staffers in a Baltimore hotel. Under the terms of the complaint (and the facts as we know them), Tejada's conduct did not fall under 2 U.S.C. 192. I can find no reported case in which 2 U.S.C. 192 was previously used to prosecute an individual for lying to congressional staffers. However, Section 192 does have a long and dismal history: You may remember it from such all-star prosecutions as the House Un-American Activities Committee's actions against people who refused to testify in the 1950s.

Second, the Tejada prosecution is hypocritical. If misleading congressional staffers on a subject related to a hearing qualifies as a crime, then thousands of people, including most members of Congress, ought to be locked up for daily bending the truth as part of political life in Washington. "I respect the honorable Senator even as I disagree with him." "The bridge to nowhere is vital to our national security." Are these every day falsehoods to be the subject of prosecution or just ball players' failures to tell the truth?

Third, the Tejada prosecution cheapens the oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. An oath is the way our legal system signals to the witness that he has a heightened, legally enforceable obligation to tell the truth. The prosecution of Tejada, however, makes that oath meaningless and unnecessary. If this application of Section 192 stands unchallenged, anytime an individual is questioned by a staffer on an issue related to congressional hearings, he is effectively under oath. The oath is our way of providing notice: "This is serious. Tell the truth." If the oath is effectively always in play whenever talking to a congressional staffer, then it's really never in play.

As the prosecution of Tejada illustrates (not to mention the Martha Stewart case), talking to congress, or even to congressional/federal investigators is like trying to navigate through a minefield. Witnesses need to be prepared to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, even if that involves the incrimination of friends/relatives or the discussion of events peripheral to the primary investigation.

Yes, Tejada probably did use steroids and/or HGH (I don't believe his story that he spent thousands of dollars buying HGH from Piatt, then threw it away without using it.), but it didn't really make a difference from the perspective of the feds. Tejada's punishable "crime" was not being willing to give up Adam Piatt, not buying the HGH from him.

I felt at the time that McGwire's statement that he was protecting his family and his friends (as well as himself) was a flimsy excuse, but the prosecution of Tejada suggests that it wasn't such a "flimsy excuse" at all. Regardless of whether McGwire had ever used steroids (or amphetamines or pot or any other illicit drug) or not, he was jeopardizing himself if he had any direct knowledge of the illegal activities of any other people. Once he began answering questions, he would not legally have been able to stop and claim his 5th amendment protection from answering questions which were related to those he'd already answered.

I recall a lot of fans insisting that McGwire got "bad advice" from his lawyers. It ain't necessarily so. Tejada could have used some similar advice before he spoke with congressional investigators.

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It seems to me that this wasn't just a case of Tejada protecting Piatt. He was covering up the fact that he'd bought a banned substance. The Feds could prove he bought it, but couldn't prove he used it, so instead they prosecuted him for lying when he said he didn't know anyone who used. If he hadn't bought the stuff, no way he gets prosecuted just because he didn't identify people he knew who were users.

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... If he hadn't bought the stuff, no way he gets prosecuted just because he didn't identify people he knew who were users.

Maybe. Maybe not. They're not prosecuting any users so far, just liars.

Would you want to risk it?

Congress had an option. They never did force McGwire to assert his 5th amendment rights. If they'd done that, his claim to be protecting family and friends wouldn't have protected him -- he would have had to testify to the whole kibosh or faced jail for contempt.

No one deserves to be jailed for contempt of congress! :)

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Once McGwire said that he wouldn't talk about the past - there was no doubt in John Q Public's mind that meant he was a roid user. And nothing that's happened since has changed JQ's mind.

Of course there some who think he was just referring to his high school career:laughlol:

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It's yet another case where somebody, in some branch of government, takes the carte blanche conveyed by the grand and glorious "war on drugs" and runs far, far away with it. Eventually, that "war" is going to eat the entire foundation of our society. The only ones who profit from it are law enforcement (corrupt and otherwise) and criminals. Everybody else gets screwed.

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