Why do the feds even care?

Clemens Following on this post from last week on the misdirected nature of the criminal prosecution of Roger Clemens, Allen Barra wrote this W$J op-ed mirroring my skepticism over the case:

Never mind that there was no criminal penalty attached to anything Mr. Clemens is accused of using-if there were, Jose Canseco, who has written two books bragging about his use of steroids, would be serving time. Never mind, too, that when Mr. Clemens is said by his accusers to have used such substances, they weren’t even banned from Major League Baseball: the Basic Agreement between the Players Association and owners forbidding the use of PEDs didn’t take effect until 2004.

And let’s disregard as irrelevant the judgment of baseball analysts such as David Ezra (author of "Asterisk: Home Runs, Steroids, and the Rush to Judgment") and J.C. Bradbury (author of "The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed"), who have studied PEDs and Mr. Clemens’s performance and found no statistical evidence that, even if he took PEDs, he gained any advantage from them. [.  .  .]

All that matters to the government is that, in February 2008, Mr. Clemens may have lied to a House committee on a matter the committee had no business poking its nose into in the first place. If there was no criminal penalty for using the drugs and if MLB and the union have agreed now to police their own house, why do the feds even care?

That’s a good question, and one we all deserve an answer to before the government goes to the expense of putting Mr. Clemens on trial.

As I noted earlier, Clemens has not defended himself well. But the government’s handling of the investigation into his conduct is far more egregious. Here’s hoping that Clemens’ jury sees it the same way.

6 thoughts on “Why do the feds even care?

  1. Tom,
    I normally agree, but just because you don’t believe the underlying act was a crime (taking PEDs), doesn’t give a person the right to lie under oath. The standard of taking an oath to tell the truth should not hinge on whether the underlying act was a crime. This is why Mark McGuire was better advised than Roger Clemens.
    As if often the case with high-profile individuals, the courts (and the US Congress) cannot allow someone to blatantly lie and get away with it (although I think a former President did just that).

  2. Cuba, you are correct that perjury is wrong and Clemens has not handled this well. However, the government’s conduct is much more troubling than Clemens’.
    Prosecuting citizens — high profile or otherwise — for proclaiming their innocence regarding matters that are not a crime serves no useful public purpose or policy. As Thomas More observed, few of us would be left standing if those winds of prosecutorial power turned toward us. We all should be far more concerned with that than Roger Clemens’ personal life.

  3. …”had no business poking its nose into in the first place”… Given that Congress has seen fit to grant MLB an anti trust exemption, they reserve the right to waste all kinds of tax payer resources in an “oversight” capacity. That doesn’t make it right, just explains why they do it. Meddling in baseball is good theater, just like the TSA…

  4. It seems unreasonable to charge anyone with lying to the corrupt, criminal, liars who make up Congress. If the witness is under oath, so then is the Congressional Committee and we all now their propensity to lie.
    The anti trust exemption given to MLB has no bearing on all this. Congress is not about to abolish the exemption.

  5. @Rick,
    Never said they were going to abolish it. I just cited it as the reason for them poking their collective noses into the situation. The trust itself is not at issue, though some could argue that it should not even be there. Granting the exemption did give the ConCritters the pomposity to manage a circus of oversight.

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