Is a subpoena worth the paper it is writ upon?
I am not a lawyer. Not a UK lawyer, and a million miles from understanding American law. Be that as it may, my understanding was that a ‘subpoena’ was a legal writ issued to compel (not ask or request, but to demand) compliance with the delivery of documents or attendance of witnesses.
It appears that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (one part of American government) issued subpoenas against the Departments of Defense and Justice (other parts of the American government) for information relating to the Fort Hood terrorist incident of November 5, 2009.
And was, in effect, ignored. The Committee commented
DOD and DOJ have produced a limited set of documents in response to the subpoenas, which we appreciate. However, they still refuse to provide access to their agents who reportedly reviewed Major Hasan’s communications with radical extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and to transcripts of prosecution interviews with Hasan’s associates and superiors, which DOD already provided to its internal review.
DOD and DOJ’s failure to comply with the subpoenas is an affront to Congress’s Constitutional obligation to conduct independent oversight of the Executive Branch, a right all the more critical in order to ensure that our government operates effectively to counter the threat of terrorism.
There are three issues here. The first concerns the Committee’s own investigation; and I cannot comment on that.
The second is that if a Senate Committee cannot get the information it is legally entitled to and legally demands, what hope is there that government will ever be open with the people?
And the third is this. Both the US and UK governments tell us lies. We know this. If they continue to release limited, grudging, and often contradictory information about the ‘terrorist threat’, then we may begin to believe it is not as serious as they tell us.