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July 05, 2007

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You're entirely right that the LA Times poll is simplistic in the extreme. It's worth noting, however, that it's not necessary for a lie to be under oath for it to be criminal. A lie to Government investigators is also criminal, even when not under oath. That was what sent Martha Stewart to the slammer.

Perjury prosecutions are much rarer than most people imagine. Andrew Sullivan wrote a couple of days ago about "thousands of other perjured felons" who could get a commutation from the President. In fact, according to the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, the number of Federal defendants who were convicted of or pled guilty to perjury was 74 in FY2005, 71 in FY2004 and 75 in FY2003. (I emailed Sullivan with these statistics, but he has not corrected his post--or his syntax.)

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