March 26th, 2007

Executive Privilege

And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? (2 Ne. 27:27)

There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; (2 Ne. 30:17)

Those who have followed the news in the past couple of weeks no doubt have been intrigued to follow the scandal of Bush’s administration firing off certain attorneys. As Glenn Greenwald notes:

The scandal derives from the highly unusual effort to cherry-pick prosecutors for firings, in the middle of an administration, for blatantly political purposes (as well as the subsequent false statements, including by top DOJ officials to Congress, about what occurred). It is true that Bush did what Clinton did — back in 2001, when nobody objected. What he has done now is manifestly not what Clinton did (or any President other than, perhaps, Richard Nixon), which is what accounts for the scandal.

Greenwald continues:

And as ArchPundit documents, the practice of replacing all U.S. attorneys at the start was customary even before the Reagan administration. What the Clinton administration did (that provoked such contrived outrage) was what every administration had been doing and is what the Bush 43 administration itself did back in 2001.

What none of those administrations did — until now — was cherry-pick a list of prosecutors to be fired in the middle of the administration for clearly political purposes and then lie to Congress (and the country) about what happened. Why — when journalists hear the “Clinton-did-it-too” claim or the “there-is-nothing-wrong-with-firing-prosecutors” excuse — are they so incapable of just pointing out these easily discovered facts?

Following the breaking of this story it was amusing (albeit not surprising in the least) to see the administration release the alleged “confession” of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the “9/11 mastermind”. Clearly this was an attempt to get Alberto Gonzales out of the news, a tactic practiced often by government when it finds itself under the spotlight. As is common with other hasty attempts to create a false story and push it out as news to the public, the story is a weak one which Americans aren’t buying. One day later, Alberto and his cronies were back in the limelight.

Amidst calls for Alberto Gonzales’ resignation, Congress has decided to investigate the matter further. Finally, a system with checks and balances! Long has our Congress let the Bush administration run amok, intoxicated with a sense of its own self-importance and power. This last week resulted in a Congressional subcommittee giving its chairman the authority and approval to issue subpoenas demanding more information, a political move that has Bush called “regrettable”. Indeed, having to expose one’s guilt and fraud certainly can be “regrettable”.

Up until this point, Bush had offered to “allow” his aides to be “interviewed” (not under oath):

He said Tuesday that the four — top political adviser Karl Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers, and their two deputies — could be interviewed in the matter, but no oath could be administered and no transcript would be taken.

Gee, how kind of his majesty.

The back-and-forth debate continues, with President Bush touting two words as his dictatorial CYA policy, indicating the levels to which he is willing to go in extending his tyrannical rule:

“Executive Privilege”.

In United States v. Nixon, the Supreme Court offered the following opinion on this term:

To read the Article II powers of the President as providing an absolute privilege as against a subpoena essential to enforcement of criminal statutes on no more than a generalized claim of the public interest in confidentiality of nonmilitary and nondiplomatic discussions would upset the constitutional balance of ‘a workable government’ and gravely impair the role of the courts under Article III. (United States v. Nixon, 1974)

Glenn Greenwald produced a long list of hypocrisy showing certain Republicans (most notably current Press Secretary Tony Snow, back in his FOX News days) loudly complaining when Bill Clinton tried to use his “executive privilege” in hiding the truth from the public. One poignant article written in 1998 by Snow says the following:

Taken to its logical extreme, that position [of executive privilege] would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public’s faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold — the rule of law. (Op-Ed – St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1998)

And now, when the tables have turned, Tony Snow is loudly supporting Bush’s use of secrecy and “privilege” in refusing to permit his subordinates to testify under oath, going so far as to say at one point in this video interview that the Legislative Branch “does not have constitutional oversight responsibility over the White House”.

Somebody needs to study their Constitutional law.

The “executive privilege” assertion is one that screams of secrecy, conspiracy, and lawlessness. As was revealed in the cases of former Presidents Nixon and Clinton, their use of “executive privilege” was nothing more than to cover up their own wrongful actions and suppress the truth.

Should we expect the situation to be any different with our current President?

Read quotes about “conspiracy” on Quoty

7 Responses to “Executive Privilege”

  1. Dan
    March 26, 2007 at 7:34 am #

    If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear from taking an oath to tell the truth.

    If you have something to hide, then you have something to fear from taking an oath to tell the truth.

    Congress, don’t give this president an inch!

  2. Kelly Winterton
    March 26, 2007 at 12:02 pm #

    The extent this administration goes to cover-up and keep things secret and lie is just further proof of Moroni’s words that governments taken over by secrecy are the downfall of a nation. Moroni was our prophet for our days indeed.

  3. Michael L. McKee
    March 27, 2007 at 3:03 pm #

    It is always reassuring to believe that the so-called “checks and balances” inherent within the fabric of our original Framer’s Constitution will be employed by the appropriate body charged with oversight concerning the activities of one of the other branches of our Federal Government. However, in the current farcical atmosphere of political ideology, the dominant party wielding the supposed power is equally responsible for the vacuum of leadership with which we are unfortunately dealing at this time in our history.

    Some would believe that changing parties in an election cycle will inherently bring about change, and they would be superficially correct. We have changed direction, but the slippery slope down which we have been rapidly sliding is still going to lead to the same disastrous conclusion because there is not a modicum of difference in the approach of either party currently running roughshod over the people. Both parties collectively (Republican and Democrat) have a common goal of destroying the power held by the people so that they may inflict their divergent worldview upon us while hypocritically laying the blame at the feet of the opposing party. They both travel the same road toward world dominance and their concept of a “New World Order” in their image.

    If you have ever gone out into the woods just to explore, you will recall, perhaps, looking under rocks and fallen trees and branches to discover what may be lurking thereunder. Well, I can assure you that when you find a Republican engaged in sinful or otherwise unconstitutional or unlawful behavior lurking under the rock, you will find a Democrat there also.

    We are never, never going to reverse the trend politically until we radically change the landscape of corrupt Democrats and Republicans who are beholden to the unseen powers behind the scenes who are the real threat and will continue to be as long as we the people continue to believe that “our party” will change things for the better. It is simply not going to happen.

  4. Kelly Winterton
    March 27, 2007 at 3:27 pm #

    Well said, Michael!

  5. Shaun
    March 27, 2007 at 7:04 pm #


    Way to hit another ball out of the park. To begin such a post with applicable scripture is so vital, scripture that we must “repent” of having treated lightly. Great research.

  6. Jeff
    March 27, 2007 at 8:29 pm #


    I just have to say that I agree with you. Both parties are equally bad, equally corrupt, and equally negligent in upholding their sworn mandate to defend the Constitution. I couldn’t believe that I agreed with you on something, so I had to put it in words to make sure it was true :).


    Two quick points:

    1- Don’t get too excited about the reemergence of checks and balances yet. I honestly don’t think this congress has the courage to get in a Constitutional fight with the Bush White House. Even though it’s a fight they would win, I don’t think they’ll push it to its conclusion. [sigh]

    2- I find it amazing how hypocritical “Bushies” are when they scream, “Well, Clinton did it!” The irony of it all is that they threw a fit when Clinton did anything, investigated him ad nauseam to no real avail, and now use his name (the very name they vilified for 8 years) to justify their policies of corruption. Un-freaking-believable!

    Jon Stewart said it best as he summed up Bush’s deal that his people can talk to Congress but not under oath (I took the liberty of editing it for content):

    Look, to my mind, I don’t know why Karl Rove can’t just walk up to congress, put his hand on the Bible, and tell the [bleep]ing truth.

    You should all go watch the video at Crooks and Liars (It’s edited there as well :)).

  7. Aaron
    March 31, 2007 at 9:48 am #

    My boss can fire me if she wants; and she can do so for any reason. This is her prerogative as my employer. Unfair? Well, maybe. Poor character on her part? Sure. Scandalous? No.
    I see nothing wrong with governments hiring and firing people to advance their political agendas. If I was elected President I would hire and fire people based on my view of how the government should run.
    This is not say that I like Bush, or that I think his firing was “justified”. I am simply stating that I think it’s no big deal.
    We aren’t entitled to our jobs, no matter where we work.

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