Bring It On!

Bush To Congress- Screw You!

June 28th, 2007 | by Ken Grandlund |

In refusing to accede to Congressional subpoena’s, President Bush has in effect told the American people that he is indeed above the law. It’s about time the man finally let his real feelings show through. His puppet master, Dick Cheney did so years ago, first by asserting that his office was not subject to any executive directives at all, and then by shooting his “friend” in the face and hiding out for hours, presumably to dilute the blood in his alcohol stream.

The subpoena’s stem from the ongoing US Attorney scandal that has rocked the DOJ and led to calls from politicians of both parties for AG Gonzales to resign. But the Bush White House has also stymied Congressional investigations into the domestic warrantless wiretapping program, and further efforts to unravel the VP’s withholdings of classified documents from the National Archives as directed by a presidential executive order signed by Bush.

Whatever you think of Attorneygate, Bush’s refusal to turn over subpoenaed documents opens a whole new avenue of legal ramifications. With this refusal, Bush is again pushing his application of the Unitary Executive Theory to Nixonian bounds. Well Mr. President, even Nixon found that he wasn’t above the law.

According to a Senate report, Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power,

“When conducting investigations of the executive branch, congressional
committees and Members of Congress generally receive the information required for
legislative needs. If agencies fail to cooperate or the President invokes executive
privilege, Congress can turn to a number of legislative powers that are likely to
compel compliance. The two techniques described in this report are the issuance of
subpoenas and the holding of executive officials in contempt.”

Now the Constitution does not specifically provide for congressional power to investigate, but historical evidence exists to infer that the framers understood that legislatures must oversee the executive branch. In fact, under British precedents, lawmakers were expected to hold administrators accountable for their actions.

Again, from the report:

James Wilson, one of the framers and later a Justice on
the Supreme Court, expected the House of Representatives to “form the grand
inquest of the state. They will diligently inquire into grievances, arising both from
men and things.”

At the Philadelphia Convention, George Mason emphasized that Members of
Congress “are not only Legislators but they possess inquisitorial powers. They must
meet frequently to inspect the Conduct of the public offices.” Charles Pinckney
submitted a list of congressional prerogatives, including: “Each House shall be Judge
of its own privileges, and shall have authority to punish by imprisonment every
person violating the same.”

And in 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the congressional power of inquiry is an “essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.” And the power to issue subpoenas is a valid part of that function.

It is interesting to note that, since the 1923 teapot Dome scandal, only two executive branch officeials have sidestepped or ignored a congressional subpoena. Both men were officials in the first Bush presidency. (1989- former HUD secretary invoked the 5th in response to a congressional subpoena; 1991-Commerce Secretary refused to appear before Congress to explain why he wouldn’t comply with a subpoena.)

Several more historical precedents are provided in the report, which you can read here.

This administration has been the most secretive administration in recent history, if not in all of our history. That they have so much to hide hints that they have done much to be worried about. Despite their claims of national security or executive privilege, nothing that this administration has done offers any semblance of forthrightness, let alone legality. It is a cadre of ex-Nixonite’s, bent on subverting the practices and protections of our democratic system of government for their own illusions of grandeur and personal benefit and gain. And they’ve been getting away with it for far too long.

Apparently they think that they can run out the clock on this newly investigative Congress. Hell, you can see it in every smirk on their faces. Let’s hope that the disgraced Nixon’s exit from power pales in comparison to what Bush and Cheney end up with.

Bush, Cheney, Congress, Congressional+subpoenas, politics, checks+and+balances, law, Nixon

  1. 11 Responses to “Bush To Congress- Screw You!”

  2. By Ron on Jun 28, 2007 | Reply

    At this point, we can only hope a judge makes him turn over the goods. They can’t game the whole system. Nixon had to turn over the Watergate tapes in that manner, so we can hope that the same happens here so we can finally get a glimpse at what this thing really was.

  3. By manapp99 on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Funny how you compare Bush to Nixon re: executive privilege but just blast by the Clinton administration that not only claimed executive privilege for his aides in the Ken Starr investigations, but also claimed (for the first time in history for a non-employee) EP for his wife when she refused to turn over the list of advisors for her failed universal health plan. Matter of fact in the 1998 claim of EP by Clinton he became the first pres since Nixon to LOSE the bid in court.

    I know you are going to deride me bringing up Clinton but you brought up Nixon. This seems to invite comparison to previous administrations regards EP.

    Also interesting is that the first time Bush claimed EP was in 1991 when Rep Dan Burton (the 90’s GOP version of Waxman), was investigatiog Janet Reno. He was protecting documents from the Clinton administration from an invesigation by the GOP. I did not hear any howls from the left then. This was the 2001 claim from Bush.

    December 12, 2001
    MEMORANDUM FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
    SUBJECT: Congressional Subpoena for Executive Branch Documents

    I have been advised that the Committee on Government Reform of the House of Representatives has subpoenaed confidential Department of Justice documents. The documents consist of memoranda from the Chief of the Campaign Financing Task Force to former Attorney General Janet Reno recommending that a Special Counsel be appointed to investigate a matter under review by the Task Force, memoranda written in response to those memoranda, and deliberative memoranda from other investigations containing advice and recommendations concerning whether particular criminal prosecutions should be brought. I understand that, among other accommodations the Department has provided the Committee concerning the matters that are the subject of these documents, the Department has provided briefings with explanations of the reasons for the prosecutorial decisions, and is willing to provide further briefings. I also understand that you believe it would be inconsistent with the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and the Department’s law enforcement responsibilities to release these documents to the Committee or to make them available for review by Committee representatives.
    It is my decision that you should not release these documents or otherwise make them available to the Committee. Disclosure to Congress of confidential advice to the Attorney General regarding the appointment of a Special Counsel and confidential recommendations to Department of Justice officials regarding whether to bring criminal charges would inhibit the candor necessary to the effectiveness of the deliberative processes by which the Department makes prosecutorial decisions. Moreover, I am concerned that congressional access to prosecutorial decisionmaking documents of this kind threatens to politicize the criminal justice process. The Founders’ fundamental purpose in establishing the separation of powers in the Constitution was to protect individual liberty. Congressional pressure on executive branch prosecutorial decisionmaking is inconsistent with separation of powers and threatens individual liberty. Because I believe that congressional access to these documents would be contrary to the national interest, I have decided to assert executive privilege with respect to the documents and to instruct you not to release them or otherwise make them available to the Committee.
    I request that you advise the Committee of my decision. I also request that the Department remain willing to work informally with the Committee to provide such information as it can, consistent with these instructions and without violating the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

    GEORGE W. BUSH

  4. By Ron on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Manapp, I can wholeheartedly accept your premise: Presidents misuse executive power. I agree. It is pretty shady stuff. The fact remains:

    Nixon was fully aware of criminal activity by CREEP members and high ranking executive appointees. Burglary. Conspiracy.

    Clinton got a blowjob. Perjury.

    George Bush has possibly spied on innocent American citizens,  his vice president may have been planning to divvy up Iraq to the oil industry shortly after September 11th, and his Department of Justice may have been cleaning legal house on the basis of ideology. Conspiracy. Constitutional crisis.

    I’ll accept your premise that presidential power is misused by both Democrats and Republicans if you will acknowledge that the degree of seriousness and the conspiracy factors are sufficient enough for me to be able to compare Nixon and Bush as far as refusing to bring light to an investigation.

  5. By Ron on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    “but also claimed (for the first time in history for a non-employee  ) EP for his wife when she refused to turn over the list of advisors for her failed universal health plan.”

    Missed that one. I will check that out…

  6. By manapp99 on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Ron, from findlaw:

     

    “The closest the courts have come to extending the privilege to such discussions was in the 1993 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. v. Hillary Clinton. That case raised the question whether the Federal Advisory Committee Act (”FACA”) applied to the health-care-reform panel chaired by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. And that question, in turn, depended on whether the First Lady is, or is not, an officer or employee of the government.”

    Here is the link:

    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20020206.html

     

    You will find EP claimed by presidents (and fought by congress) going back to George Washington at this same link. A pretty good overview of EP in general.

  7. By Ron on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Hmm..Manapp, I gotta say, that the AAPS lawsuit was politically motivated in light of the fact that the AAPS can rightly be considered a “conservative” association, one that opposes abortion and otc contraception, opposes mandatory vaccination, has had frickin’ Birchers(!) for leaders in the past and has sued on behalf of el Rushbo. By the way Ron Paul fans, he is a member of this organization. Here’s a small list of whacko articles in their medical journal:

    Links between abortion and breast cancer

    Humanism conspiracy to replace creationism with evolution

    HIV does not cause AIDS

    So am I saying attack dogs? Uh-huh. Not altogether inconsistent with the rest of the witch-hunting conducted upon the Clintons.

     

     

  8. By manapp99 on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Ron this link to FindLaw is a good oversight:

    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20020206.html

    From this article:

    “The closest the courts have come to extending the privilege to such discussions was in the 1993 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. v. Hillary Clinton. That case raised the question whether the Federal Advisory Committee Act (”FACA”) applied to the health-care-reform panel chaired by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. And that question, in turn, depended on whether the First Lady is, or is not, an officer or employee of the government”

    There is more there about this and also how this relates to Cheney asserting privilege in his energy meetings. A good non partisan look at EP.

    As far as this line:

    “George Bush has possibly spied on innocent American citizens,  his vice president may have been planning to divvy up Iraq to the oil industry shortly after September 11th, and his Department of Justice may have been cleaning legal house on the basis of ideology. Conspiracy. Constitution al crisis.”

    Lots of mays and possiblys here. Do I think they are important and deserve looking into? Yes. Do I want any secrecy on non national securtiy issues from any president? No. I am just pointing out that tactic and the ensuing battle with congress is almost routine and is clearly not limited to Bush or Nixon.

     

     

     

  9. By Ron on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Oh, what a surprise, the AAPS is a group of rightwing whackjobs! How inconsistent with the rest of the witchhunters after the Clintons.

    Ron Paul fans should take note of that link.

  10. By Ron on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Shit. Comments getting eaten!

  11. By manapp99 on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Ron:

    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20020206.html

    This has good info on EP.

    I am not in favor of any president being able to claim privilege on anything other than national security. I am pointing out that the use of privilege is common and battles with congress are as well.

  12. By manapp99 on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Ron been  trying to get this link to you:

    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20020206.html

    The closest the courts have come to extending the privilege to such discussions was in the 1993 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. v. Hillary Clinton. That case raised the question whether the Federal Advisory Committee Act (”FACA”) applied to the health-care-reform panel chaired by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. And that question, in turn, depended on whether the First Lady is, or is not, an officer or employee of the government.

    I am not in favor of any president using the privilege for non national security reasons. Just pointing out that this is old hat and goes all the way back to George Washington. The battles with congress over this go back equally as far.

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