Friday, July 20, 2007
Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.
Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action."
But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege.
The President is stating he is above the law. Currently, the Federal Prosecutor in D.C. Jeffrey Taylor is a protege/flunky of Alberto Gonzales. Under normal circumstances, somebody in his position wouldrecuse himself from a case like this due to his loyalty to the Bush administration.
You do not need to be a legal scholar to understand what is occurring. The White House is claiming that their power is absolute. They now never have to turn over any documents to the congress with their new claims. The loyalist US attorney simply will refuse to co-operate with congress.
This will leave our constitutional form of government in shambles. The only recourse now left to congress is "inherent contempt". Congress has the power to use civil law to imprison members of the administration who refuse to comply with subpoenas. They still will have no power to get at documents because there is no legal mechanism beyond that US Attorney filing in court for them to achieve that goal.
Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing."
"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."
Richard Nixon in the end respected the law and allowed the courts to decide if the White House Tapes were covered under executive privilege. Bush is going beyond Nixonian levels now. Richard Nixon had more respect for our constitution. This is a time for all citizens regardless of politics to respond.
We play a political game within a framework of rules. President Bush is allowed to execute policy under these rules with a series of checks and balances. He is not a king. Barry Goldwater, where have you gone?
Posted by trifecta at 6:59 AM