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Balances of Power

I've been kicking around the latest dispute between the Bush administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress, trying to see just how it ought to come down, and I think I've found my position.

To recap: many in Congress are concerned ("concerned," meaning "acting like opportunistic partisan hacks) about the dismissal of eight US Attorneys by the Bush administration. As far as I can tell, no one is saying that anything illegal or unconstitutional was done, but the notion that political concerns might have played a role in the removal of political appointees has some politicians all in a dither. Congress wants key Bush administration officials to testify before them, under oath. President Bush says he is willing to have his aides talk to Congress, but in an "interview" setting -- no oaths, no transcripts, no open sessions. That isn't good enough, and Congress is working on issuing subpoenas compelling their appearance -- with binding oaths and public hearings included.

My first instinct was to say that no one is above the law, that Bush was asserting more privilege than he is entitled to. But I gave it some more thought, and realized that within just the last year was another incident that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the current mess -- but, in reality, sets a very clear precedent for this matter.

That incident: none other than the scandal involving Representative William "Cold Cash" Jefferson Clinton. (Dang, I've GOT to get my keyboard fixed from doing that.)

As you may recall, Representative Jefferson (D-LA) is being investigated in a major corruption scandal. While he has not been formally charged with anything, several others have been convicted of giving him bribes, and the FBI found over $90,000 in cash bundled in his freezer.

Jefferson's travails came to the forefront when the FBI conducted a search of his offices on Capitol Hill. Congress went into a righteous huff over the "invasion" of their sovereign territory, insisting that the Justice Department had no authority to violate a member's office, citing Congress's status as a "separate but equal" branch of the government.

But the Bush administration had done it right. They saw the conflicting interests -- the Justice Department's duty to investigate criminal matters, and Congress's independence from the Executive Branch -- and found a proper solution: they sought a warrant from a federal judge in the matter, thus involving the third branch of the government -- the Judiciary. That was a concrete example of the principle of our divided government -- when there is a conflict between two of the branches, the third one is expected to decide the matter. Here, the Executive branch was obligated to intervene in the inner workings of the Legislative, so they sought the input of the Judiciary -- and that branch sided with the Executive.

Here again, we are seeing a conflict between two branches. In a mirror image of the Jefferson case, it is the Legislative branch that wants to intervene in the inner workings of the Executive. And instead of an office, it is the statements and advice of some of the president's top aides that the Legislature wants to scrutinize. The president is asserting his authority as a separate and equal branch to resist that, much like the Congressional leadership did over the Jefferson office search.

But where the Bush administration sought out the input of the Judiciary Branch before executing its search of Jefferson's office, Congress is attempting to assert its authority solely on its own. It is insisting that it has the right to compel the appearance and testimony of high-ranking officials within the White House, without restraint. And I don't care for that in the least.

I think I can see where this is heading. (Warning: unfounded speculation ahead.) Congress, smelling blood in the water, will issue the subpoenas. The Bush administration will seek an injunction from a federal judge barring the subpoenas. And Congress will argue that neither the Courts nor the President has any right to check their investigatory powers.

At that point, it will be the Legislative branch against the Executive Branch, with the Executive seeking relief/clarification from the Judiciary while the Legislative insists that the Judiciary ought to butt out. In short, an honest-to-goodness Constitutional crisis that could shape how the branches interact for years and years to come.

All over the removal of eight political appointees in an act not one sane person has suggested was illegal in the slightest.

Then again, the principle at stake here is tremendously important. The particular circumstances that bring it up really aren't that important.

I find myself reminded of two historical precedents. World War I, at that point the most horrific conflict the world had ever seen, was triggered by the assassination of one largely-unimportant minor European royal. And legend has it that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," reportedly joked "so you're the little lady who wrote the book that started this great war."

Dafydd ab Hugh also has a great take on this matter, one that played a large role in my own thoughts.


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Comments (137)

You know there is an ongoin... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

You know there is an ongoing political influence in executive branch hires. Specifically, the executive branch has tended to look to senators for advice as to who to select to fill federal judge positions. Obviously that sort of political element should be stopped.

As to the constitutional crisis issue, while there is always a chance that the court will suddenly find a new right or duty never seen before, the case law is pretty clear on this. They can't compel the testimony. They have the power of the purse if they really want to show displeasure, but making people show up for show trials from the executive branch isn't in their power.

Remember, elections have co... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Remember, elections have consequences, and executive privilege does not apply. As Tony Snow said:

The fellow obviously doesn't grasp the difference between preserving the majesty of his office and covering the expanse of his rump. He seems to believe, like a backwoods Napoleon, that "le presidency, c'est moi."
In that vein, Clinton and his lawyers have invoked executive privilege to dodge responsibility for L'Affair Lewinsky, Whitewater, the China scandals and more. His Justice (sic) Department has spent more time prosecuting Kenneth Starr than tracking down enemies of the state. Tony Snow 9/17/99

An op-ed by one Tony Snow on 3/29/1998
Executive Privilege is a Dodge:
Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

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.


Payback is a bitch!

Jay,You maybe correc... (Below threshold)
Allen:

Jay,
You maybe correct on this, but I remember President Nixon's case, and it went to the Supreme Court, and the court ruled against Nixon. Clinton tried to use the same reasoning, and that didn't work either. So what makes this case any different?
Due to the changes in the Supreme Court, Bush may very will win. Then be prepared (heaven help us) if Hillary wins, because executive privilege will be a regular comment of hers, and can point to this case as her justification. Scary, Isn't it? And please, don't say she won't win, no one can forecast the future. (Sure hope she doesn't win)

Funny, I thought Tony Snow ... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

Funny, I thought Tony Snow was a reporter/pr guy, and not a constitutional lawyer. Silly me.

You maybe correct on thi... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

You maybe correct on this, but I remember President Nixon's case, and it went to the Supreme Court, and the court ruled against Nixon

Nixon was charged with criminal acts.

Taltos,You are corre... (Below threshold)
Allen:

Taltos,
You are correct that he was charged with criminal acts, after the court decided he had to turn over the tapes (with the 18 minutes missing)and the judicial committee heard the contents of the tapes. That is when the criminal acts were brought forth.

The break-in was criminal. ... (Below threshold)
kim:

The break-in was criminal. Firing attorneys isn't, except in Schumerland.
===========================

Let's call this what it is.... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Let's call this what it is. This is rank opportunism at its finest. It is a bunch of political partisans who know that the average American has absolutely no clue about the legalities of the issues. This is about draggin some people in front of a committee to embarrass them prior to the next presidential election knowing full well that all the American people will see are headlines about presidential aides testifying before Congress.

Screw fairness and honesty. The Democrats just want to win elections.

Significant differences whe... (Below threshold)
metprof:

Significant differences when comparing to Nixon are that an illegal act had occurred (Watergate breakin)with the possibility that executive branch members had authorized it AND the legislators conducting the hearings generally had the good of the country and rule of law to uphold..ie it wasn't a partison political witch hunt garnering favor with the leftest moonbats as is the case today.

The dimmers are shocked tha... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

The dimmers are shocked that politics is happening in Washington? What are they imbeciles? Nevermind. There is no crime here. Kim is correct. Fortunately, this will help the republicans. Remember the dimmers campaign that they would not have hearing after hearing? Wow. Sometimes the campaign ads write themselves. Even some lefty newpapers op/eds are starting to sound tentative. You have to have a crime and even with that, it has to be a crime the people care about. The dimmers are far outreaching here. Personally, very happy. Maybe GW woke up. ww

Funny, I thought Tony Sn... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Funny, I thought Tony Snow was a reporter/pr guy, and not a constitutional lawyer.

Gotta remember that one. Only constitutional lawyers' opinions on separation of powers arguments (all constitutional arguments?) are worth discussing. Got it. Hope you like Greenwald links. ;)

Nixon was charged with criminal acts.

He was? Gee, which criminal acts was he charged with? I seem to remember him resigning and being pardoned before criminal charges could ever be filed. Of course, the subpoena's for the tapes were filed and went through the Supreme Court without any charges filed at all.

However, you come close to the point, which is that the Supreme Court ruled for the House and against Nixon because the tapes were evidence which could have been 'demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial.' Since no one is accusing President Bush of a crime here, such an argument is unlikely to succeed.

In any case the White House's position on this is rather absurd altogether. They contend that the president had nothing to do with these firings whatsoever, so the claim of executive privilege does not apply. I don't know of any successful argument that communications not involving the president are covered by EP.

What's interesting to me is the crowd that usually crows about judicial activism and against concepts like penumbras and such is so willing to support the concept of executive privilege. It is not mentioned in the constitution, and its existence was conjured out of that document in much the same way that the right to privacy was.

"All over the removal of... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"All over the removal of eight political appointees in an act not one sane person has suggested was illegal in the slightest."

Whether there were illegal acts or not is unknown until we get the testimony, and testimony that is isn't under oath may not be complete.

The fact that the Bush administration is ready to go to the wall on this suggests a cover-up is underway. Yes - so far there is no evidence of a crime, but certainly cause to look further.

The White House is figuratively running away from the police car that is pulling up to the curb. It's time to chase the runners down and find out why they are running.

We need to reshape how the ... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

We need to reshape how the branches interact because right now there's way too much power in the hands of the executive.

There is no crime here. ... (Below threshold)
hansel2:

There is no crime here. Kim is correct. Fortunately, this will help the republicans.

No crime. Then I guess it would hurt no one if they testified under oath, huh?

As far as I can tell, no... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

As far as I can tell, no one is saying that anything illegal or unconstitutional was done, but the notion that political concerns might have played a role in the removal of political appointees has some politicians all in a dither.
Jay Tea

Is lying to Congress illegal? The excuse for the firings for the most part was "poor performance", but there has been very little to back that up (I know, one negative evaluation of Carol Lam back in 2005 (which, by the way, determined performance on being "a loyal Bushie"), who, just by coincidence, was working on the biggest corruption case in US history at the time of being fired).

This investigation is to see if the White House had any ulterior motives for the firings and it may result in evidence of criminal acts, namely perjury or contempt of Congress (if that is such a thing). However, I must admit that while there is no "crime" in the firings (extremely unethical and partisan, yes), there may be some in the cover-up.

On a side note:
What get's me in a "dither" is that the Administration was trying to turn the Justice Dept. into an arm of the RNC. Maybe this is just "politics as usual", but it is still wrong, whomever does it.

And it amazes me how low some people will go to defend the President. I see reason for that support in other areas, namely the war though I may not agree with it, but there is literally nothing to defend here. All that is being defended is abuse of power, plain and simple (maybe you could also say the unitary executive theory is also being defended, but if you think that deserves defending you are crazy and dare I say un-American).

I guess what I'm saying after all this is: they may have been "allowed" to do it, but does that mean they should?

"Whether there were illegal... (Below threshold)
TR19667:

"Whether there were illegal acts or not is unknown until we get the testimony, and testimony that is isn't under oath may not be complete."

Great logic here. We'll just keep huntin' til we find something we like....

Bush hired them, he can fire them.

Lee, what crime do you susp... (Below threshold)
metprof:

Lee, what crime do you suspect? If you can't name a crime that may have occurred with probable cause, how can you justify forcing testimony?

The essence of executive pr... (Below threshold)

The essence of executive privilege is that the President is entitled to receive advice in confidence, and that those advisers may not be compelled to testify before Congress on that advice.

Disputes and conflicts arising from this principle are generally resolved by compromises, alternative ways of giving Congress what it wants/needs without diminishing the privilege. In this case, though, Congress isn't interested in any such alternative because they want to hold hearings and ask questions on television.

If Congress can get the Supreme Court to order the testimony, then they might get it. Otherwise, they can go pound sand. Thus it has always been, and thus it shall ever be.

Not sure if I have this str... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Not sure if I have this straight. The Bush administration does something the Democrats don't like (surprising, I know) and as a result we have subpoenas issued to bring administration officials in front of Congress in the hopes that they'll find something illegal in a non-illegal act.

It's win win for the Democrats. If the officials appear, just having them there hints at a scandal, if they do not, as Lee said it's apparently evidence of a cover-up.

As promised, the Democrats seem intent of mucking up the governmental gears to make things difficult for the Bush administration completely regardless of right and wrong.

I think Barney summed it up nicely when he said:

"Payback is a bitch!"

Because that's really what this is about isn't it? Payback for years of being the minority.


they sought a warr... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
they sought a warrant from a federal judge

Bush did the right thing here; Jefferson should be prosecuted. And you should ALWAYS get a warrant to do investigations like this, and wiretapes, and other invasions of privacy...which should only be carried out when a judge finds probable cause.

All over the remov... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
All over the removal of eight political appointees in an act not one sane person has suggested was illegal in the slightest.

True. That isn't the charge. I sure you are aware of that. The question is: were these particular U.S. Attorneys removed because they weren't prosecuting Democrats, or because they were investigating Republicans? In other words, was the Justice Department using its power for political purposes?

Not sure if I have... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
Not sure if I have this straight. The Bush administration does something the Democrats don't like (surprising, I know) and as a result we have subpoenas issued to bring administration officials in front of Congress in the hopes that they'll find something illegal in a non-illegal act.

Absurd! That would be like having President Clinton testify under oath about his sex life, in hopes of impeaching him for perjury.

The essence of executive... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The essence of executive privilege is that the President is entitled to receive advice in confidence, and that those advisers may not be compelled to testify before Congress on that advice.

True, but Tony Snow has already stated that the president was not briefed and did not sign off on the firings. How can advice that was never given and conversations that never took place be protected by executive privilege?

"If you can't name a cri... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"If you can't name a crime that may have occurred with probable cause, how can you justify forcing testimony?"

Lies have been told.

Let's find out why...

The White House is running away from the cop car.

Let's find out why...

Because that's really wh... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Because that's really what this is about isn't it? Payback for years of being the minority.

Sound familiar? Ah, the circle of life.

True, but Tony Sno... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
True, but Tony Snow has already stated that the president was not briefed and did not sign off on the firings.

Yep. And since Tony Snow's word is like gold, we should stop asking questions.

Gotta remember that one.... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

Gotta remember that one. Only constitutional lawyers' opinions on separation of powers arguments (all constitutional arguments?) are worth discussing. Got it. Hope you like Greenwald links. ;)

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, that doesn't mean everyone's opinion bears the same weight. As far as I'm aware Tony Snow has no particular insight into the finer points of executive privilege. Ergo, his opinion on the matter (from 9 years ago no less) is just that, his opinion.

He was? Gee, which criminal acts was he charged with? I seem to remember him resigning and being pardoned before criminal charges could ever be filed. Of course, the subpoena's for the tapes were filed and went through the Supreme Court without any charges filed at all.

Charge;
7. to impute; ascribe the responsibility for: He charged the accident to his own carelessness.

What's interesting to me is the crowd that usually crows about judicial activism and against concepts like penumbras and such is so willing to support the concept of executive privilege. It is not mentioned in the constitution, and its existence was conjured out of that document in much the same way that the right to privacy was.

The difference is that executive privilege is based in seperation of powers, the central premise of the constitution. There are many things that are rather murky in the constitution, rights aren't one of them in fact they're quite clearly spelled out and there is no right to privacy in the constitution.
If you really want to go down the road of "if it's not written down it doesn't exist" then the president has absolute immunity to any congressional subpeonas because the supreme court has no standing to act (judicial review was invented afterall) and the congress has no power to compell the executive to submit.

And since Tony Snow's wo... (Below threshold)
mantis:

And since Tony Snow's word is like gold, we should stop asking questions.

You do understand though, that by stating that they are trying to claim that advice never given to the president is covered by executive privilege, right? For the sake of argument it doesn't matter whether its true or not; the White House has to choose between saying that the president was involved in the firings, and thus his advice from Rove and Miers is covered by EP, or he wasn't involved, and thus there is no advice to be covered by EP.

They can't have it both ways, though they are trying.

Publicus:... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Publicus:

Absurd! That would be like having President Clinton testify under oath about his sex life, in hopes of impeaching him for perjury.

Where's the 445 page report on the removal of the political appointees?

You do understand ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
You do understand though, that by stating that they are trying to claim that advice never given to the president is covered by executive privilege, right?

I know all about executive privilege, and remember how Nixon tried to use it to cover up his administration's crimes. But, just like the in the 1970s, the people, through their representatives, want to find out what the administration is lying about and why.

I also find it amusing that the Republic Party has re-discovered the standard of "probable cause".

As far as I'm aware Tony... (Below threshold)
mantis:

As far as I'm aware Tony Snow has no particular insight into the finer points of executive privilege.

Are you serious? He's the spokesman for the White House!

Charge;
7. to impute; ascribe the responsibility for: He charged the accident to his own carelessness.

You must be joking. You do understand that "charge," in the sense of criminal charges has a specific legal meaning, right?

charge
n. 1) in a criminal case, the specific statement of what crime the party is accused (charged with) contained in the indictment or criminal complaint.

You are full of shit.

As far as I'm awar... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
As far as I'm aware Tony Snow has no particular insight into the finer points of executive privilege.

Are you serious? He's the spokesman for the White House!

Are YOU serious? Yeah, and John Mitchell was once the Attorney General of the United States, but I wouldn't just take him at his word. What makes you say we should just take Tony Snow's word...on anything?

I see an historical paralle... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

I see an historical parallel, being somewhat of a history buff.

Andrew Johnson succeeded Abraham Lincoln after Lincoln's assassination, but soon ran afoul of the Congress for his overly lenient policies towards the recently defeated South (He himself was from Tennessee). Congress, over his veto, passed a law stating that the president needed Senatorial approval to dismiss a cabinet member.

Johnson rightly stated that the law unconstitutionally meddled with the affairs of the Executive and fired his War Secretary without Congressional approval. The House of Representatives went on to impeach him for his defiance and he fell just one vote short of removal in the Senate. His razor slim victory is credited for ensuring that the government didn't devolve into legislative tyranny.

Today we are seeing a modern day re-enactment as Congress seems to be asserting new tyrannical priveleges over the Executive for removing political appointees. The Democrats seem to be trying to take us down the same path we traveled in 1866!

What makes you say we sh... (Below threshold)
mantis:

What makes you say we should just take Tony Snow's word...on anything?

Did I say that?

What makes you say... (Below threshold)
Heralder:
What makes you say we should just take Tony Snow's word...on anything?

Because, as you'll notice Tony Snow's initials are TS. The word Truths has both those letters in it.

Coincidence?

I DON'T THINK SO.

Are you serious? He's th... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

Are you serious? He's the spokesman for the White House!

And? His job is to tell people what the president tells him to. That doesn't make him any sort of expert.

You must be joking. You do understand that "charge," in the sense of criminal charges has a specific legal meaning, right?

I'm sorry I was unaware that I'm only allowed to use your favorite meaning of a word. Granted it was a poor word choice because it's not clear what I was saying, but it isn't in any way incorrect. I'm not a lawyer and I'll use whichever meaning of a word I choose to use.

Gonzales is supposed to hav... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Gonzales is supposed to have expertise in the law, but he denies that the Constitution guarantees the right of habeas corpus. So, don't expect any of us to simply sit back and shut up because the administration tells us something.

The Legislative branch has ... (Below threshold)
SSG Pooh:

The Legislative branch has a very clear constitutional remedy against the Executive branch. It's called impeachment.

The Nixon case was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever (engendering nine different opinions, if I'm remembering correctly). The more prudent choice for the Court in that case would have been to dismiss it, while reminding the Legislative branch of its constitutional powers.

In this case, I don't think the Legislative would run the political risk of an impeachment proceeding against the Executive for a personnel decision regarding political appointees who are part of the Executive.

Just saying ...


Because, as you'll notic... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Because, as you'll notice Tony Snow's initials are TS.

So does the phrase "Tough Sh!t".

I'm sorry I was unaware ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I'm sorry I was unaware that I'm only allowed to use your favorite meaning of a word. Granted it was a poor word choice because it's not clear what I was saying, but it isn't in any way incorrect. I'm not a lawyer and I'll use whichever meaning of a word I choose to use.

So we're supposed to believe that when you wrote this,

Nixon was charged with criminal acts.

you were not referring to criminal charges but rather that someone somewhere said he broke the law? Well, shit, I've heard people impute a litany of crimes to President Bush, so I guess any subpoenas filed should be honored, right?

Gonzales is supposed to ... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

Gonzales is supposed to have expertise in the law, but he denies that the Constitution guarantees the right of habeas corpus. So, don't expect any of us to simply sit back and shut up because the administration tells us something.

Gonzales was absolutely correct by the way, the constitution nowhere grants a right of habeas corpus to every citizen/inhabitant of the United States which is what he said.

The Nixon case was... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
The Nixon case was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever (engendering nine different opinions, if I'm remembering correctly). The more prudent choice for the Court in that case would have been to dismiss it, while reminding the Legislative branch of its constitutional powers.

If the Supreme Court had protected "executive privilege", the Nixon administration would have gotten away with its crimes; the investigation would have been impeded and there would have been no impeachment.

This administration, like Nixon's, is seeking an imperial presidency which is effectively above the law.

BTW - the Supreme Court decision on the tapes was UNANIMOUS (8 - 0), with different concurring opinions.

I was off by one year. Thi... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

I was off by one year. This occured in 1867.

Take note of the fact that there is a Supreme Court decision Myers v. the United States that upholds the President's right to remove political appointees.

As to the issue of Clinton and Nixon, both were involved in criminal investigations. Here we have Congress going on a fishing expedition trying to find something illegal in a legal act.

Publicus, you're comparing ... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Publicus, you're comparing apples and quasars. The Watergate hearings successfully subpoenaed testimony in the investigation of an already identified crime. Here, as Jay Tea has very pointedly explained, no one can even claim a crime has been committed, yet the Democrats in Congress want to conduct an open-ended fishing expedition.

I guess they are embracing their inner McCarthy.

Gonzales was absol... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
Gonzales was absolutely correct by the way, the constitution nowhere grants a right of habeas corpus to every citizen/inhabitant of the United States which is what he said.

That depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

Here's what Gonzo said:

"The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas"

Here's what the Constitution says:

"The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

Gonzo was denigrating our rights. As an American, I resent it. And I don't trust him.

Take note of the fact th... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Take note of the fact that there is a Supreme Court decision Myers v. the United States that upholds the President's right to remove political appointees.

And this would be relevant if Congress were trying to pass a law restricting the President's right to remove appointees.

Publicus, you're c... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
Publicus, you're comparing apples and quasars. The Watergate hearings successfully subpoenaed testimony in the investigation of an already identified crime. Here, as Jay Tea has very pointedly explained, no one can even claim a crime has been committed, yet the Democrats in Congress want to conduct an open-ended fishing expedition.

Well, which is it guys? That the Watergate decision was one of the worst in history? Or that is was a good decision but doesn't apply here? What excuse will you use to justify THIS coverup?

Publicus,What cove... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Publicus,

What coverup.

Well, which is it guys? ... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Well, which is it guys? That the Watergate decision was one of the worst in history? Or that is was a good decision but doesn't apply here? What excuse will you use to justify THIS coverup?

Who the fuck are you arguing with? If you want to debate with me, discuss the points I have made instead of your irrational lockstep leftroid imagination.

mantis,
And this would be relevant if Congress were trying to pass a law restricting the President's right to remove appointees.

You're normally pretty on the mark, but in this case you're missing the point. Congress has no authority whatsoever over the Presidents ability to dismiss appointees, and can only advise and consent on appointments made. Investigations without any evidence of wrongdoing is clearly outside of their Constitutional parameters.

I've read some mention that... (Below threshold)
Proud kaffir:

I've read some mention that the crime was: 1) lying to Congress and 2) trying to force US Attorneys to prosecute some people and not others for political reasons (Perhaps like prosecuting Libby but not Armitage.)

Nonesense. There is no evidence than anybody was prosecuted or not prosecuted in relation to these removals.

The President has a right to demand that USA's follow adminsitration priorites such as voter fraud. If they don't comply, he has the right to remove them. Is this for "political reasons" or for "performance"? Perhaps a little of both.

To claim perjury on the distinction between "performance" and "political" is going to be a tough sell. A lot of jobs are obtained and retained for "political reasons", even non-political positions.

If I piss off the wrong people at my job, I may be out of a job, even though I have good performance reviews. Can I complain to Schumer afterwards?

With Hamdi v. Rumsfeld</... (Below threshold)
mantis:

With Hamdi v. Rumsfeld the SCOTUS reaffirmed the right of habeas corpus for U.S. citizens.

To understand how ridiculous the administration's position on this is, you need go no further than AGAG's testimony to the Senate in January. He called Habeas Corpus,

"one of our most cherished rights,"

and then, in a display of absolute absurdity, he stated,

"[T]here is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away."

He's as full of shit as Taltos.

Publicus:Although ... (Below threshold)
SSG Pooh:

Publicus:

Although the Nixon case was unanimous as to result, the assorted rationales are scattered all over the map, with none gaining a majority or providing any useful guidance going forward. (I remember trying to parse the darn things 25 years ago and not making heads or tails of the reasoning.)

My point was that Nixon's assertion of executive privilege could have been countered by impeachment without the need to fall back on arguments that are at best abstruse. My point was not to defend Nixon.

As a practical matter, I don't believe the outcome (impeached and/or quit) would have been different. Had the Supreme Court fallen back on the Legislative's constitutional remedy, it would have done more to keep itself out of the middle of fights between those two other branches.

Kind of an Occam's razor thing...


And this would be relevant ... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

And this would be relevant if Congress were trying to pass a law restricting the President's right to remove appointees.

Posted by: mantis at March 22, 2007 01:51 PM

By trying to pry into advice the president recieved on the removal of political appointees, they are in effect trying to control his right to remove said appointees.

Investigations without a... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Investigations without any evidence of wrongdoing is clearly outside of their Constitutional parameters.

Oh, I agree, I'm just saying there's a difference between arguing the constitutionality of a law and the legality of an congressional subpoena. I could be wrong, but I doubt Myers would apply here.

If these subpoenas go to court, I suspect that Congress will lose, and I would agree with such a decision. But the White House reaction to all of this has been quite....funny, in multiple senses of the word.

By trying to pry into ad... (Below threshold)
mantis:

By trying to pry into advice the president recieved on the removal of political appointees, they are in effect trying to control his right to remove said appointees.

What advice? Tony Snow tells us that the president wasn't involved!

My point was that ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
My point was that Nixon's assertion of executive privilege could have been countered by impeachment without the need to fall back on arguments that are at best abstruse. My point was not to defend Nixon.

The tapes provided evidence critical to impeachment. You ARE defending Nixon.

Publicus wrote:"If t... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Publicus wrote:
"If the Supreme Court had protected "executive privilege", the Nixon administration would have gotten away with its crimes; the investigation would have been impeded and there would have been no impeachment".

A small point, but so much of what commentors write here is on small points that I figured I jump in. Publicus when you wrote, "and there would have been no impeachment", were you talking about Nixon? Clinton was impeached. Johnson was impeached. Nixon was never impeached. He resigned once it became clear that the House would vote out articles of impeachment. But he was never impeached.

Mantis, if you were educate... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Mantis, if you were educated in legalities, you missed some required classes, obviously. Executive privilege covers acts of the Executive brance. Period. The President can extend that blanket of protection to the guy who answers the door at the White House if he so desires. Lee, you are a fucking idiot. How would you react to police invading your hut, warrant in hand with no specific crime to investigate. BarneyG, STFU.
The Executive branch of Govt, is tasked with enforcing laws, Congress, the legislative brance, is tasked with making laws. There is no part of the legislative brance that is constitionally authorized to investigate or enforce its own laws. If the Bush, the executive branch, decided that the 8 US Attnys jobs were over, thats it. He hired and he gets to fire them. If they don't work fast enough, or they work to fast. He can fire them. If they wear clothes he doesn't like, he can fire them. They serve at his pleasure. Are you to dim to understand that?

mantis,Just wanted... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

mantis,

Just wanted to thank you for getting the Lion King's 'Circle of Life' song stuck in my head, asshole.

I love it.The demo... (Below threshold)
civil behavior:

I love it.

The democrats are on a political witch hunt but the "republican" president's firing of eight attorneys prosecuting cases specifically targeting corruption, inclusive of Democrats and Republicans, are put on the short list because they did such a good job (as per their performance reviews) that lost the Rpeublicans the election.

But hey, the WH is offering an "extremely generous offer to make available for interviews WH officials". Dang, how generous of them. Interviews..... Behind closed doors (no surprise there), no public access to the testimony (really?), no transcripts of what was said (no record) and no one under oath (no lying possible there huh).

Of course, there was no targeting of these attorney's to begin with which is why we only need interviews with all of the above restrictions so we can find out the facts.

Let's find out the truth. Subpoena the sob's. If they have nothing to hide then they should be happy to do so.

If these subpoenas go to co... (Below threshold)
Proud kaffir:

If these subpoenas go to court, I suspect that Congress will lose, and I would agree with such a decision. But the White House reaction to all of this has been quite....funny, in multiple senses of the word.

Posted by: mantis at March 22, 2007 02:07 PM

And there you have the Democratic position in a nutshell. This is just to embarass the president for politcal gain and has nothing to do with the people's business or with justice.

civil behavior:<block... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

civil behavior:

Let's find out the truth. Subpoena the sob's. If they have nothing to hide then they should be happy to do so.

If I were to ask you your age, sex, nationality and place of birth, would you tell me?

If you decided there was no particular reason that I would need to know that, would I be right to think you're hiding something?

But he was never i... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
But he was never impeached.

Yes. Of course, I remember that Nixon resigned before the could be impeached. My contention is that there wouldn't have been the evidence----or enough votes----for impeachment without the tapes.

It was only the release of the tapes and the impending impeachment that made Nixon resign.

In any case, the coverup co... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

In any case, the coverup continues...

"one of our most cherish... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

"one of our most cherished rights,"

and then, in a display of absolute absurdity, he stated,

"[T]here is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away."

The fact that you can't understand that both of those statements are factualy correct says more about you than it does about Gonzales.

Publicus,What. Cov... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Publicus,

What. Coverup.

?

JT is right on. Although I... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

JT is right on. Although I enjoyed reading the historical points, even is some of them are revisionists, there is no comparison. There is NO crime here. Even if GW wanted them out for not prosecuting or out FOR prosecuting, it is his perogative. You may not like it, but he has the right to do it. No crime here. Nothing to investigate. You cannot investigate legal proceeding. Well you can but it would be a waste of time and money. Oh wait, the dimmers always do that. ww

Taltos --Gonzales ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Taltos --

Gonzales is contemptuous of our rights. He denigrates habeas corpus. He approved of torture (while refusing the word). He looks away----or actively supports----secret CIA prisons. He is the smarmiest operator I can remember since Watergate.

If you are saying that his statements are technically correct...uh, yes the words "there is an expressed grant of habeas" do not appear in the Constitution.

However, although the Constitution was created to protect our rights, we DO NOT get our rights from the Constitution.

As Americans, our Declaration of Independence declares that our unalienable right are granted to us by our Creator. But an honorable government protects those rights. We don't have an honorable government.

Gonzales acts as if all rights and powers reside in the executive branch. Senator, Congressman and Justices are, for him, ceremonial posts. He is beneath contempt.

Required reading:"... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Required reading:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

And there you have the D... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

And there you have the Democratic position in a nutshell. This is just to embarass the president for politcal gain and has nothing to do with the people's business or with justice.
Proud Kaffir

You're only half right.
Dems are doing this to embarass the president for political gain, as they should because if you fire for political reasons, you must be willing to pay the political consequences. Another reason along these lines if that this investigation will (hopefully) hinder future president's from doing the same.

However, you're wrong that this has nothing to do with the people's business or with justice. I feel it is my business to know that the US Justice Dept. has not been co-opted by the Republican party. I feel justice is served when we root out corruption and war profiteering. I feel it is my business to know I have a gov't that does not lie to its citizens (via false Congressional testimony) to cover its ass. I feel justice is served when indictments are issued and investigations are pursued independent of political pressure.

You may feel otherwise, but our government was set up to be able to counter these types of abuses and not have our law enforcement agencies be political tools for the Executive (who, by the way, had nothing to do with this).

All over the removal of ... (Below threshold)
astigafa:

All over the removal of eight political appointees in an act not one sane person has suggested was illegal in the slightest.

(!)

"No crime. Then I guess ... (Below threshold)

"No crime. Then I guess it would hurt no one if they testified under oath, huh?" by hansel

Why? So they can have another of their puerile show trials to prosecute another Libby when someone gets their dates mixed up? This is all show for the voters. Voters who aren't really paying attention. All they'l hear is that the Republicans have done something wrong and someone lied.

It seems every one of the Democrats' tactics boils down to their realization that the only way they can win elections is to put all their opposition in prison for everything BUT what they've been accused of - or smear reputations and assassinate character.

"As far as I can tell, no o... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"As far as I can tell, no one is saying that anything illegal or unconstitutional was done..."

You can't tell very far, can you?

Gonzales is contemptuous... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

Gonzales is contemptuous of our rights. He denigrates habeas corpus. He approved of torture (while refusing the word). He looks away----or actively supports----secret CIA prisons. He is the smarmiest operator I can remember since Watergate.

His motives are irrelevant. The words Habeas Corpus occur exactly once in the constitution, in the statement providing that they can only be suspended when needed during invasion or rebellion. That makes what he said correct.

As for secret CIA prisons, so what ? That's what the CIA is supposed to do. As long as they aren't inside the borders of the US they can do just about anything they want to non US citizens.

I happen to be one of those whacky people who feels that the constitution is in essence a contract between the citizens of this country and the government and therefore should only apply to the citizens of this country.

Just wanted to thank you... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Just wanted to thank you for getting the Lion King's 'Circle of Life' song stuck in my head, asshole.

My pleasure. ;)

-----------

And there you have the Democratic position in a nutshell. This is just to embarass the president for politcal gain and has nothing to do with the people's business or with justice.

Well, I think you're partly right, but there does exist at least the appearance of impropriety in these firings, even if not illegality.

-----------

The fact that you can't understand that both of those statements are factualy correct says more about you than it does about Gonzales.

You are quickly going from misinformed to totally moronic here, Taltos. Tell me, if Gonzales is correct, what is to stop the president from suspending freedom of speech, religion, and of the press? The Constitution is silent on whether those rights exist, it only states that they cannot be abridged by Congress. Riddle me that, Batman.

I happen to be one of th... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I happen to be one of those whacky people who feels that the constitution is in essence a contract between the citizens of this country and the government and therefore should only apply to the citizens of this country.

Unless the president doesn't want it to, of course.

The Dems are not only embra... (Below threshold)
kim:

The Dems are not only embracing their inner McCarthy, they are showing their authoritarian face behind the mask. Executive control over law enforcement policy is how the people impact how laws are enforced. These arguments the Dems are making all put the legislators in the realm of enforcing the law, where they have no business.

This is an effort to promote a relative legislative coup over the executive by exploiting the ignorance of the masses. Masses of Dems, anyway, unless MSM warps this, as is their wont. This is why we give judges lifetime appointments, but I agree with the posters who think it would be simpler to leave the Supreme Court out of it, and either converse with each other or not.

The Dems suddenly look like a lot of mice with big plans to bell the cat. But they are objecting to the way the cat walks by himself, and they can't do that. This is his business, not theirs.

It's a stonewall vs the choice to attempt impeachment. The Dems would have to be insane to attempt to get Bush for this triviality. Then again, the Democrats haven't quite been themselves, lately, with the outbreak of the extreme fringe. Kinda like Muslims, that way, they are.
===================================

Dems are doing this to e... (Below threshold)
Proud kaffir:

Dems are doing this to embarass the president for political gain, as they should because if you fire for political reasons, you must be willing to pay the political consequences. Another reason along these lines if that this investigation will (hopefully) hinder future president's from doing the same.

Per the Supreme Court decision, Myers vs. United States, the President has the right to remove politcal appointess for any reason, or no reason. If the hope is to hinder this presidential authority, which I agree that it is, than this flies in the face of a standing Supreme Court decision and hence is unconstitutional.

You are quickly going fr... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

You are quickly going from misinformed to totally moronic here, Taltos. Tell me, if Gonzales is correct, what is to stop the president from suspending freedom of speech, religion, and of the press? The Constitution is silent on whether those rights exist, it only states that they cannot be abridged by Congress. Riddle me that, Batman.

Did I say that the right to Habeas Corpus didn't exist? I don't recall doing so, and neither did Gonzales. He said that the constitution doesn't expressly grant a right to habeas corpus. You go find the text in the constitution that grants a right to habeas corpus and I'll concede your point.

And since you have so much trouble with definitions.

Expressly:

1. In an express or a definite manner; explicitly: I expressly ordered the visitor to leave.

Explicitly:

1. fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied; unequivocal: explicit instructions; an explicit act of violence; explicit language.

"It would be easier if this... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

"It would be easier if this were a dictatorship with me as the dictator" George W. Bush

Thanks for empowering this guy.

the constitution d... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
the constitution doesn't expressly grant a right to habeas corpus

That's because WE DON'T GET OUR RIGHTS from the Constitution. If you were an American, you'd know that we have unalienable rights that IT IS THE GOVERNMENT's PURPOSE to protect.

This government is negligent----criminally negligent----in defending our rights.

Gad, Pub, most of the those... (Below threshold)
kim:

Gad, Pub, most of the those rights were to keep the government out of our business. What on God's green earth makes you think government's purpose is to protect your rights?

"I'm from the government; I'm here to help you." Right.
============================

That's because WE DON'T ... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

That's because WE DON'T GET OUR RIGHTS from the Constitution. If you were an American, you'd know that we have unalienable rights that IT IS THE GOVERNMENT's PURPOSE to protect.

Let's try this visually,

The Point --------------------------------------> You

1.) We're talking about a statement someone made, not the existential origin of human rights.

2.) The right to submit a writ of habeas corpus can't by definition be unalienable as the constitution expressly (there's that evil word again) provides for it's being supsended.

3.) It's the government's job to avoid violating our rights, not really to protect them. There is a reason that the bill of rights reads like a list of rules from an elementary school.

4.) If New York has seceded from the union in the past 30 years it's news to me.

What on God's gree... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
What on God's green earth makes you think government's purpose is to protect your rights?

The Declaration of Independence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it"

Per the Supreme Court de... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

Per the Supreme Court decision, Myers vs. United States, the President has the right to remove politcal appointess for any reason, or no reason. If the hope is to hinder this presidential authority, which I agree that it is, than this flies in the face of a standing Supreme Court decision and hence is unconstitutional.
Proud Kaffir

The Supreme Court decision you cite ruled a law unconstitutional, not the practice of politically embarassing the president for abusing his authority. There is a big difference. And that is why I say he should pay the the political consequences: expose his lies, force his cabinet members to resign, impeach him if the deed is truly dispicable (I do not think it will reach that level). That is what I meant, it is still perfectly legal and flies in the face of no precedent.

3.) It's the gover... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
3.) It's the government's job to avoid violating our rights, not really to protect them.

Wrong. See the Declaration of Independence.

2.) The right to submit a writ of habeas corpus can't by definition be unalienable as the constitution expressly (there's that evil word again) provides for it's being supsended.

Yep, only in cases of invasion or rebellion...doesn't apply now. And even then, during the Civil War, the Court rules (later) that Lincoln acted improperly when he suspended habeas corpus.

I'm not denied the "letter" of what you and Gonzo say; I am simply pointing out that these kinds of statements show contempt for our rights. As an American, I'm determined to fight to retain the rights of the people. You "conservatives" used to worry about the government invaded our individual rights; now that your guy is in power, you can't get enough of this abuse of power.

Oh, Jay, Jay, Jay...<... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Oh, Jay, Jay, Jay...

My first instinct was to say that no one is above the law, that Bush was asserting more privilege than he is entitled to. But I gave it some more thought...

In other words, you know Bush is wrong, but you went fishing for some unrelated precedent you could twist to justify why Bush is right. I expected that, but I'm surprised you admitted it so clearly.

That was a concrete example of the principle of our divided government -- when there is a conflict between two of the branches, the third one is expected to decide the matter.

Absolutely. And time after time, the SCOTUS has ruled against executive privilege. So I guess it's all settled then!

[In the William Jefferson case], the Executive branch was obligated to intervene in the inner workings of the Legislative, so they sought the input of the Judiciary -- and that branch sided with the Executive.

What an odd, unrelated, useless precedent to be citing! For some reason you feel this is more relevant than the multiple times in the past the SCOTUS has ruled against executive privilege. THAT is the relevant precedent. And in those cases, the Judiciary sided with the legislature.

The president is asserting his authority as a separate and equal branch to resist that

And every time that justification was invoked in the past, it was shot down by the SCOTUS. Not to mention, shall we revisit what all the Republicans said about executive privilege when Clinton tried (and failed) to invoke it?

Congress is attempting to assert its authority solely on its own

With the precedent of Supreme Court rulings solidly on its side.

It is insisting that it has the right to compel the appearance and testimony of high-ranking officials within the White House, without restraint. And I don't care for that in the least.

Yes, it does. As derived from the Constitution, and reaffirmed by the SCOTUS multiple times. I'm sorry you don't care for the American government, Jay, but you might bother reading what Congress has to say about it:

What is the Basis for Congressional Oversight?

Congressional oversight is one of the most important responsibilities of the United States Congress. Congressional oversight refers to the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs and policy implementation, and it provides the legislative branch with an opportunity to inspect, examine, review and check the executive branch and its agencies. The authority of Congress to do oversight is derived from its implied powers in the U.S. Constitution, various laws, and House rules. In affirming Congress' oversight powers, the Supreme Court in McGrain v. Daugherty stated that "the power of inquiry - with process to enforce it - is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function." In Watkins v. United States the Court described Congress' oversight power by stating that the "power of the Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad." The Supreme Court also observed that "a legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change." The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 mandated that House and Senate committees exercise "continuous watchfulness" of the administration of laws and programs under their jurisdiction. The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 permitted House standing committees to "review and study, on a continuing basis, the application, administration and execution of laws" under its jurisdiction.

Why Does Congress Need to Do Oversight?

* Ensure executive compliance with legislative intent.
* Improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of governmental operations.
* Evaluate program performance.
* Prevent executive encroachment on legislative prerogatives and powers.
* Investigate alleged instances of poor administration, arbitrary and capricious behavior, abuse, waste, dishonesty, and fraud.
* Assess an agency or official's ability to manage and carry out program objectives.
* Review and determine federal financial priorities.
* Ensure that executive policies reflect the public interest.
* Protect individual rights and liberties.
* Review agency rule-making processes.
* Acquire information useful in future policymaking.

Lincoln's action was only o... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

Lincoln's action was only overruled because the civilian courts were still in operation, not because it was unconstitutional.

Who ever said I was a conservative?

Suspension of habeas corpus... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Suspension of habeas corpus requires:

Invasion or rebellion AND a condition that the public safety requires it. Even the conditions Lincoln found during the Civil War weren't enough.

Taltos...ok. You may or may not be a conservative. You certainly are supportive of authoritarians. (I call them thugs)

Taltos, you are so incredib... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Taltos, you are so incredibly dense.

Did I say that the right to Habeas Corpus didn't exist?

No one claimed you did.

I don't recall doing so, and neither did Gonzales. He said that the constitution doesn't expressly grant a right to habeas corpus.

The Constitution also does not expressly grant a right to freedom of speech, religion, and the press. It only tells us what Congress cannot do in regards to these rights. Are you getting my point yet? It's real fucking clear.

Hmm, maybe our rights as Am... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Hmm, maybe our rights as Americans are "self-evident", and The Constitution only speaks to those conditions where the rights can be abridged?

That would be so cool if that were the case...

You, and you know who you a... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

You, and you know who you are, must be among those who attended school and got stupid. Usually higher education leads to more contemplative thinking. Not so, since the left has taken over our colleges and univercities. I am astounded no one here seems to know the difference between a privilege and a right. The Constitution mentions habeas corpus as a privilege. Quick lesson. Privileges can be taken away or licensed by the state, Rights cannot. Unless, of course, you commit a felony. It is said there are none so dumb as those who refuse to learn. That must have been written with Lee, Publicus, BarneyG2000, BrianD, Mantis and a few others in mind. If you are not trolls, why is it you continue to infect this blog? They need your wisdom at the Daily Kos.

The Constitution m... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
The Constitution mentions habeas corpus as a privilege.

Does it. Where? Is actually says that it's a privilege which the government can take away? Not in MY Constitution.

"The basic premise behind habeas corpus is that you cannot be held against your will without just cause. To put it another way, you cannot be jailed if there are no charges against you. If you are being held, and you demand it, the courts must issue a writ or habeas corpus, which forces those holding you to answer as to why. If there is no good or compelling reason, the court must set you free. It is important to note that of all the civil liberties we take for granted today as a part of the Bill of Rights, the importance of habeas corpus is illustrated by the fact that it was the sole liberty thought important enough to be included in the original text of the Constitution."

From "The Constitutional Dictionary"; emphasis mine.

P.S. - you can take away my right of habeas corpus over my dead body.

Since Attorney General Gonz... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Since Attorney General Gonzales called habeas corpus, "one of our most cherished rights," I can only assume you consider him to be stupid as well?

Zelsdorf Ragshaft III --</p... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Zelsdorf Ragshaft III --

It says in my Declaration of Independence that the government doesn't grant us privileges or anything else; in fact, the government doesn't have any powers of it's own----it only has the powers that we the people assign to it.

The purpose of having a government is to protect the rights of the people. Read the Declaration; and pay attention this time.

Since Attorney Gen... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
Since Attorney General Gonzales called habeas corpus, "one of our most cherished rights," I can only assume you consider him to be stupid as well?

I consider anyone who considers him sincere about that to be stupid; he's told the president that the president can deny habeas corpus.

We may cherish habeas corpus (I know I do); but Gonzo violates it.

Brian:You are out ... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

Brian:

You are out fishing in the wrong pond. The Supreme Court decisions were regarding criminal investigations, not Congressional show trials. The branch of government that enforces the law is the Executive. Congress has no law enforcement capacity. They make the laws but the Executive enforces it.

The relevant Supreme Court decision is Meyers v. US (1920), which states that the President has the right to remove political appointees at will. Congress cannot infringe on these rights.

Bush did not claim Executive Privilige during the Plame non-leak investigation. That was a criminal investigation. This is not. This is not about being above or below the law. This is about Separation of Powers and legislative tyranny. Congress cannot simply look through all decision-making discussions of the Executive branch on a fishing expedition.

The branch of gove... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
The branch of government that enforces the law is the Executive. Congress has no law enforcement capacity. They make the laws but the Executive enforces it.

False. The separation of powers isn't so extreme that one branch has absolutely no power over the others. If what you said were true, then the president could violate the law with impunity, because nobody could enforce the laws the president violated. As you know, it's pretty bad form if the President violates a Supreme Court ruling...even though the Court has no enforcement powers.

The Supreme Court decisi... (Below threshold)
Proud kaffir:

The Supreme Court decision you cite ruled a law unconstitutional, not the practice of politically embarassing the president for abusing his authority.

How is the President abusing his authority by replacing political appointees he has the right to replace? USA's are not judges appointed for life. The one abusing authority is Congress by attempting to hinder a Presidential right and fishing through Executive decision-making discussions.

Publicus, you are starting ... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Publicus, you are starting to be chief among idiots. The Declaration of Independence is not the law of the land, it was the rational for the Revolutionary War. Had you any semblance of a valid education you would know the U.S. Constitution is the law of this land. But then, having read your foolish ignorant rants. Who would be surprised. I know you do not need facts, those you do need you find at some communist inspired leftist God hating website. I don't know what you do, but if you are paid to do it, you are paid too much.

If the Executive violates a... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

If the Executive violates a Supreme Court ruling than you have a Constitutional Crisis, which can be resolved by impeachment. However, the Executive is not violating a Supreme Court decision so this is a mute.

The point is that we have 3 co-equal branches of government and one cannot assert dominance over the other. The Judiciary, incidentally, is usually reluctant to enter into any squabbles between the Executive and the Legislative, often requesting that the two parties find a way to settle the differences themselves.

My prediction: After a lot of huffing and puffing, the two sides will reach a compromise, possibly allowing for a sealed transcript to be kept and limiting scope of the questioning to the firing of the attorneys.

I'll get Cardinals Biggles ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

I'll get Cardinals Biggles and Fang, and break out the comfy chair, and then, then my friends, we will get to the bottom of all of this. Just you wait and see.

Sealed transcript o... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Sealed transcript or no transcript. Why?There is no matter of national security.T his should be om the public record especially as the President has said that" the American people want to hear the truth about why the decision was made" They won't accept nor should they, a whitewash.

The Supreme Court decisi... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The Supreme Court decisions were regarding criminal investigations, not Congressional show trials.

Please identify where the SCOTUS made that distinction. The rulings were that the president has no authority to refuse Congressional subpoenas except potentially in the case of compelling national security.

The branch of government that enforces the law is the Executive. Congress has no law enforcement capacity. They make the laws but the Executive enforces it.

You are correct. Bush can choose to violate any law he wishes, and instruct all those under the executive branch to refuse to enforce that law. Is that what you're suggesting he's doing here?

The relevant Supreme Court decision is Meyers v. US (1920), which states that the President has the right to remove political appointees at will. Congress cannot infringe on these rights.

And that is not happening. Pay attention.

This is about Separation of Powers and legislative tyranny.

The Supreme Court in McGrain v. Daugherty stated that "the power of inquiry - with process to enforce it - is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function." In Watkins v. United States the Court described Congress' oversight power by stating that the "power of the Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad." The Supreme Court also observed that "a legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change." The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 mandated that House and Senate committees exercise "continuous watchfulness" of the administration of laws and programs under their jurisdiction. The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 permitted House standing committees to "review and study, on a continuing basis, the application, administration and execution of laws" under its jurisdiction.

It appears that the whole United States government disagrees with you. Why do you hate the whole US government?

The point is that ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
The point is that we have 3 co-equal branches of government and one cannot assert dominance over the other.

Who said dominance? One branch can assume some power over the others. For example, the President can veto a bill that Congress passes. Right?

And Congress, if it has enough votes, can override the President's veto.

There isn't a complete separation of powers; the branches have been created so each can moderate the powers of each other.

Publicus, you are ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
Publicus, you are starting to be chief among idiots. The Declaration of Independence is not the law of the land

If you were a true American, you would appreciate the ideals our country was founded upon. That's what the Declaration is. The Constitution is the law of the land...and is valid insofar as it executes the ideal as outlined in the Constitution. If the government----which derives its just powers ONLY from our consent----overreaches or violates our right...WE THE PEOPLE have the right to alter or abolish that government.

That is what our country is about. To use the Constitution as an excuse to violate our rights, or empower the government to RULE rather than SERVE the people----THAT is the antithesis of patriotism.

correction: "as outlined in... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

correction: "as outlined in the Declaration"

Publicus:What I wa... (Below threshold)
SSG Pooh:

Publicus:

What I was offering, i.e., that the Legislative remedy against the Executive is impeachment, is, in my view, the cleanest constitutional approach to the matter. The Nixon example is one history gives us. In that case, impeachment might well have occurred because the assertion of Executive Privilege could, in and of itself, have been viewed as a high crime or misdemeanor. Whether that would have led to a conviction is moot.

I'm subscribing here to process, not post facto results. You can hate Nixon, or any other Executive for that matter, but the Constitution dictates the remedy.

Regards.

I know you do not ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
I know you do not need facts, those you do need you find at some communist inspired leftist God hating website.

Yep. That's why I quote the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Along with Jefferson, Madison and all those other leftist God haters.

I'm not a patriot (sic) like you who thinks that our rights are privileges that the government can take away "at the pleasure of the president".

More <a href="http://www.cn... (Below threshold)
Lee:

More Bullshit - this time from Kim's post titled House Judiciary subcommittee wants war.

The House Judiciary subcommittee vote was to authorize subpoenas. It does not mean that subpoenas will be issued; only that they could be if the four White House officials Democrats want to question do not voluntarily testify under oath.

But the act puts congressional Democrats on a collision course with President Bush. 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.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said later Wednesday that the administration's offer for interviews would be pulled if subpoenas were issued.

"The moment subpoenas are issued it means they have rejected the offer," Snow said.

And now we learn the offer is still on the table. It was just a bluff - from the integrity-challenged, truth-challenged White House.

In letters Thursday, Senate and House Democrats rejected White House counsel Fred Fielding's offer to let Rove and other administration officials talk about their roles in the firings, but only on Bush's terms: in private, off the record and not under oath.

"I have never heard the Senate take an ultimatum like that," Leahy said. "I know he's the decider for the White House. "But he's not the decider for the United States Senate."

"Your proposal will not facilitate a full and fair inquiry," wrote Conyers and Rep. Linda Sanchez (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif.

Nonetheless, the offer stands, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. ""Unfortunately, these letters show they aren't as interested in ascertaining the facts than going on a political fishing expedition," she said.

Presidential press secretary Tony Snow cast the administration's offer to allow Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies talk to lawmakers in private as the best deal Democrats are going to get.

"We opened with a compromise," Snow told reporters. "By our reaching out, we're doing something that we're not compelled to do by the Constitution." But, he added, "The phone lines are still open."

Time to find out what all of the lying and bullshit is attempting to hide.... Congress is absolutely 100% right to stand up to these mealy-mouthed lying punks in the White House. They think they can bluff and threaten the American people into cowering in fear and going along with their steamrolling of America... Bullshit!

Publicus:A couple ... (Below threshold)
SSG Pooh:

Publicus:

A couple of last points, then I disappear.

Assuming the history of Nixon, what remedy would you have had if the Supreme Court had ruled that Executive Privilege applied and that the tapes did not have to be turned over?

My guess is that the answer is impeachment. So why not go that way from the beginning?

Impeachment has the advantages of being constitutionally recognized and accounted for, and does not drag our third branch into a fight between the other two. (It's not balance if the third branch puts its thumb on the scale.)

Regards.

I leave all of you tonight ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

I leave all of you tonight with this recommendation: read the Declaration, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. It's good reading and it will help you understand what our country is all about.

Good night to all of you!

Better, tactically, to leav... (Below threshold)
kim:

Better, tactically, to leave the offer open. It makes the Dems look silly to push for impeachment when all they have to do is pick up the phone.

It's rope-a-doping, and Lee feebly feels its weaseling.

Nine, Ten. You're out.
=======================

Publicus leaves, abandoning... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Publicus leaves, abandoning his ship of illogic. I fail to understand the diffculty in the concept that the President can fire his appointees at any time while he is in office. He does not need to have or show cause. He can have a good reason or a bad reason. It makes no difference. It is not the baliwick of congress to interfer in the job the executive branch does in the performance of enforceing the law. None. We have the dumbest bunch of trolls here of any blog. They are too stupid to know when to pick their fights. The democrats have no leg to stand on. When, through investigation, that will happen if this is looked into more deeply, the democrats are really going to step in shit. When you find the real reason why Bush fired these attorneys, the democrats are going to look like they support voter fraud and illegal immigration. You need to stop reading the NY Times and Washington Post or LAT to get your news. I don't think the daily kos is a good source either. Since there has been no crime committed because no crime could be commiteed by this act, The Supreme Court will send the idiot democrats packing. Looking forward to 08. The idiots will hold the majority in congress for two years. That is all.

Would it be the same kind o... (Below threshold)
civil behavior:

Would it be the same kind of whooping that the republicanas took in Nov 06 that they are still thinking gives them the wherewithal to call out the Democrats for administering oversight?

Didn't they learn that lesson in spades in Nov 06? No one believes you guys. We want proof in diamonds.

And as for the argument as to right vs privelege, SCOTUS's preambles to justice served and all other Declarations and Constitutional predicates Bush cannot be trusted. Our government cannot be trusted, plain and simple.

The Founding Fathers probably never conceived of the possibility that after a hard fought war to win the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness some dope from Texas would swagger his way into the White House and sully every institution they had in mind to make this a beacon of light.

God, those poor men must be spitting bullets by now.

"The Founding Fathers proba... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

"The Founding Fathers probably never conceived of the possibility that after a hard fought war to win the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness some dope from Texas would swagger his way into the White House and sully every institution they had in mind to make this a beacon of light."

Especially Not after 8 years of some draft dodging sexual deviant from Arkansas.

Once again, after taking a ... (Below threshold)
fea nicks:

Once again, after taking a few days to figure out the means to stand reason on its head, Wizbang's Philosopher Laureate wannabee manages to trample over the concept of the rule of law in order to come up w/ an excuse to lay the blame on the Democratic Congress.

Of course the wannabee Philosopher Laureate's starting premise was, as he states, "many in Congress are concerned ("concerned," meaning "acting like opportunistic partisan hacks."

"It would be easier if t... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

"It would be easier if this were a dictatorship with me as the dictator" George W. Bush

"We begin bombing [the Soviet Union] in five minutes"-Reagan.

It's called humour. Get over yourself Publicus.

It took about 3 seconds to google the quote, to see it was a joke.

That's because WE DON'T ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

That's because WE DON'T GET OUR RIGHTS from the Constitution. If you were an American, you'd know that we have unalienable rights that IT IS THE GOVERNMENT's PURPOSE to protect.

Are you even from this country?

We have THREE "certain unalienable rights", as laid out in the Preamble. "Life", "Liberty", and "Pursuit of Happiness"...these are the rights given to us by the Creator. The other rights, freedom of speech, etc, do indeed come from the Constitution. The first 10 Amendments of said Constitution are called, amazingly "The Bill of RIGHTS".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights

Now, unless you have someother gobsmackingly stupid thing to say....

I'd left for the day, but I... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

I'd left for the day, but I can't let this idiot James Cloninger slander our founders.

1. The Preamble of the Constitution reads in full:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." The phrase "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" doesn't appear in it.

2. The Declaration refers to "certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

3. If you had read the Federalist Papers, you'd know that the founders originally opposed the Bill of Rights because they feared that idiots like you would assume that those are ALL of the rights of the people, and that they were granted by the government. (The Bill of Rights was passed because it seemed impossible that anyone could be so blindingly stupid.)

You know nothing about the principles our government was founded on. Read first. Learn. THEN talk.

We hold these trut... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

As the founders said, we create governments to secure our rights. These rights were self-evident to our founders, but not to James Cloninger...or to many others who post here. That's because they know nothing about Natural Rights, a widespread theory of rights to which our founders subscribed. It's part of The Enlightenment, but we have few enlightened people posting here. At Wizbang, it's still the Dark Ages.

1. Yes, I misspoke--not the... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

1. Yes, I misspoke--not the Preamble, but the Declaration. Point to you, I was typing in a hurry.

2. Only three rights were enumerated explicitly in the Declaration. The "among others", leaving such a wide field could have certainly been corrupted by those bent on asserting ridiculous "rights"

3. And the reason the Federalists were opposed by such as Henry was that what they propose would allow the Government to become too strong. And seeing how Congress acts, that's an entirely plausible possibility.

To quote Yates: "Ought not a government, vested with such extensive and indefinite authority, to have been restricted by a declaration of rights? It certainly ought." --Damn straight. The Federalists were smart men, but that doesn't mean they were always correct. They aren't gods.

But none of this has anything to do with the issue at hand in this thread: The power of the president to fire (or actually not renew the contracts of) political appointees.

If you want to call me an idiot, I don't give a shit. But, you've been saying some pretty idiotic things on this thread.

I have read the Federalist papers, thank you very much. I have also read the Constitution as well. I think Congress is overstepping their bounds here, and I doubt very much if they would like the tables turned and the President started issuing supoenas for certain Democrats in Congress to answer questions under oath.

By the way, "slander" refers to defamation by speech, "libel" by fixed medium. And I made no mention of the Federalists in my comment. So, not only did you falsely attribute something to me that didn't happen--(THAT is libel), you cannot even be bothered to use the correct term.

We can keep playing this parsing game, but you aren't going to win. Call it a draw, if you wish to save face.

The other rights, freedo... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The other rights, freedom of speech, etc, do indeed come from the Constitution.

What we like to call the "alienable rights." ;)

What we like to call the... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

What we like to call the "alienable rights." ;)

Well, Congress seems to do its damnable best to alienate them from us--probably an apt turn of phrase, Mantis.

Well, Congress seems to ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Well, Congress seems to do its damnable best to alienate them from us

I know! That Patriot Act's a bitch, ain't it?

I know! That Patriot Act... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

I know! That Patriot Act's a bitch, ain't it?

An Act, you will recall, passed by 98 Senators (of both Parties) and 357 Housecritters--just to point out the fact that this was crafted by both sides of the aisle.

I recall that. You said Co... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I recall that. You said Congress.

Okay, just checking. ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Okay, just checking.

Ok. I see your position. Yo... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Ok. I see your position. You are Anti-Americans. Mr. Cloninger, if you were ACTUALLY familiar with the Federalist Papers, you'd know that Hamilton (heard of him?) told us in Federalist 84 that our liberties didn't need to be protected by a declaration of rights because the fact that the government has no express power to violate them does the job. He also was concerned that people would assume that any restrictions on our liberties described in a Bill of Rights would suggest to people that our rights were not unalienable, and that the government could take away those liberties.

We got a Bill of Rights anyway. And idiots like Mr. Cloninger----and Gonzo----demonstrated that Hamilton's concerns were well-founded.

You guys are the most authoritarian people masquerading as Americans I have ever heard! Really----you don't know that we have a limited government who's job is to secure the blessings of liberty for us?

You've clearly never heard of Natural Rights----which was common wisdom (self-evident)----in America at the time of the revolution.

Well, at least I know who I'm dealing with here...

Actually Publicus, you're g... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Actually Publicus, you're getting away from the main point of the thread. You've alleged twice that there was a "coverup". I asked the simple question: What coverup.

You've not answered, one assumes because there is no proof of one.

Its all well and good for the dicussion to go where its going (I'm learning alot incidentally, from both sides) but the heart of the issue is that Bush acted within the rights of his office. There was no criminal investigation enacted to collect evidence and establish wrongdoing. Congress so far has taken the shotgun approach to finding fault. Pull people to testify, I'm sure they did something wrong.

Heralder --As you ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Heralder --

As you know, there's suspicion of a coverup because attorneys who had received positive performance evaluations were fired, allegedly, for bad performance. When reviewed further, there's also evidence that the fired attorneys were not investigating Democrats fast enough or were "guilty" of investigating Republicans. For the Justice Department to pursue or not pursue investigations on the basis of party politics would be, of course, wrong. And the people should know whether or not this is what happened.

We need to investigate to see whether or not there's fire. There is certainly smoke.

Yes. I believe there is a coverup. But I'd think Congress needs to investigate to find out what the situation actually is.

Of course, all of this is less important than the basis for our rights as Americans...but, Heralder, you are right about the subject of the thread.

Well said, Publicus.<... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Well said, Publicus.

I'm merely speaking in precedent. These issues usually start with investigations, not assumptions of wrongdoing.

It's sensible to have doubts given the circumstances, but too much of how certain Democrats have acted after the election leads me to believe this is more publicity than it is rule of law.

We shall see.


Who failed to coverup Feins... (Below threshold)
kim:

Who failed to coverup Feinstein's complaints about Lam?

What did she know and when did she know it?

I mean, I've read farce, but this is impressive. Almost as good as 'I don't know if I'm covert'.
============================

We shall see.<... (Below threshold)
mantis:

We shall see.

Indeed. I took a bit of time to look into previous USAs who had been fired by the president who appointed them. It is pretty rare, and in the cases I came up with the attorneys were fired for actions such as choking a reporter (on camera!) and biting a topless dancer.

It seems to me that you would have to do something pretty outrageous to get fired from one of these plum political appointments. Now I don't know that the recent firings happened because the attorneys were prosecuting Democrats too little and Republicans too much ("loyal Bushies" is disconcerting, though), and I'm not all that willing to read through 3000 pages of email to find out, but if the White House claims are true (that's a big if), and they were actually removing attorneys for (gasp!) poor performance, that would actually be an improvement in what has traditionally been a plum even total incompetents could keep (as long as they didn't bite any strippers).

At least historically, yes,... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

At least historically, yes, perhaps you would have to bite a stripper, choke a reporter, eat a baby or kneecap and old lady...now apparently all you have to do is suck at your job.

This country is going fascist I tell ya.

Heralder --Most of... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Heralder --

Most of the fired DAs had received positive ratings on their job performance. Whatever the criteria for firing them, it wasn't that...

That is a little inc... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

That is a little inconvenient, Publicus.

It would be nice to see what criteria the performance ratings were based on as opposed to what apparently the administration expected of them





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