Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Where Congress Realizes it is Officially a Paper Tiger

Last Friday, in Pravda on the Potomac:

By Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
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. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," said a senior official, who said his remarks reflect a consensus within the administration. "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, added: "It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys."

Yesterday, a House Judiciary subcommittee voted to lay the groundwork for contempt proceedings against White House chief of staff Joshua B. Bolten, following a similar decision last week against former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers.

The administration has not directly informed Congress of its view. A spokeswoman for Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the Judiciary Committee's chairman, declined to comment . But other leading Democrats attacked the argument.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called it "an outrageous abuse of executive privilege" and said: "The White House must stop stonewalling and start being accountable to Congress and the American people. No one, including the president, is above the law."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said the administration is "hastening a constitutional crisis," and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said the position "makes a mockery of the ideal that no one is above the law."

Waxman added: "I suppose the next step would be just disbanding the Justice Department."

Well, no, there will always be a need for a Justice Department in the New World Order. Just like Dear Leader's Armies are Peacekeepers, and War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.

What happens next, Mr. Waxman? I really hope no one has to explain it to you.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to speak the truth in a very clear, profound way. I keep asking the question: Is there any hope? I want to believe there is but my senses keep telling me there is not. We crossed into new territory some time ago,and all the rules are changed.

kelley b. said...

There is always hope.

Just don't place your hopes in the hands of those who would rule you.

But yes, the rules have changed, and the main reason I write here is to document how profoundly they have changed.

Nations come and go in history. Humanity (so far) has persevered. The hopes that make us human and allow us to persevere are not hopes of a nation or a people but dreams of individuals that aim for something better.

Even if we don't hit our target, the important thing is to try.

Anonymous said...

When I see Bush/Cheney lay down all of their power and peacefully turn it over to new leadership (hopefully Democratic leadership but any other leadership will do at this point) then I will breath a big sigh of relief and say "Thank God we survived that". But I get the feeling that there is more up with the Bush Administration than we can see. The arrogance and the confidence and the fascist-like way they are behaving makes me think there is something in the works to change all the rules before they leave office. I hope I am just being paranoid, but I could not trust these two (Bush/Cheney) any less if I tried.