What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? (2 Ne. 27:27)
There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; (2 Ne. 30:17)
Those who have followed the news in the past couple of weeks no doubt have been intrigued to follow the scandal of Bush’s administration firing off certain attorneys. As Glenn Greenwald notes:
The scandal derives from the highly unusual effort to cherry-pick prosecutors for firings, in the middle of an administration, for blatantly political purposes (as well as the subsequent false statements, including by top DOJ officials to Congress, about what occurred). It is true that Bush did what Clinton did — back in 2001, when nobody objected. What he has done now is manifestly not what Clinton did (or any President other than, perhaps, Richard Nixon), which is what accounts for the scandal.
And as ArchPundit documents, the practice of replacing all U.S. attorneys at the start was customary even before the Reagan administration. What the Clinton administration did (that provoked such contrived outrage) was what every administration had been doing and is what the Bush 43 administration itself did back in 2001.
What none of those administrations did — until now — was cherry-pick a list of prosecutors to be fired in the middle of the administration for clearly political purposes and then lie to Congress (and the country) about what happened. Why — when journalists hear the “Clinton-did-it-too” claim or the “there-is-nothing-wrong-with-firing-prosecutors” excuse — are they so incapable of just pointing out these easily discovered facts?
Following the breaking of this story it was amusing (albeit not surprising in the least) to see the administration release the alleged “confession” of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the “9/11 mastermind”. Clearly this was an attempt to get Alberto Gonzales out of the news, a tactic practiced often by government when it finds itself under the spotlight. As is common with other hasty attempts to create a false story and push it out as news to the public, the story is a weak one which Americans aren’t buying. One day later, Alberto and his cronies were back in the limelight.
Amidst calls for Alberto Gonzales’ resignation, Congress has decided to investigate the matter further. Finally, a system with checks and balances! Long has our Congress let the Bush administration run amok, intoxicated with a sense of its own self-importance and power. This last week resulted in a Congressional subcommittee giving its chairman the authority and approval to issue subpoenas demanding more information, a political move that has Bush called “regrettable”. Indeed, having to expose one’s guilt and fraud certainly can be “regrettable”.
Up until this point, Bush had offered to “allow” his aides to be “interviewed” (not under oath):
He said Tuesday that the four — top political adviser Karl Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers, and their two deputies — could be interviewed in the matter, but no oath could be administered and no transcript would be taken.
Gee, how kind of his majesty.
The back-and-forth debate continues, with President Bush touting two words as his dictatorial CYA policy, indicating the levels to which he is willing to go in extending his tyrannical rule:
In United States v. Nixon, the Supreme Court offered the following opinion on this term:
To read the Article II powers of the President as providing an absolute privilege as against a subpoena essential to enforcement of criminal statutes on no more than a generalized claim of the public interest in confidentiality of nonmilitary and nondiplomatic discussions would upset the constitutional balance of ‘a workable government’ and gravely impair the role of the courts under Article III. (United States v. Nixon, 1974)
Glenn Greenwald produced a long list of hypocrisy showing certain Republicans (most notably current Press Secretary Tony Snow, back in his FOX News days) loudly complaining when Bill Clinton tried to use his “executive privilege” in hiding the truth from the public. One poignant article written in 1998 by Snow says the following:
Taken to its logical extreme, that position [of executive privilege] would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.
One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public’s faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold — the rule of law. (Op-Ed – St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1998)
And now, when the tables have turned, Tony Snow is loudly supporting Bush’s use of secrecy and “privilege” in refusing to permit his subordinates to testify under oath, going so far as to say at one point in this video interview that the Legislative Branch “does not have constitutional oversight responsibility over the White House”.
Somebody needs to study their Constitutional law.
The “executive privilege” assertion is one that screams of secrecy, conspiracy, and lawlessness. As was revealed in the cases of former Presidents Nixon and Clinton, their use of “executive privilege” was nothing more than to cover up their own wrongful actions and suppress the truth.
Should we expect the situation to be any different with our current President?