July 21, 2007

The Justice Department won't pursue contempt charges against the witnesses who invoked Executive Privilege.

Any alternative?
Congress has another route to enforce its will, an inherent power of contempt. But that has not been used since early in the 20th century. It has long been deemed unwieldy in the modern era as it entails Congress stopping all work to hold its own trial and imprisoning any offenders in the basement of the Capitol.
"Unwieldy," i.e., too bizarre to do.

74 comments:

downtownlad said...

Can't wait to see Republicans defending these tactics under President Hillary.

Bruce Hayden said...

There was a long discussion of this over at volokh.com yesterday, and the consensus of the BDS sufferers there seemed almost to be that the thwarting Congress here would be grounds for impeachment, with many seeming gleeful about the possibilities thereof.

I think that part of the problem with finding someone in the Administration in contempt is that ultimately, Congress needs to look to the Executive to prosecute someone, and when it is a political, and not criminal, squabble, as we have here, they are unlikely go get help there.

Congress has the right and duty to investigate the Executive - to some extent. But here, they are attempting to intrude into top Administration decision making, and in particular in a situation where no real crime has been seriously alleged. Rather, they are on a fishing trip, looking for some smoke. And, thus, an executive privilege claim that most presidents would have supported.

So, we may ultimately have Congress demanding that the DoJ prosecute a high White House aid for refusing to divulge to Congress how the White House and the Attorney General made certain political staffing decisions. And they expect the Attorney General to comply?

There might be a possibility of a recusal or an appointment of a special counsel, except for two thing: 1) it is none of Congress' business (i.e. it grossly exceeds their oversight authority), and 2) the last time the Administration appointed one, the result was a prosecution of Libby for lying, despite the SP knowing beforehand that Libby was not the leaker.

This is a Congressional power play, pure and simple. And that is why the Administration is likely to resist to their last minute in office.

Bruce Hayden said...

DTL,

This may ultimately be a problem. Hillary has a history of committing real crimes, whether they be inaccurate billing as an attorney, or having her staff pull FBI files on Republican politicians. What is being alleged here by Congress doesn't really rise to the level of a crime, but is rather squarely within the ambit of what Executive Privilege is supposed to protect.

Tim said...

Excellent. Given Congress's approval ratings, they have plenty of political capital to spend on this partisan drill for the psychological benefit of their deranged base.

Only impeachment could be better.

Doyle said...

That would be the Gonzales Justice Department?

People who flaunt Congressional subpoenas should absolutely be imprisoned in the basement of the Capitol. What better place?

Bruce Hayden said...

I can't help but think that the House leadership here is playing to their BDS base, and may be sacrificing their House majority with their antics.

The problem is that they really haven't accomplished much this term, so far, except to harass the Administration. Yes, a lot of us like that.

But in 2008, when they go back to the people for reelection, what will they be able to say they did? Reduced corruption? Well, not really. Rather, earmarks are up, and the Democrats in the House leadership seem even ore corrupt than their Republican predecessors.

Then, they tried to pass into law stripping employees the right to a secret ballot for union representation. And, they kept passing resolutions to cut and run from Iraq.

But beyond that, most of what they seem to be doing so far is investigating the Administration - for things that turn out to be innocuous and likely not illegal. Pure harassment.

No wonder Congress' approval rating is now significantly lower than the President's. At least he is doing something, and has some residual fans (though I suspect that it is hard to find many who agree with him on both immigration and Iraq).

So, when all those newly elected Democratic Congresscritters from swing districts come up for their first reelection in 2008, what are they going to say to their constituents who tended to vote for the President that they have spent the previous two years attacking?

Doyle said...

Bruce, the many of the constituents who "tended to vote for [Bush]" are now aware that he's a horrendous president.

Look at the fundraising numbers. Americans realize that the problem is that George Bush is still president and there are too many Republicans in Congress.

DKWalser said...

Bruce,

As you know, there is a widely held belief among BDS sufferers that the reason Congress has a 14% approval rating is because Congress has not been tough enough on Bush. (See Doyle, above.) For those who really believe Bush has not only done stupid things but has done blatantly criminal things that verge on tearing up the Constitution (a/k/a the Congress' remaining supporters), the only satisfactory course of action is impeaching Bush (and Cheney and the AG and, etc.). This could be a very ugly year and 3 months before the next election. If the Democrats in Congress try to satisfy their staunchest supporters, I think they'll pay a big price in the next election, but getting there won't be any fun.

Balfegor said...

as it entails Congress stopping all work to hold its own trial and imprisoning any offenders in the basement of the Capitol.

Oh wow! Leaving the politics entirely aside, isn't anyone else kind of hoping they'll do that? That's fantastic!

Maxine Weiss said...

Why not get 'em where it really hurts. Garnish wages and freeze assets! They'll talk then.

AllenS said...

"...and imprisoning any offenders in the basement of the Capitol."

I'm getting this picture of chains and shackles hanging from the walls.

Cool.

The Exalted said...

haha

hillary is guilty of real crimes.

right, excellent argument for executive contempt.

good one.

Naked Lunch said...

This may ultimately be a problem. Hillary has a history of committing real crimes, whether they be inaccurate billing as an attorney, or having her staff pull FBI files on Republican politicians.

Really. Any links to this?

Let me clue you in something. There are no BDS sufferers. I don't know anyone that fears Bush, or think he is evil. He is as fucking stupid as a day is long. Have you not noticed this yet? Nobody would care about this profound jackass if he didn't occupy the highest seat in our government. Seriously. Nobody would care.

B said...

Naked Midday meal,

I don't want to argue Bush's merits or intelligence. I just want to know if you seriously meant it when you said:

I don't know anyone that fears Bush, or think he is evil.

You don't believe that there are millions of Bush haters that hate him precisely because they believe that he is evil?

Have you ever read Kos or Huffington Post?

I personally know people onthe street I live on who believe that W is evil to the core.

(Favorite Movie Line)"Of course, generally speaking, they are not persons of consequence . . ."

Too many jims said...

Given the limitations that this Administration has placed on investigating wrong doing of Administration officials (and the absence of an Independent Counsel statute) it is amazing how many people in the administration have been convicted. Good thing (for President Bush) that the hiring process at DOJ diminished the possibility that there are rogue Eliot Richardsons lurking there.

Naked Lunch said...

You don't believe that there are millions of Bush haters that hate him precisely because they believe that he is evil?

No. Anyone that paid the slightest bit of attention to Bush's career would find a career fuck-up with numerous bailouts, including but limited to; his abysmal record in TXANG, (amazingly even in the Champagne Unit where well connected actors and athletes were lucky enough to be guarding the Gulf Coast as thousands were dying every week in the jungles) a short, and bizarre stint in the oil business, and on and on and on. Christ was dead for 4 days on this Earth, and George W Bush can't account for a full year of his life. He is a posh Ivy Leaguer trying to be Reagan - out clearing brush on the ranch - and he comes off phonier than a 3 dollar bill. And people see right through it.

In other words, Bush is not, and is not capable of running anything. This administration has been ruled by Cheney's creeping dark paranoia, and huge dashes of full blown wingnut neocon fantasies coming to fruition.

Yikes.

Michael said...

Leaving the politics entirely aside, isn't anyone else kind of hoping they'll [be imprisoning any offenders in the basement of the Capitol]?

I am. I want to see Pelosi play Deputy Fife to Reid's Andy Taylor.

SteveR said...

They already have some cots. Please do it. Please.

Cedarford said...

Keep in mind while the hyper activists of the Left are asserting that Congress has unlimited power to investigate the Executive, they had conniptions about "Executive intrusion" into the sacred spaces of one of it's members, William Jefferson, as law enforcement organs of the excecutive investigate further court-approved warrants for evidence-finding of actual felonious law-breaking - not just suspicions of unethical practices Karl Rove, Supreme Evildoer, might have whispered....

Imagine the utter sh*t-storm if the President, he or she, announced that they would be delegating 100 FBI agents to be watch dogs over Congressional deliberations and periodically request all emails from Committee leaders and staff to ascertain if taxpayers were being defrauded with secret earmarks and justice obstructed with judicial candidate blackballing.

Congress-Would-Have-A-Cow!

Balfegor said...
as it entails Congress stopping all work to hold its own trial and imprisoning any offenders in the basement of the Capitol.

Oh wow! Leaving the politics entirely aside, isn't anyone else kind of hoping they'll do that? That's fantastic!


And Reid, Durbin, and Nancy Botoxi are just dumb enough to seriously consider it.

I agree, imagine the fun the Executive would have with Congress locked into that stunt, and all work stopped for months on the Hill.

The fun would increase of it escalated and pitted the coercive powers of Congress - Capital Hill police and Sargeant-At-Arms staff against the coercive powers of the Executive - FBI Hostage Rescue SWAT, Navy Seals, precision guided munitions, and several M1A1 Tanks.

Shades of Yeltsin, sober for once, and the Duma!

I know where my bet would be placed.

Doyle said...

Cedarford -

1) The Bush position is that Congress has NO power to oversee the executive branch (or anyone with a cousin that used to know a member of the executive branch).

2) Name me one "hyper activist" who had "conniptions" over William Jefferson. The only figure I remember getting really exercised about the raids on Jefferson was Dennis Hastert.

Why must you make stuff up? Surely you could still squeeze a few paragraphs out of things that are true.

Greybeard said...

To Naked Lunch and others suffering from, (while denying) BDS:

I voted for GWB last election.
As a Retired Army Viet Nam Veteran that believes we are now at war, if I were given the same horrible choice I was given in '04, I'd vote for him again.

Note to the Democrat Party.
Gitchyer head outta your ass, or you are in for another surprise.

Seven Machos said...

Lunch -- Do you have any idea how stupid you sound? Bush chose Cheney. If Cheney is really in charge, why is Scooter Libby not pardoned? Why the immigration push?

I don't recall hearing these kinds of arguments when Clinton was president.

This whole "argument" regarding Cheney's secret power is just the goofball left trying to account for the massive hole in its theory that (1) Bush is a slobbbering moron yet (2)The Bush administration is a towering, dark vacuum of evil that wants absolute power.

You really have to be moronic and weird to even try to believe this.

Cedarford said...

Name me one "hyper activist" who had "conniptions" over William Jefferson. The only figure I remember getting really exercised about the raids on Jefferson was Dennis Hastert.

Well, for starters, how about the whole pack of morons better known as the "Black Caucus" that threatened open rebellion about FBI agents intruding on "our fellow members private spaces". Plus the lead Democrat officials that "demanded an explaination" for the Executive trammelling Congressional prerogatives to investigate their own members (going back I guess to that basement jail that awaits felonious Congress reps...)

As for Hastert, he was a moron to join in, and evidently several Republicans told him what a moron he was with that and the homosexual pederast Rep from Florida Denny covered for. REpublicans couldn't wait to get rid of Hastert.

Why must you make stuff up?

It must be wonderful to have Lefty Selective Amnesia, Doyle. Then you can go through life accusing others of making up facts you refuse to believe, and you are comfortable in your own mildly deranged skin....

Zeb Quinn said...

Note to the Democrat Party.
Gitchyer head outta your ass, or you are in for another surprise


There you've hit upon it. They think because the multitudes of conservatives --the all-time record number of voters who came out to vote and voted for Bush in 2004-- thereafter got mad at Bush for his immigration policies, inter alia, and stayed at home and sat on their hands in 2006 (and even then the Dems had to tack hard to the right and out-conservative the Reps to win), that now they are somehow entitled and a shoo-in to win all future elections. What a hoot! All those conservative-voting voters will be back in spades in 2008.

Naked Lunch said...

Note to the Democrat Party.
Gitchyer head outta your ass, or you are in for another surprise.


Like last November? The Republic Party didn't gain one seat on a Democratic incumbent. Not one. Think about those millions spent. For nothing.

LOL.

Doyle said...

Greybeard -

Another surprise? Like 2006? You know, that was a surprise. I didn't think the Dems would take the Senate, too, or that they wouldn't lose a single incumbent seat.

I never said that there weren't any Retired Army Viet Nam Veterans who still think reelecting Bush was a good idea. I'm just saying they're aren't enough of them to elect another Republican president, or keep the Democrats from growing their majority in 2008.

Bruce Hayden said...

1) The Bush position is that Congress has NO power to oversee the executive branch (or anyone with a cousin that used to know a member of the executive branch).

I would ask for a bit of documentation here, and find it somewhere besides the Daily KOS, Wikipedia, etc.

The reality is that there is a big difference between investigating what the President, VP, and AG discussed, and the operations of the various agencies and departments. So, the fact that the President has refused to allow his immediate subordinates to comply with Congress here has no bearing on whether he would allow Congress to investigate the other millions of employees he is in charge of.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that the conservatives who stayed home in 2006 did so for a number of reasons:
- Corruption in Congress, financial and sexual
- Immigration.

The thing that should be worrying the Democrats a bit though is that they ran on a platform of cleaning up Congress, and instead, are worse than the Republicans. It is the same corrupt politicians who were running Congress before the Democrats lost in 1994 who took over again in 2006.

So, what do all those who stayed home to make a point with the Republicans do this time around? Do they say, oh, well, a pox on both their houses? Or do they figure that a little Republican corruption is better than a lot of Democratic corruption?

The other thing to keep in mind is that the Republicans are leading the charge against corruption right now, esp. against earmarks. The Republican Representatives are doing decently. It is the Senate that is the real problem, with Trent Lott moving back into a position of power, etc. The House Republicans seem to have gotten the message, but the Senate Republicans haven't.

And, yes, I know that the Republicans didn't take any seats from the Democrats in the House. That rarely happens in the second mid-term election of a president by his party. But keep in mind that a lot of those Democrat wins in the House were by very slim margins, and were in districts that went for Bush in 2004. With the venality of the Democratic leadership in the House, I expect at least some, if not most of those seats to swap back, this time.

Of course, as I noted above, this can be almost assured if the Democrats try to vote out Articles of Impeachment for the sort of thing that started off this discussion.

Doyle said...

Bruce -

If you're not aware of the breadth of the executive privilege claims being asserted here, you're just not reading the newspaper.

All you really need to know about the executive privilege claim is that they're making it while simultaneously claiming that Bush and Gonzales were not substantially involved in making the list of USAs to be fired.

Executive privilege is a made up thing to begin with. It's downright funny as a shield to prevent the investigation of the USA firings, a matter on which the AG lied repeatedly, including in testimony before Congress. Rove's involvement is not a conspiracy theory but a fact.

Another good example is the administration's claim of privilege in the Pat Tillman case, during which the president was advised by the DoD not to get into the details of Tillman's death for fear of later embarassment.

It's just impossible to defend these on the grounds that it's purely to preserve the president's ability to receive "candid advice." It's purely in order to block investigations of wrongdoing or illegality anywhere in the administration.

Hope Congress actually starts locking people up, but they probably will just let them get away with it.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add to my point a bit ago about the level where Congressional oversight is legitimate.

Executive Privilege has long been accepted by the courts, etc. for protecting the conversations of the President, VP, and their closest advisors. I doubt if very many legal pundits who aren't seriously afflicted with BDS would disagree. And that is precisely what we are talking about here, a legitimate, traditional, assertion of Executive Privilege to protect the conversations of the President and his top advisors.

The further you get from the President, the less force Executive Privilege has. And it probably has no force as to the bureaucrats and military making up 99% of the Executive branch where no political appointees are involved.

So, jumping from the Administration asserting the privilege for the highest level discussions cannot be used to jump to the claim that the Administration is refusing to divulge anything to Congress.

Bruce Hayden said...

If you're not aware of the breadth of the executive privilege claims being asserted here, you're just not reading the newspaper.

I do read the papers, but discount most of what I read in them, due to the partisan bias I typically find there.

All you really need to know about the executive privilege claim is that they're making it while simultaneously claiming that Bush and Gonzales were not substantially involved in making the list of USAs to be fired.

It is frankly none of Congress' business why they were fired. They could have been fired for picking their noses at a meeting, and that would be fine. They are political appointees, and serve at the will of the President and his designate, the AG.

Executive privilege is a made up thing to begin with. It's downright funny as a shield to prevent the investigation of the USA firings, a matter on which the AG lied repeatedly, including in testimony before Congress. Rove's involvement is not a conspiracy theory but a fact.

It may be "made up", but has repeatedly been accepted by the courts. The question is whether it applies, and it most likely does here.

And if Rove was involved, BFD. That is what advisors are for. There was nothing criminal about an advisor to the President suggesting that some political appointees not be retained. Nothing. Get over it.

Doyle said...

If they were fired for picking their noses, and Gonzales was honest about that, it would be better than what actually happened.

What actually happened was they were fired for executing their office impartially (if not just to make way for Rove's BFF), and then Gonzalez lied about it.

Whether or not anyone violated any laws, it is Congress's power to investigate, if only to ascertain whether legislation to prevent further corruption of the Justice Department may be necessary.

That means Harriet Miers puts her ass in the chair.

cyrus pinkerton said...

I'm trying to understand the preoccupation of the rightwingers with "BDS." Aren't these the same people who spent many years shrieking about "the Clenis?"

It seems to me that the fundamental mistake the rightwingers make is in assuming that everyone else thinks as they do (i.e., obsessing about the opposition party leaders). It just ain't so.

There's also the fact that by referring to anyone who disagrees with them as "BDS sufferers," the rightwingers hope to slime anyone who comments on the gross incompetence of Team Bush.

Seven Machos said...

Yes, Cyrus. Clearly, no loony lefties in this very thread are preoccupied with Bush.

Luckyoldson said...

Can anyone explain what executive privilege has to do with the Tillman family finding out exactly what happened to their son?

Unless of course, the administration was knee-deep in the cover-up and extended falsehoods put forth and are protecting those involved.

This doesn't seem to be the way we should treat those who give their lives for their country.

TMink said...

No BDS? Please! Some of you are only really likely to post if it concerns Bush. And that is when the cussing starts.

Hate him if you want, it is still a free country. But own it.

Trey

Luckyoldson said...

bruce says: "I do read the papers, but discount most of what I read in them, due to the partisan bias I typically find there."

really? ALL of them? this has been reported by everybody from the WSJ to the washington times...so...exactly WHO do you believe??

and can you explain this: What executive privilege has to do with the Tillman family finding out exactly what happened to their son?

As for congress having no say, I suggest you give the Constitution a quick read. Serving at the pleasure of the President doesn't mean he can tell U.S. attorneys who they can or should prosecute...based on politics. (And since when do 3 of the top rated U.S. Attorneys in the country get canned for "picking their noses?")

Luckyoldson said...

bruce says: "And if Rove was involved, BFD. That is what advisors are for."

no they're not.

with the possible exception of suggestion or vetting purposes, advisors aren't in the business of hiring, firing and directing what cases are or are not pursued by u.s attorneys.

ridiculous.

Luckyoldson said...

bruse says: "...The thing that should be worrying the Democrats a bit though is that they ran on a platform of cleaning up Congress..."

you don't read, do you?

they won to begin the push to get out of iraq.

Too many jims said...

There was nothing criminal about an advisor to the President suggesting that some political appointees not be retained.

Indeed. And because there is no underlying crime it is o.k. for administration officials to lie to Congress about what happened.

Kevin said...

they won to begin the push to get out of iraq.

How's that working out for ya'll?

Luckyoldson said...

Kevin,
Well, it's only been 6 months since the Democrats gained a majority and things are progressing quite well...and would be even better if not for the Republicans holding up the train.

I noticed the administration now wants America to wait until November...guess that September date was standard bullshit, huh?

But, hey...why not send along your cute comment to the families of the American soldiers who will lose their lives or be wounded between now...and when we finally face the truth?

I bet they get a real kick out of it.

Luckyoldson said...

Flip-Flopping...Presidential style:

Bush, in the form of a speech he gave yesterday morning, in which he bashed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats for yanking the Defense Authorization bill from consideration — after Republicans filibustered yet another Iraq vote — and implied that Democrats are against a military pay raise.

“It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field, and give them everything they need to succeed,” said Bush. “Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there.”

BUT...

President Bush, May 16, 2007:

Military Pay: The Administration strongly opposes sections 601 and 606. The additional 0.5 percent increase above the President’s proposed 3.0 percent across-the-board pay increase is unnecessary.

Tully said...

Executive privilege is a made up thing to begin with.

So are Congressional subpoena and investigatory powers. In fact, they all stem from the same source, namely the inherent powers of the institutions. Good luck finding them in the Constitution. Or that much-vaunted and somewhat overhyped "Congressional oversight" power.

This particualr assertion of executive privilege is precisely the sort of thing that is supposed to be covered by EP--the internal deliberations of the executive branch in legitimately exercising its Constitutional duties and powers.

Nor is the argument that Congressional subpoenas are somewhat impotent when so used new to the Bush administration. The DoJ under both the Reagan and Clinton admins (at least) advanced the same opinion.

But BDS overcomes all notions of common sense--or history.

Kevin said...

Well, it's only been 6 months since the Democrats gained a majority and things are progressing quite well...and would be even better if not for the Republicans holding up the train.


Darn those Republicans. Using the Senate rules to thwart the will of the nutroots.

I noticed the administration now wants America to wait until November...guess that September date was standard bullshit, huh?

Afraid of sucess? Looks like the surge is working, better stop that nonsense quick. Wouldn't want to prove the nattering nabobs of negativism wrong.

But, hey...why not send along your cute comment to the families of the American soldiers who will lose their lives or be wounded between now...and when we finally face the truth?

Truth? You can't handle the truth!

I bet they get a real kick out of it.

Some might, some might not. I know it tickles me to mock lefties, pLucky.

Kevin said...

Flip-Flopping...Presidential style:

Bush, in the form of a speech he gave yesterday morning, in which he bashed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats for yanking the Defense Authorization bill from consideration — after Republicans filibustered yet another Iraq vote — and implied that Democrats are against a military pay raise.

“It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field, and give them everything they need to succeed,” said Bush. “Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there.”

BUT...

President Bush, May 16, 2007:

Military Pay: The Administration strongly opposes sections 601 and 606. The additional 0.5 percent increase above the President’s proposed 3.0 percent across-the-board pay increase is unnecessary.


Flip flopping? 3% > 0%, which is what they're getting while Harry and Co are screwing with their money. Don't you even read what you're posting, pLucky?

Luckyoldson said...

Kevin, yet another right wing nutcase, rearing his ugly and uninformed head...says: "Looks like the surge is working..."

Thanks Rush.

*And be sure to send those comments to the families, asshole...because I'm sure "Some might, some might not"...enjoy hearing you make light of their loss.

Luckyoldson said...

Kevin,
"nattering nabobs"??

Another of your heroes??

What a dummy.

cyrus pinkerton said...

Tmink wrote:

No BDS? Please! Some of you are only really likely to post if it concerns Bush.

Trey, your comment isn't at all responsive to my post. My post made two simple observations:

1. Many of those who are quick to slap the BDS tag on anyone who is critical of Bush spent a decade or so squealing about anything and everything having to do with Clinton. (I've also noted that a number of those who frequently mention "BDS sufferers" can be found shrieking about Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in one context or another.)

2. Use of the acronym BDS may in fact be the best defense Bush supporters can muster when faced with criticism of Bush's gross incompetence, but it has no place in civil discourse.

Trey, if you disagree with either of these two points, I'd be happy to see you address them.

cyrus pinkerton said...

seven machos wrote:

Yes, Cyrus. Clearly, no loony lefties in this very thread are preoccupied with Bush.

You are trying to refute a point I didn't make. There may be some people here who are "preoccupied with Bush" (as you see it). However, BDS is not defined as "preoccupation with Bush," as you imply.

Following up on one of the points I did make in my post, would you like to confess to being a rightwing drooler who was preoccupied with Bill Clinton? Did you worship at the altar of the Great Clenis? Are or were you a CDS sufferer?

As a final remark, please do me the great favor of making your responses to my posts pertinent to those posts. In particular, stop attributing claims to me that I haven't made.

rhhardin said...

It seems to me that Congress ought to have its own dungeon, if it's going to work in perpetual posturing and signal sending mode, aiming at women voters. So I support it. Also a moat.

Bruce Hayden said...

I didn't really understand the capital jail business until I read Eugene Volokh's piece today on the matter.

- When the President invokes Executive Privilege, he is essentially declaring that anyone covered by it not only should not, but cannot testify.
- Congress needs to utilize DoJ attorneys to prosecute anyone in U.S. court for contempt. But any such attorney would in this case be prosecuting someone who has officialy been declared innocent by their boss. That is now departmental policy.
- Therefore the DoJ attorney prosecuting would be violating his oath and legal ethics. I might add, also subject to being fired for insubordination.
- The alternative is to have the Sergent at Arms arrest the person and have the trial in Congress. And that is where the jail in the basement of the capital comes in.
- So, if the two people who are refusing to honor the Congressional subpoenas show up in the Capital, they can be arrested and held. But so far, other than that, no one has figured out a way to make them do so otherwise, since the jurisdiction of the Capital Police is usually considered to end somewhere around the boundries of the Capital.

Some commenters made some other interesting points:
- (as I suggested yesterday) there is a zone around the President where his close aids are considered exempt from Congressional subpoena. This isn't a Bush presidential invention, but rather a fairly long standing assertion by his predecessors.
- This is why there have been (until now) invariably negotiations between Congress and the White House as to the testimony of a president's closest aids, or, indeed the president or VP, before Congress.
- If there aren't limits on who Congress can force to appear before it to testify, then there would not be limits on its ability to impede the operation of the Executive on purely partisan grounds. Rather, they could force the President to testify before it on a routine basis, etc.
- In reference to the suggestion that a law provides for prosecution here, the response is that prosecution is an inherantly Executive function, and overriding the Executive in such a matter would be gross overreaching on the part of Congress into a president's Article II powers.

Bruce Hayden said...

This particualr assertion of executive privilege is precisely the sort of thing that is supposed to be covered by EP--the internal deliberations of the executive branch in legitimately exercising its Constitutional duties and powers.

What must be remembered here is that this isn't about some low level federal beaucrat being ordered to testify before Congress, but rather, the President's closest aids. We are talking about people who reported directly to him and consulted with him on a daily basis.

As I pointed out in my previous post, the more standard/accepted view of EP is that it applies most strongly to a zone around the President and VP. And it is because Congress is attempting to reach into this zone, that they are ultimately going to lose in the courts, should they attempt to use such to try to force their will in this matter.

Bruce Hayden said...

bruce says: "And if Rove was involved, BFD. That is what advisors are for."

no they're not.

with the possible exception of suggestion or vetting purposes, advisors aren't in the business of hiring, firing and directing what cases are or are not pursued by u.s attorneys.


You and I will have to agree to disagree here, but you do bring up an interesting point - whose job is it to determine what cases are brought and which are not? The Administration's position is that that decision is the President's, delegated to his Attorney General. It is an inherantly Executive decision, well grounded in his Article II powers.

The Democrats in Congress seem to be saying that it isn't, but rather should be at the discretion of the AUSAs, who are typically (but not aways) confirmed by the Senate. In other words, that they should essentially have unlimited prosecutorial discretion to spend federal money any way they want, once in office, regardless of orders from those appointing them and who are officially their bosses.

Yes, there is some tension between prsecutorial discretion and Executive power, but the ultimate power is with the Executive - the AUSAs were hired, they can be fired. The President, not they, was elected.

Note the difference here between firing an AUSA for failing to prosecute a class deemed important by the AG, and firing one in order to thwart a specific ongoing prosecution. So far, I am unaware of any specific prosecutions that were dropped as a result of the Administration letting these AUSAs go.

AlphaLiberal said...

The first thing I want to note is that simply describing critics as suffering "BDS" is not an argument. It's a an ad hominem that allows the arguer to shirk real responsibility.

It distorts and belittles the real substantive criticisms of this President without addressing arguments on their merits.

Besides, an overwhelming majority of the American people now seem to suffer from BDS, as they reject Bush's Iraq occupation, etc.

AlphaLiberal said...

To the merits. Bush is thumbing his nose the American system of government as much as he is flouting this Congress. Bush and Cheney reject the American balance-of-powers in favor of an authoritarian, monarchical, system of government opposed by our nation's founders. Shame on them and their enablers.

What Bush has done here is deeply un-American. Please, Bush enablers, show us another American President who has claimed this right. Where is you precedent?

Now, the wingers are saying that they disagree with Congress carrying out oversight of a Republican Presidency so this is okay. That's not how the law works. Kind of like "oh, well, he had to steal the car, because he was in a hurry for a good reasons."

I think the Dems need to impeach Gonzales, stat, along with all of the others who have used the DOJ as a political cudgel to prosecute and imprison their political enemies. the message must be felt; We don't allow that in America. This would be a good starting point.

(And, the lack of criticism, let alone outrage, from Althouse again just makes me shake my head. No defender of the American system of government, her.)

AlphaLiberal said...

Oh, and be sure to see this story from McClatchy showing the record use of filibuster threats and obstructionist tactics by Senate Republicans. They're setting historic records.

This is response to the wingers claiming this Congress "hasn't done much." With the Senate so narrowly in Dem hands, the cure is to get more Dems in the Senate.

Cedarford said...

Luckyoldson - I noticed the administration now wants America to wait until November...guess that September date was standard bullshit, huh?

But, hey...why not send along your cute comment to the families of the American soldiers who will lose their lives or be wounded between now...and when we finally face the truth?

I bet they get a real kick out of it.


What the Almighty Victim's Families think, given the media's recent assertions that they are imbued with unlimited moral authority over the will of voters and their elected representatives - is in fact irrelevant. The media likes to give them their 15 minutes of fame, in Sheehans case far longer as a "symbol" - but in the end they are like others in risky jobs and dependents who either accept the risks, or blame others when the odds catch up to them. Somehow, certain "victims families " have embraced a mindset
that there is no such thing as risk, accidents, malignant people doing harm - only "failure" of larger forces (government, science, corporations) to make inner city drug dealers, Bering Sea fishermen, ground combat forces, inhabitants of a skyscraper struck by a commercial jet at max speed "perfectly safe".

And a mindset that they expect our police, military, and counterterror intelligence to be "perfect" while never being intrusive on the "precious civil liberties" of thugs, jihadis, and
'innocent civilians" of other nations by doing horrid things like putting up CCTV in drug areas or listening in on communications inside a hostile nation.

And when dozens of troops die a month in IED ambushes set up by an intelligent enemy, a thug who kills a family of another gang, a terrorist attack - the Neat Little Lefty World of perfect government guaranteed safety that must happen in a setting of maximum bad guy right to privacy and free of "harassment" is jarred badly. Then they demand to know who is responsible when their fantasy world clashes with reality.

1. Who "failed" in America to address the "root causes" of Muslim anger and forced them to attack us?
2. Who in intelligence failed to "know all about" a small enemy force's plans to ram jets on American targets while giving them their full privacy rights.
3. Who in government and the airlines "failed to stop the hijackers from boarding" - while at the same time protecting us in a non-racist, non-profiling way that respected the dignity of each passenger against intrusive searches or questions that infringe on the 4th? "Who failed?", the Lefties howl..."Who jarred our neat little perfect world?"
4. Similarly, who failed to design impermiable, invulnerable skyscrapers? Who failed to detect in the millions of illegal immigrants the Lefties approve of that some real bad guys came in and lived in that ocean of illegals. Who in government was at fault? Why are boxcutters sold in stores? Should government license that with permits?
5. And why haven't we tried terrorists so radical Muslims can see how great our civilian courts and ACLU lawyers are so they will accept our justice and not be angry anymore? Lefties implore. And why haven't we invaded nuclear Pakistan and started months or years of hide and seek in Pashtun & Baluchi areas to "get Bin Laden" whose criminal trial in Manhattan will of course end all terror and restore Us Lefty's Neat Little Perfect World???

Risk? Particularly military families, which are the dependents of volunteers that went in knowing military service is riskier than being a Lefty working as a teacher or store clerk - should know the risk. Or they are stupid. And they should know that the military goes not where "families of the troops demand" but where our elected civilian leadership orders them - sometimes in Harm's Way, as the saying goes.

Strategies in wartime entail casualities. Tactics practiced in peacetime involve causualties. The military is a risky place even in peacetime and helos loaded with 20 men crash and burn in Georgia (and no Lefties come out and demand to pose with the coffins about the "waste" and presume to speak for the "victim families")More people died in the military in Carter's military, per annum, than under Bush - all without the Lefty theatrical hysterics about "the unimaginable suffering of the troops and families" - that they try getting away with now - in manipulating emotional female voters.

Balfegor said...

Re: Alphaliberal

What Bush has done here is deeply un-American. Please, Bush enablers, show us another American President who has claimed this right. Where is you precedent?

Oh geez. Even assuming your characterisation of Bush is correct, there's, uh, an obvious example:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt!

Nothing Bush has done even approaches the gross executive overreach involved in FDR's court-packing scheme. Nothing has worked anything like the same violence on America's constitutional order.

AlphaLiberal said...

Balfegor, you're saying that the precedent to Bush's act of blocking the Justice Department from carrying out Congressional contempt charges was under FDR?

When?

You're just going to have to back that up. When did Congress serve contempt charges that the FDR Justice Dept blocked?

cyrus pinkerton said...

Cedarford wrote:

More people died in the military in Carter's military, per annum, than under Bush.

I have no idea what point you are trying to make here. As you probably know, US active duty military death rates dropped steadily from 1976 to 2000. This reflects a fairly steady and dramatic decline in what is classified as "accidental" deaths (i.e., not hostile action deaths).

The difference now is that "hostile action deaths" have increased from essentially zero during the Clinton presidency to over 45 (per 100,000) in 2006. You seem to be suggesting that these soldiers would be dying anyway in some sort of training accident. It ain't so, Cedarford. You're making a lame effort to trivialize the deaths of our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to try to score political points. It's not working, Cedarford, and the fact that you tried it is shameful.

Oh, Cedarford also wrote this:

all without the Lefty theatrical hysterics about "the unimaginable suffering of the troops and families" - that they try getting away with now - in manipulating emotional female voters.

Emotional female voters, eh? Any comment, Althouse?

Cedarford said...

Sorry Pinky, but the safety record of the military and off-duty accidents didn/t really turn until 1982, when Reagan's insistance on getting rid of defective equipment, safety-conscious training, and professionalism began having effect.

The fact is that more troops died each year under Carter than Bush II. Without any Lefty blubbering at all, without any preaching about "mothers face the unendurable" as their children die in Iraq senselessly, without demand that Jimmy Carter provide the coffins of the 30 killed in a steam pipe explosion on a 30-year old vessel or the 170 killed in an improperly maintained C-5A - for Lefties to pose with...

As for the military, if they have to go, better when they are doing their duty fighting and killing the enemy in a non-trivial fatality - than the 240 poorly-led soldiers and sailors that died in alcohol-related car and motorcycle crashes in 1978. In fact, all the dead troops under Carter were the ones trivialized - quitely shipped home after helo engine failures, squashed by tanks in wargames in Texas, 18 and dead in a high speed motorcycle accident - mourned only by their families.

The theatrics about how soldiers dying doing their duty is somehow far worse than dying in peacetime in droves for no good reason - is just Lefty theatrics....

2.3 million people a year die in America every year. Hundreds of thousands before their time, tragically. Only a miniscule number get to die or are maimed serving the greater good, as their elected leaders decide.

I'm a Vet. You aren't. I know the difference.

cyrus pinkerton said...

Cedarford wrote:

[putrid rubbish] +
I'm a Vet. You aren't. I know the difference.


You're right, I'm not a vet. Whether you're a vet or not is an open question.

You certainly don't think like any of the vets in my family (my father, my uncles, my grandfather, my cousins). You certainly don't speak like any of the many vets I know as family friends. You certainly don't act like any of the vets I've met while playing American Legion ball or participating at California Boys State. Maybe you're a vet; maybe not. At the moment, the evidence I've seen is not in your favor.

And as to what you "know," the answer is plainly "very little."

Apparently you are foolish enough to believe that our soldiers would be dying at the same rate whether or not they are fighting. That notion is purely idiotic, of course. The truth is that President Incompetent sold the nation on an ill-advised war. It's the fault of the American people for trusting Bush's poor judgment and miserable management skills. As a result, we've unnecessarily put our soldiers at substantially higher risk, and we're paying the price for that in enormously higher death and injury rates. These same deaths would not be happening anyway, under different circumstances, as you imply. Our actions are directly responsible for creating more casualties to our soldiers and to innocent Iraqi civilians. It's disgraceful that you don't plainly and directly acknowledge this fact.

I did NOT support the invasion of Iraq. I didn't believe it was necessary, and more to the point, I didn't think it was likely to have a good result. I take no pleasure in finding that, to date, I've been proven correct.

As I've stated before at Althouse, although I opposed the decision to invade Iraq, I'm inclined to let Bush manage the war as he sees fit on the condition that he take responsibility for the consequences and require sacrifice from all Americans during the course of the war. At a minimum, this means that Bush must communicate accurately and honestly to the American people about progress during the course of the war and occupation, speak clearly about our goals, and require the American taxpayer to pay for the costs of the war as we go. To date, Bush has met none of these requirements. I suppose this is one of the numerous reasons I consider him to be a miserable failure.

Let's look at some of the other garbage you've written:

but the safety record of the military and off-duty accidents didn/t really turn until 1982, when Reagan's insistance on getting rid of defective equipment, safety-conscious training, and professionalism began having effect.

Wrong, as usual. Here are the death rates (per 100,000) categorized as "accidental death" from 1980-1990:

1980 | 72.0
1981 | 69.1
1982 | 66.4
1983 | 62.2
1984 | 56.3
1985 | 63.5
1986 | 50.8
1987 | 49.8
1988 | 46.8
1989 | 43.4
1990 | 39.0

By the year 2000, the "accidental death" rate (per 100,000) had dropped to 26.0. So, your claim is wrong. Aside from 1985, the "accidental death" rate dropped steadily throughout the 1980s and continued dropping through 2000.

As for the military, if they have to go, better when they are doing their duty fighting and killing the enemy in a non-trivial fatality.

They don't have to "go," Cedarford. That's the point. There's no requirement that we send a certain number of our soldiers to death each year. What part of that don't you understand? Why do you continue to trivialize their deaths by suggesting that they would die in training exercises otherwise?

2.3 million people a year die in America every year. Hundreds of thousands before their time, tragically. Only a miniscule number get to die or are maimed serving the greater good, as their elected leaders decide.

"Get to die?" You say this as if death in service is a privilege. Again, this leads me to believe that you are a "virtual vet" rather than a real one. Also, on an annual basis, hundreds or thousands of soldiers killed in combat is not a "miniscule number." Perhaps you meant a relatively miniscule number. Or perhaps you meant exactly what you wrote, which would indicate the extent to which you are out of touch with mainstream American values.

While it's true that many people die every day in America, it's truly disgusting to compare these deaths to those of our soldiers in battle. The soldiers who are killed in service are dying as a consequence of a political decision. It needn't be so; their death is a consequence of a choice that you and like-minded Americans made.

The theatrics about how soldiers dying doing their duty is somehow far worse than dying in peacetime in droves for no good reason - is just Lefty theatrics....

This is a logical fallacy. While it's clear that the illogic of this assertion is driven by your desperation to score partisan points, it is illogical nevertheless. Again, you incorrectly suggest that soldiers dying in combat would otherwise be killed in peacetime activities. This is a lie.

One final point, Cedarford. You've taken the liberty of addressing me as "Pinky" recently. I've accepted this form of address as I recognize it as your extraordinarily lame attempt to make yourself feel superior in some way. Apparently you feel a need for some sort of ego boost, and calling me "Pinky" somehow does it for you. Let's be clear about this though. In the future, you will address me as either Cyrus or Pinkerton, as everyone else at Althouse does. I expect this small concession to civility from you. If you are truly a vet as you claim, adhering to a properly respectful form of address should not be difficult for you. Please don't make me mention this a second time.

SGT Ted said...

I notice Balfegors spot-on point regarding FDR's gross violations of the Constitution is pointedly ignored by the leftrolls who screech Bush and Cheney reject the American balance-of-powers in favor of an authoritarian, monarchical, system of government opposed by our nation's founders.

Which is patently absurd. Because, if Bush did they would already be in the camps or buried in a mass grave somewhere.

It just goes right by them, like it never happened.

As far as I and my family is concerned, Lucky and other "progressives" here can quit mouhting their phoney concern for my comrades and their families. I know plenty of Military folks who also reject the fake empathy coming from such.

I would rather have their scorn and contempt. It's more honest.

The Exalted said...

when fdr exceeded his constitutional mandate, he made it clear that indeed he was beyond his powers but that emergency (i.e., the f'ing nazis) merited it.

in contrast, bush/cheney go far beyond their constitutional powers, but claim that it is within their mandate. bit of a difference. try reading "the imperial presidency."

Seven Machos said...

Yeah, those years between 1933 and 1941 were one big constitutional emergency because of the Nazis.

hdhouse said...

7 nachos....actually there were a good many issues in the US pre-war because of the Nazi influence.

You might try reading sometime. it is a very useful tool to finding things out.

AlphaLiberal said...

SGT Ted:
My question was pretty well defined and targeted. I asked what the precedent was for Bush's claim of executive privilege to block carrying out contempt of Congress charges against members of his Administration.

The bit on FDR has nothing to do with this. No-one has shown how Bush's action has any precedent. You can't even whine "Clinton did it."

Roger said...

Question for cederford and cyrus: are we talking rates or total numbers--its entirely possible for rates to fall but total numbers to increase depending on the sizes of the denominator and numerator.

Roger said...

After doing a bit of resesarch on my own, I discover the following:

Cedarford claimed: The fact is that more troops died each year under Carter than Bush II.

Thus Cedarford is citing total numbers and the army was much bigger in the cold war days.

Cyrus cites RATES and he is correct that rates have fallen.

Neither Cyrus nor Cedarford look closely at the demoniator--ACTIVE soldiers. Are reservists and gardsmen part of the figures? In Iraq and Afghanistan they are, because they are on active status; in the era cedarford sites, guard and reserve figures wouldnt be included except for their two weeks of summer camp. The number for the same denominator in the late 70s would have been even higher.

The beauty about statistics is they can be used to support whatever point one wants to make. And using rates as compared to total numbers is one of the oldest tricks on the statiticans bag.

Roger said...

Wow--PIMF--please regard this post as correcting the numerous typos and misspellings in the previous post. BTW: The Snopes website has the relevant numbers and discussion.

SGT Ted said...

My question was pretty well defined and targeted. I asked what the precedent was for Bush's claim of executive privilege to block carrying out contempt of Congress charges against members of his Administration.

I reject your framing the issue in this manner. This is a separation of powers arguement from the beginning. I could easily be dismissive from the other side and say that Congress is trying manufacture scandal by fishing for information by abusing their Congression suboena power for partisan political ends.

The bit on FDR has nothing to do with this. No-one has shown how Bush's action has any precedent. You can't even whine "Clinton did it."

Actually, Clinton did exactly this during the many years of investigations that the Repubs did on him. Bush even cited some of Clintons own EP aguements as justification. No "whining" is necessary. You need to pay attention to the past.

Nice try. Try again.

Roger said...

Alpha Liberal: maybe I missed something, but I thought it was the president's assertion of executive privilege prohibiting Meirs from testifying that MAY lead to a contempt of congress citation. Clearly there is ample precedent for executive privilege, except as SCOTUS ruled during the Nixon tapes case, to hide criminal behavior. It is the filing of contempt charges and subesequent response by the President that might make this a SCOTUS case (they traditionally don't get involved in political disputes between branches of the government)

Please correct me if I am in error.

Seven Machos said...

No one is reading this at this point. I know that. But I would just like to point out that our favorite bipolar lefty has suggested that there was a constitutional emergency in the years between 1933 and 1941 due to Nazi influence.

Does this mean that we can set up a prison at a military base now for suspected terrorists without too much of a problem? What about assistant attorney generals? Can we can a few? I mean, if influence from a disgusting foreign entity that wants us dead is enough to cause a constitutional emergency, then all this and much more is simply not a problem.

Fucking knuckleheads. It's often unbelievable.