Congress needs to stop playing in Bush's court
Thu Jun 28, 2007 21:59

 
From: Dave Lindorff
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2007
Subject: Congress needs to stop playing in Bush's court

Go to:
http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/2007.06.01_arch.html#1183058305874
http://www.thiscantbehappening.net


Thursday, June 28, 2007
Congress Needs to Stop Playing in Bush's Court
There are two ways to look at the growing confrontation between Congress and
the White House over access to information.

Either the administration is suckering Congress into a fight, confident that
the Democratic Congress will back down and forever surrender its role as a
co-equal branch of government, or that it will bring its contempt citations
to federal court and lose, thanks to all those right-wing Federalist judges
that Reagan, Bush I and Bush II have stacked the judiciary with from bottom
to top.

Or, Congress is pushing the administration to a point that Democrats will be
forced to initiate impeachment proceedings.

Naturally, for the sake of the Constitution, and the survival of a
government with at least a semblance of democracy, I'm hoping it's the
latter. It would be nice to think that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in
the party leadership have all along been acting on a belief that the
American people don't want impeachment, and have to be brought along to a
point that they agree there is no alternative. It would be nice to believe
that these leaders really do understand that the Constitution is under grave
threat, and that Congress itself is under assault by the administration, but
that they just want to be pushed to the wall before they take the required
action.

The problem is that if this were the behind-the-scenes strategy, we would
not have seen the party leadership actively working to undermine the
national grass-roots impeachment movement. We would not have seen senior
Democratic elected officials like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Patrick Leahy
and Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, or Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Jay Inslee of
Washington twisting arms of legislative leaders in those two states'
legislatures in order to prevent passage of joint legislative resolutions
calling on the House to impeach. We would not have seen a clearly
pro-impeachment representative like John Conyers (D-MI) hammered into an
embarrassed silence on impeachment for fear of losing his coveted
chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee. We would not have seen 39
representatives who, in 2006 were signing on to a bill that called for an
investigation into impeachable crimes sitting on the sidelines on that issue
ever since Election Day in November 2006. We would not have seen Dennis
Kucinich's bill calling for Cheney's impeachment (H. Res 333, submitted on
April 24) languishing in the in hopper for over two months without getting a
hearing in Conyers' Judiciary Committee.

So I think this theory of Congressional behavior is simply a liberal pipe
dream.

That leaves us with the other scenario: The White House, recognizing the
timidity of Congressional Democrats, and its own edge in the courts, has
decided to go for broke by challenging Congress to a duel. Certainly the
blatant way that Bush has refused to budge on his Iraq War escalation or on
Congressional requests for information about issues like the political
firing of prosecutors, the warrantless spying on American citizens, or the
destruction of improper White House emails, or that Vice President Dick
Cheney has refused to provide information of any kind to congressional
committees seems designed to taunt Democrats into issuing subpoenas. And the
refusal to comply with those subpoenas seems designed to taunt Democrats
into declaring the administration in contempt, which puts the issue into
court.

Does anyone want to bet on how that will go?

Of all federal court districts, with the exception of Texas, Washington, DC
is the most conservative. Larded with Federalist Society judges who believe
that the executive branch is supreme, not co-equal with Congress, the odds
of the White House's drawing a judge who will rule in its favor, and of then
getting an Appeals Court that will uphold that ruling, are pretty high. And
then of course, even if the White House had bad luck, and got an unfavorable
lower court ruling, there's the Supreme Court, which is showing itself to be
solidly Federalist.

What this means is that Congress should shift its strategy, and go straight
to impeachment.

Why? Because an impeachment hearing is not the same as other Congressional
hearings.

Impeachment is a process clearly defined and laid out procedurally in the
Constitution. It calls for the House Judiciary to become an Impeachment
Committee, giving it a special distinction of being Constitutionally
empowered to do its task of investigating presidential or administration
wrongdoing. What that means is that a president has no right to claim
"executive privilege" or "national security" when asked to provide officials
to testify, or to turn over documents.

Of course, the administration could stonewall in the same way it is
stonewalling current congressional investigations, but it could not count so
readily on the cooperation of ideologically supportive judges this time.
Certainly there are political hacks on the federal bench who would vote the
president's way no matter what the issue (Judges Clarence Thomas and Sam
Alito come to mind), but I'm not so sure that Chief Justice John Roberts, or
even Justice Antonin Scalia fall into that category. To the extent that
these and other Federalist Society judicial appointees take their ideology
of "original intent" and their role as justices seriously, they would have
to find that an impeachment committee demand for testimony or documents
trumps such claims as "executive privilege" or "national security."

The administration would likely lose those battles at every level.

So now Congress has a choice: risk permanently destroying the carefully
balanced system of tri-partite government established by the Founding
Fathers over two centuries ago by playing the president's and vice-president's
game of chicken over subpoenas, or change the game and begin impeachment
proceedings immediately.

It's a decision that will have to be made soon.

Let your representatives know what you want them to do. Go to:Democrats.com

12:18 pm pdt


####



Bush won't supply subpoenaed documents

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/28/AR2007062800933.html


---

White House Rejects Subpoenas, Showdown Looms
Conyers Threatens Contempt Citation After White House Asserts Privilege
By Rachel Van Dongen | Roll Call
Setting up a battle royal between Congress and the White House, the Bush administration asserted executive privilege Thursday morning in denying requests from lawmakers for documents and testimony from former top White House officials related to the ongoing U.S. attorneys probe.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/062807A.shtml


Matt Renner | Waxman Challenges White House on Security Claim
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/062807R.shtml
Truthout's Matt Renner reports: "Representative Henry Waxman (D-California), chairman of the House of Representatives' main investigative body, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been compiling evidence regarding the mismanagement of classified documents by the Bush administration. Waxman has taken sworn testimony of whistle-blowers from within the White House security agencies. The statements of these whistle-blowers 'casts doubt on [White House] assertions,' Waxman said in a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding on Tuesday."

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