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This Isn't What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


What's the Deal?

Is there a compromise on the horizon? Or will the question "What is worthy of 'Executive Privilege'?" make its way to the Supreme Court. Those who are considered "experts" say that there will be some sort of compromise allowing the likes of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, among others, to testify in what most assuredly would be the most watched televised Senate and congressional inquiries since Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra affair. And the star witness will be Rove.

As we all remember, during the 911 commission hearing, President Bush wouldn't appear alone, nor would he be sworn in. Both the President and Vice President Dick Cheney appeared before select members of the commission, which were held behind closed doors.

The idea of 'Executive Privilege" goes way back to Thomas Jefferson's presidency where he attempted to invoke it in regard to the trial of Vice President Aaron Burr, but was shot down (pardon the pun) by John Marshall's Supreme Court (Jefferson and Marshall didn't get along too well). Although Jefferson could have still tried to invoke his perceived right, he chose to turn over the letters which were sought out instead.

In the early 1970's President Richard Nixon tried to keep his paranoid thoughts to himself by attempting to keep those now infamous secret White House tapes from the Congress who wanted to hear them, including his own party representatives and senators. He also went the "Executive Privilege" route, finally acquiescing with the exception of some eighteen minutes (whoops!). Of course, Nixon did the only thing he could and fell on his own sword before it was thrust into him.

Bill Clinton had his own brush with "Executive Privilege" before letting it go in the Kenneth Star investigations. One wonders why Clinton didn't fire Star when he had the chance. Most of you will remember that President Clinton not only decided against using "Executive Privilege", but he also appeared under oath (and lied under oath) about an affair he had with Monica Lewinsky.

Those who are urging the President to use his powers of "Executive Privilege" are stating that "The President needs to get honest advice from his advisors." While this may be true, we still need to know if this "advice" was legal, proper and within the law. The President and his advisors need to be put under public scrutiny and using subpoenas appears to be the only way to get them there. Testifying in front of only a few select Senators and Congressmen, and not under oath, just won't satisfy the American people any more.

As a matter of fact, one could argue that the President should have answered many of the questions we all want to know now while he still had a friendly majority in both houses of Congress. Now the questions will be out of his control.

Let's face facts: This hasn't been exactly a transparent group. You could even call them the Opaque Administration. The President argues that he has allowed open access, using words like "unprecedented". It isn't. President Bush says things like he and his administration will "demonstrate our willingness to work with the Congress," thinking the "trust us" argument will work yet again. It won't. President Bush even said "In the last 24 hours, the Justice Department has provided the Congress more than 3,000 pages of internal Justice Department documents, including those reflecting direct communications with White House staff," trying to make it sound as if they provided all of this information willingly. They didn't.

Subpoenas were agreed upon today by the House and the man leading the charge is Rep. John Conyers (DEMOCRAT-MI) whose past inquiries were relegated to the House basement. No oaths were taken during his "talks" with whichever Bushies were allowed to speak and his hearings (although not legally allowed to call them that) weren't "official". Today, those same Bushies and other assorted Neo-Cons who laughed at the toothless, no-subpoena Democrats will have to answer the bell.

Question remain:
Will the President invoke Executive Privilege?
Will the Democrats in either or both houses back down if he does?
Will the President take this to the most GOP-friendly Supreme Court in history?
Or will the Democrats?

The President has said "Absolutely" when asked if he was willing to bring this all the way to the Supreme Court while admonishing the Democratic majority for promising to do the same. The President accuses the new Democratic majority of playing politics. He conveniently forgets that this whole investigation is about finding out the truth about he and his advisors doing just that.

Is this Bush's Watergate? Perhaps, when one mixes in all of the other abuses of power this administration has perpetrated against the American people. We're sure to find out and it all starts with these subpoenas and having those in the know testifying under oath and in front of those they are sworn to protect: Those same American people.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg