Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Executive Privilege... phah...!

Glenn Greenwald nails it.
In 1998, when Bill Clinton invoked it, "executive privilege" was a cynical and corrupt tool to prevent Americans from learning the truth about scandal and keep the President above the law. In 2007, now that George Bush has invoked it (and it's hardly the first time, but this time it will likely be tested), it will be a doctrine of the gravest importance and steeped in our most cherished democratic traditions and it must be defended at all costs in order to preserve the Power and Honor of the Presidency.

[...]

For better or worse, not only the right-wing noise machine, but also our nation's media elite, decreed long ago that when "executive privilege" is invoked for anything other than safeguarding national security or other state secrets, it is a corrupt tool designed to stifle The Truth. Here, it is being invoked by Bush to prevent his political advisor and White House counsel -- with no relationship to national security matters -- from testifying as to the reasons why the administration fired 8 U.S. attorneys and then lied about what they did repeatedly.
And don't you think that Tony Snow will wish he could un-write these paragraphs now?

Tony Snow - Op-Ed - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1998 :

(HEADLINE: "Executive Privilege is a Dodge")

Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

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.

Atrios says that Ed Henry on CNN is on to something here:
I think also, another thing to look at, I followed up a question about executive privilege. You heard Tony Snow at the end there saying the president has no recollection of being involved in this decision to fire the US attorneys. So we asked the question then, well why are you citing executive privilege - or at least suggesting you will, and yesterday the president said the principle at stake here is candid advice from his advisers to the president - if the president was not involved in the decision, then how can you cite executive privilege on something he was really not involved in? And Tony Snow basically said, it's a good question and I don't know the answer.

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