March 21, 2007
Purgegate: Bush Pulls A Nixon
Full transcript here.
So Bush pulls the executive privilege excuse. Positively Nixonian.
As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, executive privilege doesn't automatically make the Bush crew untouchable, since the law narrowly defines its scope to cover only claims of need to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets. This is a game of chicken that Bush will likely lose.
Bush insists that communications inside the White House must remain confidential so his advisers can speak freely without fear of being asked to testify. Of course, that didn't work for Nixon who was compelled to turn over the Watergate tapes, since the courts decided that governmental oversight trumps blanket claims of confidentiality just to avoid scrutiny.
Besides, it's ironic how Bush and the rightwing are screaming "executive privilege" now, considering how they savaged Clinton when he tried to invoke it during the Lewinsky case. Claims by Bush minions that presidential advisers have never testified before Congress aren't true, either: in Clinton's case, 37 of his aides testified before Congress 41 times. Bush also refused three invitations from Congress for his aides to testify, a first since President Richard Nixon in 1972, while Clinton didn't refuse any.
As for Bush's condition of testimonies in private, not under oath and no transcripts? Please. Like Joshua Micah Marshall says:
There's only one reason why you agree to 'talk' to Congress unsworn, in private and without a transcript: because you want to be able to lie or dodge questions in a way that's too embarrassing to do in public.What is Bush afraid of? I second Michael J. Sticking's commenter:
"Isn't it interesting that when the Right rallies around provisions that take away liberties, warrantless wiretapping for example, they scream: if you are doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about. Well, Mr. President, if you and your aides have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about? People with nothing to hide should have nothing to fear."And as for this statement by Bush:
We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants. The initial response by Democrats unfortunately shows some appear more interested in scoring political points than in learning the facts. It will be regrettable if they choose to head down the partisan road of issuing subpoenas and demanding show trials. And I have agreed to make key White House officials and documents available. I proposed a reasonable way to avoid an impasse, and I hope they don’t choose confrontation. I will oppose any attempts to subpoena White House officials.
Too stubbornly arrogant, as always, to acknowledge that even Republicans, as many as five and counting, are calling for Gonzales's head on a platter.
Pathetic, really. Bush vaguely reminds me of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, desperately clinging to his glory days. Well, tough. It's not November, 2004 anymore. He no longer has political capital and he's no longer dealing with a rubberstamp Congress.
Bush has issued a challenge. Congress should call his bluff:
Dubya says he won't recognize congressional subpoenas of current and former White House staff directly involved in the Prosecutor Purge.And to make sure Bush understand they mean business, they should impeach Gonzales while they're at it.
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