We don't need no stinking checks and balances
June 28, 2007 7:18 AM   Subscribe

On June 13th Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., issued subpoenas to two former White House officials compelling them to provide testimony and related information as part of ongoing congressional investigations into the mass firings of well-performing federal prosecutors and the politicization of hiring and firing within the Department of Justice. Today is the deadline for handing over the requested information and the Whitehouse has stated that it will not be complying with the request.
posted by Mr_Zero (105 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
King George
posted by interrobang at 7:33 AM on June 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


Great, can we arrest them now?
posted by fungible at 7:34 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Impeach Cheney [via Slate]
posted by NationalKato at 7:36 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The supreme court will handle this.
posted by milarepa at 7:38 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't get "executive privilege". What exactly is it? Does it have some legal standing? Surely this must have been hashed out in the Nixon era, if not more recently.

Anyway, I assume that Leahy and Conyers will be taking this up with the Supremes some time later this morning....right?
posted by DU at 7:38 AM on June 28, 2007


Today is the deadline for handing over the requested information and the Whitehouse has stated that it will not be complying with the request.

Actually, I am curious. Congress tells the White House to do something. The White House says, "Fuck off." What's next?

I'm regurgitating something I remember reading somewhere: is it that Congress could hold Bush/Etc. in contempt of Congress, but that Bush's hand-picked post-purge U.S. Attorneys might decline to enforce same (I think one of Reagan's attorneys did with an EPA official, right?)?

If this happens, politics-following Mefites, what's next? Are we really quite so screwed as to have a legislative branch that has quite literally no power whatsoever over the executive, if Bush has staffed the U.S. Attorneys' office with loyal Bushites?
posted by WCityMike at 7:41 AM on June 28, 2007


I'd like to hear what our resident MeFi law-types think will happen should this need to be decided by the Supreme Court.
posted by NationalKato at 7:41 AM on June 28, 2007


on non-preview, also what WCityMike said.
posted by NationalKato at 7:42 AM on June 28, 2007


You don't have to be a law-type to look at the recent set of 5-4 decisions and know how the Supreme Court will rule.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:46 AM on June 28, 2007


In for a penny ...

All I can say in that the Dems are committed now and had better pursue it.
posted by RavinDave at 7:47 AM on June 28, 2007


They really need to be arrested if they don't comply--what happens to us if we don't?
posted by amberglow at 7:48 AM on June 28, 2007


It's fascinating how so many alleged "conservatives" who railed about strict interpretations of the constitution when it came to gun rights or abortion are so quiet about Bush/Cheney's blatant power grabs.
posted by octothorpe at 7:57 AM on June 28, 2007


It's fascinating how so many alleged "conservatives" who railed about strict interpretations of the constitution when it came to gun rights or abortion are so quiet about Bush/Cheney's blatant power grabs.

It's because they believe the "it's to keep you safe" line of crap.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:58 AM on June 28, 2007


It's because they believe the "it's to keep you safe" line of crap.

Then presumably they'll have no problem when ultra-librul Hitlery Clinton confiscates their guns.
posted by DU at 8:02 AM on June 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


King George
posted by interrobang at 10:33 AM on June 28 [1 favorite +] [!]


that was great
posted by caddis at 8:06 AM on June 28, 2007


Do we really have to go through this "contempt of congress" step? These fucks have already demonstrated contempt for democracy - I'm sick of hearing about any counter measures that aren't impeachment. Not only of Bush, but the whole cabinet and every one he appointed, Supreme Court Justices included.

Then we draft the filthy lot of them, put them in all the body armor we feel is affordable, and drop them into Fallujah. We'll call them Taskforce Chickenhawk. They can't keep their current jobs, as they've done nothing but fuck them up for seven years. But I don't see why that should deprive them of all the wonderful opportunities they've created in the armed forces.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:09 AM on June 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


You suckers. Did you really think all was going to end well and the bad guys were going to get caught and all that old time Hollywood crap!

Tsk tsk tsk...

Before this is over...we'll have to WACO those fuckers out of the White House.


*Awaits with dagger drawn (already dripping blood) for a certain person to appear on this thread and claim that Metafilter is not a political blog and there are plenty of other places on the web to discuss this stuff*
posted by Skygazer at 8:14 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Surely THIS will be the.....

*wanders off muttering to self*
posted by Otis at 8:22 AM on June 28, 2007


Well, it's kind of a funny thing. Constitutionally, the legislature does not have oversight of the executive. Executive privilege, while not explicitly present in the Constitution, is derived from the seperation of powers doctrine. The three branches are seperate but equal.

The controlling case is US v. Nixon, which upheld the assertion of privilege (and the attendant refusal to comply with subpoenae and warrants) in the national security context, but presidents since Washington have asserted the freedom of the executive to operate outside of the supervision of the legislature or the judiciary.

The problem here is that congress passed the law (I think it was a law?) that let the president make these appointments, and in theory you can fire anyone for any reason as long as there is due process. Due process does not appear to be an issue, or at least no one appears to have raised it.

This of course would be different if there was a private lawsuit against any of the individuals (think the Jones harassment case where Clinton was personally a defendant, not in his capacity as president, which led to perjury, which then led to an investigation). If there was, then you'd have the much thornier question of asserting executive privilege in order to refuse to comply with a personal subpoena on a matter unrelated to their official duties (recall all the exec. privilige contortions clinton went through to avoid testifying in that harassment trial).

This administration picks it's Beltway battles very carefully, and they guys fighting are seasoned vets. Every time the president has talked to any investigator or committee, it wasn't under oath, so no chance of a perjury charge. Much of what goes on we know from journalists, who could be flacks or simply unknowingly repeating a lie.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:28 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Before this is over...we'll have to WACO those fuckers out of the White House.

Better if we Elian them out--the house will stay ok.
posted by amberglow at 8:28 AM on June 28, 2007


Can a vice president be impeached? Or is there as long as the President says so?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:28 AM on June 28, 2007


Pasta, isn't due process an issue precisely because they're refusing to comply with legal demands, even internally-mandated ones? They've also refused to comply with Court decisions--on spying, on detention without charges, etc...
posted by amberglow at 8:30 AM on June 28, 2007


Brandon, the VP can totally be impeached--so can the Attorney General.
posted by amberglow at 8:30 AM on June 28, 2007


I don't see why due process doesn't come into play when a subpoena is issued.
posted by amberglow at 8:32 AM on June 28, 2007


You can't impeach the fourth branch! He stands above all others, wise and all-knowing.

The problem here is that congress passed the law....that let the president make these appointments

I'm sure you aren't confusing a subpoena with the case that started it. Because if so, you'd be forced to say that impeach Clinton was wrong since a blowjob isn't illegal either.
posted by DU at 8:33 AM on June 28, 2007


If it does go to the SCOTUS I'm curious if a Roberts court would consent to hear the case on an expedited basis or if it would drag out till at least the end of next year.

My guess, right now the entire Bush system is trying to hold it's breath until the end of his term, on everything. Don't pull the troops out, let the next president do it and take the blame for losing the war, fight all subpoenas to the Supreme Court, with as many delaying tactics as possible in between. It's all a delaying tactic.
posted by edgeways at 8:33 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oops. I meant to add that had congress voted to impeach him, all of this stuff would have to be complied with as part of the impeachment trial, or at least the exec privilege argument would have been much more of a stretch.

The administration also has time on its side. The Democrat-controlled Congress isn't going to want to get bogged down in some messy high profile investigation of the president going into 2008, because their two lead candidates are senators who would have to weigh in. Do you really think acting senators are going to want to curtail the executive privilege eight months before they could become president?

If congress is going to do something, they need to do it now, in a big full blown way, and put on every case at once. The case for the Iraq war, the federal prosecutor mess, Halliburton no-bid contracts, signing statements, etc. They've got about 18 months to get these guys under oath and on record, because after the election, it's all ancient history.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:35 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Democrat-controlled Congress isn't going to want to get bogged down in some messy high profile investigation of the president going into 2008, because their two lead candidates are senators who would have to weigh in.

So would the R candidates, and they don't have the luxury of a united base on the issue. That is, the Ds and the Is already agree that this is the worst president ever, so what are the R candidates going to say to both pander to the base and attract the Is?
posted by DU at 8:39 AM on June 28, 2007


Do you really think acting senators are going to want to curtail the executive privilege eight months before they could become president?

That's going to happen anyway--the rules will be tightened, as they were after Nixon, no matter what. No one will allow the next president to get away with even a hint of this shit. And there'll be endless cries about every possible indication of overreach with a Democratic Pres, unlike the past 6+ years.
posted by amberglow at 8:41 AM on June 28, 2007


Well, I do remember being told when the warrantless wiretapping came to light that if I was innocent, I had nothing to worry about. If that was good enough for me, it's good enough for them.
posted by trondant at 8:42 AM on June 28, 2007 [8 favorites]




Pasta, isn't due process an issue precisely because they're refusing to comply with legal demands, even internally-mandated ones? They've also refused to comply with Court decisions--on spying, on detention without charges, etc...
posted by amberglow at 11:30 AM on June 28


I meant, were the prosecutor's due process rights violated when they were fired. E.g., if the atty general puts in the paperwork to fire them, is the prosecutor supposed to get a final review, x number of days to petition for reconsideration, etc. (I'm guessing here I don't know what the process is, but it's the government, so there's got to be some process), and was the process complied with. In other words, does a fired prosecutor have a due process case against the Justice department for firing them without complying with the process.

Due process is not an issue with the president complying with the subpoena, because asserting executive privilege is the statement that the due process is that the president does not have to comply with congressional subpoenas. Again, the President is not subordinate to the Congress under the Constitution, and the president hasn't been indicted here.

DU, clinton was already subject to an outside civil suit. Ultimately by perjuring himself in that civil suit that had nothing to do with him being a president (at least, the facts of the case didn't), he laid the groundwork for his impeachment, because one of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" in question was perjury, which was an established fact.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:49 AM on June 28, 2007


from there: ... The Constitution does not expressly forbid the president from abandoning his chief powers to the vice president. But President Bush's tacit delegation to Cheney and Cheney's eager acceptance tortures the Constitution's provision for an acting president. The presidency and vice presidency are discrete constitutional offices. The 12th Amendment provides for their separate elections. The sole constitutionally enumerated function of the vice president is to serve as president of the Senate without a vote except to break ties.

In contrast, Article II enumerates the powers and responsibilities of the president, including the obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. A special presidential oath is prescribed. Section 3 of the 25th Amendment provides a method for the president to yield his office to the vice president, when "he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." There is no other constitutional provision for transferring presidential powers to the vice president. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:50 AM on June 28, 2007


I would almost be content with a Cheney impeachment.
posted by edgeways at 8:50 AM on June 28, 2007


If it does go to the SCOTUS I'm curious if a Roberts court would consent to hear the case on an expedited basis or if it would drag out till at least the end of next year.

Wouldn't it be lovely in a Shakespearean way if (by some crazy alignment of the planets) the supreme court ruled against King George and the whole shithouse unraveled into an unprecedented abortion of a Presidency.

Live by the SCOTUS die by the SCOTUS, I always say.
posted by Skygazer at 8:50 AM on June 28, 2007


And to answer the open question, yes, the Vice President can be impeached, and no, the president cannot pardon the Vice President for the matter giving rise to the impeachment.

But remember that an impeachment is a trial. There has to be a serious violation of a federal statute, by the VP and not some underlying, you have to be able to show it wasn't an accident or oversight, you need evidence, and you'd better be able to win popular opinion assuming the Rush Limbaughs et al rally around the family.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:52 AM on June 28, 2007


edgeways - Fully. If they stall long enough, then the bulk of their dirty dealings will remain secret until most of these wicked men are in their graves. A big stack of documents will come out thirty years after the fact, right around when when meaningful consequences can no longer fall upon these criminals.

Pastabagel - I'm wondering if maybe this election season, the smartest campaign pledge would be an immediate roll back of executive power. Assuming the candidate intends to keep such a promise, of course.

I wish to Christ the dems would find their balls and charge full steam. History is already certain to damn the Bush Regime as tyrants - but history is watching and weighing those who could have resisted these tyrants as well.

Right now, both parties are casting about for the issue they can ride into the White House in 2008. The nation is waiting for anyone to demonstrate a little courage against the monsters occupying the executive branch right now - a solid gold opportunity for heroism is going ignored.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:53 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Due process is not an issue with the president complying with the subpoena, because asserting executive privilege is the statement that the due process is that the president does not have to comply with congressional subpoenas. Again, the President is not subordinate to the Congress under the Constitution, and the president hasn't been indicted here.

That can't be right--exec privilege is not in our laws or Constitution--it's not a valid legal reason to refuse to comply with a subpoena. That's why Contempt of Congress charges come next. Congress has a legally mandated oversight role over the Exec Branch's actions.
posted by amberglow at 8:53 AM on June 28, 2007


But, Pasta, in your post you referenced the claim that Bush can lay off an USAs he wants for any reason. Then you used that claim to support a further claim that he could ignore the subpoenas. If Bush can ignore court orders because he believes the original action was legal, why couldn't Clinton do the same?
posted by DU at 8:53 AM on June 28, 2007


At some point, I think mass protests are called for.

How many people will stand up for abstract constitutional issues though?

It's all well enough to write sternly worded emails to congresspeople. But that's not the same as taking to the streets.
posted by empath at 8:57 AM on June 28, 2007


Also, protests don't seem to DO anything.
posted by 235w103 at 9:02 AM on June 28, 2007


Congress doesn't have to bring a criminal contempt charge to arrest Bush or Cheney (or Rove or Miers). Either the House or the Senate can cite a witness for contempt under their own inherent contempt power, which you can read about in section III.C.1 of the Congressional Research Service's Congressional Oversight Manual.

This would be super-fun, because the Sergeant-of-Arms of the Senate or House would actually be dispatched to arrest the recalcitrant witness and bring them before Congress for trial. And since he commands the Capitol Police, we'd have the potential for a standoff with the Secret Service in the White House (or at 1 Observatory Circle).

Worthwhile digression: the equivalent to our Sergeant-at-Arms in the British House of Lords bears the utterly excellent title "Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod".

The law justifying a criminal contempt charge, which the US Attorneys would be needed to enforce, was actually enacted by Congress in 1857 to give them a method of enforcement that they could hand off to the courts so they wouldn't have to tie up one house of Congress for the duration of the trial.

The Senate has the additional ability to apply to the federal district court to order the witness to comply with its subpoena, and if the witness refuses the court can summarily apply sanctions - but this has never been used against an executive branch official.
posted by nicwolff at 9:04 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


This would be super-fun, because the Sergeant-of-Arms of the Senate or House would actually be dispatched to arrest the recalcitrant witness and bring them before Congress for trial.

That's what needs to happen--a perp walk out of the WH.
posted by amberglow at 9:06 AM on June 28, 2007


This needs to be pursued: ... the President has ceded most of his duties as a leader to his Vice President, without following the Constitutional process for such a transfer as laid out in the 25th Amendment. The relevant section reads, "Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President." In other words, the President's gotta inform the Congress if he ain't gonna act do the shit he oughta be doing as President. ...
he's the guy who has his job only because of who his Dad is, and, like the son who's forced to work in his father's hardware store for the summer, Dad just wants him to sit there and not break everything.

posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on June 28, 2007


DU,

Sorry if I confused the issue. The Executive privilege has nothing to do with the law regarding appointments, the privilege is said to come from the constitution.

The problem here is that congress passed the law (I think it was a law?) that let the president make these appointments, and in theory you can fire anyone for any reason as long as there is due process. Due process does not appear to be an issue, or at least no one appears to have raised it.


In the Patriot Act reauth passed by Congress in 2006, the AG could appoint interim prosecutors, for life, without Senate confirmation. In other words, Congress gave the AG more power than the President had to appoint people, because presidential appointments need senate confirmation. So Congress gave the AG this power.

As I understand it, the general principle of employment is that you can get fired at anytime for no reason. In the federal government context, you firing needs to conform to the process spelled out somewhere in the CFR of how people are should be fired, what rights they get, etc.

So assuming they are fired (not forced to resign), and their firings follow due process, the law wasn't really violated. If not law has been violated, there is no case, it's just congress wanting testimony.

Bush, as president, can ignore congressional subpoena of the president not because of this particular law, but because the principle of executive privilege is that the president does not have to obey any congressional subpoena ever. Likewise, Cheney can do the same as Vice president (they are both squarely in the executive).

Clinton's subpoena in the Jones case was a civil matter. Executive privilege did not apply there because he was not being subpoenaed in his capacity as chief executive, but in a totally unrelated civil suit, the facts of which predated his presidency.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:17 AM on June 28, 2007


So all your talk about USAs being employed at-will was just trying to muddy the waters, got it.
posted by DU at 9:26 AM on June 28, 2007


I dont understand all this hand-wringing over Bush. Bush can do what he does because the executive branch is so over-powered. The democrats could make history by pushing to limit executive power, especially the role of commander-in-chief for the military, but they're going to get the office next, so none of that.

There's a good argument out there for reviewing what exactly the executive means in today's day and age and the legislation that currently defines its powers. Impeaching Bush only gives the next guy all these powers. I have a hard time just assuming the problem is with this administration (as bad as it is). The problem is the office. Nerf it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:32 AM on June 28, 2007


This needs to be pursued: ... the President has ceded most of his duties as a leader to his Vice President ...

I don't know, amberglow, can that be proved? I mean, I think it is obvious to many people that Cheney is the puppet behind this regime, but considering the secrecy shrouding the WH, and the double-secrecy shrouding the VP's Office, since we don't really know what he does we can't say that he is executing the duties of the president. And that secrecy is the root of the problem: there's no goddamn transparency, and most people just don't care. We are, by and large, content to assume that father knows best until about the 100th time the shit has hit the fan when we finally have to take notice. If we actually knew what was going on in the VP's office, your line of attack could be followed, but we don't, so we need to figure that out first.
posted by papakwanz at 9:36 AM on June 28, 2007


er... Cheney is the puppet-MASTER.
posted by papakwanz at 9:38 AM on June 28, 2007


Executive privilege did not apply there because he was not being subpoenaed in his capacity as chief executive, but in a totally unrelated civil suit, the facts of which predated his presidency

What kind of civil suit could a regular US citizen bring against Cheney?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:46 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


So assuming they are fired (not forced to resign), and their firings follow due process, the law wasn't really violated. If not law has been violated, there is no case, it's just congress wanting testimony.

Yes, the president can fire any US Attorney at any time without breaking employment law. But if these US Attorneys were fired in the furtherance of a conspiracy to violate election law, then certainly there's a case. I assume that that's what the subpoenas are trying to discover...

Similarly, I can legally buy a ladder, but if you and I talk about breaking into a second-story window and then I buy a ladder, then (in most states) we've both committed felony conspiracy.
posted by nicwolff at 9:48 AM on June 28, 2007


What kind of civil suit could a regular US citizen bring against Cheney?

Well, say he shot you in the face...
posted by qldaddy at 9:55 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wish I could call for someone to just shoot the motherfuckers without getting the obligatory MeTa...
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 AM on June 28, 2007


Can anyone explain why Gonzales, even if he is totally convinced he did nothing wrong, has not resigned his office? Or why President Bush, even if he is totally convinced Gonzales did nothing wrong, has not fired Gonzales?

How is Alberto Gonzales' hide worth this much political capital?

If I were President Bush, I'd be looking for one less scandal right now; not one more. And at the end of the day voters really don't give a fuck who the AG is anyways. If they are Republican they'll support the Republican AG and if they're Democrat they'll oppose the Republican AG.
posted by b_thinky at 10:10 AM on June 28, 2007


To answer the earlier question, the reason it's even more complicated is because if they accuse Cheney of being in contempt of Congress, he's then supposed to be investigated by... the Attorney General's office. Which is also being subpoenaed and refusing to do anything.

As if it really needed saying, impeachment is simply not happening, because everyone flat-out knows there aren't votes to convict. 1998 proved that a show trial like that will be a disaster for the accusing party, and that was when the defense didn't have 97% of talk radio and a major cable network on their side. It also sort of ends everything. Bush is impeached, Bush is acquitted, then what? It's over, right-wingers laugh their ass off, Democrats lose about ten Senate seats.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2007


"Bush, as president, can ignore congressional subpoena of the president not because of this particular law, but because the principle of executive privilege is that the president does not have to obey any congressional subpoena ever. Likewise, Cheney can do the same as Vice president (they are both squarely in the executive)".
posted by Pastabagel at 11:17 AM on June 28


"It hurts, oh it hurts us, precious".
posted by DU at 11:26 AM on June 28
posted by rockhopper at 10:13 AM on June 28, 2007


As if it really needed saying, impeachment is simply not happening, because everyone flat-out knows there aren't votes to convict. 1998 proved that a show trial like that will be a disaster for the accusing party, and that was when the defense didn't have 97% of talk radio and a major cable network on their side. It also sort of ends everything. Bush is impeached, Bush is acquitted, then what? It's over, right-wingers laugh their ass off, Democrats lose about ten Senate seats.

What?
posted by SBMike at 10:22 AM on June 28, 2007


Pasta,

So assuming they are fired (not forced to resign), and their firings follow due process, the law wasn't really violated. If not law has been violated, there is no case, it's just congress wanting testimony.


One of the major complaints from the fired USAs is that there is a process of review, and it most certainly was not followed in this case.


Bush, as president, can ignore congressional subpoena of the president not because of this particular law, but because the principle of executive privilege is that the president does not have to obey any congressional subpoena ever. Likewise, Cheney can do the same as Vice president (they are both squarely in the executive).


This is a great theory, but one unsupported by actual law. You correctly pointed out that U.S. v. Nixon gave the Exec. immunity from this in regard to National Security issues, but not for other ones - the fact that the Execs. have asserted this blanket immunity across the board doesn't actually grant them that immunity.

I read an interesting proposal today: Announce that the NSA violations are a criminal investigation (which they of course would be, as Bushco. violated FISA left and right); there's no executive privilege in a criminal investigation.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:27 AM on June 28, 2007


Can a vice president be impeached? Or is there as long as the President says so?

Theoretically, any state or federal government official can be impeached. In reality, in the United States the term is most closely associated with putting a high-ranking member of the executive branch on trial. But, yes, you can impeach the vice president.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:29 AM on June 28, 2007


As if it really needed saying, impeachment is simply not happening, because everyone flat-out knows there aren't votes to convict. 1998 proved that a show trial like that will be a disaster for the accusing party, and that was when the defense didn't have 97% of talk radio and a major cable network on their side. It also sort of ends everything. Bush is impeached, Bush is acquitted, then what? It's over, right-wingers laugh their ass off, Democrats lose about ten Senate seats.

What SBMike said: What?

The Republicans went on immediately after that "disaster" to gain control over every branch of government.

That must be a fine grade of crack you're smoking over there, XQUZYPHYR...
posted by saulgoodman at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2007


This is a great theory, but one unsupported by actual law. You correctly pointed out that U.S. v. Nixon gave the Exec. immunity from this in regard to National Security issues, but not for other ones - the fact that the Execs. have asserted this blanket immunity across the board doesn't actually grant them that immunity.

I read an interesting proposal today: Announce that the NSA violations are a criminal investigation (which they of course would be, as Bushco. violated FISA left and right); there's no executive privilege in a criminal investigation.


What he said. And they can't just claim every single thing is a nat'l security issue, even if they'd like to. We need charges brought against them (beyond the ones already brought, and that the courts ruled against the administration--those alone should suffice to arrest them, i think)
posted by amberglow at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2007


Could a regular citizen sue Cheney for additional burden of cost for energy in order to gain access to the minutes of the meetings with energy leaders?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:41 AM on June 28, 2007


1998 proved that a show trial like that will be a disaster for the accusing party

What?


It was the sixth year of a presidency, in which the party opposing the White House almost always gains seats (like in 2006.) However, the GOP failed to pick up any seats in the Senate- a first in nearly 75 years- and lost seats in the House - a first in over 150. Bush would "win" the White House two years later without even securing the popular vote, and that was directly related to Gore refusing to have Clinton associated with his campaign in any way. Clinton to this day remains one of the most popular presidents in history, including some of the highest approval ratings during his impeachment trial. Speaker Gingrich, until then considered one of, if not the, most powerful men in Washington, was forced to resign in shame.

So, yeah. Impeachment was a disaster for the Republicans who impeached him, as well as the successive election. But please, go right ahead and impeach Bush. I'm sure it'll be completely different this time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:43 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain why Gonzales, even if he is totally convinced he did nothing wrong, has not resigned his office? Or why President Bush, even if he is totally convinced Gonzales did nothing wrong, has not fired Gonzales?
Because the White House's M.O. ever since the election has been "Let's see what happens if we just tell Congress to fuck off".

And they have discovered that the answer seems to be "Nothing".

When it comes down to it, the only power that Congress has over them is conviction on impeachment. And that requires something like 1 out of every 3 Republican Senators to put America ahead of the Republican Party. That is something that quite simply is not going to happen.

So why shouldn't* they just continue to tell Congress to fuck off?

*: I mean, besides quaint notions like the rule of law.
posted by Flunkie at 10:45 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]



So, yeah. Impeachment was a disaster for the Republicans who impeached him, as well as the successive election. But please, go right ahead and impeach Bush. I'm sure it'll be completely different this time.


We'll take that chance.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:46 AM on June 28, 2007


saulgoodman is correct. When Republicans are angry they win. Democrats are mistaken if they believe Bush's unpopularity means the public suddenly agrees with their agenda. Bush is unpopular because conservatives no longer approve of him.

The most explosive issue facing America is not Iraq or terror; it's immigration - and this is something conservatives are truly pissed off about.

I would be the farm the next president is a Republican, largely because of immigration. Besides that, honeslty - what southern state could Hillary Clinton carry?
posted by b_thinky at 10:49 AM on June 28, 2007


Bush is unpopular because conservatives no longer approve of him.


So, the rest of the country he's unpopular with - they don't mean squat? Only the opinion of the Conservatives count?

An odd viewpoint you espouse here, b_thinky. Bush was unpopular before his base abandoned him. Now he's really unpopular.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:52 AM on June 28, 2007


Everyone knew Clinton's impeachment would be a show trial and he would not be kicked out of office. But it did (and does to this day) serve as a huge black cloud over his presidency, and the Democratic party because Clinton is beloved by Democrats. The impeachment set Democrats back for years. They probably would have won the presidency in 2000 if not for the impeachment.

Bush is no longer the face of the Republicans. Impeachment would be hugely embarassing to Bush, but not so much to the GOP.

IMO, of course.
posted by b_thinky at 10:53 AM on June 28, 2007


But remember that an impeachment is a trial. There has to be a serious violation of a federal statute, by the VP

That's not true. Federal officials have been impeached and removed without any allegation of breaking a statute -- the first federal impeach featured a federal judge being removed from office for insanity and drunkenness on the bench.

If you're impeached, the only place you can turn is the Senate. If you are convicted, there is nobody on God's green earth that you can appeal to; it is final. So an impeachable offense is anything that gets a majority of those present in the House, and a convictable offense is anything that 2/3 of Senators will vote for.

Theoretically, any state or federal government official can be impeached.

The Congress can only impeach federal officials. At the state level, there's wide variation in impeachment. Oregon, IIRC, has no impeachment, and Alaska only allows impeachment of judges.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:54 AM on June 28, 2007


the first federal impeach featured a federal judge being removed from office for insanity and drunkenness on the bench.

We need to impeach the new racist, solely pro-Corp., anti-free speech Supreme Court majority too. Roberts and Alito lying under oath during their confirmation hearings should be enough.
posted by amberglow at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2007


We'll take that chance.

What chance? That 26 out of 49 Republican Senators will vote to kick George Bush out of office? That Fox News will suddenly go "hey, maybe those Democrats have a point?" Who the fuck are you, Ralph Nader? I'm glad you think impeaching Bush will be great for the comments you can make on some weblogs, given how that's the only actual effect doing it will have, but I have friends who sort of enjoy having the rights to their own ovaries more than they enjoy entertaining your fantasy bullshit, thanks.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I would be the farm the next president is a Republican, largely because of immigration.

The single most controversial issue on the Republican side is going to guarantee victory...for the Republican?

Immigration reform is a can't-win issue politically. You have the Republican's unlikely coalition (big business and grassroots Christians) diametrically opposed as to what to do. You also have the fastest growing bloc of voters (Latinos) pissed off at the GOP over it. This past few weeks has shown that any compromise just polarizes the various camps even more.

As a Democrat, I would love love love it if the Republicans make that third rail the focus of their presidential campaign. Tancredo 08, all the way!

[/derail]
posted by edverb at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2007


Cyclopitchorn: I believe the 2000 and 2004 elections are accurate measures of our citizens' political leanings. We are about 50/50, and whoever campaigns better will win.

IIRC, at the 2004 election Bush's approval was in the mid to upper 40% range and he won with 52% of the popular vote. So about half of us like Bush.

Now he's down in the low to mid 30% range. These 20% that left Bush are NOT going to vote for Democrats. They're upset by government spending, the cost of Iraq and the way the war is waged, that nothing has been done on immigration or social security and gay marriage. These are conservative Republican issues.

I'm not saying the other 50% or so that dislikes Bush because they are Democratic leaning voters don't count. What I am saying is that Democrats can already count on their vote and to assume that they'll win on the back of Bush's low poll numbers is a mistake.
posted by b_thinky at 11:02 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]



What chance? That 26 out of 49 Republican Senators will vote to kick George Bush out of office? That Fox News will suddenly go "hey, maybe those Democrats have a point?" Who the fuck are you, Ralph Nader? I'm glad you think impeaching Bush will be great for the comments you can make on some weblogs, given how that's the only actual effect doing it will have, but I have friends who sort of enjoy having the rights to their own ovaries more than they enjoy entertaining your fantasy bullshit, thanks.


You sure got pissy quick.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the exact same thing was said during Nixon's day, and look how well that turned out for the Republican party.

Nobody gives a damn what the opinion of your 'friends' is, X. The 25% of mouth-breathers who wouldn't vote against Bush if he was found buggering Alito in the back room of the Hart building are immaterial to the running of this country.

If you would bother to read what was actually posted, and turn down your outrage dial a little, you would see that 'We'll take that chance' refers to the chance that impeachment won't turn out bad for the Democratic party in the long run. Now, you don't think that's true, but that has a lot more to do with your hyperpartisanship then with reality, unfortunately. For you.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 11:15 AM on June 28, 2007


B_thinky:
Cyclopitchorn: I believe the 2000 and 2004 elections are accurate measures of our citizens' political leanings. We are about 50/50, and whoever campaigns better will win.

Polling data has shown that the number of self-identifying Republicans is far, far lower then in 2000, and the number of self-identifying Dems is far higher. It isn't 50/50 by a long shot any more in this country.

What I am saying is that Democrats can already count on their vote and to assume that they'll win on the back of Bush's low poll numbers is a mistake.

It's not just Bush's poll numbers (which are right at 30, average, btw) but Iraq and the horrible crop of Republican candidates for election this cycle.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 11:19 AM on June 28, 2007


Pastabagel:

Likewise, Cheney can [ignore congressional subpoenas] as Vice president (they are both squarely in the executive).


unless you believe Cheney, who is claiming that the office of the Vice President is in the legislative branch. It would be interesting to see how his rhetoric on that issue will affect his stance if he's served a subpoena.
posted by grandsham at 11:22 AM on June 28, 2007


"I have no doubt whatsoever that the exact same thing was said during Nixon's day, and look how well that turned out for the Republican party."

Uh... No.
posted by klangklangston at 11:25 AM on June 28, 2007


Uh... No.

Uh... Yes.

(Yay! Now we're back to zero, exactly where we started from. There's no place like home!)
posted by saulgoodman at 11:29 AM on June 28, 2007


I'd like to hear what our resident MeFi law-types think will happen should this need to be decided by the Supreme Court.

You think that the recent Supreme Court decisions have been based on law rather than politics? Hahahahahahahaha i'm going to have a beer when i get home from work
posted by oaf at 11:29 AM on June 28, 2007


What I am saying is that Democrats can already count on their vote and to assume that they'll win on the back of Bush's low poll numbers is a mistake.

Especially if Diebold is counting their votes.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Hahahahahahahaha i'm going to have a beer when i get home from work

Beer's not strong enough for all of this at all. : <
posted by amberglow at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2007


Get a contempt of court order and send in the SWAT team.
posted by 2sheets at 11:34 AM on June 28, 2007


What I am saying is that Democrats can already count on their vote and to assume that they'll win on the back of Bush's low poll numbers is a mistake.

There may be some truth to this. But I think if anything, initiating impeachment proceedings would only improve the Democrats position, because one of the most persistent problems the Dems have struggled against is the widespread impression that the Dems are ineffective and incapable of bold, decisive action, unlike the Repubs. Impeachment helps put those criticisms to bed, and shows the Dems too are capable of playing hardball.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:41 AM on June 28, 2007


I read an interesting proposal today: Announce that the NSA violations are a criminal investigation (which they of course would be, as Bushco. violated FISA left and right); there's no executive privilege in a criminal investigation.

Nice idea, but who would initiate the investigation? I don't see another independent prosecutor being appointed any time soon.
posted by brain_drain at 11:49 AM on June 28, 2007


when meaningful consequences can no longer fall upon these criminals.

For some people, there's never a bad time to piss or crap on their graves. Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the bunch, will have their bones soaked with urine and covered in feces for nigh on a century.
posted by mephron at 11:54 AM on June 28, 2007



Nice idea, but who would initiate the investigation? I don't see another independent prosecutor being appointed any time soon.


I'm not so sure about this. With compelling evidence that the DoJ cannot or will not independently investigate their bosses - such as you may find here - the political pressure can mount quite a bit.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 12:17 PM on June 28, 2007


That 26 out of 49 Republican Senators

it takes two thirds of the senate to convict, not three quarters. so something more along the lines of "15 of 49 republican senators" which, while not exactly likely is certainly more realistic.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:31 PM on June 28, 2007


I think both Bush and Cheney should be impeached, but I agree with XQUZYPHYR that it's politically impossible. For now anyways. As we get closer to the election, Republicans are going to increasingly distance themselves from Bush and Cheney, and it might (but probably won't) be politically possible later. Nixon resigned when the Senate Republicans told him he'd lose, and his approval numbers are comparable to Bush's.
That's alright -- this thing's gotta happen every five years or so -- ten years -- helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been ten years since the last one.
The sole constitutionally enumerated function of the vice president is to serve as president of the Senate without a vote except to break ties.

Then we need an amendment that enumerates the powers and responsibilities of the vice president, like Article II does for the president. Cheney's I-can-do-whatever-because-it-isn't-defined shadow government is unacceptable.

How is Alberto Gonzales' hide worth this much political capital?

President Bush: "Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it." You'd think his account would be overdrawn by now.

Every time the president has talked to any investigator or committee, it wasn't under oath, so no chance of a perjury charge.

Lying to Congress is a crime.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:37 PM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


personally, i say don't sweat the conviction. impeachment will do. nixon wasn't convicted either after all.

it might (but probably won't) be politically possible later. Nixon resigned when the Senate Republicans told him he'd lose, and his approval numbers

Dems need to learn from the Repubs and start defining what's politically possible for themselves instead of letting circumstances define it for them. That's what a lot of people call "leadership."
posted by saulgoodman at 12:42 PM on June 28, 2007 [3 favorites]



Dems need to learn from the Repubs and start defining what's politically possible for themselves instead of letting circumstances define it for them.

That's the problem--they're looking to 08 and think they're better off running against an unpopluar pres and vp.

They really have to all start doing what's right--not what's possible or politically advantageous or not.
posted by amberglow at 1:14 PM on June 28, 2007


oop-- unpopular (altho unpoopular would work too) : >
posted by amberglow at 1:15 PM on June 28, 2007


Turley: Avoid Bush’s Executive Privilege Claim By Investigating NSA Program As A Crime--... George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley claimed that Congress may be able to “get around the executive privilege in court” by saying “we are investigating a potential crime.” Turley said this was possible because warrantless wiretapping is “a federal crime” that “the president has ordered hundreds of people do.” ...
posted by amberglow at 1:29 PM on June 28, 2007


I still can't believe we have more than a year left of this administration.

I oppose impeachment, if only because I'd like to see an administration in my lifetime who's approval rating drops below 20%.
posted by bardic at 1:56 PM on June 28, 2007


it'd never happen, bardic--the true believers are 25%, i think. That's all he has now, pretty much (and almost all the media, of course)
posted by amberglow at 2:03 PM on June 28, 2007


I still can't believe we have more than a year left of this administration.

Relax. What's the worst that could happen?
posted by homunculus at 2:08 PM on June 28, 2007


I believe this has so much traction in congress because both sides are angry that the White House/Justice snuck this change in the law regarding appointments into the Patriot Act reauthorization.

In order to replace several U.S. Attorneys with handpicked successors, the Bush Administration has relied on a tiny, obscure provision tucked into last year's USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act. How did it get there? Former Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) slipped the language into the bill at the very last minute, according to one of the Republican managers of the bill. A spokesperson for Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who led the House team working on the bill, said that the provision was inserted by Specter into the final draft of the bill. Earlier versions of the bill did not contain the provision, which grants authority to the Attorney General to replace U.S. Attorneys without Senate approval. When the House and the Senate first voted in favor of the legislation, the provision did not exist. Instead, the tweak was inserted during the conference committee, where lawmakers from the House and Senate reconcile discrepancies in the two versions and craft a final bill. In an unusual move, Republicans blocked Democrats from participating in many of the committee's activities. TPMMuckraker 1/17/07

On Feb. 6, when the Senate held hearings on the issue of prosecutorial independence, former judiciary committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., proudly claimed to have been as clueless as the rest of us. Denying New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer's claim that he or his staff had "slipped the new provision into the Patriot Act in the dead of night," Specter asserted, "The first I found out about the change in the Patriot Act occurred a few weeks ago when Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein approached me on the floor."

Specter added that he only looked into how the provision was altered after Feinstein told him about it. As he explained, "I then contacted my very able chief counsel, Michael O'Neill, to find out exactly what had happened. And Mr. O'Neill advised me that the requested change had come from the Department of Justice, that it had been handled by Brett Tolman, who is now the U.S. attorney for Utah, and that the change had been requested by the Department of Justice because there had been difficulty with the replacement of a U.S. attorney in South Dakota."
Slate 3/5/07

The change:
SEC. 502. INTERIM APPOINTMENT OF UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS.

Section 546 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking subsections (c) and (d) and inserting the following new subsection:

`(c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this section may serve until the qualification of a United States Attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title. '

posted by roboto at 2:11 PM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:26 PM on June 28, 2007


from homunculus's depressing link -

Bush likes to compare himself to Winston Churchill. Sources close to the President have heard him “say things like, ‘It’ll be 20 years before they appreciate me. … Yes, I may be at 30 percent in the polls, but in 20 or 30 years, they’ll appreciate what I’ve done.’”

Let's see .. in 20-30 years, we'll likely have hit peak oil .. China's rise to economic dominance will be all but complete .. drug-resistant super viruses will ravage our cities .. leaving aside the coastal cities swallowed by the rising seas, of course .. Social Security collapses under the weight of record-setting retirement .. the last ally of the mortally wounded United States will be Isreal ..

.. but I'll bet Bush is right, cuz by then he'll be Imperator and appreciating his contributions to history will be required of those applying for Federal Ration Pills.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:43 PM on June 28, 2007


kirkaracha - what’samatta witchu? Don’t ever let anyone outside the family know what your thinking.

“Then presumably they'll have no problem when ultra-librul Hitlery Clinton confiscates their guns”

Stuff like this administrations been pushing would be why we have guns in the first place.

I’d like to see an impeachment. I don’t think it’s going to happen. For every Republican senator putting party before country there’s a Dem senator and other politico putting his career before country. But again - it’d be nice.

Watched a piece on cable the other night - forgot the name of it - documentary of a Jewish guy during the holocaust talking about the every day stuff. Most particularly the changes in attitudes as explicated by the shift in language.
What struck me was the shift from the abstract to the personal. For example, in the film (which I still can’t bring to mind or google) the guy notes the changes on a summons from the police.
The heading “Department of police” was changed to “Chief of police” and instead of using the abstract legalisms - e.g. “the department requires your presence” or “your presence is required by law” it was more personal - e.g. “I demand your presence.”
There is a very similar style in Bushco and the attitude has trickled down quite a bit.
I think that business there requires a great deal of attention. Bush is vested with power by the people and is accountable thus - I think people need to be reminded of that and much of the expression of ideas needs to be reclaimed.

Very much related to that - what strikes me about this case is that federal prosecutors are also ego driven - albeit their ego is sublimated in their work. When they become vested they seem to undergo a transformation wherein they embody the law rather than what occured under the Nazi.
They are very high performing individuals - as are many members of Bushco - yet unlike the administration they identify with the law and derive their prestige from that - rather than any personal mastery. It’s basically two very driven sets of individuals, for all intents similar in terms of the ability to grasp the sword, but with very different outlooks as to how that power should be wielded.
So this particular fight seems like (not to hyperbolize too much) the battle of armageddon for the rule of law.
If Bushco wins it sets a bit of prescedent for career paths and how people think about power and government (because of the use of the language). We’ll get echos of these types of perspectives into the future which, unchecked, could lead to a major crisis.
Otherwise we get a reprieve.
Dunno. A benevolent tyrant could fix a lot of the problems we have, smooth out the future a bit (pollution, energy, etc.). Dunno if it would be worth it. And beyond that, not everyone is Lincoln. Not all tyrants will put it down when they’re done (or make themselves a sitting duck in a theater).
posted by Smedleyman at 2:56 PM on June 28, 2007


klangklangston : I wish I could call for someone to just shoot the motherfuckers without getting the obligatory MeTa...

Good god no! Please, no one harm a single hair on their heads! I want them to live a long, long time. I just want them to live it out in a really unpleasant prison.

If they are shot, they become martyrs, and all the bad shit they've done over the last seven years just gets washed away.
posted by quin at 3:17 PM on June 28, 2007


Nice pickup, Smedleyman.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:35 PM on June 28, 2007


Smed: We’ll get echos of these types of perspectives into the future which, unchecked, could lead to a major crisis.

That's the horrible thing, because irregardless of the fetid stink of tyrannical incompetence that will follow them through history, BushCo will have written the bible on how to piss on the Constitution and flip Congress the bird.

Or at least a New Testament to Tricky Dick's Old Testament.
posted by Skygazer at 6:47 PM on June 28, 2007


Please don't say 'irregardless'.
posted by Catfry at 4:49 AM on June 29, 2007


Ok.
posted by Skygazer at 8:20 AM on June 29, 2007


On our awful media, and Broder: ...back in July of 2001 that Bush subcabinet officials told me that:

1. Cheney had overruled Treasury Secretary O'Neill and Federal Reserve Chair Greenspan on budget policy
2. Cheney had overruled EPA Administrator Whitman and Treasury Secretary O'Neill on global-warming policy
3. Cheney had overruled Secretary of State Colin Powell on North Korea policy
4. George W. Bush had neither the patience nor the intelligence to master the issues
5. it looked as though Bush had decided to rely on Cheney's opinion on pretty much everything.

Even before 911, as we learned no later than the end of 2003 when Ron Suskind published his Price of Loyalty, senior Republicans inside and outside the administration were having a great many quiet "what has happened to Dick?" conversations about Cheney's dysfunctional role. And we also learned that Cheney had blocked Greenspan and O'Neill again in their attempts to stop the steel tariff. And we also learned that Cheney had made Rumsfeld fire aides who actually were prepared to rebuild Iraq. And we knew--we knew an awful lot of stuff.

So why didn't you write about this back in July 2001? ...

posted by amberglow at 4:50 PM on June 29, 2007


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