Also at DKos.
Oh, what a tangled web. Historians may reflect that the Bush administration's downfall was its blind faith in the power of the lie. The current controversy over the firings and hirings of U.S. Attorneys could be the brouhaha that collapses the Bush administration's card house of deceptions.
The Final Straw?
As sins of the Bush administration go, the firing of U.S. Attorneys for political reasons is a relatively venial one. Compared to lying its way into an optional invasion of Iraq that the neoconservatives had been pushing for since January of 1998, long before Bush the younger threw his hat in the ring, firing a few federal prosecutors for not playing ball with the administration is the relative equivalent of snitching cookies.
And yet, Attorney-gate may prove to be the straw that broke the camel's proverbial back.
The judiciary committees of both houses of Congress have passed measures authorizing issuing of subpoenas against Karl Rove and other high level administration officials regarding the firing of eight federal prosecutors. The White House responded by offering to allow the officials to testify behind closed doors under the conditions of no oaths and no transcripts. Senator Judiciary Committee chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) described the offer as "nothing, nothing, nothing."
We can see where this is heading--hardball negations will take place to try to avoid having subpoenas actually issued. If the negotiations don't work, subpoenas will fly. The administration will claim executive privilege to ignore the subpoenas. Congress will charge them with contempt, and the mess will spill into the federal courts.
In military art terms, this kind of jostling is called "peripheral warfare."
As best we can tell, the administration didn't do anything illegal by firing those eight U.S. attorneys except lie about why and how they did it. But that's not what Attorney-gate is really about. It's about the Iraq war, and it's about the limits of executive privilege.
If Congress can coerce Rove and other administration high-rollers into public testimony under oath over Attorney-gate, it can call the entire unholy gang in to testify on the run up to Iraq, the domestic surveillance program, the Patriot Act abuses, and the entire laundry list of the Bush cabal's high crimes and misdemeanors.
That would fracture the Republican Party even further than it already is. GOP pols would have to either abandon the neoconservative cabal that has infested it or go down with the ship.
That's precisely why I think aggressive pursuit of open, under oath testimonies by administration luminaries in front of congress is a good thing. We need a vibrant two-party system. What we most certainly don't need is a conservative party dominated by militaristic maniacs.
Thursday afternoon, MSNBC's Tucker Carlson reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee has sent a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding saying words to the effect of "is that your final offer?"
Tucker's bobble-heads thought the Senate committee might settle for an agreement in which the Bush boys and girls might testify on record as long as they don't have to testify under oath.
What. The. Hell?
What's the point of having someone testify if they don't promise to tell the truth?
Then again, what do oaths mean to members of the Bush administration? They all took oaths to uphold the Constitution, and look how that turned out.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.