Thursday, March 22, 2007

Attorney-gate: It's the Cover Up, Stupid

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.


  1. Anonymous8:50 PM

    Testimony under oath means that we can prosecute for perjury if they are caught in a lie. That, and the precedent that it sets for other subpoenas is sufficient ground to go forward. If this goes to the courts, that means that the Bush administration buys time. The cost is an increase in loss of credibility. It is worth the price.


  2. Yes, Bush is doing this to buy time, and given his already-completely-gone credibility, it will cost him nothing at all. He's just gaming the system, and knows that by the time the courts finish with this, he'll probably be long out of office anyway.

    Seems to me that he's also doing this in order to sidetrack the legislative branch from attending to other things. There are only so many hours in a day, you know.

    I still don't understand why he's not in the midst of an impeachment proceeding by now—just how many more crimes does he have to commit before that happens? (I don't want to know the answer to that.) Impeach the whole lot of them!

    Pelosi for President 2007!

  3. Anonymous2:22 AM

    100% Certain the Dems will timidly agree to call off the subpoena threats. They're cowards of the worst kind - their lack of spine hurts the American people and our beloved Constitution.

  4. EdNSted10:12 AM

    Yesterday, I discovered that much of what I thought I knew about how the U.S. governement worked was wrong. That whole part about 3 separate branches and the checks and balances to ensure that no one branch has absolute authority.. turns out that part is not true.

    According to Tony Snow, the president's personal media representative, Congress has no oversight responsibility over the executive branch.

    How could I have been so wrong all these years? Apparently, I feel asleep in my US Govt class and dreamed it all. How embarrassing.


  5. Anonymous11:03 AM


    It is more than what you lay out here. It is also about manipulating investigations, protecting GOP graft and corruption, pursuing false voter fraud cases. Money laundering by the likes of Abramhof and much more. These are crimes. I am more concerned about the 85 USAs that didn't get fired. What did they do to keep their jobs?


  6. Thanks for the great comments, gang.



  7. EdNSted12:05 PM

    People sometimes ask me what I want, a Democratic administration or a Republican administration. I tell them "neither - what I want is 3 branches of government where competency has far greater value than loyalty - both by the people who run those branches and by those who are servered by those branches". And just so I'm not misunderstood here, I don't think there is anything wrong with loyalty. Quite the contrary, loyalty can be a virtue - so long as it is loyalty to the US Constitution and not misguided and corrupt loyalty to a single individual.

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