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Bush did not cite "Executive Privilege", exactly.

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Dhalgren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 08:42 AM
Original message
Bush did not cite "Executive Privilege", exactly.
In his little speech yesterday, Bush said that he "would not allow a fishing" expedition against "honest" public servants. He stated clearly that he was restricting the administration's cooperation with congress not in order to protect privileged communications between the President and his advisers, but to protect his advisers from "fishing expeditions" that might "harm" them. What, exactly, does that mean? "Harm" them, how? What might the congress be fishing for that could cause harm to Rove or Miers or anyone else in the administration? This is something that either, or both, the media or the congress should get to the bottom of.

Not "Executive Privilege", but protection of individuals - this should not be legal.
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 08:44 AM
Response to Original message
1. Ah, but these are not honest public servants
Therefore, the Puppet's rhetoric does not apply. :evilgrin:
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Dhalgren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 08:48 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. But don't you agree that Bush might have some sort of legitimate standing with "executive privilege"
but that protecting a staffer from "harm" (whatever that means) is completely without legal standing? To me this is much worse than Bush having said nothing at all. Then it would have been assumed that he was invoking EP, but now we know that he is not, he is protecting criminal activity.
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Rob H. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. "...he is protecting criminal activity."
I agree, it does sound that way. It seems a lot like he's making himself an accessory after the fact by trying to protect them and working hard to ensure that they don't have to testify under oath. There's no reason at all to believe that someone like Rove would voluntarily tell the truth about anything, imho, much less something that would damage the administration or land him in hot water.
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. No
I would assert that executive priviledge may not be used to shield criminal acts of the executive's administration, and thus it may not be invoked as a way to hinder investigation of criminal acts.
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Dhalgren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 09:27 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. But technically, semantically, he would be on firmer ground by saying that
his advisers cannot testify under oath regarding advice they may or may not have given the President regarding anything, at all. There would be many legal scholars who would say that makes sense. But he came out and said that he doesn't want his advisers to testify under oath because it might harm those advisers. That is a stand that no legal scholar, anywhere, would support. Of course the compromise Conyers should respond with is to agree to not ask any questions regarding direct communications with the President. That would satisfy the "advising the President" problem and then it would be Bush's turn to reiterate that he doesn't want Karl to have to incriminate himself for any crime he may have committed - let him defend that one...
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Bob3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #6
10. I'm sure the White House had John Yoo on Speed dial
for just such an emergency. If they could talk themselves into thinking the Constitution gave them a right to torture people they can easily expand the definition of executive privilege to cover not putting people under oath if they don't want to.

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #6
12. I think the backlash would have seriously hurt them
Congress does not seem to be in any mood to let it go; the Junta seems to know this. If the President claims executive priviledge, Congress will brush it aside and create a much unwanted (for the Junta) precedent of dismissing the claim for such priviledge. Realizing that any protest will be brushed aside, * did not claim priviledge, thus not setting up such a precedent.

Rather canny, if you ask me.
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #2
13. No ... courts have ruled against Executive Privilege
Both during Nixon's time and Clinton's.
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Bob3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
5. Executive Privilege is pretty narrowly defined
it's more like "you can't ask questions about X" rather than "You can't ask questions at all" but of course this is * and he thinks he's a king so he said what he said.

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Dhalgren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 09:33 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. You're right. As it has been explained to me, Conyers could agree to not
ask any questions regarding any direct communications with the President and that should meet any requirements for "Executive Privilege", but Bush has already said that that is not what he is concerned about. He is concerned that Karl will be "harmed" by testifying under oath. The question remains, "In the President's opinion, what kind of harm might befall Karl if he testifies to congress under oath?" Who will ask Bush this question?
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Bob3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 10:26 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. I think he's worried that he might explode if had to tell the truth
I mean Karl lies the way most of us breathe.
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Rob H. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 09:32 AM
Response to Original message
7. Glenn Greenwald has a commentary about this at Salon.com
Edited on Wed Mar-21-07 09:42 AM by Rob H.
Just found it here. (Scroll down; it's a good read.)

The president's oh-so-noble reliance on "executive privilege"

(updated below - updated again)

There are several important facts to note about the President's vow at this afternoon's Press Conference to resist attempts to compel Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify to Congress, under oath, with regard to the firing of the U.S. attorneys. The President intends to invoke "executive privilege," the same doctrine used by Presidents Nixon and Clinton in their respective (unsuccessful) attempts to resist subpoenas:

--snippage--

Second, it is crystal clear (just as it was when Bill Clinton sought to invoke "executive privilege" to resist Grand Jury subpoenas to his aides -- Sidney Blumenthal and Bruce Lindsey and Hillary -- in the Lewinsky investigation) that the narrowly construed doctrine of executive privilege does not entitle the President to shield the communications here from compelled disclosure. When the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Nixon (1974) rejected Nixon's invocation of that privilege to resist a Grand Jury Subpoena for the Watergate tapes, this is how the Court defined its scope (emphasis added):

The President's need for complete candor and objectivity from advisers calls for great deference from the court. However, when the privilege depends solely on the broad, undifferentiated claim of public interest in the confidentiality of such conversations, a confrontation with other values arises. Absent a claim of need to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets, we find it difficult to accept the argument that even the very important interest in confidentiality of Presidential communications is significantly diminished by production of such material for in camera inspection with all the protection that a district court will be obliged to provide.


Edited to add a couple of quotes from slimy spokesthing Tony Snow, writing about President Clinton in 1998 and his attempts to invoke executive privilege (emphasis Greenwald's). Here's hoping the irony makes his head explode:

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.

. . .

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.
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onenote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #7
11. Greenwald's claim that this is a 'crystal clear' case is wrong, I'm afraid
Greenwald does some selective quoting from US v Nixon to bolster his position, making it sound like executive privilege only exists where confidentiality is needed to protect military, diplomatic or sensitive national security secrets.

But by only quoting a portion of the court's language, Greenwald distorts the ruling.

For example, here's something else that the SCOTUS said in US v Nixon:

"In support of his claim of absolute privilege, the President's counsel urges two grounds, one of which is common to all governments and one of which is peculiar to our system of separation of powers. The first ground is the valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties; the importance of this confidentiality is too plain to require further discussion. Human experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor with a concern for appearances and for their own interests to the detriment of the decisionmaking process Whatever the nature of the privilege of confidentiality of Presidential communications in the exercise of Art. II powers, the privilege can be said to derive from the supremacy of each branch within its own assigned area of constitutional duties. Certain powers and privileges flow from the nature of enumerated powers; the protection of the confidentiality of Presidential communications has similar constitutional underpinnings."

and, more pointedly, here is the language that precedes the language quoted by Greenwald:

"However, neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances."

Thus, while the SCOTUS rejected the idea of an absolute immunity "under all circumstances", that alone doesn't address the situation here. The Court found that the strong deference ordinarily due hihg government officials and their advisors didn't apply to Nixon in the context of a demand for production of materials for in camera (ie not public) following the issuance of indictments in a criminal investigation subject to the oversight of a federal court.

That's not the same as a demand for public testimony before a congressional committee where no one has been indicted of anything yet.

Again, I think that executive privilege ought not apply in this instance, but anyone claiming its "crystal clear" is wrong.
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