White House opts for stonewall tactics
A few thoughts on the firing of the U.S. attorneys and the effort for congress to actually ask the people involved to provide the truth.
I ask readers to help me with a couple questions.
As you likely know, Bush recently brought in Fred Fielding, the very same Fred Fielding who as assistant White House counsel to Richard Nixon tried to protect that corrupt administration from investigation by stonewalling and invoking "executive priveledge, a previously unheard of claim.
In anticipation of the end of the Republican protection racket that ensured that the congress turned a blind eye to anything the White House or administration did, no matter how egregious or illegal or unethical, Fielding has been brought in by Bush to aid in their Nixonian stonewalling of congress.
Fielding announced yesterday the terms under which the White House would allow White House and Justice Dept. staff including Karl Rove and Bush attorney Harriett Miers and a key witness, the recently resigned Kyle Sampson, Gonzalez's chief of staff, who is rumored to be willing to talk, would allow congress to question them.
Under the White House terms, congressmen could only question them in a a private meeting, utterly off the record, not under oath, and no transcripts and notes would be allowed. As Rep. John Conyers scoffed, "We could meet at the local pub."
First, leaving aside whether the testimony should be in public or not, WHY would anyone refuse to testify under oath or, odder still, refuse to allow transcripts to be taken? What possible reason would the White House essentially reserve the right of these people to lie to congress without penalty, and for there to be no record whatsoever of their testimony? Help me out here.
Secondly, during a train-wreck of a press-conference for former Fox News flack Tony Snow (who railed against condemened the invocation of "executive priveledge" when it was invoked by the Clinton White House.) Snow was repeatedly asked whether Bush was consulted or whether he conferred about the matter of firing U.S. Attorneys.
Snow flatly said that Bush at no time was consulted by anyone. In other words, he didn't have a thing to do with it, no one ever brought it up to him, and he was completely out of the loop.
Now move ahead to the reasoning put forward yesterday by the White House and Bush himself for invoking "executive privelige" and refusing to allow Rove, et. al. to provide sworn testimony before congress.
The reason, they said plainly, was that allowing such testimony would have a "chilling" effect on the ability of the president's close aides to give him honest and unvarnished advise and counsel. In other words, the president's aides simply must feel free to speak freely without the threat that they'll be hauled before congressional committees every other week.
The merits of that argument can be argued.
But here's my second question.
Bush was completely "out of the loop" on this matter. No one every spoke a word about it to him and he had zero imput on it. No aides or anyone ever discussed it with him.
They say that Rove et. al. will not testify because it would preclude them speaking freely to the president.
How do those two notions make any sense whatsoever?
If they never discussed this matter or anything about it with Bush, then how can they simultaneously argue that demanding that aides testify, aides who they say never talked to Bush, would damage the communication between Bush and his staff?
It simply makes no sense.
If it does, please explain it to me.