Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Unitary Executives strike again.

The WaPo reports:

"The House Judiciary Committee voted today to issue contempt citations for two of President Bush's most trusted aides, taking its most dramatic step yet towards a constitutional showdown with the White House over the Justice Department's dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys. . . The panel voted 22-17, along party lines, to issue citations to Joshua B. Bolten, White House chief of staff, and Harriet E. Miers, former White House counsel. Both refused to comply with committee subpoenas after Bush declared that documents and testimony related to the prosecutor firings were protected by executive privilege."

And it looks like the Senate is probably close to following suit very soon. So, all of this sounds all well and fine but who is going to enforce the contempt citations? Even if this whole business was to wind up in a U.S. attorney's hands there's still one little fly in the ointment; Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department says the law on Congressional criminal contempt "does not apply" in the case of the president or his aides if W. invokes his executive privilege. One has to wonder these days what power Congress has that ever applies to the executive branch.

At one point or another, I do recall our government having three power centers. What happened to that little arrangement? This White House's attitude on anything that involves their affairs being scrutinized under the cleansing rays of sunlight is -- as his satanic majesty Dick Cheney once so elegantly put it -- "Go fuck yourself!" The unitary executive is untouchable, just look it up, it says so right there in the constitution.

The funny thing about that unitary executive thing, though, is that there are, apparently, two unitary executives. There's the president -- and then there's the Veep. In the past six years the office of the vice president has gone from being a political backwater Jack Garner once described as a warm cup of piss to an unassailable redoubt. Cheney's Rasputin, David Addington, has the amazing ability to twist and contort law and objective fact into any shape he desires, thus insulating his Dark Master from every check and balance known to man and, quite possibly, the laws of nature, also.

His legalistic legerdemain is equaled only by this country's top cop. Yesterday, in yet another fruitless effort by the Senate Judiciary Committee to get AG Alberto Gonzales to answer any question about anything, Arlen Specter asked Gonzales if he thought a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the White House's role in the firing of the federal attorneys and Gonzales -- big shocker here -- refused to answer. "You're asking me a question that's related to an ongoing controversy," Gonzales told Specter. [AP]

Specter tried his best to get Gonzales to admit that that sort of blanket immunity for the executive kind of eliminated the checks and balances the very fabric of our government is based upon, but eventually he just gave up in exasperation, "I'm not going to pursue that question, Mr. Attorney General, because it's hopeless."

Yes, it is hopeless. The only thing to do at this late date for Congress to do is either, "compromise" with the unitary executive and wave the agreement in the air on the steps of Congress like Neville Chamberlin -- 'peace in our time' -- or really go after this lawless administration with all the tools the constitution gives it. Specter hinted at the possibly of conducting a trial in the Senate if the DoJ refuses to haul Miers and Bolton into court. I'd say the quicker they get started the better.

Although, I'd love to see Karl Rove sweating it under one of Patrick Leahy's prosecutorial carpet-bombings, I have to think if the situation got to the point of a trial actually taking place in the well of the Senate W. & Co. would have to blink. Because, if it comes down to a question of who the American people would support in such a constitutional confrontation, I'd have to say even W.'s handlers -- who, naturally, never read the polls -- would have to admit their position was pretty much analogous to the fly vis a’ vis the windshield.

I'm really going on a limb here, but I think the vast majority of Americans are royally PO'd with this bunch in the White House and wouldn't lose too much sleep over seeing Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House -- this time for real. The obvious fear the administration must have regarding the specter of a special prosecutor or a trial in the Senate is how quickly things could go from simply investigating the great prosecutor massacre to how we got into this disastrous war in Iraq. Something tells me Dick Cheney on the stand would make a somewhat less than sympathetic witness.


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