i am hopelessly behind in getting this
up on my blog; so many others have covered
it more ably than i could — do go read
those three in a row — but this
much will echo throughout our history,
perhaps for untold numbers of future
generations, upon generations. . . so — do
read it slowly — as you will want to remember
well the moment these somber, majestic
thoughts first soaked into your consciousness:
. . .In effect, Attorney General Mukasey created a double standard. Ten years ago, his predecessor, Attorney General Janet Reno, provided the Committee the FBI interviews of both President Clinton and Vice President Gore. Mr. Mukasey decided that a different rule should apply to Republican presidents than to Democratic presidents.
Today President Bush has taken the extraordinary step of asserting executive privilege over the Vice President’s interview with criminal investigators.
The claim of executive privilege is ludicrous.
We are not seeking access to the communications between the Vice President and the President. We are seeking access to the communications between the Vice President and FBI investigators. The Vice President talked with the FBI investigators voluntarily and he did so knowing that what he said could be disclosed publicly in a criminal trial. Mr. Fitzgerald told us that “there were no agreements, conditions and understandings” that limited Mr. Fitzgerald’s use of the interview in any way.
This unfounded assertion of executive privilege does not protect a principle; it protects a person.
The President is wrong to shield Vice President Cheney from scrutiny. In our system of government, even the Vice President should be accountable for his actions. . .
The President’s action raises an obvious question: Why is the President preventing responsible congressional oversight of the Vice President? If the Vice President did nothing wrong, what is there to hide?
A letter that the Committee received this morning from the Attorney General to the President also raises questions about the President’s involvement. According to the Attorney General, the documents being withheld summarize conversations held directly with the President. The subjects discussed in the withheld documents include the preparation of the 2003 State of the Union address, the accuracy of the claim that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Niger, and the decision to send Ambassador Joe Wilson to Niger.
The White House misled the nation about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. On the eve of the war, the Vice President said: “we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
White House officials then misled the nation about their involvement in leaking Ms. Wilson’s name. One top official, Mr. Libby, was convicted of perjury. Yet now that the Committee is trying to find out what really happened, the President has blocked the Committee’s inquiry by ass~rting executive privilege over key documents. . .
mukasey’s letter attempting to defend this
preposterous assertion of privilege — at
least to the extent that it asserts a
privilege applies to f.b.i. interviews
with the vice president, and the trans-
cripts capturing the same — is simply silly:
. . .Were future Presidents, Vice Presidents and senior White House staff to perceive that providing voluntary interviews in the course of Justice Department investigations would create records that would likely be made available to Congress (and then possibly disclosed publicly outside of judicial proceedings such as a trial), there would be an unacceptable risk that such knowledge could adversely impact their willingness to cooperate fully and candidly in voluntary interviews. They might insist, alternatively, on disclosing information only pursuant to grand jury subpoenas in order to ensure the secrecy protections of Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Such a result would significantly impair the Department’s ability to conduct future law enforcement investigations. . .
how so, mr. attorney general? i mean,
seriously — this does not remotely
pass the straight face test. so, if
future vice presidents are too cow-
ardly to speak with the f.b.i. about
alleged wrong-doing, and choose to
do so only once rule 6(e) grand jury
secrecy has attached. . . SO WHAT?
who cares? all that means is congress
will have to wait until the matter is
resolved by trial or otherwise, by closure
of the grand jury process, without an indictment,
before it will be able to conduct oversight.
that is all it means. any future president,
or vice president will hereafter (due to the
mis-steps of bush & cheney, and nixon & agnew,
before them) know exactly how to make these
interview transcripts secret. agree to talk
only before the grand jury, pursuant to a
confidential summons from the grand jury.
then — at least until the matter is re-
solved, the interview will remain secret.
so — mukasey’s letter simply lets us
know what we already knew — the president,
and vice president, both screwed up their
process on secrecy, just as they did with
war intel, itself.
the echoing irony — is almost deafening. . .