The Bush Administrations claim today that it has “Executive Privilege” in so far as submitting to contempt charges by Federal Attorneys because the Federal Attorneys work for the Executive branch smacks of Soviet style government claims that the State can do no wrong to the people because the people are the state. The recent story in the Washington Post said that;
"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," said a senior official, who said his remarks reflect a consensus within the administration. "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, added: "It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys."
So now we have a President that virtually says that he is above the law because he is the law because he hires the lawyers and they work for him. What chutzpah! If this is allowed to stand, then Congress could use its “inherent contempt powers allowing either body to hold its own trials and even jail those found in defiance of Congress. According to the Post this was “widely used during the 19th century, the power has not been invoked since 1934 and Democratic lawmakers have not displayed an appetite for reviving the practice.”
It’s about time that Congress started using it again. The old saying that “drastic times call for drastic measures” could not be as appropriate as they are now. These indeed are drastic times. The American people would have no problem with Congress using drastic measures. In fact they have been calling for Congress to do just that for months now. The handwriting is on the wall. This President does not play by pre-ordained rules of civilized behavior. It’s time for Congress to play the game as if they want to win, not just act that way. They might believe that allowing Bush to make a mockery of the Executive branch will open the doors to the White House for them in 2008, but they may find Bush won’t leave under some new “Presidential Mandate” when that time comes. I don’t trust Bush to leave the White House willingly unless Congress starts enforcing the rule of law on this “runaway executive branch” that has already caused such heartbreak and misery on the world.