Friday, June 22, 2007
Answering to No One
It’s always good to be the king, which is why poll numbers in the toilet don’t particularly temper the action of the Bush administration.
The Associated Press reported June 21 that the Senate Judiciary Committee had approved subpoenas for White House officials in an effort at getting to the bottom of the whole illegal eavesdropping thing.
Good luck folks (including three principled Republicans); these guys don’t answer to anyone.
Tony Fratto, an administration mouthpiece said, “The information the committee is requesting is highly classified and not information we can make available.”
He is not talking about making it available to highwayscribery; he’s talking about the United States Congress, that bastion of irrational and irresponsible representatives of the people.
There are no “checks and balances” in the administration’s reading of the U.S. Constitution, no “separate and equal branches” keeping a wary on eye on the others’ gropes at greater power.
There is only the King and his courtiers doing whatever they darn well please.
In his recently released essay, “The Assault on Reason,” Al Gore takes up the issue, noting how the administration’s claim that it need not consult a court or gain permission from Congress or obey enacted laws when it wants to know about the Web sites you visit, the books you’ve borrowed from the library, or the phone calls you’ve made, “comes as a surprise to those who are familiar with the U.S. Constitution.
“The courts,” Gore wrote, “have always recognized an inherent presidential authority in rare emergency cases to conduct surveillance and searches that would otherwise require a warrant. What is different is that this president claims the right to break and enter, tap your phone, and read your correspondence at will -- and to do so regularly, for a significant number of Americans, on a massive scale.”
The administration claims we are at war, and that under new powers granted the executive post-9/11 (courtesy of Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle), the president is very much within his right.
Gore does a great job picking this argument apart and throwing it onto the dustbin of history, but for the sake of debate, let’s assume the President’s right and ask...
...But for how long?
Here’s Gore again: [T]his war is predicted by the administration to last the rest of our lives. So we are told that the conditions of national threat that have been used by other presidents to justify arrogations of power will persist in near perpetuity.”
Which of course is a way of saying the terrorists, WHO HATE FREEDOM, have won, and largely because the administration pretty much agrees with them on how authority works and who should wield it.
Apropos of everything just written above, Vice President Dick Cheney is all over the news today for his novel reordering of constitutional prerogatives.
It’s all a bit Washington inside-y and over the heads of us outside-the-beltway folks, but from what the scribe can discern and translate, there is an entity called the Information Security Oversight Office that keeps tabs on the kind of intelligence people in the executive branch classify and declassify.
It has, apparently, done so since 1995, and even during the first two years of the current thugs’ rule. But in 2003, Cheney decided this protocol did not apply to him because, as the president of the Senate, he is “not a part of the executive branch.”
So what’s that office in the West Wing for? (and can the scribe, also not a member of the executive branch, get one too?)
Cox News Service quotes Garrett Epps, law professor at the University of Oregon: “The vice president is saying he doesn’t have to follow the orders of the president. That’s a very interesting proposition.”
Not if you’ve been following this administration’s antics from the git-go and it’s not so interesting if you’ve been spied upon by Dr. Death’s shadowy minions.
In the same administrative breathe, Cheney has tried to abolish the Information Security Oversight Office, which is clearly not the provenance of the Senate president, sitting around waiting to break tie votes as he does. It would seem more of an executive decision, since that entity is part of the executive branch, of which the veep claims he is not a part.
So where does he come off trying to abolish an executive agency from the tie-vote-breaker’s seat in the Senate? Who does he work for?
Nobody. Cheney’s everything to everyone, everywhere. He’s found a glitch in the Founding Fathers’ scheme. He’s the most powerful man in the world, responsible only to himself and his unfailing philosopher-king’s wisdom for which we should all be grateful.
Let us close with More from Gore, the most able man in America today: “This administration has come to power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to convince us that this excessive concentration of presidential authority is exactly what our Constitution intended.
“That is, of course, not true. If our Founders could see the current state of their generation’s handiwork and assess the quality of our generation’s stewardship now, at the beginning of this twenty-first century, I am certain they would be amazed at the claims of the current administration.”
Run Al, run.