The “Embarrassment Privilege”

We’ve got to start calling these refusals to testify what they are–because they surely aren’t executive privilege. With Sara Taylor’s plea to avoid testifying because she admires–and apparently took a vow to–Bush it’s not executive privilege because she didn’t speak to him about the USA firings. But we might call her refusal to testify the "I love me my Prezident privilege"–because that’s about as serious as the legal discussion behind it is.

And then there’s Harriet Miers. To justify her refusal to even show up, some DOJ hack suggested that the branches of government are so independent that they cannot force the other branch to show up. They say:

The President is an independent branch of government. He may not compel Congressmen to appear before him.

Someone better tell Duke Cunningham and William Jefferson, because for some reason, when the Executive Branch required them to show up and be investigated, they showed up–Jefferson only even got limited immunity for his Congressional office. Maybe Cunningham can get out of the Executive Branch’s prison, once he asserts the Independent Immunity Privilege, huh?

But the real absurdity is BushCo’s refusal to show up and reveal the truth about when it learned that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire. They don’t assert executive privilege. Rather, they’re calling this Embarrassment Privilege "Executive Branch confidentiality interests"

Oh, and have I mentioned the Exempt from Presidential Records Act but not from Executive Privilege Privilege, being used to prevent Congress from seeing emails sent on an external server?

This is getting absurd–and deserves to be treated with appropriate absurdity in return. It’s like a new party game we’re playing, the "dream up the most absurd privilege" game. Bush has been playing it already for six months. It’s time Democrats realized that fact.

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  1. P J Evans says:

    Tillman may, may, get traction on this. They trumpeted his death as that of a Great Hero, and when it came out it was ’friendly’ fire (and those quotes are put where they should be, because I’m not convinced it was accidental) they carefully and deliberately destroyed, hid, or ’lost’ the evidence. People understand this one, and if we can get it out that the administration is still lying and covering up, it will be one more nail in the box lid.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bush is just making stuff up, like any bully trying to keep the fear and control going…

  3. Hello says:

    There seems to be a gap in reporting about Harriet Miers AWOL. Where is the OUTRAGE?
    If this isn’t outragous what is? I mean besides Nicole Ritchie being pregnant. That should deflect some criticism for a couple of days, but then what.

  4. Mimikatz says:

    So what’s the next move? Is anyone in those inner sanctums in DC listing to the peasantry out here? I am getting seriously concerned about where things are headed. They really need to draw a line soon, now while they have the people with them and Bush/Cheney clearly don’t.

    You can’t compromise with evil.

  5. Canuck Stuck in Muck says:

    Hear! Hear! EW, you and I and the rest of the gallery watching this bizarro world unfold in front of us, we all know that unless and until a sizable number of the GOP in the House and Senate stand together with the Democrats to bring the dicktater to heel, there will only be more humiliations like Miers’s refusal to respond to her subpoena. We’ve been hearing and talking about â€tipping points†for so long now, with nothing ever changing, that I’m not sure I can stand to hear it again. The gippers now have more nails in their proverbial coffin than a good old-fashioned ironmongery and still they get up every evening to drain more blood out of this country’s body politic. The House Sub-Committee on the Judiciary voted yesterday on whether or not to recommend to the Committee of the whole that Harriet Miers be deemed in contempt of congress. The vote was 7 to 5–all five Republicans voted against the measure! Not one of them could bring himself to recognize the precedent this is setting. And, after all this time, I think I know why. First, they have no reason to worry that future Congresses will be toothless in the face of an overweening Executive.That’s because they KNOW that no Democratic President is going to try. And, as long as Congress is toothless hereafter, the next Republican with a yen to take over the free world is gonna have an easier time of it. Second, there is always lots of talk about consituent rebellion. The Repos KNOW they don’t have to worry about it, as long as there are around 60 out of 100 people in the US who can’t name the Vice President, most of whom are likely to be Republican, there’ll probably be no anti-Republican incumbent rebellion sufficient to eradicate these vermin from the political landscape (which they richly deserve). Call me a pessimist! Go ahead! We need to reach that 60%. They’re our only hope.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Canuck

    I didn’t see the meeting. But I get the feeling, after Wednesday’s meeting, that the Democrats aren’t even making a case. With all due disrespect for the Republicans who attended the hearing on Wednesday (the one I liveblogged), it would have been a lot harder for Republicans to make the mockery of the hearing if the Democrats had actually laid out what the problem was.

    it’s a two-way street, and Democrats are basically making it easy on Republicans to be partisan hacks.

  7. Sailmaker says:

    Ah, those who went to the Nixonian school of government learned well:

    â€Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the manner in which the president personally exercises his assigned executive powers is not subject to questioning by another branch of government. †Nixon

    Personally, I don’t see why there is ANY Executive Privilege period (except for national security). We pay the President’s salary, and IMO we should hear the advice he gets. I can’t find it in the Constitution, so, should it really exist?

  8. Anonymous says:

    â€it’s a two-way street, and Democrats are basically making it easy on Republicans to be partisan hacks.â€

    Boy is that an understatement. It is almost as if Congressional Democrats are willing co-conspirators in the Bush/GOP run out the clock dog and pony show. It is mind numbing and depressing.

  9. Mimikatz says:

    I trhink the Dems think that they are going to win in 2008 and they are afraid to take any action that might upset that applecart. IMHO that is relying quite a bit on the kindness of the GOP in allowing such a vote.

    In addition,m there are some not so competent Dem Chairpersons, and I’m afraid Conyers is one. But Waxman isn’t coming up with much either. They can’t wait around for the GOP to â€do something†because they never will, not even with a generational defeat staring them in the face. After all, most of the GOPers )at least in the Senate) have got theirs and are ready for retirement anyway.

    My only consolation is that if â€do nothing†is their mantra, then maybe they won’t compromise either.

  10. Dismayed says:

    The RNC is an autocratic organization with the protection of the press.

    Anyone here feel like a Roman at the dawn of the first Triumverant?

    This has gone so far past absurd. The dems HAVE to grab the press cycle. And I think some States are going to have to do some woodshedding of their reps.

    If the roles were reversed the Republicans would be vicious. They could do that more safely because of the media’s bias toward them. The Dems have to play more cautiously, unfortunate but true. That said, I think it is time to do something dramatic.

    The dems need an orator. Someone who can stand on the soapbox in dignified outrage, and get the situation accross to the people. Without and effective communications plan, it won’t matter what they do.

    Infuriated at this! Where’s the next demonstration – I’ll come.

    Impeach Gonzo – NOW!

  11. Dismayed says:

    And BMAZ, I concur. Is this all just theater? Some have believed our government has been for some time. Are all candidates approved by the illuminatii? If we don’t see some real action here soon. I’m going to start wondering who is REALLY pulling the string.

    Hate to sound like a loonie, but damn.

  12. Dismayed says:

    AND – How about Allen of FL. Another Republican caught in an act of Family Values.

    Allen wanted to pay a cop $20 bucks to suck HIS dick. So not only is Allen a trenchcoat park propositioner – He’s got the concept of capitalism all wrong. Shouldn’t the service have travelled the OPPOSITE direction of the money????!!!!

    Ha – No wonder the national debt went up under republicans.

  13. Slothrop says:

    How many more letters will Waxman send to the White House? How many more questions will Leahy ask of White House flunkies? 20 more?
    50 more? 100 more?

    What’s the limit?

  14. prostratedragon says:

    Block-and-counter drill, with Ed Schultz and Sen. Barbara Boxer. Will someone please set these people free?! (My apologies if this is too long; it’s hard to compress circumlocution.)

    SCHULTZ: They’re throwing down the gauntlet. They’re just declaring that they’re not going to change anything —the President in Cleveland yesterday saying, we’re just getting started. So in the meantime, the frustration of the American people continues to build, … I want to say this for our listeners: they want impeachment put back on the table. They want impeachment on the table as a bargaining chip. [â€bargaining chip†my formidable ass!—pd] —

    BOXER: Yeah. I mean, you left out a bunch of things [from a long list] –spying on citizens without a warrant, going around FISA, on and on. Look, I have always said it should be on the table. Ed, I’ve always said it. I was on a book tour and I ran into John Dean of Watergate fame. … And it was right after we discovered that the administration was spying on our people without a warrant. And he just said, … , as far as he could see, unless there was some explanation for this, this was impeachable. I’ve always said that you need to keep it on the table, and you need to look at these things, because now people are dying because of this administration. That’s the truth. And they won’t change course. They are ignoring the Congress. They keep signing these signing statements which mean that he’s decided not to enforce the law. This is as close as we’ve ever come to a dictatorship. When you have a situation where Congress is stepped on, that means the American people are stepped on. So I don’t think you can take anything off the table. Because in fact the Constitution doesn’t permit us to take these things off the table.

    SCHULTZ: Would you counsel Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to put it on the table and make a statement before everybody goes home in August. Because they’re going to get an earful from the American people when they go home.

    BOXER: Well, I don’t presume to tell people what to do. I have made my statements. And of course if asked I will say. I’ve been out there, I’m out here again today. I think, John Conyers is —this is where impeachment starts. When Alberto Gonzales, when it came out that he fired these U.S. attorneys, that it was politics being played with it, I thought then that we should look into impeachment hearings. So I don’t think it should be taken off the table.

    On the other hand, we’ve got a war to end. We’ve got things that we’ve got to keep on doing. So if we do this right, we should give it to the appropriate committees, let them do the hard work that it entails, but we have to do something about health insurance. We have to do something about global warming. We have to end this war. We have to do something about education. And all these other things. About the budget deficit. You have to walk and chew gum at the same. And I know Nancy’s point was, we have to reverse about seven years of this horrific administration’s policies, and she’s fearful of losing steam on that, in that regard.

  15. prostratedragon says:

    If I may importune briefly once more, Bill Moyers has an hour coming up on impeachment, tonight on many pbs stations. The page has linked references, and in a few days I guess the show will stream there also.

  16. prostratedragon says:

    If I may importune briefly once more, Bill Moyers has an hour coming up on impeachment, tonight on many pbs stations. The page has linked references, and in a few days I guess the show will stream there also.

  17. masaccio says:

    EW @ 18:15 I absolutely concur. There is an art to asking questions, and our side is artless. It seems like they generally get into the area but they aren’t able to hone things to a point.

    Who on earth is staffing our side? Why in the world can’t they get some coaching? Why don’t they get organized? It is just making me crazy. I can hardly even read the live-blogging, being there would send me screaming out of the room. Do we have any grown-ups who can do this work?

  18. mighty mouse says:

    Mimikatz–â€You can’t compromise with evil.†What a concept. Dems may not be sure of results but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t give it their all–and not make those awful compromises.

  19. P J Evans says:

    Boxer isn’t getting it. She’s so busy focusing on the details, the small stuff, she’s missing the big picture: if they don’t impeach this crown, the whole thing goes.

  20. Dread Scot says:

    The only real chance of getting answers to anything is to find someone who knows too much but doesn’t believe they are important enough for to be bailed out by Bush or supported by wingnut welfare for protecting the â€family’s†secrets. Tug on the right string and who knows what might come out. Other than that, these hearings are pointless. Even then, the evidentiary standard which has been effect in the public discourse for some time now is that as long as conservatives refuse to admit something it cannot be true and no amount of actual evidence can prove it, while no amount of evidence against can positively refute something conservatives assert (without any). That doesn’t work so well in front of real judges and juries, but for the nightly news and political talk shows it presents a tough burden to overcome. Dan Rather and John Kerry can attest to that.

    When the leaders of the opposition party, swept into power by a wave of public outrage and anger at the conduct of the president and his party, rush to assure the president that the only power they have to hold his administration accountable without his cooperation, impeachment, is completely out of the question they should expect none. They as much as told Bush and the Republicans in congress that all they have to do is run out the clock and they get away with it again. Republicans know a Democratic president can’t get away with what this one has done (they will be too busy defending themselves against one contrived scandal after another) so they don’t need to worry about too much power in a Democrat’s hands, only sweeping as much of Bush’s reign of ’terror’ into the memory hole as possible. And as long as the national media is bound by the code of â€fair and balanced†to pretend anything a Republican says is serious and respectable while anything a Democrat says is partisan, expect the absurd to keep getting â€absurdererâ€.

    By the way. Pat Leahy made a comment, I think before or after the Sara Taylor non-testimony, that at some point he hopes the Attorney General will realize that his continued service is not in the national interest, or the president will realize it. I’m glad I didn’t have a mouth full of anything at the time because I would have spewed it. Maybe he was just trying to be stately and diplomatic, but it is beyond ridiculous at this point to imply that the continued ’service’ of Alberto Gonzales, which acts as a middle finger extended directly and continously at the congress, has or has ever had anything to do with the national interest, or that either would care.

  21. GulfCoastPirate says:

    â€Anyone here feel like a Roman at the dawn of the first Triumverant?â€

    Bingo – we have a winner.

    JH

  22. abc says:

    â€The dems need an orator. Someone who can stand on the soapbox in dignified outrage, and get the situation across to the people.â€

    Tim Ryan (D- OH)

  23. EE2×4 says:

    Did anyone catch the Conan O’Brien segment where the role of Harriet Meirs would be played by Dobby the House Elf? The comparison is spot on – right down to the servility. Those two images are now perfectly blended in my mind.

  24. Mauimom says:

    One main point the Dems are really missing [in their Clinton-like â€triangulation†and â€testing the pollsâ€] is that MUCH of the country longs for leadership. When the Dems folded in the wake of the Scooter clemency-grant, poll #s for Congress went down even further.

    Dems spend so much time & Rahm Emanuel-raised money polling and trying to figure out what the â€least costly [in terms of popularity]†move is that they’re stuck.

    Dems, just try the Digby/Network move: holler out â€I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.†Don’t wait until you’ve put together the 15 point plan and consulted with every interest group. Just yell â€outrage.†And yell it a LOT. Get those freeway blogger signs up. Hold up signs and ask nasty questions when your Congress-critter[s] come home over recess.

    No more Mr./Ms. Nice Guy/Gal.