Thursday, June 21, 2012

Obama was against Executive Privilege before he was for it...

The hypocrisy is fully documented and absolutely indefensible. WaPo reports on the White House's decision yesterday to assert Executive Privilege as a means of protecting Eric Holder from a potential Contempt of Congress finding, as concerns his failure to comply with a Congressional subpoena requesting documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious. The story notes then-Senator Obama's response on Larry King Live to a question about Executive Privilege being used by the Bush Administration. The situation then involved Bush using the power to prevent Congress from questioning Karl Rove--and others--about the firing of some nine U.S. Attorneys. Here's a clip of the question and Obama's response:

King asks Obama if he "favors Executive Privilege" or if he thinks Rove and others should be forced to testify before Congress. Obama responds that the request for testimony by Congress (from Patrick Leahy, to be precise) was "very appropriate," that Rove and others should be compelled to testify. He then provides the money quote:
You know, there's been a tendency on the part of this administration to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place.
First, let's consider the word "tendency" here. The implication is that Executive Privilege was used surreptitiously by the George W. Bush Administration. And to be fair, it was used by Bush a number of times. Six times. Oddly enough, the first time Bush used the power was to protect the FBI and the Clinton Administration:
President Bush invoked executive privilege today for the first time in his administration to block a Congressional committee trying to review documents about a decades-long scandal involving F.B.I. misuse of mob informants in Boston. His order also denied the committee access to internal Justice Department deliberations about President Bill Clinton's fund-raising tactics.
Media Matters actually caught on to this tidbit, supposing there's irony here: Bush used Executive Privilege to block the release of internal Justice Department documents, Obama is doing the same thing, yet Karl Rove is critical of the latter not the former. See? Irony. Of course, the clueless buffoons at Media Matters miss the difference: Bush's choice can be characterized as "high-minded." It was about preventing Congress from going on a witch hunt with regard to the previous Administration. Bush wasn't covering his own ass, at all. In contrast, Obama appears to be doing exactly that (well, Holder's ass at the least).

Bush's other invocations of Executive Privilege? I think it fair to question some of them. Others were simply attempts to thwart fishing expeditions by Democratic Congresscritters. And--again to be fair--those Democrats were following in the footsteps of Republican predecessors, who went on a number of their own fishing trips during the Clinton years. Bill Clinton, in fact, invoked Executive Privilege fourteen times, far more times than Bush or any other President.

So, if any Administration had a "tendency" to hide behind Executive Privilege, it would be that of Clinton, first and foremost.

The current issue, however, is not who used the power before or who was justified in such use. It's whether or not Obama is justified in claiming Executive Privilege now, if there is a legitimate reason to refuse a Congressional subpoena. The money quote, again:
You know, there's been a tendency on the part of this administration to try to hide behind in executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place.
Obama is speaking of the Bush Administration, but what he is saying fits his Administration perfectly, aside from the "tendency" appellation. Because it's clear that his invocation of the power is about shielding Holder and the Administration from further scrutiny about Fast and Furious. One can't help but draw the obvious conclusion: there's something in the requested documents that would embarrass--at a minimum--Holder and Obama. And let's face it, Holder has already embarrassed himself numerous times. In truth, he looks like a clown. Whatever is being hidden  must be far more significant. Otherwise, the info could be released, Holder could look foolish once again, and we could move on.

But that's not happening. Obama has essentially assured the use of Fast and Furious as a campaign issue. Again, why? What secret could be worth giving Republicans this kind of ammunition?

Secret or not though, Obama's hypocrisy on the issue of Executive Privilege is as clear as a bell.

Cheers, all.

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