In December 2005, a long-time friend who worked in the Bush White House tipped me on a meeting the President had with some top GOP leaders. During that meeting, a worried Republican aide told Bush that the USA Patriot Act represented a threat to the Constitution.
Bush, whose temper is always close to the surface, exploded:
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
After confirming the story with two other White House sources, I published it on December 10, 2005.
Since that time, the story has become a rallying cry for critics of Capitol Hill Blue, saying I made it all up or that it came from a source that has since been discredited.
Both claims are wrong. After nearly four years of listening to the rabid right-wing try to discredit the story, I see no reason to doubt the sources who gave me the information. I believe Bush called the Constitution a “goddamned piece of paper” and I believe his record of abuses of American liberties and disregard for the Constitution proves that his angry outburst is exactly how he felt about the document that used to define our way of life.
Recent disclosures about the authorization of torture only add to my belief that the President used the Constitution as toilet paper to wipe his ass and not as something to uphold as he swore when he took the Oath of Office.
And I don’t much give a goddamn what some blogger or washed up ex-journalist who runs a pseudo-fact checking web site says. I know I’m right. Our readers know we’re right and those who seek to cast doubts on our honesty and integrity can go screw themselves.
A journalist cannot do his or her job as a watchdog on government by playing it safe. Sometimes, we have to go on instinct. In 2003, we wrote that Bush ignored warnings that intelligence placing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was fabricated. People called us “unpatriotic” and, again, claimed we make the whole thing up. It took a few years, but our story turned out to be correct.
In 2004, we reported that Bush was acting erratically and terrorizing staff with temper tantrums and obscenity-laced tirades. Again came the claims that we manufactured the story.
Then, in 2005, Newsweek’s Evan Thomas wrote:
Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him…Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as “strangely surreal and almost detached.” At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat.
In Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, by Newsweek report Michael Isikoff and The Nation’s David Corn, the two vetreran journalists reported:
President Bush was driven by a visceral hatred of Saddam Hussein, which he privately demonstrated in expletive-laden tirades against the Iraqi dictator. In May 2002–months before he asked Congress for authority to attack Saddam-Bush bluntly revealed his ultimate game plan in a candid moment with two aides. When told that reporter Helen Thomas was questioning the need to oust Saddam by force, Bush snapped: “Did you tell her I intend to kick his sorry mother fucking ass all over the Mideast?” In a meeting with congressional leaders, the President angrily thrust his middle finger inches in front of the face of Senator Tom Daschle to illustrate Saddam’s attitude toward the United States.
Capitol Hill Blue has made mistakes and will not doubt make others in the future. In 14-and-a-half years of publishing this web site, we have been hoodwinked by two sources who were not who they claimed to be. Some bloggers, consumed with their own self-importance, claimed they “outed us” but we reported it before anyone else did. That little fact got lost in the feeding frenzy that followed.
I apologized to our readers in 2006 for my lapse in judgment in not fully vetting a source. It’s happened twice in 14 and-a-half years. It hasn’t happened again and it won’t.
But I will not apologize for how we exposing the criminal underbelly of Congress in our series: Congress: America’s Criminal Class. I will not apologize for reporting that George W. Bush called the Constitution a “goddamned piece of paper.” I will not apologize for exposing his temper trantrums or use of phony intelligence to send thousands of American soldiers to a needless death in Iraq.
Those who don’t like what we do can go elsewhere. Those who claim we manufacture stories can go to hell. And those who claim to hold themselves to a self-perceived, and fake, higher standard while hiding the fact that they make far more mistakes than we can go screw themselves.