Bush to Congress: Up yours!

President Bush invoked executive privilege Monday to deny requests by Congress for testimony from two former aides about the firings of federal prosecutors.

The White House, however, did offer again to make former counsel Harriet Miers and one-time political director Sara Taylor available for private, off-the-record interviews.

In a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Judiciary panels, White House counsel Fred Fielding insisted that Bush was acting in good faith and refused lawmakers’ demand that the president explain the basis for invoking the privilege.

“You may be assured that the president’s assertion here comports with prior practices in similar contexts, and that it has been appropriately documented,” the letter said.

Retorted House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers:

“Contrary what the White House may believe, it is the Congress and the courts that will decide whether an invocation of executive privilege is valid, not the White House unilaterally,” the Michigan Democrat said in a statement.

The exchange Monday was the latest step in a slow-motion legal waltz between the White House and lawmakers toward eventual contempt-of-Congress citations. If neither side yields, the matter could land in federal court.

In his letter regarding subpoenas the Judiciary panels issued, Fielding said, “The president feels compelled to assert executive privilege with respect to the testimony sought from Sara M. Taylor and Harriet E. Miers.”

Fielding was responding to a 10 a.m. EDT deadline set by the Democratic chairmen, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Conyers, for the White House to explain it’s privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it and provide logs of which documents were being withheld.

As expected, Fielding refused to comply. He said he was acting at Bush’s direction, and he complained that the committees had decided to enforce the subpoenas whether or not the White House complied.

“The committees have already prejudged the question, regardless of the production of any privilege log,” Fielding wrote. “In such circumstances, we will not be undertaking such a project, even as a further accommodation.”

Leahy also questioned the explanation.

“I have to wonder if the White House’s refusal to provide a detailed basis for this executive privilege claim has more to do with its inability to craft an effective one,” he said in a statement.

The privilege claim on testimony by former aides won’t necessarily prevent them from appearing under oath this week, as scheduled.

Leahy said that he expected Taylor, Bush’s former political director, to testify as scheduled before the Senate panel on Wednesday. Fielding tried to head off any possibility that she would tell the story the president believes is protected under the privilege.

“I respectfully request that you inform Ms. Taylor that the president has directed her not to provide this testimony,” Fielding wrote in a letter Monday to Neil Eggleston, her lawyer. Eggleston did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Taylor was included on e-mails about the firings released earlier this year by the Justice Department, and Leahy believes she could answer questions about those and other matters.

The House Judiciary Committee scheduled Miers’ testimony for Thursday, but it was unclear whether she would appear, according to congressional aides speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were under way.

The probe into the U.S. attorney firings was only one of several Democratic-led investigations of the White House and its use of executive power spanning the war in Iraq, Bush’s secretive wiretapping program and his commutation last week of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s prison sentence.

Fielding’s letter welcomed lawmakers back to town with a clear indication that relations between Congress and the White House had soured during the break.

Bush’s counsel cloaked his tough rejoinder to the Democratic committee chairmen in gentlemanly language, but his message was unequivocal: the White House won’t back down, and believes the congressional legal argument to be far weaker than its own and its attitude less appealing.

Fielding dismissed the chairmen’s attempt to “direct” the White House to provide the legal underpinning of Bush’s executive privilege claims and a detailed listing of the documents he is withholding. He said the White House already has provided its legal argument and so does not need to do so again — and won’t.

“We are aware of no authority by which a congressional committee may `direct’ the Executive to undertake the task of creating and providing an extensive description of every document covered by an assertion of Executive Privilege,” he wrote. Fielding suggested that asserting executive privilege on the testimony comes as a result of this impasse and the lack of good faith it demonstrates on the part of Congress.

More broadly, Fielding suggested that the congressional inquiry into the entire matter of the U.S. attorneys’ dismissals has no constitutional basis, in large part because the president has sole authority to hire and fire federal prosecutors.

“Although we each speak on behalf of different branches of government, and perhaps for that reason cannot help having different perspectives on the matter, it is hoped you will agree, upon further reflection, that it is incorrect to say that the President’s assertion of executive privilege was performed without `good faith,’ ” Fielding’s letter said.


Associated Press Writer Jennifer Loven contributed to this story.


  1. Arlo J. Thudpucker

    It’s clear that Bush’s back is to the wall. He had to make sure Libby did not spend a day in stir.

    No one would have bought an unfortunate illness or accident.

    While Scooter took the fall, he remains a loose end.


    I have long suspected that Messrs Ledeen, Feith, Rhode, Lady and a couple Italians planned the Niger Embassy caper, in order to bogus up the “Niger Yellowcake” docs.

    Which, of course, would make the White House the source of the Yellowcake document.


  2. kent shaw

    Don’t worry. It’ll all be over soon. A third carrier group is headed for Iran. The U.S. is about to attack. China and Russia will respond. We had a good run. Its time to step aside and let some other species evolve into intelligence. Maybe they will have a little more common sense than mankind did.

  3. SEAL

    Kent, I see no way they could pull it off. If they tried another bogus terrorist attack by [this time] Iranians, no one in the world would believe it. They have zero credibility. Congress would not authorize any attack on Iran and if they proceeded without that they would be removed form the White House in short order.

    Also, do not expect the Russians or Chinese to over react militarily. The only way they would become involved is if we invaded Iran and we cannot do that. We have no troops left for that. Beside that, from a military staging point of view, invading Iran would require at least 5 times the number of troops we used in Iraq. The size of the country, the terrian, and the quality of opposition are all factors.

    If Bush/Cheney were crazy enough to use nuclear on Iran the Russians and Chinese would not launch nuclear at us. They know they cannot compete with us in a nuclear war and that it would be the end of the world as we know it. Fortunately they have cool heads running their governments.

    Lastly, I do not believe Bush and Cheney are making the decisions. Those that are would know better. They would know that attacking Iran would end any chance they have for acquiring the Iraqi oil and that is their prime objective.

  4. Steve Horn

    Yep – and congress will do nothing. Oh sure, you’ll hear a lot of wind blowing through the halls, statements of indignation – but it will come to exactly nothing. No articles of impeachement, no arrests, nothing.

    Oh – maybe we can have another non-binding resolution to do something in the future – that’ll show Bush –

    A rubber stamp Republican congress was bad, but this gutless bunch of Democrats we elected last November is a shameful example of American politics at its worst.

  5. gene

    OK,OK…enough already. I been trying to tell you that the average citizen in this country is to dam stupid and (FAT) and is primarily concerned about (ME) as in them. I see it every time I go out into this sick bloated society.

    Their is simply not enough intelligent, motivated, honest individuals to stop this criminal insanity that has almost totally cpatured this nation.

  6. Steve Horn

    I disagree. I feel that the vast majority of this nation is comprised of honest, motivated and intelligent individuals. Many of the problems we have come from the disaffection of the population from the political process. We have become convinced that no matter how hard we work, no matter how much we try, the same lousy bastards are going to dominate the halls of congress, year after year. I’ve had people tell me that they don’t bother to vote because they’re sick and tired of not having a candidate they can vote FOR. I understand their pain and frustration. I myself am sick and tired of voting for the least repulsive candidate year after year.

    Somehow we need to remove money and influence peddling from public service, and I’m at a loss for how to accomplish that feat of magic.

    As the middle class continues to shrink in the good old USofA the distinction between the major party candidates shrinks, every year, until you really can’t tell them apart. That’s what the rich and powerful want – they feel safe so long as no one is going to rock the boat. That’s why your artfully selected and elected democrats in congress do the same nothing that the carefully selected and elected republicans did to counter the administration. At the core, they’re no different than the republicans.

    You can only counter this through strong “third” parties, and they can only emerge as strong players if they’re supported by the citizens.

    But so long as the stock market is rising (for the rich) and minimum wage is going up (for the rest of us) and we can shop at sprawlmart and consume cheap, contaminated food from China and be kept “safe” from terrorists (you’re not, by the way – there’s no real, genuine way to prevent a determined terrorist attack) no one is going to attack the status quo and there will be no change.

    Never vote for an incumbent, never vote for a major party candidate and always vote – perhaps together we can make a difference.



  7. kent shaw

    If Sheehan defeats Pelosi, which democrat is next in line by seniority to become Speaker of the House?
    Anyone know?

  8. mterry

    Quote from the post of Seal:
    BTW – Cindy Sheehan gave Pelosi two weeks to file for impeachment of Bush or she will run against her in the upcoming election as an independent. Ya gotta like this lady. Pelosi had no comment and, so far, the press has buried it.

    PLEASE tell me this is true…Despite the utter chaos that this will cause, please let both Bu$h AND Cheney be impeached at the same time. This country needs this “exorcism”.

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
    ~George Washington

  9. Carl Nemo

    Yo mterry…

    Chairman Mao said it most eloquently when it comes to the essence of government for all time and all places; i.e., “Power comes from the muzzle of a gun”…! Mao Tse Tung

    Without the fear of our government’s response to outright rebellion in the face of their ongoing anti-constitutional behavior; what other force keeps “we the people” from rising up and making the summary changes that are obviously necessary, other than death, at the hands of a brutal governmental response to our insurrection…?!

    Carl Nemo **==

  10. Wayne K Dolik

    The thing we all need to do is continue to petition our Representatives and Senators.
    Carl Nemo is right. Carl says do something!

    At no time in our history has the Government, the Military Industrial Complex and the Main Stream Media been lined up against the public’s interest. CHB readers have heard me say we are “mobbed up”, and these 3 entities are our best example. These scoundrels all profit from never ending war. The truth is your Government is no longer afraid of its Citizens. We need to let our legislators know how we feel. Turn up the heat.

    Seal is right. Let’s let them know who the People are! Give them hell! And, if your officials don’t want to listen to you, ask them if they would like to see a national strike by all the people living in America. Then let’s see how much money the elite make! Enough is Enough.

  11. Carl Nemo

    Well, it’s high time for Congress to show the Executive Branch who’s running the show by reigning them on a “short-leash” big-time! Buscho has some very bad “kimche” hidden under the Executive rug. They are a bunch of scofflaws; ie., the rule of law means nothing to them! The rule of law is evidently only germaine to us, “we the people”; i.e, “groundlings” to Bushco, they the predators, and we their prey…no?!

    I’ll provide the duty links so folks can contact their elected reps and demand both accountability with concurrent summary impeachment of Bush/Cheney! We’re paying these mattoids wages, and giving them respect they no longer deserve at this point in time.

    We are looking at the equivalent of a Ken Lay (Enron CEO, convicted corporate felon now deceased), Bernie Evers (Worldcom CEO, now serving time) Dennis Koslowski (Tyco, now serving time) and a host of these corporate criminals all wrapped up into once sitting in the Whitehouse. They’re cooking the books, and have broken this nation financially with this Iraqi debacle, started so too on “cooked” intelligence, that’s been nothing but a road to ruin for our once great nation. All I can say is to do nothing puts our very way of life at risk. The American people mean absolutely nothing to the Bushistas and their shadowy corporate controllers.


    Carl Nemo **==

  12. SEAL

    “We are aware of no authority by which a congressional committee may `direct’ the Executive to undertake the task of creating and providing an extensive description of every document covered by an assertion of Executive Privilege,” he wrote.

    That authority comes from the people of the USA by and through their representatives – congress. Anytime a member of congress asks or demands somthing from the administrative branch it is the people who are making the request. The people are the authority under our constition.

    The problem with this thing is that it will probably take the rest of Bush’s term for it to go through the courts to get a decision from the supreme court which is where it will eventually wind up. And let us not forget that Bush has the courts stacked.

    I think it would be a bad idea to push this thing through the courts. In the first place the firing of the attorneys is not a good case to seek a precedence decision. They have a good argument since the president has the right to hire and fire those attornies. The court may refuse to even hear it based upon that. The illegal wire tapping would be a much better case for that and just drop the attorney thing.

    BTW – Cindy Sheehan gave Pelosi two weeks to file for impeachment of Bush or she will run against her in the upcoming election as an independent. Ya gotta like this lady. Pelosi had no comment and, so far, the press has buried it.

  13. Jenifer D.

    People are just lazy; let them have their beer, white zinfandel, and their precious superbowl, and they’ll be content. That’s how the masses are viewed by the scofflaws we call the government. Executive privilege, like diplomatic immunity, must be revoked or rendered null and void before we can get to the fetid bottom of what this bunch of Nazi-loving perps are really up to.

    After watching the testimony of a few SME’s last night, looks like the Nazi’s won the war after all if our government is continuing their legacy of attaining world domination.

    When the news announces the suspension of the 2008 presidential elections in a few months, I’ll just shake my head and think “Well, now ain’t this a fabulous time we live in!”

  14. SEAL

    Yahoo news had the piece about Cindy Sheehan’s declaration to Pelosi a couple of days ago. As I recall it was from the AP. I hadn’t said anything about it because I expected to see it here. It was a fairly long piece about her plans for the driving and walking trip her group is making to Washington DC and what she will be doing based upon what Pelosi does. But we all know that Pelosi will not impeach and Cindy has never gone back on her word. That will be the most interesting race in the nation next year. I have to think she has scared the shit out of Pelosi.

  15. SEAL

    Our Constitution was designed to protect the citizens FROM the government. Somehow, that concept has gotten lost in the minds of the people. Every time we give up one of those protections in the name of security we move closer to what the creators of this nation were committed to prevent – GOVERNMENT RULE.

    As I read the Patriot Act, it is unconstitutional because it takes away protections enshrined in the Constitution. Meaning that Congress and the President could not pass and sign it into law. The only way any of the protections or rights contained in the Constitution can be removed is by amending the Constitution itself. It cannot be done by making a law, regardless if everyone agrees with the law. In fact, just so there could never be any doubt of that, the creators clearly stated it [“shall make no law abridging these rights”] in the Constitution and Bill Of Rights.

    There are many laws at all levels of governments that are unconstitutional. They are there because the people are too damn lazy and self absorbed to pay attention. If they don’t wake up at this point in time and get involved, they will lose their right to even complain about the rights they have lost.

  16. surgethis

    Bush’s presidency has been a lie and a cover up from the moment they stole the 2000 election.
    They were installed by the globalists to break down our rights, start resource wars, and expand empire and their global control.

    These are criminals breaking the law in order to protect their turf and to enrich themselves beyond anything the world has ever seen. Iraq is not a war – it’s an armed robbery.

    It all adds up to “911 was an inside job. Carefully carried out to initiate resource wars and profit for the military industrial complex of companies and individuals.

    Yeah I get that many scoff like lemmings at this idea. They would rather believe like Doug Thomson that in every other area the BushCo are corrupt – just not around 911. They had integrity and can be trusted they told us the truth about the terrorists.

    Yeah right.

  17. kent shaw

    I’m voting for the Green Party candidate in 2008. I don’t care if they run an earthworm, that’s who’s getting my vote.

  18. LurkingFromTheLeft

    Interesting concept BUT –

    …sorry – could not help myself ! –

    …they won’t be able to satisfy the minimum age requirement –

    …they are long gone by then –