Russ Daggatt offers another illuminating look at the crisis:
”It was widely acknowledged before and after last November's elections that probably the biggest consequence of Democrats gaining control of one or both Houses of Congress would be their acquisition of subpoena power. (In October 2006, Pelosi was asked what was most important about regaining majority status. "Subpoena power," she said.) After six years of a Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress there might, at last, be some oversight of the Bush administration.
“Yet even before the election, the Bush administration was preparing to defy those subpoenas. A Bush strategist told TIME magazine last October (as it was becoming increasingly clear that the Democrats would win at least one House of Congress) that the administration would fight any efforts at Congressional oversight, "all the way to the Supreme Court on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no negotiation."
“A bit of background: The office of Attorney General and the offices of US Attorney are creations of Congress and, pursuant to Article I of the US Constitution, Congress has the power, "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for ... the execution of all powers ... vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."
As a matter of Constitutional law, there is simply no question that Congress may pass laws that regulate the conduct of the Attorney General and the US Attorneys. One such law is 2 U.S.C. 194, which deals with enforcing a Congressional contempt citation. It provides that when the House has voted for contempt it may then certify that fact to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action." 2 U.S.C. 194 (my emphasis). That is the law. The US Attorney shall bring the matter before a grand jury. It is his legal duty. Nothing elective there. Nothing up to the president or Attorney General.
“So how do you think Bush plans to get around the law that provides for enforcement of Congressional contempt citations? Simple. Just defy it (as he defied the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- FISA -- and any other law he doesn't like). As one "Senior White House Official" said recently, "We are not going to blink on this one. The President is not going to buckle to the threat of subpoenas."
“So is it now perfectly clear why it was so important to Bush and Rove that the US Attorneys all be compliant partisans? If you control the enforcement mechanism, you can frustrate any attempts at Congressional oversight -- at least long enough to run out the clock. And if anyone actually is found guilty of contempt of Congress? Can you spell S-C-O-O-T-E-R?”
Whoosh… please everybody read up on this!
Things are coming to a head. The neocons appear confident that they have stacked the Justice Department, so that US Attorneys won’t enforce Congressional subpoenas.
And then, in a layered defense, that they have stacked the Court, so it won’t support the principles of transparency, accountability or oversight. Or even precedent.
Failing there, they seem convinced that Bush pardons can ensure the safety, impunity and loyalty of the top thousand henchmen. It all seems good for the next 18 months. But thereafter?
How about the mind-bogglingly hypocritical and short-sighted approach to establishing precedents of imperial presidential power? Precedents that a Democratic president might use? How to explain why those Bush supporters who aren’t worried about indictments aren’t wringing their hands about a super-empowered Hillary, right now?
Alas, explanations range from dim-wittedness to scary confidence:
1) “When a dem president is in office, we’ll deny we supported ANY of this! And you smarty pants moderates can scream hypocrisy all you like, but who cares? We control the media.”
2) “When a dem is in office, he or she will get all prissy and refuse these powers! So we haven’t a thing to worry about. Still, seeds will be planted for when it is our turn again.”
3) “We have solid reasons to believe that no democrat will ever take office to use these powers. No matter what polls say or what the people want. So go $&*#! yourselves.”
Okay, let’s pause a moment.
Look, my forte is asking people to step back and see things from a different light. So I am going to once again appeal for folks to see this at another level than just a partisan political fight.
And yes, what I am about to say repeats a rant that I (and only I) have been shouting for six years. Still, I feel that I must go over the ground again, praying that Cassandra will be heard, this time.
We will not win this fight through normal politics… or even abnormal politics, like subpoenas and hearings, or going through the (stacked) Justice Department and (stacked) Courts.
It has all gone too far. Hell, even if we win the next dozen battles, loosen the monsters’ grip on the Republic and make it through elections that turn the bastards out in droves, that will do some good, but it will still leave us mired in “culture war,” with one third of our countrymen nursing grudges that would make the post-Watergate GOP look like Pollyanna.
Moreover, that one-third will be poised to use every trick to win back the one-sixth they’ll need for “another round”. Even marginalized, they can make life hell for all of us. Remember Monica. They don’t need a meaningful pretext. Only hate.
The real challenge for us is not to win the next round of Culture War, but to end it.
And we have only one real hope for that to happen. The entire neocon movement must be stripped so bare, revealing so many horrors, that 80% of Americans see how horrible this has been and that the remaining Culture Warriors are genuine, certifiable loons.
So that a decent American conservatism can begin rebuilding with Barry Goldwater as its model, and not Savanarola.
There is only one way that any of this can happen. It will not be a miracle wrought by politicians. It will not be a revolution led by the People - though they will rise up when it all comes out.
This is a matter that requires action by the tens of thousands of skilled men and women who we have hired to protect us. It is time for the pros to stand up, to listen to their hearts and obey the oaths that they have sworn.
I have long forecast that our nation-saving breakthrough may only come from a rebellion in favor of the law and Constitution, on the part of the skilled professionals in the horrifically abused civil service, intelligence community and US Officer Corps.
In this particular case, an appointed US Attorney -- or even a civil servant, non-appointed DEPUTY US Attorney -- might gather the courage to defy his or her screeching/tyrant boss and make the test case, by serving enforcement papers upon Harriet Meiers and others who have been subpoenaed, in obedience to the legal and constitutional powers of Congress.
The spectre that the Bushites have most to fear is such a rebellion in favor of law, in even one small part of the professional caste, spreading to other parts. Already the biggest victim of the monsters – the military Officer Corps – is roiling with so much anger that they may refuse, when the inevitable order comes down, to create political distractions by attacking Iran. If the CIA likewise were to report to Congress (as it is legally obliged to do) that the pretexts are bogus…
…well, that’s just one example of a situation in which sworn protectors might show the guts and brains that we hired them for.
Indeed, helping the professionals feel ready to take such steps should be seen as the number one goal and objective of Democratic endeavors and rhetoric. Because if such a dam were ever to burst, encouraging other professionals to tattle, the cleansing tsunami that followed might sweep all the monsters away.
Clearly, the Bushites know this, or they would not have bent almost all of their efforts, across a decade, to harrying, bullying, browbeating , suborning and destroying the professional caste.
It is their most consistent behavior set...
...just as the most consistent pattern of the Democrats has been to stupidly ignore this issue. The one totally non-political and no-brainer, killer issue that crosses all party lines and should appeal as much to honest conservatives as it does to liberals!
The one issue that might instantly unify the nation.
The issue that could crush the monsters, as if they were made of spun sugar.
If any major Dem were to speak out about the War Against Professionalism, offering our public servants protection and shelter from the freaks and inquisitors who have oppressed them for a decade, the levee might, indeed burst.
Their failure to do so speaks volumes about how poorly the opposition is led.