When Congress wanted to know who disclosed the identity of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, an aide to the vice president (I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby) obstructed the investigation and was convicted and sentenced. The president responded by commuting his sentence.
Congress still wants to know who fired eight prosecuting attorneys. This time Congress wants a conversation with Bush advisors Karl Rove and J. Scott Jennings. Bush doesn’t want Rove to talk. He also didn’t want former White House counsel Harriet Miers to talk either — so she ignored a congressional subpoena.
White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten also ignored a subpoena — and both Miers and Bolten may be cited for contempt. But, the Justice Department has already stated it will not prosecute either one. So, it is likely Rove and Jennings will follow the pattern set by Miers and Bolten in defying the authority of the legislative branch.
Congress, the media and ordinary American citizens have petitioned the executive branch for access to hidden data relating to 9/11. The CIA and Pentagon still doesn’t want anyone to see what’s in its video and report data on 9/11. Senator Ron Wyden, and others who have inquired — including a host of media — have all been denied access.
Senator Hillary Clinton wanted to know more about the Pentagon’s contingency plan for withdrawing troops from Iraq. The Undersecretary of Defense sent Hillary a letter on July 16, 2007 stating her request “reinforces enemy propaganda.”
The next day (July 17, 2007) the president signed an Executive Order that gave authority to the Secretary of Defense (State and Treasury secretaries also) to “block property of certain persons who threaten stabilization efforts in Iraq.” This order specifically targets American citizens. Hillary made a public statement expressing her own discontent. The Secretary of Defense got involved in the public dispute and not much has been said since.
Thus far, we have seen time and again where Congress and the executive branch have butted heads. And in each instance, the executive branch has won. There are many more confrontations than the ones above that could be cited as examples of the executive branch claiming extraordinary privileges while Congress complains and does nothing.
But those examples merely show one side of the picture of a Republican leadership that does what it wants, when it wants and how it wants. The Democrats, on the other hand, seem to do little more than whine about what the leaders in the White House, and the GOP, are doing to undermine America.