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House Defies Bush, Votes for Subpoenas March 21, 2007

Posted by Dan in Middle East, Must Read, News, Politics.
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There has been talk, recently, that the newly empowered Democratic Party is more-or-less impotent when it comes to getting things done. By getting things done, I mean: holding accountable those who’s mistakes screwed our entire country. Its like a major corporation…. even if the CEO had absolutely no idea that decisions had been made which drove his company into the ground, HE STILL GETS FIRED! We have yet to see Bush held to similar accountability.

The Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, recently gave a speech in which he proposed just that: the immediate impeachment of both Bush and Cheney. He said, “if ever there was a time when impeachment was justified, this is it.” I couldn’t agree more.

Republicans had absolutely no problem bringing impeachment proceedings to Clinton, when all he did was lie about sleeping with an intern. Bush lied about Iraq, and as such, has led us into a war who’s cost is measured in thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. The only question is: did he know he was lying? Clinton certainly knew about his sexual involvement with Monica Lewinsky, but did Bush know there was no threat from Saddam?

I argue that it makes absolutely no difference. Bush was at the wheel when the ship crashed, whether he could see the iceberg or not. Its only appropriate that he go down with his ship.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — House Democrats voted Wednesday to give their leaders the authority to force White House officials to testify on the firings of U.S. attorneys.

The House Judiciary subcommittee vote was to authorize subpoenas. It does not mean that subpoenas will be issued; only that they could be if the four White House officials Democrats want to question do not voluntarily testify under oath.

But the act puts congressional Democrats on a collision course with President Bush. He said Tuesday that the four — top political adviser Karl Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers, and their two deputies — could be interviewed in the matter, but no oath could be administered and no transcript would be taken.

Rep. John Conyers, head of the House Judiciary Committee, said during Wednesday’s debate that the committee needed more than a simple conversation with Rove, Miers and their deputies.

“We could meet at the local pub to have that kind of conversation,” he said. “But in my judgment it would not advance us toward uncovering the simple truth in this matter.”

Democrats say transcripts are necessary so any inconsistencies in testimony can be challenged.

GOP members of the committee urged more investigation before authorization of subpoenas was discussed.

“I would strongly prefer that we postpone the issuance of subpoenas until we’ve had a chance to get the White House, who has made an offer to comply, to review the Department of Justice documents,” said Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Florida.

“And I for one would be prepared at the proper time to vote if there was any potential that misconduct occurred.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the authorization of subpoenas Thursday.

The committees are considering issuing subpoenas to force Rove, Miers and their two deputies to reveal what they knew about the reasons behind the firings of at least seven U.S. attorneys.

Bush said sworn testimony by White House officials would breach executive privilege — the right of the president to have confidential communications with his staff — and vowed Congress would face a legal fight if subpoenas are issued.

The president can fire federal prosecutors without cause, but lawmakers are questioning whether the firings of several U.S. attorneys were politically motivated.

Justice Department officials say the dismissals of at least seven U.S. attorneys were based on performance or managerial problems, but acknowledged that one fired attorney was pushed out to make way for a Rove protege.

“We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants,” Bush said Tuesday. “The initial response by Democrats, unfortunately, shows that some are more interested in scoring political points than in understanding the facts.”

‘Erasing large portions’ of ‘selectively sent documents’

Bush said he will not allow Rove and the others to testify under oath because it would damage their ability to give the president “candid advice.”

But, he said, “Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his key staff will testify before the relevant congressional committees to explain how the decision was made and for what reasons.”

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, also complained about the 3,000 documents the Justice Department handed over to the committees late Monday, saying redactions in the documents make them unworkable.

“Instead of freely and fully providing relevant documents to the investigating committees, they have only selectively sent documents, after erasing large portions that they do not want to see the light of day,” he said.

The president’s offer also includes communications between White House staffers and the Justice Department on the firings, although not communications between various White House officials on the matter.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said the administration could be expected to challenge any subpoena in court, meaning the legal proceedings could outlast the Bush presidency.

“It goes to the district court and then potentially the Supreme Court and you’re talking about an administration with 21 months to go. You can do the math. Courts don’t work that fast,” Toobin said on CNN’s “American Morning.”

Critics say firings abused Patriot Act

Critics of the firing of the prosecutors said the administration abused the Patriot Act in circumventing the usual confirmation procedure in naming their replacements.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 94-2 to pass a bill that cancels a provision of the Patriot Act that allowed federal prosecutors to be appointed and serve without confirmation by the Senate.

The controversy over the firings has cost the job of Gonzales’ chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, and prompted several from both sides of the aisle to call for Gonzales’ resignation. But on Tuesday, Bush said Gonzales has his full support.

“I am confident he acted appropriately,” Bush said from the White House. “I regret that it turned into a public spectacle.”

“There is no indication [after reviewing the matter] that anyone did anything improper,” the president said.

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