Mr. Rove’s Wild Ride

BY John Tully
October 8 2002
The Los Angeles Sun

Politics is not a pretty thing.

Look no further than this week in Washington D. C. Former Vice-president Albert Gore Jr. finally brought up the huge marsupial in the room. Criminy! folks, that’s gonna’ wake the whole herd up mate!

Senate Leader Tom Daschle, who seemed to have stashed his opinions in a lock box this summer finally blew his top on the Senate floor denouncing President Bush’s comment at a recent fundraiser that the “Senate” is more interested in “special interests” than in the Security Of Americans. That very same fundraiser pushed the President past Bill Clinton’s record of $126 million raised in one year and it’s only the last week of September.

Stepping right up to the plate this week was a small group of Senators who have been all too quiet this summer with any dissent of this administration’s dual War On Terrorism and Iraq. In fact the debate on war had bipassed “if” and went straight through to “when” and “who’s with us” by the time Mr. Gore finally cleared his throat Monday in San Francisco. Actual questions were raised about our effectiveness in toppling Saddam and how to proceed post-war in Iraq among others.

Sen. Robert Byrd paced and shook with disdain as he read Bush’s remarks from the newspaper on the senate floor. Sen. Daschle’s voice broke as he defended his colleagues, spoke of members who have served in the military and demanded an apology from the President. He also spoke of not politicizing the nation’s debate. It was a classic case of “too little,too late”

Back in June an internal G.O.P. playbook, authored by White House political strategist Karl Rove got into the hands of the opposition. The Powerpoint presentation suggested Republican candidates play up the “War” to keep the political dialogue on their side of the fence.The relative silence of the Democrats this summer only strengthened the resolve of the true hawks in the administration and a bipartisan resolution for war will almost definitely be passed by both houses. For GOP candidates however, the strategy might not pay off.

A new poll released this week shows that while the majority of Americans are for action against Iraq, three out of five want our allies to sign on. Colin Powell would like to go back to the Security Council soon with a joint resolution from the United States Congress and it looks as if he will have it. Unfortunately for the Republicans, this momentary truce focuses the debate back onto the domestic front where, as usual, it is the Economy…stupid.

Crikey! The bugger just ate his own heed!

Politics is not a pretty creature.

© 2002 The Los Angeles Sun

Judge Rules White House Aides Can Be Subpoenaed

August 1, 2008

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s top advisers must honor subpoenas issued by Congress, a federal judge ruled on Thursday in a case that involves the firings of several United States attorneys but has much wider constitutional implications for all three branches of government.

“The executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled Congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” Judge John D. Bates ruled in United States District Court here.

Unless overturned on appeal, a former White House counsel, Harriet E. Miers, and the current White House chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, would be required to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee, which has been investigating the controversial dismissal of the federal prosecutors in 2006.

While the ruling is the first in which a court has agreed to enforce a Congressional subpoena against the White House, Judge Bates called his 93-page decision “very limited” and emphasized that he could see the possibility of the dispute being resolved through political negotiations. The White House is almost certain to appeal the ruling.

It was the latest setback for the Bush administration, which maintains that current and former White House aides are immune from congressional subpoena. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to recommend that Karl Rove, a former top political adviser to President Bush, be cited for contempt for ignoring a subpoena and not appearing at a hearing on political interference by the White House at the Justice Department.

Although Judge Bates did not specifically say so, his ruling, if sustained on appeal, might apply as well to Mr. Rove and his refusal to testify.

The House has already voted to hold Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten in contempt for refusing to testify or to provide documents about the dismissals of the United States attorneys, which critics of the administration have suggested were driven by an improper mix of politics and decisions about who should, or should not, be prosecuted.

Judge Bates, who was appointed to the bench by President Bush in 2001, said Ms. Miers cannot simply ignore a subpoena to appear but must state her refusal in person. Moreover, he ruled, both she and Mr. Bolten must provide all non-privileged documents related to the dismissals.

Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten, citing legal advice from the White House, have refused for months to comply with Congressional subpoenas. The White House has repeatedly invoked executive privilege, the doctrine that allows the advice that a president gets from his close advisers to remain confidential.

In essence, Judges Bates held that whatever immunity from Congressional subpoenas that executive branch officials might enjoy, it is not “absolute.” And in any event, he said, it is up to the courts, not the executive branch, to determine the scope of its immunity in particular cases.

“We are reviewing the decision,” Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said. Before the decision was handed down, several lawyers said it would almost surely be appealed, no matter which way it turned, because of its importance.

Democrats in Congress issued statements in which they were quick to claim victory in the struggle with the administration over the dismissals of the federal prosecutors and other occurences in the Justice Department, and that they looked forward to hearing from the appropriate White House officials.

“I have long pointed out that this administration’s claims of executive privilege and immunity, which White House officials have used to justify refusing to even show up when served with congressional subpoenas, are wrong,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Leahy’s House counterpart in the House had a similar reaction.

“Today’s landmark ruling is a ringing reaffirmation of the fundamental principle of checks and balances and the basic American idea that no person is above the law,” said Representative John D. Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

From Secret Deals With Big Oil in The White House to Permanent Bases in Iraq

Think Progress

Engel: Permanent Bases Would Technically Be Iraqi With U.S.
‘Tenants’ As ‘A Face Saving Device

On Thursday, the UK Independent’s Patrick Cockburn reported on “a secret deal being
negotiated in Baghdad” that “would perpetuate the American
military occupation of Iraq indefinitely.” According to Cockburn,
the deal result in American soldiers being stationed on permanent bases in Iraq:

Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US
troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations,
arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise
Iraq’s position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending
conflict in their country.

On the same day, NPR’s Diane Rehm asked
NBC News Middle East correspondent Richard Engel about the report.
Engel said that as part of “a face saving device,” the
bases would technically be Iraqi and “U.S. troops would reside on
them as tenants”:

ENGEL: That’s the question, is it permanent bases or is it not, and the details of this have not been published. The
U.S. and Iraqi officials I’ve spoken to say they would not be
U.S. permanent bases in Iraq, they would be Iraqi bases and that U.S.
troops would reside on them as tenants and may even have to pay some
sort of nominal rent, so there would be a face saving device.

What’s also trying to be worked out is what’s the exact
U.S. mission. Would they be able to conduct independent operations
without the advice and consultation of the Iraqi government and that
has been a point of contention.

After Cockburn’s report was released, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq,
Ryan Crocker, tried to quash talk of permanent U.S. bases, telling
reporters that “it is not going to be forever.”
But Crocker also spoke of a situation that could comport with
Engel’s “face saving” description, claiming that
“there isn’t going to be an agreement that infringes on
Iraqi sovereignty.”

Transcript:

REHM: Here’s an email from James asking about an
article published today in the Independent in UK by Patrick Coburn and
it’s entitled, Revealed: Secret Plan To Keep Iraq Under U.S.
Control. Do you know about this?

ENGEL: I don’t know the article, but I know Patrick Cockburn,
he’s a friend and a fine reporter. Is this, I’ll take a
look at the article.

REHM: Just published today and our communicator in Raleigh says, “why has this not received more attention?”

ENGEL: I know what he’s talking about. This is the strategic
long term agreement that is being negotiated between Iraq and the
United States. This is a deal that is supposed to be, and we have
reported it, I think NBC News was the first to report this, it was, it
is a long term strategic alliance that is being hammered out, mostly in
secret in Baghdad. And that has many, many Iraqis concerned, it has
some U.S. officials concerned as well. The U.S. negotiators that
I’ve spoken to who are involved in this insist that it is not a
treaty, that it will not commit large numbers of U.S. forces to Iraq
for a long time, but it does clarify what the role of U.S. forces will
be for a long period going forward.

REHM: I.E.

ENGEL: That’s the question, is it permanent bases or is it
not, and the details of this have not been published. The U.S. and
Iraqi officials I’ve spoken to say they would not be U.S.
permanent bases in Iraq, they would be Iraqi bases and that U.S. troops
would reside on them as tenets and may even have to pay some sort of
nominal rent, so there would be a face saving device. What’s also
trying to be worked out is what’s the exact U.S. mission. Would
they be able to conduct independent operations without the advice and
consultation of the Iraqi government and that has been a point of
contention.

DOZIER: I know a member of Crocker’s team has been working on
this for about a year behind the scenes. And one of the major sticking
points is what law will apply to U.S. troops, how much will they be
able to do on their own, how much will they have to…they want of
course the rights that they have right now, to stage their own
missions, their own raids, without getting anybody’s say so, just
informing, “We’re headed off, we’re going to do
this.” The Iraqis are pushing for approval of everything and also
that Iraqi law would apply to soldiers, Marines who conduct violent
acts.

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