Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

June 14, 2004

by V

Ashcroft v. Ashcroft

I am unable to improve on this post from TAPPED's Jeffrey Dubner, so I'll just reprint it:

John Ashcroft's testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday was a bit frustrating for the Democratic Senators. Asked about the damning memos (warning: PDF) uncovered by The Wall Street Journal and others over the past week, he repeatedly refused to discuss them by explaining the rationale for executive privilege -- and then insisting that he was not claiming executive privilege. A typical exchange went like this:
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: I am not going to reveal discussions -- whether I've had them or not had them with the president. He asked me to deal with him as a matter of confidence. I have not invoked the executive privilege today. I have explained to you why I'm not turning over the documents.

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, what are you invoking then?

ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: I have not invoked anything. I have just explained to you why I am not turning over the documents.
Ashcroft chased his tail this way throughout the hearing, insisting that it "is essential to the operation of the executive branch that the president have the opportunity to get information from its attorney general that is confidential" (the very definition of an executive privilege claim), but then stammering that "if I did say that I was exerting executive privilege, I don't believe I said that, and I didn't intend to say I was exerting the privilege."

But one Senator is going to put a stop to this foolishness. That principled champion of sunshine? None other than Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft. From May 13, 1998:
Part and parcel of the President's abuse of executive privilege is his unwillingness to acknowledge the mere fact that he has asserted the privilege. Indeed, the President's lawyers recently have attacked the Independent Counsel's office for acknowledging the Court's entirely predictable rejection of the President's assertion of executive privilege. Apparently, the President wants to be able to assert the privilege and have a court rule on it, all without the knowledge of Congress or the American people.

The Executive Accountability Act of 1998 addresses the problem of the covert use of executive privilege through the simple expedient of requiring full disclosure...
Ashcroft's worry as a Senator? "[C]ongressional inquiries will be stymied by similar claims of executive privilege." Ashcroft's argument as Attorney General? "[P]rivate advice that the president gets from his Attorney General doesn't have to be a part of the debate."

And here I thought Ashcroft's problem was that he was too stubborn.
I haven't seen Ashcroft's Executive Accountability Act quote anywhere else.

It needs to spread...
Posted by V at June 14, 2004 02:49 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

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