Friday, July 20, 2007

Bush, the King of Trumps

While recent events in Pakistan and D.C. may seem unconnected, they actually have a common theme... political power.

In Pakistan, the "Supreme Court Reinstates Judge". (WaPo)... Chief Justice Chaudhry, that is, who President Musharraf had accused of misconduct and removed.

The timing was.... well, suspect. When Chaudhry was removed, he was "reviewing and preparing to rule on several cases challenging Musharraf's plans to orchestrate a new five-year term for himself before upcoming parliamentary elections."

The Supreme Court ruled that the removal was illegal and Chaudhry was reinstated today.

The legal struggle has been framed as between the two branches of government. Bowing to the ruling, Pakistan's Prime Minister Aziz said, "We must all accept the verdict with grace and dignity reflective of a mature nation, this is not the time to claim victory or defeat. The Constitution and the law have prevailed and must prevail at all times."

Now, let's contrast this rather stirring outcome with the White House dispute with our legislative branch of government.

Invoking a new assertion of Bush's executive authority Thursday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.... "Broader Privilege Claimed" is the latest White House maneuver.

Bush's executive branch doesn't worry about the judicial branch slapping their hand since their grip on that branch is so total.... the "Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege." (WaPo)


And, the reason they are so arrogantly confident?

As it turns out, House and Senate contempt citations must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia... the legal branch.... Attorney General Gonzales is Bush's boy and will do his bidding, and the majority on the Supreme Court is in the White House pocket.

This latest administration move is such a sweeping negation of the separation of powers it is important to quote fully a senior White House official on their consensus opinion: "A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case, and a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."

Mark J. Rozell, professor of public policy at George Mason University calls the White House policy "astonishing."

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers, Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all.

Trumps the Constitution.

Trumps Congress.

Trumps the rule of law.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the administration is "hastening a constitutional crisis." And Henry Waxman (D-CA) added, that the administration "makes a mockery of the ideal that no one is above the law.... I suppose the next step would be just disbanding the Justice Department."

It's shocking to realize that the "mature" democracy of strife-torn Middle Eastern Pakistan is functioning and protecting its separation-of-powers government, while above-the-law Bush and Cheney's unholy alliance is ripping the guts out of ours.

A ruthless, unprincipled power grab orchestrated by shadow president Cheney. Congress must act, NOW.... while they still are the third branch.

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