FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Confrontation, At Last

by STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN

Rejoice! Congress may have come to life!

The President has drawn his line in the sand and a Senator has crossed it!

“We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants,” President Bush said in a last ditch effort to keep his manipulator, Karl Rove, and his former attorney, Harriet Miers, from being questioned under oath in a Congressional hearing. They would be grilled on the scandal that’s been hanging over the Justice Department, and particularly Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General, about the dismissal of eight US Federal Attorneys allegedly for political purposes.

Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the man who stepped across that line in the sand and threatened to send out subpoenas for Rove, Miers and their aides if they didn,t appear voluntarily. “I want testimony under oath. I,m sick and tired of getting half-truths on this,” said Leahy. “Testimony should be on the record and under oath. That’s the formula for true accountability– it is not helpful to be telling the Senate how to do our investigation or to prejudge its outcome.”

Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Democrat of Michigan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee doesn,t want anyone like the President telling him how to do his investigation, either. He is also preparing subpoenas for Rove and Miers to get their sworn testimony in the House inquiry.

It’s great to see Congress, the House and the Senate, the voice, the force and the soul of the people’s democracy, get some spine and confront an executive branch gone wild.

The executive branch has gone wild before. Warren Harding took his lumps at Teapot Dome and Richard Nixon at Watergate”probably the granddaddy of Congressional confrontations with executive privilege.

Senator Sam Ervin, self-styled “country lawyer”, Democrat of North Carolina, became chairman of the Senate Select Committee investigating Watergate and went head-to-head with President Richard M. Nixon.

It was a “third rate burglary” during the Nixon re-election campaign in 1972 that kicked off the confrontation. A group of plumbers (they fix leaks) operating from the basement of the White House broke into the Democratic National Headquarters that happened to be located in the Watergate Office Building in Washington. They were trying to bug the place to spy on Democratic election strategy”and they got caught, red handed.

The Congressional investigation of the event and its cover-up didn,t take place until a year later. In the interim, Nixon was reelected. After three months of testimony by Nixon’s motley crew, subpoenaed before the Ervin Committee in 1973, Nixon yelled “uncle” and resigned rather than face impeachment.

Republicans have no monopoly on executive chutzpah. Welcome to the ranks, FDR!

In 1937, when the Supreme Court kept overturning some of his New Deal measures, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt found a loophole he thought he could squeeze through. Simply pack the Court. He wanted the authority to appoint new members to the Supreme Court who would be more apt to vote his way. There is nothing in the Constitution that says the Supreme Court has to be limited to nine members. So Roosevelt put through the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, which was signed into law, post haste. It gave him the power to appoint an extra Supreme Court Justice for every sitting Justice over the age of 70 and a half. That would get him three or four more, enough for keeping his measures from being overturned. Why not twelve or fourteen justices? Nine is not a magic number.

Before Roosevelt could take advantage of the feint, a howl went up across the country and rippled through Congress. Eventually, Roosevelt gave up the ghost, and we went back to the traditional 9 (count,em) 9 Supreme Court justices”one Chief Justice and eight Associates. (who will probably be used to save Bush’s bacon in the current bru-ha-ha, if it gets to court.)

Right now, we have a plethora of confrontations. With hearings brewing in both the House and Senate, some representatives are also considering legislation that would tie funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to a September 2008 deadline for troop withdrawal. There are also votes in the offing on opposing Bush’s plans to increase US troop levels in Iraq. And it looks like a number of Republicans are being swept along with the tide.

Witnesses are sworn when they testify before a Congressional Investigating Committee as a way of getting them to tell the truth.

Raise your right hand.

“I do solemnly swear and attest that the testimony I will give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, under penalty of perjury (so help me God)”

A simple statement. It carries a lot of weight.

President Bush has offered Rove’s and Miers, testimony to Congress behind closed doors, without an oath and without a transcript. What is he afraid of?

“We could meet at the local pub to have that kind of gathering,” said Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

How would you like to see Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to go before Congressional Committees–sworn or unsworn?

STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly “CBS Reports” series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-DuPont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See: http://www.ARedintheHouse.com/, E-mail: stevefl@ca.rr.com

 

STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See www.amahchewahwah.com, e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.com

More articles by:
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail