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

 

More articles by:

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

February 22, 2018
T.J. Coles
How the US Bullies North Korea, 1945-Present
Ipek S. Burnett
Rethinking Freedom in the Era of Mass Shootings
Manuel E. Yepe
Fire and Fury: More Than a Publishing Hit
Patrick Bobilin
Caught in a Trap: Being a Latino Democrat is Being in an Abusive Relationship
Laurel Krause
From Kent State to Parkland High: Will America Ever Learn?
Terry Simons
Congress and the AR-15: One NRA Stooge Too Many
George Wuerthner
Border Wall Delusions
Manuel García, Jr.
The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the Birth-Year of Human-Accelerated Climate Change
Thomas Knapp
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Russiagate
February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail