WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors. Bush's attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor. In reaction, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy accused the administration of shifting "into Nixonian stonewalling" and revealing "disdain for our system of checks and balances."
The Bush administration's refusal to turn over documents or allow Harriet Miers to testify is tantamount to an admission of guilt. Moreover, Senator Leahy is entirely correct when he suggests that the Bush administration's actions are analogous to the tactics of Nixon during the Watergate scandal. The doctrine of "executive privilege," which has always rested on a shaky legal foundation, is merely a tool employed by the Bush White House to avoid revealing potentially damning evidence. And as for the "disdain for our system of checks and balances," Bush and his cronies have long been explicit in their contempt for Constitutionally-defined limitations on executive power.
With no issues of national security at stake in the fight over federal prosecutors, the Bush administration simply must allow some degree of transparency to preserve Americans' faith in the morality of their government. Unfortunately, Bush and his lap dogs have given the nation a thoroughly amoral government in which the only principle to which there is signal loyalty is the doctrine of power and its aggrandizement. The decisions yielding the fraudulent war in Iraq notwithstanding, the conduct of the White House and attorney general in this case are worthy of the most thorough investigation and articles of impeachment for the president and vice president. (And to think we almost had Harriet Miers as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. I think we really dodged a bullet on that one!)