Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.


- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Showdown



After a rather hairy appearance by Sara Taylor, White House Political Director (throwing doubt on Bush's executive privilege claims,) Bush apparently decided to not even allow Harriet to appear for her summons tomorrow.

That's right - time for a congressional showdown.

President Bush ordered his former White House counsel, Harriet Miers, to defy a congressional subpoena and refuse to appear Thursday before a House panel investigating U.S. attorney firings.

"Ms. Miers has absolute immunity from compelled congressional testimony as to matters occurring while she was a senior adviser to the president," White House Counsel Fred Fielding wrote in a letter to Miers' lawyer, George T. Manning.


Yes, but does she really? According to an AP report:

Conyers said of Miers, Bush's former White House lawyer, "As a former public official and officer of the court, Ms. Miers should be especially aware of the need to respect legal process, and we expect her to appear before the committee tomorrow as scheduled."

Fielding said the Justice Department had advised the White House that Miers had absolute immunity from compelled congressional testimony.

"The president has directed her not to appear at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, July 12, 2007," Fielding wrote.


Conyers is going to be there, right on time. Showdown. Be there or be... be what? Conyers and Sanchez have posted this response to the Fielding letter:

We are aware of absolutely no court decision that supports the notion that a former White House official has the option of refusing to even appear in response to a Congressional subpoena. To the contrary, the courts have made clear that no present or former government official – even the President – is above the law and may completely disregard a legal directive such as the Committee’s subpoena. ...

A refusal to appear before the Subcommittee tomorrow could subject Ms. Miers to contempt proceedings, including but not limited to proceedings under 2 U.S.C. § 194 and under the inherent contempt authority of the House of Representatives.


And what exactly is 'inherent contempt authority?' I gather it is something that can't be pardoned or dodged.

And what exactly happened to Ms. Taylor that put the fear in the White House? Apparently Taylor got a little tripped up in her testimony. She refused to answer a question once, then answered it later, and gave conflicting answers to several others. In other words - apparently this information isn't so 'secret' after all, the Bushies just kinda don't want to talk about it.

[Taylor] quickly found out what Miers might have already known: It's almost impossible to answer some questions but not others without breaching either the subpoena or Bush's executive privilege claim.

"I have not done a great job at that," Taylor said of the predicament at one point. "I have tried."

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said that may not be enough to protect her from a contempt citation.

"There's no way you can come out a winner," said Specter, the panel's senior GOP member and also its former chairman. "You might have been on safer legal ground if you'd said absolutely nothing."

As for the prospects of pursuing a criminal citation for contempt of Congress, Leahy said, "That's a decision yet to be made."

Deciding to belatedly heed Specter's words, the White House decided to keep Miers home from Congress. And there may be some interesting fallout if she doesn't show up tomorrow.

Bush actually went so far as to order Miers to not to appear in Congress. She is to completely ignore the summons. Due to the now questionable nature of the executive privilege claim, Bush may be in the process of violating Section 1505 - interfering with a Congressional investigation.

According to Talking Points Memo, this may be a felony.

Invoking a privilege is one thing, but telling a person not to show up in response to a subpoena -- if only to actually invoke the privilege -- is quite another. It's not just worse, it's a felony under federal criminal law. See for yourself.

18 U.S.C. Sec. 1505 : ... Whoever corruptly ... influences, obstructs, or impedes ... the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress ... [s]hall be fined under this title, [or] imprisoned not more than 5 years ... or both.

18 U.S.C. Sec. 1515(b): As used in section 1505, the term "corruptly" means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including ... withholding, [or] concealing ... information.


The chess match is heating up.

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