npnewdir-097-sm.jpgFrom Rep. Zoe Lofgren:

These assertions of executive privilege have wide-ranging implications for both Congress’ day-to-day oversight of the Bush administration and for efforts to hold the President and Vice President accountable.

That is why I introduced the Executive Branch Prosecutions Act. This legislation would suspend the statute of limitations for crimes committed while the president and vice president hold office. Federal law currently suspends the statute of limitations for crimes related to national security. That suspension should extend to any crime committed by the President or Vice President while in office.

President Bush has already shown his willingness to do what he can to avoid scrutiny of his actions even after he leaves office. A federal judge recently struck down part of his 2001 Executive Order giving former presidents and vice presidents the right to review executive orders before they are made public under the Freedom of Information Act. Confronted with this administration’s unprecedented demand for secrecy, Congress must do all it can to inject some measure of accountability and transparency where possible. The Executive Branch Prosecutions Act goes a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

Bush has defied congressional subpoenas and used his presidential powers to illegally thwart investigations into criminal activity committed by his administration. He openly mocks the whole concept of oversight, as if it were some petty personal snub. This seriously compromises the ability to conduct any investigation within the statute of limitations.

The party elites scoff at Dennis Kucinich and his talk of impeachment, even as the country (and last night’s CNN audience) openly cheers. If Democrats don’t want to dirty their hands holding this lawless administration accountable, at least leave the door open so others with firmer constitutions and a stronger sense of civic duty can do so in the future.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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