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Leaving The Presidency Weaker Than When They Started

After all the secrecy and paranoia, the unilateral executive power grabs over things as inconsequential as high-level classification of Dick Cheney’s spin notes for press manipulation, after every grubbing decision to keep information from the public that we voters had a right to know?  File this under "just desserts:"

In the waning days of an administration marked by a penchant for confidentiality, open government groups and Congress have redoubled efforts to ensure that the written record of the Bush presidency is not lost to history. They say recent developments show growing irritation with a president who has used national security concerns to draw a veil over the workings of the executive branch and to hoard power for the White House.

Those developments include the declassification of the nation’s intelligence budget and new recommendations that the president’s daily intelligence briefings be saved as presidential records.

"They’re getting exactly the open government results they labored to prevent, and in part because they so overreached," said Thomas Blanton, who heads the National Security Archive at George Washington University. "They could have gotten 90 percent of the extra power they wanted if they went to Congress and the public, but by going for 100 percent and doing it in total secrecy, they undermined their own legitimacy and left the presidency weaker than when they started."

Dick Cheney and his unilateral executive cronies seeded throughout the government should be awfully proud of themselves. They have further weakened the presidency, and so overreached with their delusions of non-existant candor that even erstwhile allies like Susan Collins are selecting public statements of independence to save their own electoral asses (thank you, Tom Allen!) over protecting the Cheney flanks.  How’s that power-grubbing overreach working for you now, Dick?

For more on clumsy, half-assed Bush/Cheney Administration secrecy initiatives, see this from emptywheel on the FBI’s less-than-useful national security letters; some thoughts on oil syphoning at the public’s expense because of inadequate controls and public scrutiny the last few years based on a faux assertion of national security to cover Dick’s tracks;  hide the torture tapes and find the burn bag redux; on back-up tapes, deleted e-mails, and the further adventures of rule of law subversion for ass-covering gain; and a whole lot more (Part I and Part II).  Just for starters.

Which makes this WSJ editorial on increasing powers for the Bush Administration to misuse for domestic wiretapping by the NSA in contravention of the law all the more laughable as a pot-stirring attempt at planted narrative misinformation.  Here’s an answer for you:  get a warrant.  No warrant?  No third party review and oversight?  No way.  That simple enough for you?

Who in their right mind trusts the Bush Administration at this point not to overreach and misuse power?   Or to respect the rule of law and balance of powers considerations?  Anyone? 

(A little Bill Withers for everyone this morning — "Ain’t No Sunshine.")

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com