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House Judiciary Issues Scathing Report on Bush/Cheney Imperial Presidency

In a report just made public (PDF), the House Judiciary Committee issues a scathing report on the Bush/Cheney abuses against the rule of law. Entitled "Reining In the Imperial Presidency," the report details a myriad of issues which have plagued Congress and the judiciary where the Bush/Cheney administration has overstepped constitutional boundaries.   

From the forward by Chairman Conyers:

…The contrast with the Bush Department of Justice could not be starker. In this Administration, too many Department leaders abandoned that proud tradition of independence and integrity, and made decisions based on political objectives rather than the facts and the law. Young political operatives were given control over the most sensitive operations of the Department, and federally protected, non-partisan law enforcement positions were used to provide political patronage. The Civil Rights Division was twisted to obtain partisan electoral advantage, rather than protect the most vulnerable among us from discrimination.

In keeping with its imperial aspirations, the Administration went to extraordinary lengths to hide its conduct from scrutiny and avoid accountability. Thus, the White House refused to respond to congressional subpoenas, and insisted that presidential aides – and even former aides – are immune from subpoena, even though numerous presidential aides have testified under congressional subpoena during past administrations, as every citizen is legally obligated to do. Here, too, the Administration was following the example set by Richard Nixon. When President Nixon suggested such a claim, Senator Sam Ervin responded: “That is not executive privilege. That is executive poppycock.”

The Bush Administration has relied on even more extreme claims in refusing to release documents subpoenaed by Congress. In the end, the Administration has been so recalcitrant in asserting this “executive poppycock” that the Committee was forced to pursue witnesses and documents in federal court. Even after the Committee secured a historic victory rejecting the Administration’s claims, the White House still refused to relent. As of this writing, the matter remains in litigation.

There have been additional transgressions against the Constitution and the country by the Bush Administration. There was the contrived and manipulated drive to a preemptive war of aggression with Iraq. In the words of the Downing Street Minutes, “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” There was the unconscionable use of detention without cause; enhanced interrogation if not outright torture; extraordinary rendition; the extralegal use of national security letters; warrantless wiretaps of American citizens; the unilateral weakening of our regulatory system; the use of signing statements to override the laws of the land; and the intimidation and silencing of critics and whistleblowers who dared tell fellow citizens what was being done in their name.

There will be a LOT more on this to come. But I wanted to give everyone a shot at reading along with me in this detailed report (PDF).  Consider this a working thread for all of us.

The report is more than 400 pages in length, and while a lot of the information plows old ground for many of us who have been paying attention? To see it laid out in stark detail all at once is beyond appalling.

If you need me, I’ll be in the comfy chair with my highlighters and post-it notes…

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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