Between sermon writing and new-member incorporating I've been kind of out of touch with the latest out of Washington ... but as my sweetie and I settled in for a Sunday evening of finally reading the Sunday Times and catching up here I am back at the computer again to share with all ya'll :
JUST how disgusted I am at what is masquerading as democratic process in the White House these days.
JUST how irate I am that kids like mine are putting their lives on the line in Iraq (and elsewhere) to defend the Constitution Cheney and his ilk are dismantling as we speak.
JUST how ready I am to sign on to throw the bums out.
HERE'S TODAY'S EDITORIAL FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES:
White House of Mirrors
President Bush has turned the executive branch into a two-way mirror. They get to see everything Americans do: our telephone calls, e-mail, and all manner of personal information. And we get to see nothing about what they do.
Everyone knows this administration has disdained openness and accountability since its first days. That is about the only thing it does not hide. But recent weeks have produced disturbing disclosures about just how far Mr. Bush’s team is willing to go to keep lawmakers and the public in the dark.
That applies to big issues — like the C.I.A.’s secret prisons — and to things that would seem too small-bore to order up a cover-up.
Vice President Dick Cheney sets the gold standard, placing himself not just above Congress and the courts but above Mr. Bush himself. For the last four years, he has been defying a presidential order requiring executive branch agencies to account for the classified information they handle. When the agency that enforces this rule tried to do its job, Mr. Cheney proposed abolishing the agency.
Mr. Cheney, who has been at the heart of the administration’s darkest episodes, has bizarre reasons for doing that. The Times reported that the vice president does not consider himself a mere member of the executive branch. No, he decided the vice president is also a lawmaker — because he is titular president of the Senate — and does not have to answer to the executive branch. That is absurd, but if that’s how he wants it, we presume Mr. Cheney will stop claiming executive privilege to withhold information from his fellow congressmen.
Since the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Bush has tried to excuse his administration’s obsession with secrecy by saying that dangerous times require greater discretion. He rammed the Patriot Act through Congress with a promise that national security agencies would make sure the new powers were not abused.
But on June 14, The Washington Post reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation potentially broke the law or its own rules several thousand times over the past five years when it used the Patriot Act to snoop on domestic phone calls, e-mail and financial transactions of ordinary Americans.
We knew that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was not protecting anybody’s rights or America’s reputation. It turns out that John Rizzo, the man charged with safeguarding the Constitution at the Central Intelligence Agency, isn’t either. After serving as the C.I.A.’s deputy general counsel or acting general counsel for the entire Bush administration, he was nominated as general counsel more than a year ago. But the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts of Kansas, would not schedule even a pro forma confirmation hearing because the Democrats wanted documents that the C.I.A. wanted to keep, well, secret.
Last week, the committee held that hearing under Democratic leadership, and Mr. Rizzo kept insisting that he shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t give away any secrets. But he was still illuminating — in a scary way.
When he was asked his view of the administration’s infamous decision to define torture so narrowly that it allowed widespread abuse of prisoners, he merely said the policy was “overbroad” for the circumstances, raising the troubling question of when he thinks it would not be overbroad to torture prisoners. Mr. Rizzo also refused to say whether the United States had ever sent a prisoner to another country knowing he would be tortured. He made it sound like he was safeguarding secrets, but we suspect the real reason was that the answer is “yes.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Rizzo, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and the rest of the administration are still stonewalling about the existence of C.I.A. prisons. Earlier this month, the Council of Europe, a 46-nation human rights group, provided new, persuasive evidence of secret American prisons in Eastern Europe where prisoners were kept naked in cramped cells, subjected to hot or freezing blasts of air and subjected to water-boarding, or simulated drowning. American rights groups released a list of 39 men they say disappeared into secret prisons.
Incredibly, the lies and secrecy shrouding this administration are not enough for Mr. Rizzo. Sounding an awful lot like Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, he told the senators, “Far too many people know far too much.”
Governments have to keep secrets. But this administration has grossly abused that trust, routinely using claims of national security to hide policies that are immoral and almost certainly illegal, to avoid embarrassment, and to pursue Mr. Bush’s dreams of an imperial presidency.
AND HERE'S MAUREEN DOWD:
A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy
By MAUREEN DOWD in the New York Times
It’s hard to imagine how Dick Cheney could get more dastardly, unless J. K. Rowling has him knock off Harry Potter next month.
Harry’s cloak of invisibility would be no match for Vice’s culture of invisibility.
I’ve always thought Cheney was way out there — the most Voldemort-like official I’ve run across. But even in my harshest musings about the vice president, I never imagined that he would declare himself not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually his own dark planet — a separate entity from the White House.
I guess a man who can wait 14 hours before he lets it dribble out that he shot his friend in the face has no limit on what he thinks he can keep secret. Still, it’s quite a leap to go from hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the capital to hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the Constitution.
Dr. No used to just blow off the public and Congress as he cooked up his shady schemes. Now, in a breathtaking act of arrant arrogance, he’s blowing off his own administration.
Henry Waxman, the California congressman who looks like an accountant and bites like a pit bull, is making the most of Congress’s ability, at long last, to scrutinize Cheney’s chicanery.
On Thursday, Mr. Waxman revealed that after four years of refusing to cooperate with the government unit that oversees classified documents, the vice president tried to shut down the unit rather than comply with the law ensuring that sensitive data is protected. The National Archives appealed to the Justice Department, but who knows how much justice there is at Justice, now that the White House has so blatantly politicized it?
Cheney’s office denied doing anything wrong, but Cheney’s office is also denying it’s an office. Tricky Dick Deuce declared himself exempt from a rule that applies to everyone else in the executive branch, instructing the National Archives that the Office of the Vice President is not an “entity within the executive branch” and therefore is not subject to presidential executive orders.
“It’s absurd, reflecting his view from the first day he got into office that laws don’t apply to him,” Representative Waxman told me. “The irony is, he’s taking the position that he’s not part of the executive branch.”
Ah, if only that were true. Then maybe W. would be able to close Gitmo, which Vice has insisted he not do. And Condi wouldn’t have to worry every night that she’ll wake up to find crazy Dick bombing Iran, whispering to W. that they have to do it before that weak sister Hillary takes over.
“Your decision to exempt your office from the president’s order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk,” Mr. Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to Cheney.
Of course, it’s doubtful, now that Vice has done so much to put our national security at risk, that he’ll suddenly listen to reason.
Cheney and Cheney’s Cheney, David Addington, his equally belligerent, ideological and shadowy lawyer and chief of staff, have no shame. After claiming executive privilege to withhold the energy task force names and protect Scooter Libby, they now act outraged that Vice should be seen as part of the executive branch.
Cheney, they argue, is the president of the Senate, so he’s also part of the legislative branch. Vice is casting himself as a constitutional chimera, an extralegal creature with the body of a snake and the head of a sea monster. It’s a new level of gall, to avoid accountability by saying you’re part of a legislative branch that you’ve spent six years trying to weaken.
But gall is the specialty of Addington, who has done his best to give his boss the powers of a king. He was the main author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects, and he helped stonewall the 9/11 commission. He led the fights supporting holding terrorism suspects without access to courts and against giving Congress and environmentalists access to information about the energy industry big shots who secretly advised Cheney on energy policy.
Dana Perino, a White House press spokeswoman, had to go out on Friday and defend Cheney’s bizarre contention that he is his own government. “This is an interesting constitutional question that legal scholars can debate,” she said.
I love that Cheney was able to bully Colin Powell, Pentagon generals and George Tenet when drumming up his fake case for war, but when he tried to push around the little guys, the National Archive data collectors — I’m visualizing dedicated “We the People” wonky types with glasses and pocket protectors — they pushed back.
Archivists are the new macho heroes of Washington.