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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Strange inconsistencies

It strikes me as rather bizarre that Republican members of Congress are arguing against issuing contempt of Congress citations against administration officials because the courts won't uphold the citations and that will permanently impair the power of Congress vis a vis future administrations:

The subcommittee's Democrats did not raise the specter of contempt in Thursday's hearing, but that didn't stop committee Republicans from speaking out against taking such a step in the future.

"These games may be strangely entertaining to lawyers, press hounds, and academics, but they are not parlor games, and they promise no productive ends," said Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), the ranking Republican on the subcommittee. "On the contrary, they pointlessly threaten to land in jail people who are asserting understandable claims to executive privilege."

However, Cannon also suggested that any contempt threat would have no power because it would not be upheld by the courts, and would in fact damage Congress's ability to conduct future investigations.

"We anticipate a court battle which I very much fear we will lose," he said. "By we, I mean Congress...we will perpetually undermine Congress's prerogatives in overseeing future administrations."


Let's face it. 1) It's the Republicans themselves who put the conservative judges in place who will (if they do so) fail to uphold Congress in this fight. 2) It's a Republican administration that is stonewalling Congress and forcing it to these extremities. 3) The formerly Republican Congress totally ignored it's oversight prerogatives when it had the opportunity to exercise them, so why should they worry about oversight in the future? and 4) Unless Congress exercises its oversight prerogatives now, Congress may not have a future to worry about. This administration is dismantling it, piece by piece. The Thuglicans are so lacking in honesty that they'll grab onto any argument to support the outcome they want at a given time.

I do agree that I fear the Bush-appointed courts will support Bush on this by refusing to rule one way or the other on a complaint from Congress. And, this will impair Congress' power in the future, but there's not much we can do about that. Congress still has the power of "inherent contempt" and can send out the Sargent at Arms to arrest those found in contempt, with or without the support of the courts.

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