Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Humiliating the 9/11 commission
The more I think about the administration's "concession" in allowing Condoleeza Rice to testify in public, under oath before the 9/11 commission, the angrier I get. The conditions set by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales before allowing her to go turn my stomach:
"The necessary conditions are as follows. First, the commission must agree in writing that Dr. Rice's testimony before the commission does not set any precedent for future commission requests, or requests in any other context, for testimony by a national security adviser or any other White House official.

"Second, the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice."

With the first condition, they are demanding recognition of their interpretation of almost limitless executive privilege (see David Neiwert's two recent posts on this subject for details and background). It's not likely that such an agreement would create a legally or constitutionally binding precedent, but it would give the administration and their allies in congress a valuable club with which to bash open government advocates in the near future.

With the second condition, they are blocking the ability of the commission to follow the evidence wherever it may go. Sure, they can still request testimony in private, but one of the main purposes of the commission is to provide a public airing of the facts.

The whole letter just drips with royal condescension. After saying the White House agrees to the testimony subject to terms, Gonzales goes on for four paragraphs to describe what an unprecedented grand gesture this is on their part, before finally stating just what those terms are. The insistence--stated twice--that the commission's agreement be in writing can only be intended as a public humiliation of them for having the impudence to make demands of their betters. It's tantamount to making them stay after school and write on the black board "I will not question the commander in chief's judgment" one hundred times.

Gonzales follows the condition by again reminding them that this is a concession from the White House and not a right of the commission--"...we are proposing this extraordinary accommodation...."

Every day that the Bush camarilla remains in power they commit another outrage against our national traditions of balance of power, protection of rights, separation of church and state, and open government and they further tarnish our position as a beacon of hope and freedom in the world. It's going to take decades to undo the damage done by these four years. If they get a second term, I'm not sure the damage will be reparable. Bastards!

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