Monday, July 9, 2007

Another George, another Dick

Executive privilege is kind of like frequent flier miles. Yes, you have the right to use them, but ultimately the airline will decide if you fly. In the case of executive privilege, it's the Court and Congress who may make the ultimate decision.

While the Constitution does not clearly define a right of Presidential executive privilege, many of our leaders, from George Washington on, have cited the separation of powers, as implying a right to keep confidences.

So, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, all were forced to show their hand when ordered by the court. Dwight Eisenhower managed to defy Congress, but his call for executive privilege was designed to short-circuit Joe McCarthy's witch hunts.

So, when George Bush claimed executive privilege today, to exlude Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor from testifying, he may be within his rights. Still he certainly raises the question "what's he hiding," and he stands the chance that his privilege will not be upheld by the courts.

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