Friday, May 26, 2006

Justice Dept. out of control
Goes after lawmakers for NSA leaks

If you're not yet convinced, mes amis, that the executive branch has brought the reality of a police state to the federal level, consider this aside from Eggen's and VandeHei's piece on the tension between President Bush and House Speaker Hastert regarding the raid on Rep. Jefferson's offices:

Another potential entanglement with the FBI arose yesterday when the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported that federal agents are seeking to interview top House members from both parties as part of an investigation into leaks about the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program to the New York Times.
This is apparently part of the same probe that is targeting reporters for daring to publish or broadcast information about potential government lawbreaking passed to the journalists by sources.

If the FBI was doing its job, mes cheris, it would be investigating the NSA for violating federal law with its warrantless domestic wiretapping.

Of course, most of the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are unconcerned with that little problem, having just voted to confirm Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the architect of the National Security Agency's domestic spy program, to the post of CIA director.

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White House lawyer has Rep. Jefferson's files

So, with President Bush having arrived at his answer (as posted below) to the constitutional crisis now attending the FBI raid on the congressional offices of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), your blogstress humbly asks her devotees, "What's wrong with this picture?"

Bush's solution to his fracas with House Speaker Dennis Hastert over the Justice Department's transgression of the Constitution's separation of powers was to place the material seized from Jefferson's office under seal with U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement who, according to the president, is not involved in the Jefferson probe.

While that all may sound well and good, your cybertrix asks her readers to consider just what the solicitor general does (he argues the executive branch's cases before the Supreme Court) and to whom he reports (the attorney general of the United States, to whom the FBI director also reports). If you don't believe your Webwench (and why would you not?), do study, dear reader, this description of the solicitor's duties, straight from the Web site of the Office of Solicitor General:

The Solicitor General is of course an Executive Branch officer, reporting to the Attorney General, and ultimately to the President, in whom our Constitution vests all of the Executive power of the United States.
Add to this the fact that Clement has argued at least one case before the Supreme Court directly on behalf of the attorney general, Gonzales v. Raich, a medical marijuana case involving states' rights, and only an innocent would fail to question Mr. Clement's impartiality. Another of Clement's greatest hits? He also argued Rumsfeld v. Padilla, in which he defended the seizure and limitless detention -- without charge -- of a U.S. citizen in the purported "war on terror."

Thankfully, the justices threw that one out on a technicality, for if they had decided in Clement's favor, what little is left of the writ of habeas corpus would have gone out the window.

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One branch or three?
Constitutional crisis stems from FBI raid of Capitol

Your blogstress is the first to admit that she has never been much of a fan of House Speaker Dennis Hastert. But these days, he is looking to her like more of a -- well, if not a hero, then at least an erstwhile defender of the most fundamental aspect of our Constitution: the separation of powers.

It all began with the FBI's raid on the offices of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), who is alleged to have taken bribes from companies that were looking to do business in African nations where Jefferson had ties. While Jefferson is indeed looking like quite the bad egg, at issue is whether or not the Federal Bureau of Investigation -- an arm of the Department of Justice which is, in turn, part of the executive branch -- as the right to lay siege to the offices of the legislative branch, and remove materials from said offices. The Constitution pretty clearly implies, "uh-uh."

Hastert has been leaning on the Bush administration to step in and restrain its attorney general and apologist for the torture of prisoners, Alberto Gonzales, and address the constitutional crisis that has incurred as a result of the latter's unprecedented overstepping. Yesterday, the president issued an executive order that seals, temporarily, the materials seized from Jefferson's office.

From today's Washington Post story by Dan Eggen and Jim VandeHei:

In a six-paragraph statement, Bush cast the dispute in historic terms and said he issued the order to give Justice Department officials and lawmakers more time to negotiate a compromise. "Our government has not faced such a dilemma in more than two centuries," Bush said. "Yet after days of discussions, it is clear these differences will require more time to be worked out."

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