mad in pursuit: greed & arrogance

2004 political season

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4.28.04 Separation of Powers: the Right to Operate in Secret

The U.S. Constitution was not my favorite subject in grade school, but I do recall that the reason we have three branches of government has something to do with checks and balances. That's accountability right?

The King of Arrogance, Dick Cheney, has leapfrogged over the lower courts to appeal to the Supremes. The New York Times tells it this way:

In early 2001, Mr. Cheney convened an energy task force whose membership was secret. Environmental groups charge that he let energy companies and other big campaign donors participate in drafting energy policy and let them lobby for huge subsidies for themselves. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club sued, saying that because people who are not federal employees were de facto members of the task force, the Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that its records be made public. Mr. Cheney says the act does not apply because the task force's members were all federal employees.

To decide who is right, the trial court had to know something about who participated. It ordered limited disclosure, but Mr. Cheney argued that the order violated his executive privilege. The trial court said it was willing to take reasonable steps to guard the information, such as by reviewing it in private. But Mr. Cheney rejected these offers and is instead seeking a blanket order that he does not need to release the names.

In Slate, Dahlia Lithwick reviews the testimony from yesterday's court appearance and Dick Cheney's "absolute right to know and not tell." What it adds up to is an argument that "separation of powers" means the Executive Branch can do anything it wants to, in secret, and not be held accountable for it.

This seems to go along with the contention that the administration can also waive the constitutional rights of American citizens who they deem to be a "threat to national security." Again from the NYTimes:

The Supreme Court hears arguments this week in two cases involving Americans who are being held indefinitely, without the right to see a lawyer, simply because they have been designated "enemy combatants." The Bush administration, ignoring basic constitutional principles, argues that because the detentions are military decisions made in wartime the courts have no authority to second-guess them.

Their motto: Trust Us!






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