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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Leahy and contempt of Congress - too little, too late
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Friday, December 14, 2007

Leahy and contempt of Congress - too little, too late


Dear [name redacted],

It should never have had to come to this.

Yesterday, on a bipartisan vote of 12-7, the Senate Judiciary Committee ruled that White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove are in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas issued in the U.S. Attorneys investigation. As Chairman of the Committee, I have gone to real lengths to avoid this sort of legal confrontation, but after many months the White House has yet to cooperate with these requests from our investigation -- and the American people deserve the truth.

The President denies any involvement in the political firings of Justice Department officials. Yet he and his staff continue to hide behind the veil of "executive privilege." They have essentially asserted that this privilege -- historically applied very narrowly -- covers all documents and information in their possession. It's a dramatic departure from precedent, and the Bush-Cheney administration's blanket claim of immunity from congressional subpoenas flies in the face of our system of checks and balances.

This is not about pulling a partisan "gotcha" or scoring political points. After all, Committee members of both parties supported yesterday's ruling. No, this is about defending Congress's oversight function and protecting the right of the American people to know the whole truth about the mass firings of attorneys at the Justice Department. Withholding critical evidence requested by a subpoena is a serious crime, and it's time we reminded the President and his staff that they are not above the law.

The White House's refusal to cooperate with our investigation casts further doubt on its contention that it had nothing to do with the political firings of Justice Department officials. In fact, it's now quite clear that political officials in the White House pressured federal prosecutors to bring partisan cases and sought retribution against those who refused.

Since World War II, presidential advisers have testified before Congress 74 times, either voluntarily or compelled by subpoenas -- never once refusing to comply. Executive privilege should not be invoked to prevent investigations into wrongdoing, and certainly should not prevail.

Thank you for your support for holding the Bush-Cheney Administration accountable as we get to the bottom of the mass firings of U.S. attorneys.


Patrick Leahy
U.S. Senator

another forlorn plea...
Dear Senator Leahy,

As I've written previously, I am in full support of all of your desperately needed efforts to hold an outlaw presidential administration accountable. I have witnessed over seven years of determined attacks on our precious Constitution and willful repudiation of the rule of law. I have also been devastated to see Congress continuously, even with a Democratic majority, capitulate and seemingly collaborate with the criminals in the executive branch.

Contempt of Congress charges are not only highly appropriate, but long overdue. However, with the Bush administration's announced intent to prevent the Department of Justice from prosecuting contempt citations, I have little doubt that the contempt of Congress charges will amount to little more than an empty gesture. In my opinion, had you been more forceful and timely on this issue, you would already be at the point of invoking inherent contempt, but that is water under the bridge now.

Unfortunately, Senator Leahy, our nation is already well past the point where what should be an unprecedented use of contempt charges will serve to restore the constitutionally-specified checks and balances and necessary oversight granted to the United States Congress. It is abundantly clear that the current occupants of the White House, via the revelation of so-called legal opinions that were vividly presented by Senator Whitehouse in his recent Senate floor speech, will never accede to any dimunition of their vision of unfettered executive power.

My point is this, Senator Leahy. The current administration will continue its outlaw reign unabated until they are removed from office, and waiting until 20 January 2009 for that to happen is putting our country at even more critical risk than it is already. Moreover, allowing the mechanisms of unchecked power to remain in place for a new president to decide to use or not use is an even more unacceptable risk.

I beg you, Senator Leahy, take a stand for me, my fellow citizens, your country, and your oath to preserve and protect the United States Constitution. I realize that you have many competing obligations, but all of them pale when placed up against the need to defend the Constitution and rule of law without which our nation, as we know it, would cease to exist. Throw all of your available energy and resources toward ridding us of the scourge called the Bush administration. I'm counting on you.

Best regards,

rather than composing all these letters from scratch, i really should compose a piece of boiler-plate... "dear [insert name here]..."

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