Friday, March 23, 2007


I am a terrible chess player (I wasn't bad in 5th grade, but probably played more games before I was 10 years old than I have after.) But my favorite chess move is any move that creates a fork -- that's when one of your pieces threatens two of your opponent's pieces, and his only choice is which piece to give up.

The US Attorney scandal may now be turning into a fork against the Bush Administration.

The drip, drip of revelations about the manifold ways in which the DOJ has been politicized is ensuring that pot never falls below a simmer. Subpoenas have been authorized -- Congress is locked and loaded. The Administration is signaling its willingness to claim Executive Privilege. All indications are that this is the Big One. So how will it play out?

TPM and many others are poring over the released documents. CREW extrapolates an interesting possibility -- that Bush himself authorized the purge. That would be inconsistent with the official version, according to which Gonzales "never saw documents" about the firings.

Now my very limited understanding of the law of Executive Privilege is that it only applies to conversations that directly involve the President. (John Dean confirmed this on Countdown last night.) No Presidential involvement, no privilege.

So here's the potential fork: if push comes to shove, Bush will have to choose -- does he abandon the Executive Privilege claim, and thus expose his two closest advisors to their own forks (commit perjury or admit their wrongdoing), or does he admit that he authorized the firings, and possibly implicate himself in what could turn out to be an impeachable offense?

Fischer-Spassky got nothin' on this.

Update: Marty Lederman sees it, too.


Blogger Dr. Bloor said...

A good analysis, but I doubt the administration will play along. Consistent with the relentless push to expand executive powers that is the hallmark of Big Dick, Inc., Shrub will continue to deny involvement even while claiming executive privilege because the conversations took place among exec advisors in the WH. Are they wrong? Sure. Do they care? No. They must figure their odds with the SCOTUS are as good as they're ever likely to be, and they may even be able to run out the clock by stonewalling as long as possible.

1:28 PM  
Blogger bluememe said...

As Dr. Bloor rightly points out, there is not likely to be a close relationship between the positions the Administration takes and applicable law. But I think the same kinds of unpleasant reality-based problems that plague Bush elsewhere will roost quickly with this crisis, too. If this develops in to a full-on thing, it will move through the courts very quickly, and could be up before the high court this year.

Granted that Alito is an apparent monarchist, and Scalia, Thomas and Roberts very conservative, but at this point it is no longer clear that "grown-up" conservatives and Bush are playing for the same team. And by the time the Supremes have their say, it will likely be obvious that the next (and probably Democratic) prez will be the main beneficiary if they uphold an imperial presidency.

Bush can hold his breath 'till he turns blue, but that doesn't matter so much any more.

2:21 PM  
Blogger bluememe said...

And how fast is fast?

In US v. Nixon, the subpoenas were issued in May of 1974. The Supreme Court issued its opinion in July of that year.

Four corners is not likely to be a winning strategy here.

2:42 PM  

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