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House Cites Bush Aides for Contempt

I suspect the timing on this was to coincide with November elections, and it should be no surprise to anyone that the Bush administration is using this to frighten Americans (see last paragraph below).

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to cite Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet E. Miers, a former White House counsel, for contempt for refusing to testify about their participation in the firing of federal prosecutors.

The measure calls for House officials to seek enforcement of the contempt citation by the courts if, as expected, the Justice Department declines to act on the resolution.

The vote was a lopsided 223 to 32 in favor of the contempt citation, after most Republican members walked out to protest what their leaders called a political move. Instead, they said, the House should be voting on the extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act approved by the Senate earlier this week.[...]

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said that the House vote came about six months after the Judiciary Committee voted for contempt and that the White House resisted any effort to reach a reasonable compromise.

Both Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten were instructed by the White House not to comply with the Judiciary Committee's requests for testimony and information and neither appeared before the panel. The White House has cited executive privilege in directing the two not to testify before Congress.

Ms. Pelosi framed the dispute in constitutional terms, saying that if Congress could not compel testimony from White House officials, it would lose it power of oversight on the administration's actions.

Republicans said the House was wasting its time on a partisan stunt while the nation's security was being endangered by allowing legislation allowing advanced eavesdropping to expire.

The nation's security is being endangered? What a crock of crap. We can't flush the toilet too soon on these bozos.

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Comments (7)


Lee, are you aware that part of the FISA law lapses THIS Saturday and that the House has not passed a bill to extend it? Instead the House Democrats devote precious time to a stupid contempt charge for an investigation of something that isn't even a crime.

Considering, FISA means Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act I would say that does have something to do with National Security and allowing the law to expire would be a blow to national security.

Lee Ward:

Eric, are you aware that the matters are totally unconnected?

I can understand the Bush Administration being unhappy about the truth coming out over the US Attorney firings, but the two matters are not connected. The House will extend FISA or not, irregardless of other actions such as this being taken.


Its even more interesting since the administration was within its legal right to fire even one of the attorneys, much less nine. They are political appointees and serve at the pleasure of the executive.

Congress has gotten very good at investigating things it has no legal authority to influence. Political appointees, steroids in baseball, and Tapegate in football come to mind.

And yes, the timing is suspicious - just as the Republicans coalesce around a (flawed) frontrunner for 2008, and while the Democrats continue their fight to decide a nominee. The distraction idea has worked for Dems before - Clinton (Bill) did it when he cruise-missiled a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan during Monicagate.

John S:

The Democrats are refusing to renew the FISA act mostly because Bush wants retroactive immunity for the telephone companies that may or may not have monitored calls between Al-Qaeda and sleeper cells within the U.S. Remember this surveillance reputedly took place in the weeks right after Sept. 11, when the fires at ground zero were still burning. Useful idiots like Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Edward Markey are blocking immunity because their constituents -- trial lawyers -- stand to pocket billions in legal fees by suing AT&T, etc.

These Democrats are playing a tremendous game of chicken. They successfully exploited the "surveillance" issue to gain control of Congress in 2006. But if Al-Qaeda gets lucky in 2008 and hits one of our cites with a dirty bomb, Congress will be remembered as the ones who dismantled our surveillance programs. At which point Democrats will be out of power for at least 30 years. Meanwhile, the adults in the Democrat party, people like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who have security clearances and know how bad Al-Qaeda wants to hit us this summer, are trying desperately to get FISA passed.

And God help the Dems if Al-Qaeda gets lucky and the party is running for president a Muslim named Obama Hussein Barak.

Lee Ward:

Here's proof that the Congressional Republicans are spreading bullshit about the contempt citations endangering national security, and it comes straight from... Bush.

Bush argued that the House has plenty of time to pass a bill before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expires at midnight Saturday.

BPG, nobody said the firings were done illegally, just that they were politically motivated. Justice Department employees take an oath to uphold the Constitution -- the highest law of the land -- and if Karl Rove was putzing around politically in the inner-workings of the Justice Department the American public deserves to know about it.

Why else would the WH fight this so hard? They're dirty, you can smell their fear.

John S, if it doesn't pass, let's talk. I think it will pass.

John S:

Actually the House emptied Thursday because Republicans protested Democratic leaders' refusal to vote on an electronic surveillance bill. The comtempt measure was unrelated, perhaps an attempt by Democrats to change the subject. (And to pass a year-old resolution that wouldn't have passed if the Republicans were there.)

As you remember, Bill Clinton "legally" fired ALL 90-plus federal attorneys, one of which, it happens, was about to indict Bill Clinton. But I'm sure that wasn't politically motivated ;)

The contempt of Congress citation is symbolic nonsense. Bush was well within his right to claim executive priviledge. If Congress thinks it has a case, take it to the Supreme Court. It worked with the Nixon Watergate tapes.


That's right Lee the House does have plenty of time to pass the bill which is fine except for the minor fact that the Democrats aren't going to. http://www.house.gov/daily/comlist.html

Notice the line at the top of the page that says "HOUSE NOT IN SESSION"

The Republican protest on Thursday was because the Democrats felt that citing Miers and Bolten for contempt was a higher priority than extending a law that expires on Saturday and then going on recess on Friday.


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