Friday, February 15, 2008
Strong words from the New York Times "The Editorial Board":
Three cheers for the House of Representatives — and for the Democratic leadership.
First, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, did exactly the right thing when she decided to let the House go on a weeklong break without voting on an awful bill sent over from the Senate that would expand the president’s ability to spy on Americans without bothering to get a warrant. It would also help the White House cover up President Bush’s unlawful spying program after 9/11 by giving blanket immunity to any company that turned over data on Americans’ telephone calls and emails without a court order.
Second, the House voted, 223-32, to hold Joshua Bolten, the presidential chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, in contempt for thumbing their noses at congressional subpoenas. (The Republicans embarassed themselves, their constituents and their country by staging a walkout when the vote was called. On a straighforward measure that pitted the rule of law and the balance of powers against blind partisan loyalty, these members put themselves on the side of partisanship.)
Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers made baseless claims of executive privilege — and then simply ignored the subpoenas.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, got it right: if it failed to enforce these subpoenas, the House would “be giving its tacit consent to the dangerous idea of an imperial presidency, above the law and beyond the reach of checks and balances.”
There’s still a lot more to be done. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who is looking more and more like a White House puppet, has strongly suggested he will not go to court to enforce congressional contempt citations. If he refuses to stand up for the rule of law, Congress should go to court itself.