WASHINGTON - President Clinton, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the intimidation of Iraq war proponents.
Clinton's attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Gary Ginsberg and former political director Leecia Eve. Congressional panels want the documents for their investigations of Attorney General Sheila Anthony's stewardship of the Justice Department, including complaints of undue political influence.
In his letter, [White House counsel David] Kendall explained Clinton's position on executive privilege this way: "For the President to perform her constitutional duties, it is imperative that she receive candid and unfettered advice and that free and open discussions and deliberations occur among her advisors and between those advisors and others within and outside the Executive Branch."
Clinton insists that the arrest and six-month detention of two staffers to Iran war hawk Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) were a result of mistaken identity following more than 18 months of warrantless surveillance, wiretapping, and searches of electronic communications. She has already apologized, through a spokesperson, for the mixup, but she insists that the surveillance and detention were well within her powers as president under Article I of the Constitution.
Scandal - or is it just CDS? - has plagued Clinton throughout her presidency. Her numerous signing statements, most recently on the recently passed Southern Border Security Act, have had detractors accusing her of attempts at unitary executive power, claiming that she considers herself above the law.
And only a year into the administration, Vice President Obama was voraciously questioned about undue influence from and preferential contracts to Clinton supporters. He, too, cited executive privilege on the subject before finally agreeing to testify off the record, in a private meeting with a single member of his choosing from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Recent requests for information about classified documents from the Information Security Oversight Office have had him pointing out, accurately, that as President of the Senate, the Vice President fall sunder the legislative, not executive, branch and is thus exempt from that particular rule.
Clinton press secretary Philippe Reines puts it better than I ever could when he said that no statute passed by Congress "can place any limits on the president's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing and nature of the response." Under Article I of the Constitution, the president has the responsibility to protect Americans from attack doing absolutely whatever is necessary.
And moreover, why the hell should she have to answer to us on questions of national security? If she does something that we don't really understand, and then she tells us that she can't explain it because that would reveal information that would endanger national security, well, then, just maybe it would endanger national security.
Listen, we elected Hillary Clinton president because we knew that she would be the best person to manage our country and protect our freedoms within our own best interest. She can't do that if we're going to ask her questions and tell her what to do all the damn time. If we really think she's good enough and trustworthy enough to protect our security, we need to stop worrying about things like rights and separations of power and stuff and just sit back, stop asking questions, and freaking trust her to lead. If she's not the kind of person we can trust to do that, why the hell did we elect her?