In Which I Admire a Conservative.

Yes, it’s true. There are a few conservatives I actually listen to and shout “Amen!” when they speak. One of these is Bruce Fein, the architect of the Clinton impeachment.

I know, I know. But he also wants to impeach Dick Cheney and George W. Bush! And, this morning on the Sammy and Army Show (I know, I know) he offered the best dissection I’ve ever heard of why executive privilege doesn’t protect the Preznit and his criminal cohorts from Congressional subpoenas. Mr. Fein summed up these arguments in a July, 2007 article in Slate:

The president’s claim of privilege pivots on a false assumption wrongly endorsed by the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon: namely, that the president will not receive candid and unfettered advice from subordinates absent a guarantee that their communications will remain confidential. What nonsense. I have worked in and out of government for 38 years. I have never heard any high or low executive-branch official so much as insinuate that presidential advice had been or might be skewed or withheld if confidentiality were not guaranteed. The gravity of advising the president universally overcomes anxieties over possible embarrassment through subsequent publicity. Moreover, every presidential adviser knows that confidentiality is never ironclad. Presidents routinely waive executive privilege in jockeying with Congress; confidentiality is always subservient to a criminal investigation or prosecution under the Nixon precedent; and leaks to the media of confidential presidential memos or conversations overflow like the Nile. Indeed, President Bush has himself waived the privilege repeatedly in the ongoing U.S. attorneys investigations by the two committees.

Executive privilege is a concoction, then, to protect secrecy for the sake of secret government, while transparency is the rule of enlightened democracies to insure political accountability and to deter folly or wrongdoing.

Good on you, Bruce. It’s nice when former sinners see the light.

And by the way, if Dick Cheney is not a member of the Executive Branch, as he continues to argue, then it follows that he is not covered by Executive Privilege, no?

Something tells me that Darth Cheney should have gotten a better lawyer, because if I can figure that out, I’m sure the lawyers in Congress can too…

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