Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Negative Inferences

Once again the Imperial Presidency is asserting the right to keep the internal workings of the White House secret, especially if uncovering those workings will give ample proof of incompetence and/or wronging. From today's NY Times:

The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response.

...The White House's stance on storm-related documents, along with slow or incomplete responses by other agencies, threatens to undermine efforts to identify what went wrong, Democrats on the committees said Tuesday.

"There has been a near total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation that we have a responsibility to do," Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, said at Tuesday's hearing of the Senate committee investigating the response. His spokeswoman said he would ask for a subpoena for documents and testimony if the White House did not comply.

In response to questions later from a reporter, the deputy White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, said the administration had declined requests to provide testimony by Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff; Mr. Card's deputy, Joe Hagin; Frances Fragos Townsend, the domestic security adviser; and her deputy, Ken Rapuano.

Mr. Duffy said the administration had also declined to provide storm-related e-mail correspondence and other communications involving White House staff members. Mr. Rapuano has given briefings to the committees, but the sessions were closed to the public and were not considered formal testimony.

"The White House and the administration are cooperating with both the House and Senate," Mr. Duffy said. "But we have also maintained the president's ability to get advice and have conversations with his top advisers that remain confidential."

Yet even Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, objected when administration officials who were not part of the president's staff said they could not testify about communications with the White House.

"I completely disagree with that practice," Ms. Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in an interview Tuesday.

...Other members of the committees said the executive branch communications were essential because it had become apparent that one of the most significant failures was the apparent lack of complete engagement by the White House and the federal government in the days immediately before and after the storm.

"When you have a natural disaster, the president needs to be hands-on, and if anyone in his staff gets in the way, he needs to push them away," said Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican and member of the House investigating committee. "The response was pathetic."
[Emphasis added]

One of the things I found interesting in the article is that Republican Congress Critters were speaking out against the recalcitrance of the White House. Surely they can't be surprised by the White House refusal to provide information. One is reminded of the dust-up that occurred when the White House refused to provide information on the energy meetings held by Vice Emperor Darth Cheney early on in the regime. One is also reminded of the intensive negotiations required to get the Emperor and Cheney to appear (not under oath and in a closed session) before the 9/11 Commission. The White House thrives on such secrecy.

It is ironic that the regime can claim such secrecy is essential at a time when the same White House justifies the illegal wire tapping of Americans by saying that they shouldn't mind the intrusion into their private lives if they have nothing to hide. That would seem to me tell the true story of why the regime won't cooperate in these hearings.

I think we can fairly draw a negative inference from the White House action.


Blogger Xan said...

Heya Diane...

I been droppin' this little turd around everyplace that's talking about the WH line o' BS on Katrina.

Check the date on this puppy, which you will note from the URL is Official USA

"We had no way of knowing how bad it was gonna be" my ass.

Good post, thanks. :)

4:48 PM  

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