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The other day I reported on a troubling new Executive Order from George Bush. It effectively neuters the Intelligence Oversight Board, which was created after the fall of Nixon to serve as a watchdog against illegal intelligence activities and, by extension, an out-of-control executive branch. On Friday, without explanation, Bush stripped the IOB of many of its core powers and duties. For example, until Bush's "reform" the IOB had the duty to report any suspected unlawful activities directly to the Attorney General. Now however IOB cannot get word of illegalities to the DoJ unless the President and Director of National Intelligence choose to convey that information on behalf of the Board. In general, the IOB has been transformed from investigator to a passive observer, a mere recipient of administration reports about its own wrongdoing.

It's obvious that Bush does not want to permit the IOB to function as an independent check upon the executive branch. But why did he act now to neuter the IOB?

Bush was successful for years in marginalizing the IOB, making it along with other internal review mechanisms "ineffective", in the words of Sen. Leahy. For the first two years of his presidency, Bush just left the Board vacant. Subsequently, he packed the IOB (like its parent board, the PFIAB) with plenty of cronies and incompetents. The four current members of the IOB include Bush's close friend, former Commerce Secretary Don Evans; his former economic advisor Stephen Friedman; and Arthur Culvahouse, a White House Counsel from the Iran-Contra era with ties also to Dick Cheney. So you wouldn't think Bush had much to fear from this tame Board. And indeed, even after the IOB finally got some personnel in 2003 it continued for years to send no reports of violations to the Justice Department.

All of this might suggest that the new Executive Order was designed to prevent the IOB from re-emerging as an effective oversight body under a future president. It's in line with the long-term strategy of Cheney and David Addington to destroy all the checks upon presidential powers that were put in place after Nixon's disgrace. Permanently neutering the IOB would be an essential part of the campaign to bolster a Unitary Executive.

Yet there could be more to this issue as well. For the IOB started to show a pulse last spring, after having sat for years upon hundreds of cases of apparent government violations of the law.

Although the FBI told the [IOB] of a few hundred legal or rules violations by its agents after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the board did not identify which of them were indeed legal violations. This spring [2007], it forwarded reports of violations in 2006, officials said...

Until recently, the board had not told the attorney general about any wrongdoing. "The Attorney General has no record of receiving reports from the IOB regarding intelligence activities alleged to be potentially unlawful or contrary to Executive Order or Presidential directive," the Justice Department told the House Judiciary Committee in a May 9 [2007] letter.

White House officials said the board began forwarding reports of problems shortly thereafter.

It's possible, then, that last year this congressional report of IOB nonfeasance publicly humiliated the Board into starting to do its job again. That could cause problems for the Bush administration, especially if (as in 2007) the IOB planned during the spring of this year to forward a set of reports about legal violations, this time those dating from 2007. That might include any number of details related to warrantless wiretapping or potentially even the politicization of the Justice Department. It's very hard to see, in any case, why a highly politicized Attorney General such as Michael Mukasey would want to have hot potatoes dumped in his lap this spring by means of a report from the IOB.

Last July, Alberto Gonzales got into difficulties with the Senate Judiciary Committee over previous testimony that turned out to be false. It involved 500 reports Gonzales had received of improper FBI wiretaps, reports that the IOB also received. Sen. Leahy asked Gonzales to explain why he had earlier pretended that no such violations ever occurred.

Recent documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits and reported in the Washington Post indicate that you received reports in 2005 and 2006 of violations in connection with the PATRIOT Act and abuses of National Security Letters (NSLs).  These violations apparently included unauthorized surveillance, illegal searches, and improper collection of data.  These reports were significant enough to prompt reports to the Intelligence Oversight Board.  Yet, when you testified under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in April 2005, you sought to create the impression that Americans’ civil liberties and privacy were being effectively safeguarded and respected, saying "[t]he track record established over the past 3 years has demonstrated the effectiveness of the safeguards of civil liberties put in place when the Act was passed."  Earlier this month, in responses to written questions I sent you on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee about when you first learned of problems with NSLs, you, again, did not mention these earlier reports of problems. Would you like to revise or correct your misleading April 2005 testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, or your July 6, 2007 response to this Committee’s written questions related to these issues?

Gonzales' response to the Committee became a further embarrassment. He claimed that illegal violations are not necessarily significant just because the IOB is notified of them. He went on to say that he'd make sure to pay more attention to such reports in the future.

The "good news," Gonzales states, is that under just-issued rules to correct the problem that Gonzales didn't tell the Senate existed, he'll be notified in a "semi-annual report" after the Justice Department's National Security Division studies IOB referrals.

So it looks as if the IOB was being prodded and pushed last summer, however reluctantly, back into a more active and visible role in investigating and reporting illegal intelligence activities. It could be why, at that very time, Dana Perino announced that the White House was thinking of curtailing IOB duties.

Perino said the board's "original unique mission and primary oversight role has been supplemented" in recent years by new layers of government. To watch for abuses, the administration now relies on the director of national intelligence -- a job created in 2005 -- along with presidentially appointed inspector generals. As a result, Bush is considering changes to Reagan's executive order, Perino said.

The White House's argument makes no sense, of course. Inspectors general are not a new invention (indeed the IOB was tasked with overseeing them). Nor is the DNI independent of the administration. The IOB was created specifically to bring outside "oversight" to the executive branch's intelligence activities, something an intelligence "director" cannot do. Last summer, this WH proposal to curtail the IOB was greeted with dismay.

A Clinton-era deputy national security adviser, James B. Steinberg, said, however, that "you have to have a civilian proxy who on one hand can be trusted with these secrets and can still call the operator on the carpet when they go astray. If you neuter these internal mechanisms, then you are basically saying there is no one watching the henhouse."

And that is basically what Bush has done with his new Executive Order.  It was unnecessary. It was controversial. The rationalizations offered for it make little sense. It comes not long after the IOB sprang back to life and threatened to cause difficulties for some of Bush's pet surveillance programs. And the EO was rolled out on a Friday afternoon, without explanation, just as Bush headed off to Texas. I'd say there are some questions to be answered about why this "reform", and why now.

There's also the greater question: Will Congress roll over for this latest power grab?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:01 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Short answer cause he can nt (3+ / 0-)

    Be careful what you shoot at, most things in here don't react well to bullets-Sean Connery .... Captain Marko Ramius -Hunt For Red October

    by JML9999 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:02:17 AM PST

    •  not good enough (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, kurt, madgranny, kimoconnor

      Does he feel he needs to? Is this related to the FISA battle, or similar surveillance issues he wants to keep under wraps?

      As mcjoan pointed out this morning, even the preamble to the new EO now omits mention of the core purpose of the IOB, the oversight of illegal intelligence activities.

      •  the obvious answer (5+ / 0-)

        at least to those of us hanging out around these parts, is an extension of the "because he can" answer: because he has something to hide.

        The scary part is this: is it something he's already done? Or does he has more slime up his sleeve this year, while everyone is focusing on the race for America's Next Top President?

        One last destructive trick on the country? Unfortunately, given the track record, I wouldn't doubt it. Taking away any semblance of oversight (not that oversight has done any damn good the last 7 years), it's just a step in service of whitewashing in advance.

        •  Eliminates future oversight? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina, madgranny

          My guess is that by emasculating this Board now, it allows them to argue, in 2009 and beyond, that a future, fully re-empowered Board would have no authority to go back and investigate this Administration.

          Just a guess.

          "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

          by gsbadj on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:20:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  One last trick? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Does he even plan on leaving? It's a serious question. Bush has committed some very serious crimes and nearly everyone in his administration are guilty. In a just world they would serve long prison sentences. Are they becoming afraid of being prosecuted after they leave? Is their fear something we should be afraid of?

          "Freedom of speech isn't something somebody else gives you. That's something you give to yourself." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

          by brenda on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:44:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I should have realized that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jimreyn, kurt

          Bush's "cataclysmic fight to the death" was not to be waged against Congress but against the Constitution.

          Barack Obama - I'll never see the threat of terrorism as a way to scare up votes, because it's a threat that should rally this country around our common enemies

          by madgranny on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:46:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Bingo -Hiding Foreign Policy or Const. Breaches (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jimreyn, kimoconnor, billybam

          There are two easy assumptions we should not make with this administration:

          1. That since they are short-timers that they will accede to the 'lame duck' status and are only looking out for their 'after-the-change' immunity from prosecution.  (They are a long way from gone.)
          1. That they* will go quitely into this good night.  (They* will do every single thing they can (within or outside of the law) to assure that their power is maintained.

          (*By 'they' I include their real base and not just the current agents.  While their electoral base may include an exotic mixture of bedfellows, the base on whose behalf they govern is much, much smaller; much, much more powerful and long range thinkers of the most ruthless and calculating kind who have much to lose from a Democratic administration brought to power on a mandate of change.)

          The most probable reason for this obvious and flagrant abuse of executive power might be to hide even more abuses of the constitution and federal law regarding illegal surveillance of American citizens and the cover-up thereof.

          The less likely but possibly more ominous reason might be to hide foreign policy moves (possibly in relation to either Iran or maybe even Venezuela) that would give evidence of preparations for an election season action of some kind that would refocus the voters on 'national security'. It could even hide knowledge of a threat (or lack thereof) that might be turned up during the campaign from which McCain could draw to strengthen the one suit in which he holds any face cards.

          Anyone that counts these folks out, is forgetting who they work for.

          Think of the constitution as a levy. Think of our democracy as New Orleans.

          by Into The Woods on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 10:05:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Legacy ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, jimreyn, kurt

      He is still not convinced that his legacy as worst Prez ever is secure (first Admin to break $10 trillion in debt, 1 in 6 people without health insurance, recession, weakest dollar ever, oil over $100 a barrel and staying there, etc.), so he wants to screw up as many things as he can.

      Look for more of these in the next 322 days.

      Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

      by DefendOurConstitution on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:11:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What are WE doing about it? n/t (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, pioneer111, JML9999, kimoconnor

    March is National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month. An issue close to my nervous system.

    by Powered Grace on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:03:01 AM PST

  •  Of course we can expect the "maverick" McCain... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, ggwoman55

    to right these wrongs and correct all of this... right?  Right?  Hello? Is this thing working?

    George W. Bush... wiretapping the Amish since 2001...

    by ThatSinger on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:07:31 AM PST

    •  wiretapping the Amish since 2001 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, ThatSinger

      I could tell you the Joke about the Amish Drive by Shooting but I won't

      Consensus is that would McCain be elected he'd deliberately be a one term wonder. Unfortunately since he's courting a End of the World cult we kinda know how  his term would end.

      Be careful what you shoot at, most things in here don't react well to bullets-Sean Connery .... Captain Marko Ramius -Hunt For Red October

      by JML9999 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:10:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As a seat holder for Jeb? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, ThatSinger, seefleur, JML9999

        Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

        by DefendOurConstitution on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:18:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  maybe that's something he doesn't agree with? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, ThatSinger, JML9999

        I can imagine the interview on CNN:

        Wolf Blitzer: Senator McCain, a question about your new BFF, Catholic hater John Hagee. You have indicated that you don't agree with everything he stands for. Pastor Hagee has indicated his belief in the End Times coming within our lifetime. Would you as President goad the Russians and Israelis into war, so as to bring about Hagee's conditions for Armageddon?

        On second'd never happen....never mind. But you better believe Obama will be facing Farrakhan questions this ridiculous, and worse, all the way through November.

  •  Neutralize? (0+ / 0-)

    Don't you mean, castrate?

    Guess I'll go read the story now.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:07:59 AM PST

  •  You've misconstrued the situation (0+ / 0-)

    You see, Bush thought the "Intelligence Oversight Board" was a committee that was formed by Congressional Democrats to measure the amount of intelligence Bush had. Fearing the outcome of such a measurement (with good reason). Bush signed an Executive Order which neutered the committee's ability to measure his intelligence. (The Executive Order also neutered Barney, the First Pet, for peeing on the presiden't shoe in public.)

    McCain: "I think that clearly my fortunes have a lot to do with what's happening in Iraq" ... Buh-bye!

    by RevJoe on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:08:44 AM PST

  •  Will Congress roll over... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mjshep, jimreyn, Knaw, Uncle Bob

    you're kidding, right?

    Will Congress roll over for this latest power grab?

    Bet "the House" on it.

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias - Stephen Colbert

    by edfreeze on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:09:04 AM PST

    •  Because (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Showing any spine, standing up to Bush or protecting the Constitution is "off the table," dontcha know.

      If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. ~James Madison

      by mjshep on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:14:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Democratic Party Banner "Tread on Me" n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder, jimreyn
    •  All the rhetoric (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      from years passed was just that, empty rhetoric.  First it was the Republicans controlled Congress and then next it was we don't control a veto-proof majority.

      I'm sick of it.  No Democratic Congressional organization is going to see a single dime from me until the entire leadership is thrown out and they actually begin to show the ability to follow their duty to protect the Constitution.

      Give to individual Congresspeople who are on the right side of the issues and tell the rest of them to bugger off.

  •  The next Administration (4+ / 0-)

    Needs to get to the bottom of all of this crap.

    Then ensure those found responsible be punished in a legal fashion that has lasting effects deterrent effects.

    Political pardons are unacceptable Mr Bush,and so is hiding your daddy's secrets behind exectutive orders,free the truth now.Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

    by wmc418 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:10:24 AM PST

  •  Stop Bush the Mad Man (0+ / 0-)

    How can he run the country so absolutelu corrupt and the congress and Senate do nothing?  Now I see how Hitler powered his way to the top.  Stop Bush the mad man now!!!!

  •  GWB shows more of his CEO style (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The only thing that kept him from succeeding in business was the interference from the SEC and other busybodies. He is making sure whoever is next president has a major mess to clean up.

  •  Three words... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    covering your tracks.

    This guy and Cheney are going to make Nixon look like a choirboy.

    There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

    by OHeyeO on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:13:04 AM PST

    •  It's beginning to dawn on their little brains... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that their successors are not going to appreciate the mess left behind. Expect the pace of cover-ups to accelerate as they get more panicky about being exposed. Just hope they don't pull a big final "wag the dog."

  •  Bush isn't good at much. (0+ / 0-)

    But he's very good at covering his own arse. He excels in that much, at least. Much to the detriment of the country-and world-of course.

    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction." --Blaise Pascal

    by lyvwyr101 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:13:23 AM PST

  •  From the one-word answer man.... (0+ / 0-)


    Je suis inondé de déesses

    by Marc in KS on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:13:38 AM PST

  •  he can, he does, he will cuz congress roll$ over (0+ / 0-)

    cuz they are corrupt.

    see the att immunity bill.

    see ... the May 2001 tax cut for zillionaires wiping out the projected balanced budget, before this fucking war.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:14:11 AM PST

  •  He gets away with this because congress lets him. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks Harry Reid.

    Thanks Nancy Pelosi.

    Thanks for being the WORST leadership we could possibly be cursed with..

    The future isn't what it used be.

    by Beelzebud on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:16:10 AM PST

  •  Of course (0+ / 0-)

    There's also the greater question: Will Congress roll over for this latest power grab?

    Isn't that their job? or am I missing something?

    You know, I rather like this God fellow. He's very theatrical. A little pestilence here, a plague there... to get me some of that.

    by ryan81 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:16:14 AM PST

  •  Stop calling it "unitary executive". (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, jimreyn, ryan81

    The appropriate term is "king".

    •  Or Emperor or Dictator (0+ / 0-)

      or worst president ever. Worst person ever? (doubt he  passes over Hitler or Stalin but he is probably in the top 100)

      You know, I rather like this God fellow. He's very theatrical. A little pestilence here, a plague there... to get me some of that.

      by ryan81 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:21:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  GWB is a cockroach (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bwren, marina, jimreyn, miqewalsh, DtheO, wagdog

    What do you do when you have cockroaches?

    Turn over rocks.

    What would a cockroach do if it was president?

    Make it illegal to turn over rocks.

    That's all this is.

    We're pro-choice on everything! - Libertarian slogan

    by CA Libertarian on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:19:34 AM PST

  •  "the greater question: " (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey BB

    Will Congress roll over for this latest power grab?


  •  frustrating (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for the informative diary.  On one hand, I'm glad I read it, and on the other - I'm just more frustrated.

    I'm tired of feeling helpless.  Being here on Dkos makes me feel less crazy and isolated, but I still feel helpless.  

    What can be done about this latest Bush behavior?  What can I do?

    •  you can contact your members of Congress (0+ / 0-)

      and the House and Senate Intelligence committees, and ask them to demand an explanation for this. Ask them to introduce legislation (re-)creating an independent IOB that is capable and duty-bound to report illegal activities to the Attorney General and to the intelligence committees.

      •  If this issue were (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary rather than the Intelligence Committees it might be better - Conyers and Leahy would give better results than  Reyes and Rockefeller.

      •  The honest thing to do would be to impeach (0+ / 0-)

        Passing a new law because Bush broke or mooted the old one is worse than doing nothing.  The real issue is accountability.

        By all means, demand an explanation.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 12:58:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Just let him pave the way for Hillary/Obama (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Ask any wingnut what they think about Hillary maybe inheriting all this unitary executive power. (it's my latest sort of entertainment)

    •  I'm Thinking the Same Thing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The only logical reason they would want to concentrate that much power into the office of one person is if they were certain -- correctly or incorrectly -- that the office in question would always be held by their people.

      You can have your "Under God" back when I get my "Liberty and Justice For All" back.

      by karateexplosions on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:47:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wish to have abstract, quick summary.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to go along with this meaty posting. Sorry, but I'm dim and in a hurry.

    Plus, action links and quickie talking points are helpful.

    Rather than calling Dems names, it would be great to find a way to support them and protect them from the rabid attacks they face from the GOP and the GOP-controlled media.

    Speaking of which:

    Best Diary of the Year?

    by LNK on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:30:16 AM PST

  •  Answer re: Dem President having this power.... (0+ / 0-)

    It's obvious....The GOP will let a GOP President break the law but the minute a Democratic President does anything, they will Impeach. They will box in any Dem President.

    Which is why we need that 50 state strategy plus media reform and campaign finance reform.....

    Best Diary of the Year?

    by LNK on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:32:39 AM PST

  •  The sooner this administration ends up on the (0+ / 0-)

    ashheap of history (jail would be too much to expect), the better.

    It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven nor to save them from hell.

    by DanK Is Back on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:34:13 AM PST

  •  Because he wanted to lie, cheat, steal, or (0+ / 0-)

    break something. Why else?

  •  The Board has never had independent powers, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, brenda, Carbide Bit, kurt

    it has no tenure for its members, it can't investigate anything the White House doesn't want it to look at for the simple reason that all its members and staff "serve at the pleasure" of the President.

    What the Board is is a convenient cul d'sac for sidetracking investigations the White House wants to go nowhere.  By its existence, the Press Secretary can claim in any intelligence scandal "the matter is being investigated by the Intelligence Oversight Board", and that's usually enough to silence the issue. "Next question."

    Further, Presidential Orders aren't binding on subsequent Administrations, so your assertion that follows is almost nonsense:  

    All of this might suggest that the new Executive Order was designed to prevent the IOB from re-emerging as an effective oversight body under a future president. It's in line with the long-term strategy of Cheney and David Addington to destroy all the checks upon presidential powers that were put in place after Nixon's disgrace. Permanently neutering the IOB would be an essential part of the campaign to bolster a Unitary Executive.

    If you want to point to a body that has performed some effective oversight, you should take a look at the work of Mr. Goldsmith who was transferred from DoD IG to Main Justice to neuter Addington and put a temporary halt to The Program.  It was Goldsmith who first argued that the administration's secret, warrantless surveillance programs were illegal, and it was that conclusion which sparked the now famous refusal of Ashcroft/Comey in early 2004 to certify the program's legality. Goldsmith argued continuously about his conclusion with Addington, and during the course of those arguments, this is what happened:


    Goldsmith shared the White House's concern that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act might prevent wiretaps on international calls involving terrorists. But Goldsmith deplored the way the White House tried to fix the problem, which was highly contemptuous of Congress and the courts. "We're one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious court," Goldsmith recalls Addington telling him in February 2004.

    The so-called Intelligence Oversight Board has never had a similar real-time impact on intelligence operations, and the rewriting of its presidential authorization really isn't go to make much real difference.

    What is important today is news that Chairman Reyes wants to make a deal with the White House on telco immunity.  THAT deserves our attention.

    •  false, as I said the last time you posted this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, rhutcheson

      The IOB has exposed unlawful activities in the past. Furthermore, the IOB used to exercise oversight over the inspectors general. Thus it had indirect means as well to force these other watchdogs to do their jobs.

      As for Executive Orders, they are considered binding on subsequent administrations unless and until a new EO nullifies them.

      •  Hasn't this administration recently made it clear (0+ / 0-)

        that it does not regard itself as bound by executive orders, that it believes a mere order from the president (or VP?) is enough to countermand the requirements of an executive order?

        The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

        by lysias on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:01:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  These are two different things, I think. (0+ / 0-)

          Executive Orders establish policies and procedures which are disseminated across and implemented by a bureaucracy.  

          The administration has said that in cases like torture that it will feel free to violate a standing order, without rescinding the order.  The order would remain in effect for future cases across the government.

          •  yes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The newly neutered IOB will continue as a hollow shell of its former self unless a future president decides to recreate it. that wouldn't be the case if Bush had just continued to marginalize or ignore it.

          •  EOs don't have force of law. They're Administrat- (0+ / 0-)

            ive interpretations that may be countermanded ad hoc by direct orders from the President (or head of agency) or by issuance of a superceding EO.

            Fact is, Bush could jot down on a cocktail napkin that he wants the IOB to limit their deliberations to watching old episodes of I-Spy, and there's not a thing anyone could do about that, except hand in their key card. That's because the Board is part of the White House, not an independent agency.

            As for laws that do have force of law, the Bush-Cheney White House safely ignored those during its first term, as well.

            The only really effective countervailing power in Washington has been the Joint Chiefs and senior  intelligence figures who have pushed-back over major issues, such as Iran.  That resistance has been quietly effective, and the White House is no longer at the top of the decision-making foodchain on important national national security matters. Key people have been replaced, and the military and IC more or less run themselves now.  The Pentagon and CIA pretty much safely ignore the White House these days.

            Intelligence initiatives by the President in the last couple years, such as this EO that further limits the IOB, are pretty much just decorative, like the Christmas Cards the White House sends out.        

            •  When you refer to (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "the Joint Chiefs and senior intelligence figures who have pushed-back over major issues", are you are talking about Mullen's reported resistance to an aggression against Iran and the recent Intelligence Estimate which revealed that Iran discontinued its nuclear weapons development effort in 2003?

              If so, what do you conclude about the fact that not Congress or the Courts, but rather the military and intelligence bureaucracies have been "the only really effective countervailing power in Washington?"

              •  I conclude that the system is broken, and the (0+ / 0-)

                Pentagon brass and senior Justice Dept. and IC stepped in with a work-around.

                That's been going on since 2003, when the enormity of the Iraq WMD deception managed by the Vice President's office became apparent.  Since then, the military and IC have demanded and gotten certain things, such as an independent prosecution of the Plame and OSP/AIPAC espionage cases, and the removal or transfer of most of the neocons from decision-making positions at DoD/CIA.

                There have been casualties on both sides. I believe JCS Chair Pete Pace also lost his job primarily because he publicly differed with the White House over Iran issues.  See,

                As a result of those changes -- the impetus for which definitely did not come from the White House -- the drive to ratchet up hostilities with Iran has been effectively blocked, resulting in the 12/07 NIE and some other deescalation and confidence-building measures.

                I think there's been some coordination in this with Congressional figures, but that's been done behind the scenes.  It may well be that the move by Congress to give the IC and its contractors amnesty on warrantless wiretapping is part of that deal to contain Bush-Cheney.  I don't think there'll be amnesty for the Administration crew other than what Bush grants as pardons in his final days.

                Everybody has tried to mask the appearance of a serious espionage breach at the very top of the government, leading to a self-protective coup amidst a constitutional crisis.  A silent coup by the Generals was a good thing in this case, given the weakness of the normal checks and balances that have manifested since 9/11.  The Bush-Cheney regime have shown just how terribly vulnerable the Constitution really is.  We really need to put some limits on Presidential power, or something worse will inevitably happen next time there's a crisis.

                But, I concluded a while back that a mutiny has, in effect, happened.  Call it "removal in place", what the military does with an officer who has to be relieved, but this can't be done visibly.  So, they just keep the guy at his post, but others make the important decisions. Sometimes, if the screw-up is bad enough, the guy ends up getting the Silver Star and shipped home as a hero.  I went into this form of containment of presidential powers by the military at some length a year ago, see,

                •  still peddling these baseless theories? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  and no, the IOB is not "part of the WH". The board members are not government employees by design.

                  Whether or not it's been effective under Bush, your declarations that it has no independence and cannot ever be effective would be better directed at every office and agency of the executive branch that, unlike the IOB, actually is under Bush's supervision.

                  •  Insult - when facts and theory are against you (0+ / 0-)

                    At a certain point, we have to agree to disagree.  One thing that is not convincing is to simply dismiss what's being argued as "baseless."  That does not advance understanding or your reputation.

                    You need to respond to counter-arguments with transparent assumptions, supportable facts, and logical conclusions. We don't have to see eye-to-eye, but as a matter of intellectual integrity, you have to apply an analytical framework to counter the reasoned criticism you receive.

                    And, be respectful.  These are minimum requirements for someone who wants to be a columnist here.

                    As for your inference that the Board is "not part of the WH" because it's members aren't on the WH payroll, I don't believe that necessarily follows.  The IOB operates strictly according to rules and procedures laid out in EOs or direct Presidential directives, there are no civil service protections for the Board as there are for employees of agencies, the members and staff director serve strictly at the "pleasure of the President", and the Board is advisory in nature, it has no real or assumed legal powers over the WH or any agency, as does the DOJ.  

                    The IOB can't independently compel other parts of the government to do anything.  Therefore, I conclude (you are free to disagree) that the rewriting of the board's EO is nothing more that an internal change that changes nothing about the way the Intelligence Community actually runs.

                    I've laid my argument out, I've been transparent, tried to minimize my snark, and expect no less from you.  

  •  I think you've nailed it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I believe your conclusions are on target. Recently, regulatory issues have also made it into the light to a greater degree, also--the California pollution rulings, mining disasters, FDA and USDA failures, etc. The White House would be leery of any further revelations, so they make another lame attempt to simply shut. things. down. Deny access. Claim executive privilege. National security. Whatever it takes. Criminal, civil, regulatory offenses--all violations of basic fairness and democratic principles.

    But more and more of the sleepy people are awakening to an unsettled feeling. Many things seem (and are) unfair. Greedy people come out on top, while hard workers get fewer and fewer rewards. All the safety nets are disintegrating, and it's becoming harder to deny the damage.

    Thanks for this diary, and for keeping up with these vital subjects. Its a great service, that blogs like this one work so hard at getting at the truth and keeping it out there in the open for all who care to see it.

  •  Yes, of course Congress wil roll over - nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Freedom of speech isn't something somebody else gives you. That's something you give to yourself." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

    by brenda on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:38:49 AM PST

  •  Was the question in that last sentence... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, kurt


    This Congress has proven time and again that they really have no interest in protecting the civil liberties of Americans or slowing this country's free fall toward fascism.

    My heart breaks for America.

  •  Based on your excellent analysis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would conclude that the changes were not made to protect Bush, but to protect the powerful people on the board for allegations that they neglected their duties.  No responsibilities, no neglect.

    Speak the truth, but ride a fast horse.

    by Deep Harm on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:47:07 AM PST

  •  (Bush / IOB / Reyes / Dems / telecom) amnesty? :( (0+ / 0-)

    More slices of the Amnesty Pie?

    This time it's personal.

    by apostrophe on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:53:31 AM PST

  •  I think our president deserves the (0+ / 0-)

    same kind of justice that was meted out to Saddam.

    This is so far over the top that it's mind boggling.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:13:53 AM PST

  •  Will Congress roll over? Of course. (0+ / 0-)

    No politician wants oversight. Neither party is against us remaining an Empire.

    We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. -- William Faulkner --

    by Silverbird on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:14:05 AM PST

  •  We need is one Dem (0+ / 0-)

    to take it for the team.

    The Dems do nothing because they are complicit. If any of them gave a shit about the future of this country, he or she would come forward and take their punishment, to move this whole mess forward.

    But no--they'll let the country and Constitution be destroyed rather than own up to whatever the hell it is that is keeping them so suspiciously compliant. Unless they're smarter than we think, and are preparing an exquisite trap.

    Barring any action fromt he Dems, we can only hope that some enterprising investigative reporter--most likely from another country--rips the lid off the whole stinking mess, as with Siebel-Edmonds.

  •  Oversight Removal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tecampbell, donnamarie, Poor Grunt

    This is one of those "Executive Orders" that
    will make a "coup" possible.
    Be Aware !

  •  Not so much as a comment but a simple question (0+ / 0-)

    Who created and empowered the IOB. If I am not mistaken it was created and empowered by Congress. If so who the hell told Georgie Boy he was King George and had the authority to overturn Congressional action that has been signed into law?

    Yeah, yeah I know Georgie Boy thinks he's King George. Should we tell him that King George was beaten up pretty bad by the colonist and lost that power here back in the 1700's?

    Words escape me, but deeds are always noticed

    by utopia on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 12:08:16 PM PST

  •  I can only imagine (0+ / 0-)

    The contempt with which future history books will paint this Congress in their failure to hold the Bush administration accountable.  If, indeed, America even has a future after such abuses.

    A lean and mean political machine that gets the job done! - Frank Rich, NYT

    by susanWAstate on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:26:33 PM PST

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