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Tangled Up in Karl: The Hidden Connections Behind the Rove-Obama Deal
Friday, 6 March 2009
There has been a flutter of congratulatory noise in some quarters about the recent "compromise" brokered by the White House regarding Karl Rove's criminal refusal to heed Congressional subpoenas requiring his testimony on the Bush Administration's transformation of the Justice Department into a goon squad targeting -- and imprisoning -- political opponents.
The Obama-Rove deal upholds a seemingly desired principle that agents of the President are entitled to "executive privilege above the law."
Whereas mere mortals can go to prison for ignoring a Congressional summons, Rove has been allowed to roam free, appearing on national television, writing for national publications, and carrying on his life's work of polluting and degrading the nation's political culture. This unelected, porcine bullshit-slinger is apparently so powerful that the new President of the United States felt compelled to step in and negotiate the very gentle terms under which said porcine polluter would deign to appear before Congress.
This whole spectacle, by the way, is yet another stunning example of what a completely lawless state the United States of American Empire has become -- at least for those in the bosom of imperial power. Think of it: a legally binding subpoena from the Congress of the United States is blithely ignored -- a clear act of criminal contempt. But the scofflaw suffers not the slightest penalty. Instead, he is serviced by the most powerful institution in the land, which intervenes to make sure his appearance before Congress holds no dangers for him. He is to appear in private, will not have to answer any questions about the most important point at issue -- George Bush's involvement in the Justice Department scandal -- and will not be required to testify under oath. (It is all very much like the remarkable conditions under which his former boss "testified" before the 9/11 Commission.)
This is the deal brokered by the current administration, with Obama's hand-picked White House counsel, Gregory Craig, and his aides playing a "critical role," as Newsweek reports. But while the venerable newsmag found time to address the ever-burning question of who "won" in the negotiations -- Did Rove's lawyers make the most concessions? Who's on top of the Beltway food chain today? -- they entirely omitted a very pertinent fact, reported by Glynn Wilson at the Locust Fork News-Journal: Obama's White House Counsel is closely connected to Rove. Wilson writes:
But that's not all. As Wilson notes, Craig also engaged in what seems to be a clear act of subterfuge to get Republican whistleblower Jill Simpson -- who courageously stood up against the travesty of justice in the Bush gang's political imprisonment of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman -- to spill all the details of her case against Rove and the other Justice Department conspirators. Wilson writes:
Simpson's attorney, Priscilla Black Duncan, set out the details in a recent letter she wrote to Obama's White House Counsel, citing his violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and asking him "to step down from your position as White House Counsel, at least in all matters dealing with the Bush administration." In her letter, printed in full by Wilson, Duncan writes:
Once again, we see a vivid display of the "continuity" that has been a hallmark of the new administration in so many areas. Obama's top legal adviser and his law firm is deeply entangled with Karl Rove and George W. Bush -- and specifically on the very issue of the recent "compromise": the goonization of the Justice Department. (In addition to the firm's involvement with Dick Cheney and the criminal outing of a CIA operative tracking weapons of mass destruction.) How hard would it have been for Barack Obama to find a reputable, respected White House Counsel who not hip-deep in the Big Muddy with Karl Rove and George Bush?
And how difficult would it have been for the President of the United States -- the "most powerful man on earth," as we are incessantly reminded -- to say, simply, that Karl Rove should obey the law and testify under oath before Congress? And note well the reality -- and arrogance -- at play here. Rove could still have refused to divulge specific information, citing executive privilege or the Fifth Amendment. The question here is not what he would say, but that he has refused to appear at all. And now his drinking buddy and literary rainmaker in the White House has brokered a cozy arrangement to coddle Rove even further.
To be sure, the White House deal for Rove was not just about the incestuous entanglement of Obama's counsel with the very maw of the Bush-Cheney-Rove gang. As Newsweek notes, Obama is very anxious to preserve the hard-won powers of the imperial presidency that he has inherited from such illustrious predecessors as the George Bushes and Dick Nixon:
In other words, the Obama administration wants to ensure that none of its own top dogs will ever be required to testify about allegations of criminal activity by the government. And the Obama-Rove operative Craig made it clear that Obama was willing to go to court -- yet again -- to defend Bush's vision of rampant executive power:
Beyond the notion of "executive privilege," the Obama-Rove deal upholds a principle far more important to our Beltway courtiers: their elevation above the law. While the proles are subjected to an ever-growing plethora of police powers and genuinely shocking levels of incarceration -- often for profit -- our intertwined elites cut special deals for each other to keep themselves living large, loose and at liberty.
Yes sir, that's continuity for you -- continuity with a vengeance!
NOTE: Speaking of elevation above the law, how about this little gem just in from AP? Panetta: No one to be punished for interrogations:
Thank God the Obama Administration has moved so swiftly to protect Bush's torturers at the first whiff of pesky snooping from Congress! After all, they -- and the architects of the torture program in the White House and Pentagon -- only broke the law. And the law, as we can see -- even in this Age of Change -- is just for the rubes and suckers, not the great and good, and their hired hands.
Makes you right proud, don't it?
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on March 7, 2009.
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