Is Bush Abandoning Democracy?
So-Called Executive Privilege Abused
Is the USA becoming less open, less of a democracy? Here is a statement on this topic by Scott Hartshbarger, the president of Common Cause.
By denying two requests for documents by the House Government Reform Committee, the Administration is blocking legitimate oversight of executive branch activities. The case for executive privilege in these matters is very weak.
Chairman Burton sought to review the Reno Justice Department's refusal to appoint an Independent Counsel to investigate campaign fundraising abuses by the 1996 presidential campaigns. It is bad enough that the previous Administration's Justice Department denied Common Cause's request for an Independent Counsel to investigate these abuses, but that harm is compounded when the current Administration blocks congressional oversight of that decision.
In the other matter, Burton sought to review the FBI's use of active killers as informants. The systematic violation of FBI policy by certain agents compromised public safety in New England, and also demands congressional oversight.
These are exactly the kinds of things that deserve congressional scrutiny. We applaud Chairman Burton for vigorously and impartially pursuing his responsibilities. And we call on the Administration to reverse its decision.
This is part of a larger and alarming trend emerging in the Administration. They have withheld information from Congress about the energy task force; they have made it harder for journalists and others to request documents from government agencies; and they have made it easier for former Presidents to withhold portions of their official papers.
President Bush should reverse course and uphold our well-established standards for openness in government.
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