by Kagro X
Over at Daily Kos, diarists gbchaucer2 and R o o k both put us on notice of the "administration's" latest outrage: their declaration that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
You can see either of their excellent diaries for expositions on that particular subject.
But I'll tell you why it caught my eye, and it's something I've been thinking about for a long time.
Remember what The New Yorker's Jane Mayer told us last year, in her article on Dick Cheney's now-Chief of Staff, David Addington?
He thought the Presidency was too weakened. He’s a believer that in foreign policy the executive is meant to be quite powerful.” These views were shared by Dick Cheney, who served as chief of staff in the Ford Administration. “On a range of executive-power issues, Cheney thought that Presidents from Nixon onward yielded too quickly,” Michael J. Malbin, a political scientist who has advised Cheney on the issue of executive power, said. Kenneth Adelman, who was a high-ranking Pentagon official under Ford, said that the fall of Saigon, in 1975, was “very painful for Dick. He believed that Vietnam could have been saved—maybe—if Congress hadn’t cut off funding. He was against that kind of interference.”
And how Mayer confirmed this with Jane Harman?
Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who has spent considerable time working with Cheney and Addington in recent years, believes that they are still fighting Watergate. “They’re focussed on restoring the Nixon Presidency,” she said. “They’ve persuaded themselves that, following Nixon, things went all wrong.” She said that in meetings Addington is always courtly and pleasant. But when it comes to accommodating Congress “his answer is always no.”
And how Cheney himself confirmed it, too?
In a revealing interview that Cheney gave last December to reporters travelling with him to Oman, he explained, “I do have the view that over the years there had been an erosion of Presidential power and authority. . . . A lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam both, in the seventies, served to erode the authority I think the President needs.” Further, Cheney explained, it was his express aim to restore the balance of power.
Well, that's the context in which you should consider the FOIA news.
What does wikipedia tell us about the Freedom of Information Act, as we now know it?
Following the Watergate scandal, President Gerald R. Ford wanted to sign Freedom of Information Act-strengthening amendments in the Privacy Act of 1974, but concern about leaks (by his chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld and deputy Richard Cheney) and legal arguments that the bill was unconstitutional (by government lawyer Antonin Scalia, among others) persuaded Ford to veto the bill, according to declassified documents in 2004. However, Congress voted to override Ford's veto, giving the United States the core Freedom of Information Act still in effect today, with judicial review of executive secrecy claims. [notes omitted]
And what does wikipedia have to say about... oh, let's say, FISA?
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act resulted from extensive investigations by Senate Committees into the legality of domestic intelligence activities. These investigations were led separately by Sam Ervin and Frank Church in the 1970s after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair (see the Church Committee report). The act was created to provide oversight of covert surveillance activities, while maintaining secrecy.
Hmm. What else is under systematic attack today? Campaign finance?
Following reports of serious financial abuses in the 1972 Presidential campaign, Congress amended the FECA in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs. The 1974 amendments also established an independent agency, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to enforce the law, facilitate disclosure and administer the public funding program.
Anything else? Congressional war powers, maybe?
During the Korean and Vietnam wars, the United States found itself involved for many years in situations of intense conflict without a declaration of war. Many Members of Congress became concerned with the erosion of congressional authority to decide when the United States should become involved in a war or the use of armed forces that might lead to war. The Senate and the House of Representatives achieved the 2/3 majority required to pass this joint resolution over President Nixon's veto on November 7, 1973.
Hmm. What are we seeing here?
Can anybody think of any post-Watergate or Watergate/Nixon-inspired reforms in government that haven't been under direct assault by this "administration?"
So, just out of curiosity... who won the fight to impeach/expel Nixon, anyway?