We all know of the cronyism of the Bush Administration and how they have taken it to the next level. Politics as usual with a taste in promoting incompetence as never before in recent history. As the articles below document Bush's passion for secrecy from his era as Governor of Texas, he is a master of the art. Even though it is a proven bi-partisan agenda of whomever is in power, Bush has covered his trail better than most. The latest and perhaps the greatest is the elevation to the Supreme Court of his attorney Harriet Miers. The gnashing and walling of teeth from the left and the right have set into motion a very visible confrontation as to her qualifications for the job.
. She will cover Bush where ever she can and he has already made public statements as to her "loyalty"... :
Is It About Secrecy?
This is about secrecy. For the entirety of the rest of my life, I and thousands of other people will be filing FOIA requests with the government to get access to Bush's treachery, and that of his father, Reagan, Clinton, etc. This lady is supposed to last at least 10 years because some of those secrecy cases will definitely come up, and Bush wanted someone on his side, in his pocket, whatever. Keeping the records of his rule secret is personal, not some high-winded gaga-speak about 'conservative principles' and abortion and affirmative action and stuff Bush doesn't give a rat's ass about.
We knew about the Archivist
. We knew about the new Homeland Security classifications. Some of us knew about the ballooning increase in classification of documents. This is the nail that Bush hopes will seal the deal for good.
Protecting his legacy through secrecy - that was the aim of this pick.
A Controversial Choice for the Position of Archivist of the United States:
Part of the Bush Administration's Secrecy Strategy?
On April 8, the U. S. Senate received the President's nomination for a new Archivist of the United States -- historian Allen Weinstein. For most Americans, this is an obscure post. But the Weinstein nomination has rightly been gathering increasing attention.
Indeed, within the archival and historical communities, the nomination has sent sirens screaming and bells clanging. No fewer than nine professional organizations that deal with government records have expressed concern -- faulting Weinstein for his excessive secrecy.
Gutting the 1978 Presidential Records Act
This effort began on November 1, 2001, when Bush issued Executive Order 13233
. The Executive Order drew loud objections from not only historians and archivists, but also members of Congress -- who were highly critical of the Order in hearings. In the end, however, the Republican leaders quelled the grumbling, and Congress took no action.
The Executive Order gutted prior law -- specifically, the 1978 Presidential Records Act. The Order granted all former presidents, as well as any persons selected by them, an unprecedented authority to invoke executive privilege to block release of their records. In addition, it granted the power to invoke executive privilege to present and former vice-presidents as well.
Moreover, it shifts the burden to the requester to establish why he or she seeks the presidential records. (In contrast, the 1978 law properly put the burden on the former president who seeks to withhold them.) And Bush's Order empowers a current president to block release of a former president's records even when the former president wishes to release them. Finally, it makes the Department of Justice available to represent, in litigation, any incumbent or former president seeking to withhold information.
The public interest group Public Citizen filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Both sides have filed for summary judgment. So far, the court has not ruled.
Bush should lose the suit. A President should not be able to overturn a statute with an Executive Order -- especially when he is doing so in a self-interested bid to protect the secrecy of his own records.
Bush's Move To Appoint A New Archivist Again Ignores The Law
Bush's earlier moves to ensure records secrecy bring us to the most recent such bid: The President's nomination for Archivist of the United States. The Archivist will head NARA, which administers the 1978 Presidential Records Act -- so even if Bush loses in his attempt to protect his Executive Order in court, he may still preserve his records' secrecy if he manages to appoint a sympathetic enough Archivist.
The Archivist is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. A 1985 law makes NARA an independent agency within the executive branch.
That law says that an "Archivist may be removed from office by the President" when he "communicate[s] the reasons for any such removal to each House of the Congress." But President Bush seems to have effectively removed the incumbent Archivist, John Carlin, without following this procedure.
Carlin was appointed by President Clinton. Carlin had long given the impression that he planned to remain in his post for at least ten years -- that is, until at least 2005. Yet in December 2003, Carlin resigned -- apparently due to Bush Administration pressure. However, he has said he will stay until his successor is confirmed, so there is no vacancy.
The law also says that the President must appoint the Archivist "without regard to political affiliations and solely on the basis of the professional qualifications required to perform the duties and responsibilities of the office of Archivist."
Clinton didn't follow this provision: Carlin was a former Democratic governor of Kansas with no archival experience. Neither has Bush. Allen Weinstein is hardly a political neutral. Although he is a registered Democrat, he has close ties with conservative Republicans, and has become something of a champion of their Cold War views.
Both Presidents ought to be faulted for politicizing our nation's archival records and our history. And Clinton's wrong does not create a precedent for Bush to follow.
Weinstein :: bio at NARA
Weinstein :: wikipedia
Miers :: wikipedia
Justice Miers :: website
Miers :: blog