We all know that our nation is based upon the principle that “All Men Are Created Equal,” however there exists a loophole that is often used by reigning presidents to skirt the laws that govern the rest of us: “Executive Privilege.” President Obama recently invoked this privilege to protect one of his underlings, Attorney General Eric Holder, from being held in contempt of Congress for withholding documents pertaining to the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scheme that has so catastrophically backfired. Holder had written a letter begging Obama to bail him out, which the President gladly obliged, as Obama is never one to back away from denying information to the public or Congress and continues to make his “open and transparent” government into a running joke.
Runaway government power is always a concern, no matter which of the three branches of government happens to be expanding its reach at any given time. However, over the past 20 years the Executive Branch has taken unprecedented leaps in what it considers its authority to oversee or enact. Obviously the use of military force in undeclared and unconstitutional wars is one of the most major and apparent abuses of power, however this “executive privilege” is also very dangerous. While it has been claimed as Constitutional by the Supreme Court during the Nixon era, it actually has no Constitutional basis and was upheld under the guise of “Separation of Powers.” E.g. to assure that the judicial & legislative branch didn’t have more control than the executive branch in its area and also to assure that documents pertaining to the security of the nation wouldn’t be revealed. This is a very flawed premise, as what is or isn’t a matter of national security isn’t defined in any way, and as you will see, has been completely abused. All the “Executive Privilege” has done since it was first used by George Washington (yes, that George Washington) is provide Presidents with the ability to push under the rug whatever highly illegal or unsavory acts they have been undertaking. It’s seldom used for anything else.
A truncated history of “Executive Privilege” (Source)
- 1796, President Washington refused to comply with a request by the House of Representatives for documents relating to the negotiation of the then-recently adopted Jay Treaty with England. The Senate alone plays a role in the ratification of treaties, Washington reasoned, and therefore the House had no legitimate claim to the material. Accordingly, Washington provided the documents to the Senate but not the House.
- Presidents often assert executive privilege even if the information or documents sought are not matters of national security. They argue that some degree of confidentiality is necessary for the Executive Branch to function effectively. Key advisers will hesitate to speak frankly if they must worry that what they say will eventually become a matter of public record.The Supreme Court considered this argument in the 1974 case of United States v. Nixon. A grand jury convened by Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski issued a subpoena to President Nixon requiring that he produce Oval Office tapes and various written records relevant to the criminal case against members of Nixon’s Administration. Nixon resisted on grounds of executive privilege.The Court recognized “the valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties.” Nonetheless, the Justices concluded that the executive privilege is not absolute. Where the President asserts only a generalized need for confidentiality, the privilege must yield to the interests of the government and defendants in a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, the Court ordered President Nixon to divulge the tapes and records. Two weeks after the Court’s decision, Nixon complied with the order. Four days after that, he resigned.
- In 1998, President Bill Clinton became the first President since Nixon to assert executive privilege and lose in court, when a Federal judge ruled that Clinton aides could be called to testify in the Lewinsky scandal.Later, Clinton exercised a form of negotiated executive privilege when he agreed to testify before the grand jury called by Independent CounselKenneth Starr only after negotiating the terms under which he would appear. Declaring that “absolutely no one is above the law”, Starr said such a privilege “must give way” and evidence “must be turned over” to prosecutors if it is relevant to an investigation.
- President George W. Bush first asserted executive privilege to deny disclosure of sought details regarding former Attorney General Janet Reno, the scandal involving Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) misuse of organized-crime informants James J. Bulger and Stephen Flemmi in Boston, and Justice Department deliberations about President Bill Clinton’s fundraising tactics, in December 2001.Bush also used executive privilege several more times, including to prevent the subpeona of Karl Rove in a cover-up over suspect government firings.
Executive privilege can be used to protect vital information from coming out that may protect legitimate government operations handled by the executive branch, however it appears that more often than not, it is used to escape prosecution for wrongdoings. Botched illegal activities, infringements on personal privacy and liberty of citizens, sexual indiscretions, failed management policies, unconstitutional shadow operations…this is typically what this ridiculous privilege is utilized for. The fact that we as a nation allow this to continue – allow our elected executive official to completely ignore the laws that govern the rest of us and do as he pleases with an easy “get out of jail free” card is insanity. Obama is just the most recent unscrupled President to dive into the mud and cover himself in the blanket of feces that is executive privilege to avoid an embarrassing scandal.
Receive access to ALL of our EXCLUSIVE bonus audio content – including “Conspiracy Corner”, “Degenerate Gamblers” and the “League of Liberty Podcast” by joining the Lions of Liberty Pride and supporting us on Patreon!