“Scandal fatigue” can be common under the circumstances. After seven-and-a-half years of legal, moral, ethical, and political outrages, many of the scandals of the Bush/Cheney years start to blur together. Some are even forgotten, swept aside to make room for new, more offensive controversies.
It’s only natural, then, to shift the focus away from the White House and towards the campaign to pick the next president. I’m afraid, however, now isn’t a good time to stop watching the Bush gang — some of their bigger scandals are managing to look even worse.
The Bush administration today unveiled a set of novel and controversial legal arguments in refusing to disclose key details about Vice President Dick Cheney’s role in the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.
In two letters released Wednesday, the Justice Department revealed that, upon the recommendation of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, President Bush had invoked executive privilege rather than turn over to Congress a never-released FBI report (known as a “302″) recounting a confidential 2004 interview with Cheney about his knowledge of the Plame affair.
The White House move effectively closes the door on the last chance for the public to learn answers to a swirl of questions that have surrounded Cheney’s actions from the outset of the Plame case.
Last year, Patrick Fitzgerald, pointing to Cheney’s conduct, told a jury, “[T]here is a cloud over what the vice president did.”
And yesterday, the White House and the Attorney General decided it’s better to keep that cloud in place than to cooperate with a congressional investigation and add facts to the public record.
Just how “novel and controversial” were the new legal arguments? Let’s put it this way: the Justice Department created privilege claims, out of thin air, that no one’s ever heard of before.