Notes: The Bush administration continues to object to congressional oversight of the executive branch claiming that the power of the presidency has been eroded way too much over the years. Many, like columnist Maureen Dowd, say the Bush administration likes to operate in secret.
This past week a congressional committee wanted Tom Ridge, head of the homeland office, to appear before it. On advice of the Bush administration, Ridge refused the invitation on the basis that his office is not a cabinet-level office and thus, is not subject to congressional oversight. Both conservative and liberal pundits have expressed surprise over his refusal to show up.
A quick Nexis search of the last six months turned up the following on the Bush camp's opposition to congressional oversight:
In a piece on Attorney General John Ashcroft assailing critics as virtual traitors, Julie Mason wrote in the Houston Chronicle that "The attorney general's appearance came amid growing criticism of the new White House was powers, most of which were instituted without congressional oversight. Houston Chronicle, December 7, 2001.
A Corpus Christi Caller Times editorial criticized the Bush administration's secrecy regarding justice department files which George W. Bush ordered Ashcroft not to release. The subpoeana for the documents had come from Republican Dan Burton who sought a certain memoranda on Janet Reno's decision not to appoint a special prosecutor and also a "memoranda on a 30-year-old case in which the FBI may have let an innocent man go to jail in order to protect two informants." The editorial argued, "The White House and Cabinet departments are not immune from politics; one reason for congressional oversight is to ensure that the criminal justice process remains depoliticized." Corpus Christi Caller-Times, December 18, 2001.
The administration has also kept information from Congress about Dick Cheney's energy commission over which the General Accounting Office -- the investigative arm of Congress -- has filed a lawsuit. David Jackson of The Dallas Morning News wrote that Comptroller General David M. Walker, head of the GAO, claims that the energy commission "meetings do not constitute internal deliberations because when Mr. Cheney's task force reached outside government to specific parties in the private sector, it subjected itself to congressional oversight." Dallas Morning News, January 31, 2002.
I like transparency in government. As Bill O'Reilly, conservative Fox news host of the O'Reilly Factor, has repeatedly explained, the government belongs to the people so we should get to know what's going on. 03.24.02