Wednesday, December 27, 2006



When any politician, be they a local councillor or the president of the United States, starts surrounding himself with lawyers, then you know he is becoming extremely worried about what lies ahead.

2007 and 2008 have all the makings of a living nightmare for this man who has made no secret of his loathing, and resentment, towards the nitpickers on Capitol Hill. Basically any member of Congress who wants to hold him to account for his words and actions.

Some of the new Democrat congressmen and women heading to Washington DC are planning to put every single dodgy spending bill, Bush buddy and the evidence cited as the reasons for war, under intense scrutiny.

That means Bush will have to either play ball, and face a storm of criticism and outrage during his last days in office as the truth becomes known about his presidency, or he will have to block and dodge and duck and weave and obfuscate every time anyone dares to ask him a question about any of his key decisions from the past five years in office.

It's going to get ugly on Capitol Hill, as one revelation spawns another investigation into a controversial matter that could generate ten more shocking revelations. But, the Democrats will also have to consider Americans tolerance for such evisceration of a president's choices while still in office.

No doubt there will be millions of Americans, and tens of millions of people from around the world, who are hanging something wicked for live Watergate-ish hearings and fireball questioning of key officials. They are not likely to get it, however.

Just how much do even Democrat senators want to reveal about the inner workings of the Bush White House? And how much is too much for the public to take?

If the Democrats intend to deconstruct the Bush presidency in public hearings, they must realise then how easy it will be for Republicans to generate sympathy for Bush. He is, after all, president of the United States while the country is caught up in two of the most difficult wars it has ever faced, regardless of the fact that Bush initiated both battles.

Many Democrats may want to strip the flesh from the president's bones while they still have the chance, but it seems unlikely Bush will be the centre of congressional investigations, beyond the Rush To War questions that still need to be answered.

America has been weakened on the world stage, and stands extremely vulnerable today.

Democrats may want to destroy the few thin, wafting strands that remain of Bush's credibility, but they don't want to damage the United States as a whole. At least, damage it more than Bush already has.

The anticipation, therefore, of what the Democrats will do to Bush in 2007 and 2008 may prove to be more exciting, more interesting, than the reality of the events to come.

From the Baltimore Sun :
President Bush is bracing for what could be an onslaught of investigations by the new Democratic-led Congress by hiring lawyers to fill key White House posts and preparing to play defense on countless document requests and possible subpoenas.

Still, in the days after the elections, the White House announced that Bush had hired two replacements to plug holes in his counsel's office, including one lawyer, Christopher G. Oprison, who is a specialist in handling white-collar investigations. A third hire was securities law specialist Paul R. Eckert, whose duties include dealing with the Office of the Special Counsel. Bush is in the process of hiring a fourth associate counsel, said Emily A. Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman.

"Obviously, if we do have investigations, we'll have to make sure we have enough people to be prepared to answer questions that come our way," Lawrimore said. "As of right now, I wouldn't say it's anything special."

Republicans close to Bush say any such moves would not come until the White House sees how aggressive Democrats are in trying to pry the lid off the inner workings of the administration.

Veterans of investigative battles between the White House and Congress predict that Bush ultimately will need to add staff members -- or at least borrow some from government agencies -- to contend with Democrats with subpoena power on Capitol Hill.

"Like any White House that has to deal with a Congress run by the other party, this White House has to bulk up its staff to deal with the inevitable flood of subpoenas. They're also going to have to coordinate with lots of friends and supporters," said Mark Corallo, a former top Republican aide to the House committee that issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to the Clinton camp.

Democrats are reluctant to reveal their investigative plans, but they have made it plain that they want to conduct more oversight of the Bush administration.

The president might want to launch internal investigations of his own, legal experts and analysts say, to turn up anything untoward before Democrats do. Some suggested that the administration was doing that last month when the Justice Department announced that it would look into the use of information gleaned from the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic surveillance program, an investigation that Bush thwarted earlier by refusing to grant security clearances.

"It's quite common that a White House, anticipating congressional investigations, will prefer to let previously blocked internal administrative investigations go ahead as a preferred alternative way of trying to deprive the upcoming congressional investigation of exciting things to discover..."

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