Today the Obama administration invoked executive privilege to protect Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department from Congressional oversight. Holder is refusing to hand over documents related to Fast and Furious, the Justice Department’s gunrunning program that put weapons in the hands of murderers.
The use of executive privilege to hide activities conducted by the Bush administration was largely condemned by members of the Obama administration and was an important campaigning point for the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
It is interesting to hear her words now in light of what her administration is doing.
“That kind of open leadership has been sorely lacking these past seven years. In fact the Bush administration has dramatically widened the definition of classified information to shield more and more materials from public scrutiny, has widened the scope of the states secrets privilege to shield this program from judicial review, and has widened the reach of executive privilege to shield its activaties from Congress. From warrantless wiretaps at home to secret prisons overseas, the Bush administration has conducted illegal activities and stonewalled efforts of the people and the Congress to discover them and to hold the administration accountable.”
“I will end the practice of using executive privilege as a shield against the public’s right to know and congress’ duty to oversee the president.”
“Finally I will make crystal clear that the president and the executive branch will comply with the laws of our nation. My Department of Justice will interpret those laws fairly accurately honestly and publically. We’ll release Justice Department interpretations so that you know exactly what our understanding is and how laws are being executed. The President is not above the law in our system of government and we need to make that absolutely clear starting next year. These changes both represent and drive the transformation I believe is needed in our government starting on day one of my administration. I do not believe that power is an end in itself but a means. A means limited in scope of serving the interest and protecting the safety of our nation, while creating opportunity for our people.”
Meanwhile see what candidate Barack Obama had to say about executive privilege back in 2007.