May 1, 2008

Things that are more important than Jeremiah Wright, Part 1

From today's New York Times:

"At the hearing, a department official, John P. Elwood, disclosed a previously unpublicized method to cloak government activities. Mr. Elwood acknowledged that the administration believed that the president could ignore or modify existing executive orders that he or other presidents have issued without disclosing the new interpretation.

Mr. Elwood, citing a 1980s precedent, said there was nothing new or unusual about such a view.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, challenged Mr. Elwood, saying the administration’s legal stance would let it secretly operate programs that are at odds with public executive orders that to all appearance remain in force."

From the bottom of the story, DOJ spokesman Brian Roehrkasse (ed note: apply grain of salt) explains:

“With respect to classified programs, however,” Mr. Roehrkasse added, publicly changing an executive order might “not be in the interest of the country’s national security.” In such cases, he said, the Congressional Intelligence Committees or their leaders would be informed."

Sounds like it's time to ask everyone on the intelligence committees whether they've been told of any executive orders the Bush administration has put out of commission.