Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Now that "Deep Throat" has been revealed...


Comparisons between the Nixon and Bush administrations have begun. Here are some excerpts from a great Salon.com article, Restoring the Imperial Presidency:

The two would-be hipsters -- Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney were aides to the new president, Gerald Ford. At that time Rumsfeld and Cheney were persuading Ford to veto one of the most important Watergate-inspired reforms, an enhanced Freedom of Information Act, designed to guarantee public and media scrutiny of the FBI and other agencies. FOIA, the two aides warned, would take too much power from the executive branch. Ford indeed vetoed the bill, but Congress overrode the veto and the FOIA became the law of the land -- at least until last October, when Attorney General John Ashcroft fulfilled Cheney and Rumsfeld's three-decade-old wish by pledging to fight any FOIA request that comes over the transom...

It is fashionable now to blame Watergate on Nixon's paranoia and rogue personality. But the crimes of Watergate grew directly from the kind of unchecked presidential powers now sought by the Bush administration both at home and abroad. FBI spying on political rallies and religious communities? The White House plumbers practiced either tradecraft breaking into the psychiatric records of dissident Defense Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg. The "enemies list" grew from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover's decades of spying on religious, civil rights and peace groups.

Expanded paramilitary covert operations abroad? The Watergate break-in team was conscripted from the CIA squad for covert Cuban operations. Restrictions on the flow of information to Congress and the public? The direct complicity of Nixon and other high officials in Watergate was proved only because senators who had subpoenaed White House records refused to knuckle under to claims of executive privilege -- a drama being replayed this month with Sen. Joseph Lieberman's subpoenas regarding the involvement of Cheney and other White House officials in Enron.

I guess we are doomed to repeat ourselves...

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