Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wanted: Punchy name for historically significant, presidential obstruction of an investigation into possible presidential law-breaking.

Amid all the other news yesterday, the attorney general's startling revelation that President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation into the administration's controversial secret domestic spying programs hasn't gotten the attention it deserves.

Bush's move -- denying the requisite security clearances to attorneys from the department's ethics office -- is unprecedented in that office's history. It also comes in stark contrast to the enthusiastic way in which security clearances were dished out to a different group of attorneys: Those charged with finding out who leaked information about the program to the press.

It is not common for a president to personally intervene to stop an investigation of his own administration. The most notorious case, of course, was the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, during which President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who had been appointed to investigate the Watergate scandal. Among the many major differences, however: In that case, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resigned rather than follow Nixon's order.

Waas in the National Journal:
But Jarrett subsequently wrote [PDF] to Hinchey, "We have been unable to make any meaningful progress in our investigation because OPR has been denied security clearances for access to information about the NSA program. Beginning in January 2006, this office made a series of requests for the necessary clearances. On May 9, 2006, we were informed that our requests had been denied. Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation."

So, let's see ... May 9, 2006. That was a Tuesday. No indication of the time of day, so that's out. Massacre is to firing key officials, as [blank] is to denying clearance to investigators. Hmmm.

Stonewall is the popular term for this kind of thing. So, alliteration with Tuesday and Stonewall is out. But that might be OK, because alliteration makes some people irrationally angry.

King George's Stonewall?

The "I am the Law" Declaration? Act Number 734 of the American Monarch?


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