He secretly started planning the occupation of Iraq from September 17, 2001, manipulated the issue right before the 2002 congressional race, and kept the public in the dark about the price tag until late 2003. His attorney general, John Ashcroft, would not let the FBI investigate terrorist suspects' gun buys—the NRA wouldn't like that—but sent out the FBI fifty times to demand public-library patron information. In both cases Ashcroft told his trademark give-no-ground yet highly embroidered fables as cover stories. The president rammed trillion-dollar deficit-financed tax cuts for the rich through Congress using statutory power intended only for debtreducing measures, thereby abusing the law on the nation's highest budget governance. He installed his personal lawyer as an oversight-proof back channel in Riyadh, facilitating the darker aspects of diverting national anger after 9/11 from the implicated Saudis to the nonimplicated Iraqis. All these subversions of the law either were actively concealed or were buried by the White House's restricted, camouflaging, “daily message” system, so the public could barely even guess about its ruler's projects and plans.
All presidents govern by political means, including at least some political uses of the law. In my eleven years (1984–1995) as solicitor of the House of Representatives, representing the House in court and in investigations, I participated in countless inquiries and analyzed from an insider's vantage point the many concealed, devious, but potent ways that presidents have