Bush Cites Executive Privilege -- to Protect Clinton
Among those who thought that Executive Branch obstructionism would end with the departure of the Clinton administration was Congressman Dan Burton (R-Ind.). But Rep. Burton, who heads the House Government Reform Committee, has been stymied by Attorney General Ashcroft's refusal to permit the Committee to review documents concerning decisions by three Clinton-era federal prosecutors not to prosecute officials involved in various scandals.
"While I have a great deal of respect for the attorney general," declared Burton, "he has announced a new policy that broadens executive privilege. If this unprecedented policy is permitted to stand, Congress will not be able to exercise meaningful oversight of the executive branch."
Burton prepared to subpoena the documents from the Justice Department, prompting President Bush himself to threaten a claim of executive privilege. "The claim, if made," reported the Associated Press on September 5th, "would be Bush's first known use of executive privilege, a doctrine recognized by the courts to ensure presidents can get candid advice in private without fear of it becoming public."
The doctrine of executive privilege was created by Harry Truman, who from 1946 to 1948 issued an order forbidding government officials to provide information to congressional investigating committees without presidential permission. …