Thursday, July 28, 2005

Poppy, privilege and politics

Let's say everything the Republicans are saying is true. Let's say (and, since I'm not a Republican I'm willing to admit this) that I was wrong when I wrote that Roberts couldn't withhold certain documents because of attorney/client privilege (see the debate about my argument in comments here). Let's say that Scott McClellan was telling the truth when he said:
We have not seen or reviewed those documents... It wouldn't be appropriate for us to do so. That's privileged information that is related to the confidential deliberative process between attorney and client.
If all that's a given, then attorney/client privilege still exists between George H. W. Bush and John G. Roberts.

Politically, that's a good thing.

Every Democrat asked about this issue from now on should call on Poppy to waive attorney/client privilege in order to expedite the confirmation of John Roberts. How does this help us politically? Let me count the ways:
  1. We get to point out our party's greater openness.
    Former President Clinton has waived his right to restrict access to most records of confidential advice during his administration, opening the path for historians to more quickly study key decisions in the Clinton White House.

    However, Clinton will not waive attorney-client privilege over personal issues such as Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky-Paula Jones investigations.

    The records to be released include exchanges among top advisers, staff counsel given directly to Clinton and advice from non-staff members regarding domestic policy and appointments. Clinton would like the records released before his presidential library opens at Little Rock next year.

    "I believe that the more information we can make available to scholars, historians and the general public, the better informed people will be about the formulation of public policy and the decision-making process at the White House," Clinton said in response to written questions from The Associated Press.
  2. We get to remind the American public of the Iran-Contra Scandal and the scummy machinations that kept so many of G.H.W. Bush's people out of jail, a preemptive strike against using the technique in the Plame case.

  3. We can tell the American public that these documents -- and many others -- would probably have been public already if not for Bush's violation of the Presidential Records Act.
There are other benefits to calling Poppy out, but I'll let the aides of Leahy and others figure those out rather than put all the cards on the table here. Let's get started.


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