Friday, October 03, 2003

For the last, um, really long time, John Dean has been the go-to guy for abuses by the Executive Branch. He has a column in Salon today about why the leaking to the media by White House officials is worse than anything Nixon did. He also brings up an interesting option - that Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame should sue the White House (IIRC, the Supremes said it could be done when Paula Jones lied in her suit that the Clenis™ struck her.) to get information.

Dean did mention the significance of a lawsuit that never gets mentioned when Watergate is discussed - that was a suit by Joe Califano (later of the Carter Cabinet) against CREEP.

Few appreciate the significance of this lawsuit in the unraveling of Watergate. It has been largely overlooked by history. A few years ago, I told Joe Califano about the impact his lawsuit had: Within the White House, it was considered one of the most difficult problems to deal with during the investigations of Watergate. The FBI was no problem -- no one has to talk to an FBI agent. And no Department of Justice is going to haul White House aides before a grand jury. But a subpoena demanding the production of documents, or an appearance to give testimony under oath at a deposition -- that was a serious threat. It also troubled the FBI and Justice Department, keeping them on their toes. It was remarkably effective.

About what happened then and what might happen now...

In the case of the DNC's civil suit, Judge Charles Richey, a good Republican, handled it in a manner that was remarkably helpful to the Nixon reelection effort. But any judge getting a lawsuit from Wilson and Plame today would be watched a lot more carefully.

(link via The Horse)

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