There is a lot of buzz today circulating throughout the media regarding executive privilege as yesterday marked the first time President Obama has asserted executive privilege during his administration, but it’s certainly not the first time such an assertion has been made by a commander in chief.
Most recently, the Bush administration invoked executive privilege on six occasions.
I. President George W. Bush first asserted executive privilege in December 2001 to deny disclosure of sought details regarding FBI misuse of organized-crime informants James J. Bulger and Stephen Flemmi in Boston, former Attorney General Janet Reno, and Justice Department deliberations about President Bill Clinton’s fundraising tactics.
II. In 2004Bush invoked executive privilege “in substance” in refusing to disclose the details of Vice President Dick Cheney’s meetings with energy executives.
III. Further, on June 28, 2007, Bush invoked executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas requesting documents from former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor.
IV. On July 9, 2007, Bush again invoked executive privilege to block a congressional subpoena requiring the testimonies of Taylor and Miers. Furthermore, White House Counsel Fred F. Fielding refused to comply with a deadline set by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain its privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it, and provide logs of which documents were being withheld.
V. On July 13, less than a week after claiming executive privilege for Miers and Taylor, Counsel Fielding effectively claimed the privilege once again, this time in relation to documents related to the 2004 death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman. In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Fielding claimed certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests” and would therefore not be turned over to the committee.
VI. On August 1, 2007, Bush invoked the privilege for the fourth time in little over a month, this time rejecting a subpoena for Karl Rove. The subpoena would have required the President’s Senior Advisor to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe over fired federal prosecutors. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Fielding claimed that “Mr. Rove, as an immediate presidential advisor, is immune from compelled congressional testimony about matters that arose during his tenure and that relate to his official duties in that capacity”.