cheneyatwh.jpgSpeaking of a lack of ethics, disrespect for the rule of law and the itch for an imperial presidency:

Vice President Cheney told Justice Department officials that he disagreed with their objections to a secret surveillance program during a high-level White House meeting in March 2004, a former senior Justice official told senators yesterday.The meeting came one day before White House officials tried to get approval for the same program from then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who lay recovering from surgery in a hospital, according to former deputy attorney general James B. Comey.

The episode prompted sharp criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, who questioned whether Gonzales and Card were attempting to take advantage of a sick man to get around legal objections from government lawyers. It is unclear who directed the two Bush aides to make the visit.

According to Comey, the hospital visit was preceded by a March 9, 2004, meeting at the White House on the Justice Department objections. It was attended by Cheney; Gonzales; Card; Cheney’s counsel then, David S. Addington; and others, Comey said.

Comey also named eight Justice Department officials who were prepared to quit if the White House had not backed down, including FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, current U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg of Alexandria and Jack Goldsmith, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel and led an internal legal review of the surveillance program.

This would be the very same internal review of the NSA surveillance program that was stopped in its tracks by the President’s refusal to grant the DOJ attorneys conducting it proper clearance to review the particulars of the program. Talk about yer self-dealing CYA.

If you think that Dick Cheney and George Bush, David Addington, Scooter Libby and the whole mess of deluded imperial presidency advocates who work for them aren’t trying to consolidate Presidential fiat power under the guise of national security necessity, think again.  They will use fear for whatever means is necessary.

For more on this, take a peek at Steve Benen, and Digby and Anonymous Liberal (writing at Glenn’s old digs), and Marty Lederman.

Just a quick reminder, as well, we’ll be having a chat with Caroline Frederickson, the Legislative Director at the ACLU, regarding the work on reversing the MCA’s gutting of habeas rights, among other legal issues that the ACLU is currently working on for this session of Congress.  The chat is scheduled for 3:00 pm ET/12:00 pm PT today — as in this afternoon — and I hope you can all be here to talk with Caroline about her work and what we can all do to restore habeas.  Thanks all!

(Photo by Ron Edmunds/AP via MSNBC/Newsweek.)