Brian Beutler

Brian Beutler is the Washington, DC correspondent for The Media Consortium, a network of progressive media organizations, including The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Contempt for Karl Rove?

As Karl Rove is subpoenaed to testify before Congress, the White House fights a congressional law suit aimed at forcing the testimony of administration officials.

After trying for more than a year to secure Karl Rove's testimony as part of an ongoing investigation into the 2006 firings of nine US attorneys, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the former White House political adviser on Thursday, opening another front in its battle over executive power with the Bush administration. The White House has claimed broad executive privilege over much of the information the committee has sought from Rove and other officials. Last July the administration blocked former White House counsel Harriet Miers and White House chief of staff Josh Bolten from complying with congressional subpoenas for testimony and internal documents. In February, the House voted to hold Miers and Bolten in contempt of Congress. After the Justice Department, acting on orders from the White House, refused to enforce the contempt citations, the House Judiciary Committee turned to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for redress. Rove, for his part, made his...

Heat-Seeking Missives

A Senate committee seeks to limit the use of secretive national security letters -- if you receive one, you're not allowed to tell anybody, but you are obliged to comply with its request for information.

There's a move afoot on Capitol Hill to rein in some of the vast powers conferred upon government investigators by the PATRIOT Act, the infamous, hastily crafted law written in response to the September 11th attacks. New legislation has been introduced in both Houses of Congress which is intended to curb the FBI's ability to collect private data on virtually anybody using a tool called a national security letter (NSL). The bills come in the wake of yet another damaging report from the FBI inspector general on the bureau's abuse of its expanded authorities. "The privacy of American citizens is a core value in our society," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a former federal prosecutor and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an April 23 hearing on the FBI's use of NSLs. "I think this is our next really big civil liberties issue." Addressing that issue may start with a bill, sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), which would both drastically limit the circumstances under...

Congress Tries New Tactic on Subpoenas

Congress, facing a Justice Department unwilling to enforce its subpoenas, is exploring a novel legal option that could vastly expand the power of the legislative branch. Or not.

Overshadowed by a heated presidential election battle and daily news of a sinking economy, a lawsuit that could change the shape of governmental power is making its way through U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., challenging the Bush administration's attempt to flout contempt of Congress charges against one current and one former aide. Its outcome could limit the scope of presidential power by providing Congress the means to investigate the inner workings of the executive branch without relying on the goodwill of one of the executive's most powerful agencies, the Department of Justice. Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee filed a motion (PDF file) against current and former Bush administration figures in civil court, with the limited aims of securing testimony and documents regarding the firings of nine U.S. attorneys by the Justice Department under the watch of then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Acting on White House orders, both White House Chief of Staff Josh...

Will Bush's New Nukes Program Bomb?

Buried in the administration's new budget is $10 million for the development of new nuclear weapons. Despite congressional opposition, and ongoing efforts to force other countries to abandon nuclear programs, the Bush administration refuses to let its dreams of U.S. nuclear expansion die.

The Bush administration has made a point of condemning countries like North Korea and Iran for their nuclear weapons (or alleged nuclear weapons) programs. As recently as last Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney charged Iran with being "heavily involved in trying to develop nuclear weapons enrichment, the enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade levels"—comments that were at odds with last fall's National Intelligence Estimate that concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. But amid the flame throwing, the administration has also quietly tried to launch its own new nuclear weapons production system—one that has been roundly criticized by nonproliferation experts and diplomats and has been rejected by Congress. The program in question would result in the creation of a cache of so-called Reliable Replacement Warheads—newer, safer, and more transportable than existing ones—which would replace the country's current stockpile as those warheads are phased out. Supporters...

Negotiating Our Future in Iraq

The White House is about to embark upon a series of negotiations with the Iraqi government about the shape of U.S. involvement in Iraq for years to come. They say they will likely not seek congressional approval. But is that constitutional?

Close followers of developments in Iraq might recall that in late November President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki signed a statement of intent -- called a "Declaration of Principles" -- to "frame the future relationship between the two countries." The declaration itself was vague and nonbinding, but it left open the possibility that future negotiations between Washington and Baghdad could result in an open-ended commitment for the United States to devote troops to defend Iraq from both internal and external threats for years to come. Such a long-term commitment would undoubtedly run counter to popular opinion in the U.S., but it also raises an important constitutional question -- namely, does such an arrangement require the ratification of a treaty, and therefore the consent of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate? The language in the declaration is fairly leading. Under it, the U.S. would agree to: 1. Providing security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to...

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