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'Truth, the whole truth, nothing but'

August 01, 2007

Re "Executive privilege touchy for presidential candidates," July 29

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney loudly proclaim their goal of protecting executive privilege for the good of the presidency. However, the constant use of executive privilege to cover administration wrongdoing and to protect underlings from criminal charges will eventually weaken the president's office in areas in which the White House actually needs special consideration.

Using executive privilege to protect the administration from accountability is not a proper use of presidential power. But what should we expect from an administration that has never hesitated to take the low road when it serves its purposes? Future presidents are bound to lose some of the legitimate leeway their office requires because of the code of silence currently being used to thwart congressional investigations.

Ralph Givens

Daly City

When the House Un-American Activities Committee held hearings in 1947, 10 witnesses appeared who, on constitutional grounds, refused to answer certain questions. They were later indicted for contempt of Congress and served prison sentences. Is the subpoena of the Senate Judiciary Committee so much less imperative that witnesses can refuse with impunity to even appear?

Robert Goldfarb

Studio City

Re "Truce or consequences," editorial, July 28

What a shameful suggestion: Congress' focus should be on pressing the president to embrace a compromise floated by [Sen. Arlen] Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in which [Harriet E.] Miers, Karl Rove and others would testify for the record but not under oath. If I were asked to testify on any matter, I would as a matter of course give the complete truth because that is the way I was brought up. Taking the oath or not taking the oath would not affect my testimony. Are we to tell government officials, who are our agents, that we understand that they might not want to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" and that therefore they don't have to take an oath to that effect?

Ethan Aronoff

Los Angeles

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