WASHINGTON DESK - In a shameless episode of foot-dragging, the Clinton administration has attempted to slow-down the process of American justice by seeking to have Supreme Court Chief Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist intervene to prevent Secret Service officers from testifying to statements and actions taken in their presence that mat have aided and abetted the commission of crimes by president Clinton.
At issue is action taken earlier today by attorney general Janet Reno requesting Supreme Court review less than an hour after the appeals court refused to reconsider an earlier decision ordering the Secret Service personnel, including president Clinton's chief bodyguard, out of the shadows, compelling him to testify.
The appeals court ruling was harsh in its message to Clinton that the administration had no case and the '...likelihood of success before the Supreme Court is insufficient to warrant further delay in the grand jury's
Appellate Court judge, Laurence Silberman, had more to say and later issued his own opinion that openly challenged the Justice Department for making its appeals in the personal interest of Clinton rather than the
Silbrman wrote, '...the notion, about which the panel was dubious, that the newly minted Secret Service protection privilege is being asserted by the Treasury Department, independent of the president, seems to me to
be a constitutional absurdity...under terrible political pressures and strains of conscience...when the president's agents literally and figuratively declare war on the independent counsel.'
Within moments of the Appellate Court's opinion being made public, White House spokesman Mike McCurry began guffawing over the meaning of judge Silberman's words. McCurry said to reporters, '...war is a very precise term of art around here; the commander in chief takes that seriously. We are not at war with Ken Starr but we have some serious disagreements with him...'
The Appellate Court's opinion is a victory for Ken Starr and leaves standing the ruling by a three-judge panel of the Court ordering Secret Service personnel to answer Federal Grand Jury questions.
The Clinton administration makes a feeble attempt to argue that Secret Service agents should exempt from testifying about what they may see and hear of the president's conduct and activities because of the position of 'trust' that president Clinton places in them.
The appeals court gave that argument no legal weight, whatsoever.
Instead it slapped down Janet Reno and said the Justice Department '...has not made a sufficient showing ... establishing the privilege it
alleges.' The court made it clear '[T]his court has ruled that the privilege does not exist...'
The Clinton administration has been thrown for a number of losses this week. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson refused
to block the testimony by Cockell and eight uniformed Secret
Service officers who had been subpoenaed by Starr. That prompted
The Federal Grand Jury is building a case against president Clinton, Monica Lewinsky and other White House officials for suborning of perjury, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of former White House aide, Kathleen Willey's sexual assault allegations.
Saga Of William Jefferson Clinton's constitutional absurdity: Secret Service appeals to Rehnquist-July 16, 1998 ; White House unable to block subpoenas-July 16, 1998 ; Justice appeals Secret Service decision-July 14, 1998 ; Judge keeps gag order on Jones case-July 10, 1998 ; Poll: Tripp's tapes should stay secret-July 10, 1998 ; Clinton appeals lifting of Jones gag order-July 9, 1998 ; Tripp lawyer says Md. lawmakers urged probe-July 9, 1998 ; Tripp's defense fund goes online-July 9, 1998 ; Md. prosecutor denies intimidating Tripp- July 8, 1998 ; Appeals court says Secret Service must testify- July 7, 1998 ; Md. state prosecutor investigates Tripp- July 7, 1998 ; Clinton aide calls sex questions 'disgusting' - June 29, 1998 ; Clinton refused to testify, but aides must - May 28, 1998 ; Clinton aims to appeal privilege decision- May 13, 1998 ; Clinton won't respond to Gingrich attack- April 28, 1998 ; Clinton glad about Jones dismissal- April 5, 1998 ; Clinton returns victorious, ready to work- April 3, 1998 ; Clinton appeals lifting of Jones gag order-July 9, 1998 ; Appeals court says Secret Service must testify- July 7, 1998 ; Md. state prosecutor investigates Tripp- July 7, 1998 ; Judge lifts gag order on Paula Jones case - June 30, 1998 ; Judges weigh Secret Service testimony - June 25, 1998 ; Supreme Court rules Starr can't see Foster notes - June 25, 1998 ; Lawyers disagree with Starr on privilege - June 22, 1998 ; First Lewinsky lawyer Carter testifies-June 18, 1998 ; Starr says article 'borders on libelous'-June 17, 1998 ; Starr wars heat up with letters-June 16, 1998 ; Starr presses on, in spite of leak claim-June 16, 1998 ; Judge meets with lawyers over Starr criticism-June 15, 1998 ; Grand jurors move at their own pace - June 30, 1998 ; Linda Tripp third grand jury appearance- July 6, 1998 ; Linda Tripp gets her day in court - June 30, 1998 ; Excerpts from the Linda Tripp tapes - June 28, 1998 ; White House defends Lindsey role - June 12, 1998 ; Clinton aide Blumenthal returns to grand jury - June 4, 1998 ; Currie ends second day of testimony- May 7, 1998 ; McDougal appears before grand jury - April 22, 1998.