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Sen. Byrd Criticizes Obama White House

By February 25, 2009

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Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the most senior Democrat in the Senate, sent a shot across the bow of the White House over the appointment of executive branch "czars" for health reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change.

Byrd is known for skepticism over White House claims of executive privilege and jealously guards Congressional authority as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

“As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, and to virtually anyone but the president,” Byrd wrote. “They rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege. In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability.”

Byrd also criticized the Bush White House for executive excess. The Obama White House has recently sided with the Bush Administration on missing White House email.

The National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics sued the Bush White House in an attempt to recover millions of missing White House emails. According to AP, "Obama's Justice Department is continuing the Bush administration's bid to get the lawsuits dismissed." ProPublica reports that Obama's DOJ had 'no comment' on the story.

WeltOnline (Germany) notes that the Obama DOJ has also sided with Bush in "the rights of detainees abroad [and] the wire-tapping program against possible al-Qaida sympathizers in the United States."

Will the Obama DOJ, headed by Eric Holder, reverse a January 2009 Bush Administration ruling that undocumented "immigrants have no right to be represented by a lawyer, and no right to appeal an adverse ruling based on a lawyer’s mistakes."

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