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Cheney's Law [home page]

David Gergen

gergen

Gergen served as White House adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. In the Ford administration he reported to Chief of Staff Dick Cheney, and he recalls how many of the young staffers -- including Cheney and himself -- chafed at the post-Watergate restrictions on the Ford presidency. Gergen tells FRONTLINE that he felt presidential power had been considerably strengthened in the decades that followed, but Dick Cheney never shared that view. Gergen is currently a professor of public service at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Center for Public Leadership. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted July 28, 2007.

On the issue of presidential power and presidents who have tried to push the limits, Nixon is the one most commonly cited.

One thing to remember about Richard Nixon, he was embattled from the day he got there. The war was on, there was a sense of enormous tension in the country, and he had to battle his way out of Vietnam and in very unpopular, unfavorable circumstances. He felt very strongly the only way to extricate the U.S. from Vietnam and to also negotiate privately with China was if the president himself had unfettered power; he could not be held back by Congress.

It went partly to the war, but it also went partly to Richard Nixon's warped view of humanity and power. One of his favorite leaders was Charles de Gaulle, and de Gaulle was very imperial. He wanted to exercise the full powers of the presidency, and if necessary take them beyond the lines. He wasn't so scrupulous about where the lines were. Famously during that administration, John Ehrlichman, [counsel and assistant to President Nixon], said: "If the president does it, it's legal. Whatever the president does, he defines what the law is." That's the very definition, in effect, of a king, not of a constitutional system.

What I learned there -- I was just a kid -- is very central to understanding the Bush administration now. And that is, what happens at the Justice Department is a reflection of what the White House wants. Most importantly, it's a reflection of what the president wants. The president sets the tone; the president sets the general direction. What you find at the Justice Department are people, generally speaking, who try to carry out the president's wishes, the wishes expressed to them by the chief of staff and general counsel at the White House, or by the president himself.

In the Nixon administration, at the time you were there, is a young staffer working for Don Rumsfeld named Dick Cheney.

I knew of Dick Cheney in the Nixon administration; our paths crossed. I didn't really know him very well. I got to know Don Rumsfeld better in the Nixon years. After Nixon left office, I left the White House and went to work over at the Treasury Department for Secretary Bill Simon, and Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney recruited me to come back to the Ford White House. Don Rumsfeld was then chief of staff and was in the process of moving over to the Defense Department as defense chief, and Dick Cheney was about to be promoted to chief of staff.

So I went to work for President Ford, reporting to the president through Dick Cheney, his chief of staff. I was one in a group of about a half dozen of sort of Young Turks that Dick helped to assemble to bring order and vitality to the place. I must tell you that I, along with all of my colleagues, was enormously impressed by Dick Cheney at that time. He was a first-rate chief of staff; he was a man of great integrity. President Ford came to rely on him heavily during that time.

Dick Cheney was in his mid-30s then, just coming into his own as an adult and having a substantial amount of power and responsibility and exercising it as carefully as he could. He felt, as did all of us working then, that the presidency was too wrapped up in congressional regulation and laws that hamstrung the capacity of the president to carry out foreign policy. There had been such a reaction -- and it was natural -- to the scandal of Watergate that the Congress passed all sorts of laws to tie up the president, to make sure he couldn't break the bounds of the Constitution again.

But from the White House point of view, those laws -- you felt like you were Gulliver in Lilliput. You had all these strings that were tying you down, and you really couldn't act -- especially the War Powers Act, which really was a questionable assertion of congressional power.

So in effect we had moved from the imperial presidency of Richard Nixon very quickly into what many of us thought was an imperiled presidency under Gerald Ford. OK, some terrible mistakes were made [in the Nixon period], and there were abuses of power. Then along come the legislators and pass all sorts of laws and regulation to make sure that will never happen again. But they also make sure nothing else will ever happen, either.

That was a pivotal moment in the education of Dick Cheney. Many of us felt strongly that the power of the presidency was threatened, that America could not lead in the world and couldn't get much done in Washington unless you had a more effective chief executive. Dick came out of that absolutely committed to the idea of restoring the powers of the presidency.

Now, after that happened, life moved on, and many of us felt that Jimmy Carter, who is a great saint but was not a very effective president, that he continued this imperiled presidency. But when Reagan came along, he, in the very natural order of things and without challenging constitutional boundaries, restored power; it began to flow back into the White House. And I think we saw that power exercised in a variety of ways by his successors, President Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton.

So many of us felt that the powers of the presidency had been restored in the succeeding years after Ford and before Bush Jr. Dick Cheney does not believe that. He is among those who felt the president was still too hamstrung, and he came in bound and determined as vice president to change that. That was part of his personal mission.

What were your thoughts on that day when Dick Cheney stood up to take the oath of office and become vice president?

I felt that Bush made a very wise, sound selection. I kept up with Dick in the intervening years, not closely, but I'd known him when he was in Congress, and I'd known him when he was at Halliburton, and felt this is an experienced person who knows Washington, understands power. Very importantly, he understands the world. He played a crucial role as secretary of defense in the Persian Gulf War. His relationship with the Saudis, with the king in particular and with the Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar, were very, very important during that time.

What I had not fully appreciated was how much more conservative Dick had become in the intervening years since the Ford period. I hadn't understood that I think he had grown more disillusioned with Congress as a result of serving there. He was in the minority, and that can be a very frustrating position, after all. I've seen a lot of people graduate from Congress who look back with some disdain upon it as an institution. I wouldn't say that was Dick's view, but I would have to say I interpret him as being somewhat disillusioned with Congress as an institution.

I did not understand he felt the presidency was still an imperiled institution. I thought he sort of agreed with the more mainstream view, that the health of the presidency had been significantly restored in the intervening years.

So, like a number of his former colleagues, I have gone through a lot of asking myself: "Did he change? Did I change? What happened here? Why do we see the world so differently when we once saw it so similarly?"

But I had this experience -- I really came to understand how he felt. I was on CNN one night and argued that the vice president ought to turn over the names of people who would be consulted when helping to formulate the energy recommendations for the president. I thought that was just as a matter of transparency and openness. It was really important to make those things available to the public and to Congress. And I had a call from him the next day, and he really wanted to talk about, "Don't you remember what we went through back in the '70s and how important it is for the executive to have the full power of the Constitution and how hampered we were back then?"

I did remember all that. And he said: "You know, it's really important today. It's really important to what we do now." Without going into all the details of it, it sent home for me a very direct message: He really cares about this. It's deep in his being. It's fundamental to who he is and his perception of how the presidency should operate in conjunction with the Congress. He's a very, very strong believer that the presidency has been cut down too far.

What was your thinking about George Bush at that moment of his first inauguration?

I thought George Bush was an innocent in some aspects of this. He'd never really been here. He'd been around Washington; he certainly knew the political game very well. And I thought that for a rookie, he ran one heck of a campaign; he did not stumble.

I had hopes for him as president. I thought that the people he brought around him were first-rate, and it was one of the best foreign policy groups I had ever seen assembled since Harry Truman. And I thought Dick Cheney was part of that, so was Colin Powell. There were just any number of people -- Don Rumsfeld -- for whom I had a lot of respect. So I had enormous hope when they first came in.

I did not realize the group would never gel into a true working team. I thought the president would be, to a significant degree, guided by them and counseled by them. I didn't realize how headstrong he was, and I didn't realize how stubborn he was. It's very clear to me that he is much more than most of us anticipated. He's the one who set the course. And this is not simply a product of the advisers around him being divided.

I think it's too facile, and I see it too often, that a lot of the interpretation of what happens in administrations is that "Well, it must be this person as attorney general, or it must be that person as chief of staff. If a president just had a different person in there, the policies would be totally different." Sorry -- it's almost uniformly the chief. The president has the chief of staff he wants, and he has an attorney general doing things he wants him to do. It's the president who makes the calls on this, and the people around him reflect the president, what the president wants.

That's true even for this particular president and this particular vice president?

I think this particular vice president has had an enormous amount of persuasion with this president. I think he's listened to him more closely than anybody else, especially in those early years. But still at the end of the day it's the president who's made the calls, and I think this penchant for secrecy and large executive power that Dick Cheney has been pushing, I think it's something the president has bought into. Did Cheney help to persuade him? Absolutely. But is the president now persuaded? Absolutely. I think he's now a devotee of expanded executive power.

You ought to take a close look at a painting which George W. Bush bought when he was governor and had installed in his office as governor. He asked his staff to come and look at it because, he said, "That's us." What it is, is of a lone rider on a horse going up what looks like a mountaintop or crag or something like it, and his men are desperate to try to keep up with him, and they're behind. But he's running through the brush, and he's pell-mell ahead. And what you're a little uncertain of is, is this a leader who's going to lead us to the mountaintop, or is this a fellow who's going to take us over a cliff? You can't tell, because the painting is a little ambiguous in that regard.

When George W. Bush was elected, he brought that painting to Washington. It now hangs in the Oval Office. I think it's representative of who he is, the way he thinks and the way he acts. He's very much this headstrong, "I'm going to be the leader of the pack." You'll notice that a lot of his conversation is laced with comments about leadership. He cares deeply about leadership. He's thought a lot about it in business school. He sees himself as a leader.

9/11 hits. Can you describe, from what you know or what you've experienced, what that moment was probably like for Dick Cheney and George W. Bush and the foot soldiers over at the Justice Department?

My own interpretation is that they came in, spurred by Dick Cheney, to have an enlarged sense of the presidency, to have a penchant for secrecy, to basically have a view that the Congress, in effect, works for us, not with us; that we're the lead branch, not a co-equal branch.

I think what 9/11 did was reinforce and strengthen every one of those impulses. I'm sympathetic in one fundamental respect, and that is I've had the privilege of working at the White House many times now. We never before in our history had people working in the recesses of the White House who had to run for their lives through the streets of Washington. I can only imagine what impact it had, of their saying: "Never again. We must defend this at all costs. If the Congress doesn't understand this, we do, and we're going to protect the country."

I'm sympathetic with that. A lot of us on the outside who didn't go through it have to understand there's a residue that lives on and on in the people who went through that horrible day.

It's clear it's had a lasting impact on everything else that's happened, whether it's the government's intercepts or surveillance or exerting executive privilege, or treating Congress with contempt on the questions of White House people producing documents or testifying. They started with this view. But I think that day, 9/11, was such a wrenching one that it confirmed everything they might have thought, and it has made them extraordinarily rigid on these questions.

What about the lawyers in this story? For example, the lawyers over in Justice who were asked to help streamline the process.

Look, the place of lawyers in our society has changed since the time that Dick Cheney was chief of staff. I went to law school in the late '60s, and still in the '70s, there was a view that lawyers were your sages, your counselors. People had a more heroic view of lawyers. Alexander Hamilton in the early days sort of exemplified this. He thought that to be a lawgiver was one of the most heroic roles anybody could play in society.

By the '90s, lawyers increasingly, at least in business, and I think this is taking place elsewhere, are regarded more as technical people. "Okay, here's what we're going to do, now you draw up the papers." I think lawyers today in this government are treated more like staff. There's been a tendency, except in rare instances, that the lawyers have become a little more marginalized in the conversations about power and use of power and policy.

Let me give an example. We remember Ted Sorensen as John Kennedy's speechwriter. Ted Sorensen was John Kennedy's general counsel. He was a crucial player in the making of decisions in the White House, someone the president frequently turned to and was right there in every one of these major decisions on the Cuban missile process and crisis and all these other things. You don't find general counsels today, you don't find the attorney general being brought in the same way, in my judgment. And especially in this Bush White House. I have felt that they have treated the lawyers as, "You're here to do our bidding, not here to figure it out."

Who is Alberto Gonzales, the president's top lawyer, and later the attorney general?

They all like him, he's the judge -- they call him the judge inside the White House. He's a nice fellow. But he's not exactly a heavyweight in that job. [Attorney General] Edward Levi -- he was there with Gerald Ford and he was dean of the University of Chicago Law School. Now there was a model of an attorney general. This is very different today.

What about the role of Congress in all this? What does it mean in terms of the White House we're describing, that the Congress is overwhelmingly Republican when Bush first comes into office?

When you're in the White House that cares a lot about the exercise of power, you want two things in a Congress. You want cooperation on passing legislation. When you have a Congress of your own party up on the Hill and you're down in the White House, the checks and balances become much, much lighter. The whole check question fades into the distance, and you can get your work done.

Every administration has a couple of people who will do crazy things. One thing you don't want is, if you've made some mistakes inside, that it's going to be a circus up on Capitol Hill with all of this being exposed and your credibility and your honor and integrity of your presence eroding under those circumstances.

Nixon was so hopeful in his '72 presidential campaign that the Republicans would take the Congress, because then he really would have been unfettered in the second term. The fact that the Democrats won had a lot to do with his downfall.

Many things happen as a result of this lack of check by Congress. Some Democrats tried to push back. But it's the Republicans, interestingly, who kind of say: "He's our president; party is the dominant feature here, and America is in some trouble. For all these reasons, we can sign on to almost anything he wants."

As an overlay for this, it's important to realize how much the Republicans -- some would say back to Eisenhower -- increasingly have seen themselves as the presidential party. The Democrats controlled the Congress from Franklin Roosevelt on, and the Republicans felt their natural home was the White House, and the Democrats' natural home was Capitol Hill.

As a result of that, if you're a Dick Cheney, what you want to do is make sure the presidency is the strong institution and to make sure your people are there, and that's where it becomes critical to you.

If you're a Republican on Capitol Hill, having been in the minority for a long, long time, you tend to want to have a strong presidency, and you're a little less concerned about having a strong Congress. After all, if you're going to be in the minority so much of the time, why do you want to have these Democrats up on Capitol Hill have all the power and you've got a Republican president downtown?

So it's not unnatural that the Republicans had a natural instinct to support a strong presidency. It's a very Hamiltonian view. Energy in the executive has been a strong Republican view; you can find instances of it all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt, some would argue Lincoln.

Along comes 9/11. Again, they go with their natural instincts that are greatly reinforced by what happened on 9/11: "We're in a dangerous place; we've got these nimble, very fast-moving terrorists who can hit us from anywhere. How can we afford as a country not to have an equally nimble commander in chief? Why wouldn't we give him pretty much unfettered power? We'll trust him; he's one of us, after all."

Whereas if you're a Democrat you say: "Look, we traditionally lose presidential elections here in the modern age, but we want to retain some power up in Congress, where we have traditionally exercised a lot of power. And we believe in checks and balances." If you're a Republican, you're a little less committed to checks and balances unless there's a strong Democrat in office. ...

As someone who is a veteran of government, has seen and heard lots of stories of infighting within administrations, where does the behind-closed-doors battles of this administration fall on that continuum?

We know that there were fights on foreign policy between the neoconservatives and the more traditional realists on whether we should go to war, how we should go to war. It's very clear there also were struggles between the more libertarian conservatives who do believe in stronger government but restrained government, more power to the individual, versus those who felt that on surveillance the government needs to hear everything, collect everything, for you never can tell. …

Conservatism as a movement was enormously cohesive when it was a minority fighting for power. A lot of them were willing to work in common cause, even though they didn't agree on some fundamentals. Once they got into power, then the differences began to surface, because then you're trying to have supremacy within the group where it actually matters a lot.

So the libertarians have had very big, strong arguments with some of the social conservatives, and they've had big arguments about civil liberties within the administration.

You've got some people who are traditionalists. I've always seen [Deputy Attorney General James] Comey and some of his colleagues as having a more traditional view of the exercise of power than the people who had this aggrandized view and wanted to really increase it.

A traditionalist, by my way of thinking about the law, is someone who looks not just at the letter of the law but the spirit of the law and says, "Well, here's what was intended," whereas Mr. [David] Addington, [Cheney's chief of staff], I've looked at as someone who is looking for loopholes and is not terribly interested in the spirit of the law. He wants to know basically what are the lacunae, where are the openings, the vacuum here?

It goes back to a fundamental difference that people have had about the Constitution and how to think about it with regard to the presidency. Traditionalists have believed that unless the Constitution explicitly says you have this power as president to do this or this or the other, then you don't have the power. The expansionists -- Teddy Roosevelt was one of the first -- have believed that if the Constitution is silent, that means you should assert the power. If the Constitution doesn't address it and it doesn't give the power explicitly to the Congress, then it's inherent in the powers of the presidency.

So people like Teddy Roosevelt -- and I must say that George W. Bush in some ways is in the Roosevelt tradition -- have said, basically, if it's silent, it's inherent to the presidency, and we can exercise it and let other people challenge us. In fact, they believe that's the way it ought to be operated, as they see it as we're in war, and it's a very dangerous period, and it's not unnatural that they would try to assert all these powers. One of the interesting issues that I think nobody has really been willing to raise is, is this truly a war? The British, Tony Blair, have been arguing for sometime that we should not see it as a war; that once you call it a war, it triggers all sorts of other things, and it triggers the civil-liberties stuff. They see it more as a question of law enforcement, and they think we've gone off the track. We've got an exaggerated view.

We have never had a politician who has been willing to make that argument. The Democrats aren't willing to make that argument; they're scared of that argument. But once you start seeing it as a war, then almost automatically war powers come into it. What are the president's war powers as commander in chief? We've always associated commander in chief with you can do one heck of a lot of things.

The problem in calling this a war is, it is a war without time limits. It is not like the Civil War when Lincoln could exercise these enormous powers, suspending habeas corpus. But Lincoln understood and said, "When the war is over, all of these powers collapse, and we have to get back to the other way." We've often done that. When we've been fighting a traditional war, the president exercises unusual powers during that time, but then we revert back to where we were when it's over.

The problem with this war is it's a twilight war. It could go on for decades. Do we really want to have in effect a commander in chief in the saddle practicing the wartime powers of the president for 20 or 30 years? Do you really want to have these kind of expanded powers, this kind of successive secrecy that we're now seeing? We want it for an emergency, but do we want to live with it for 20 or 30 years? That's the philosophical heart of the problem we're facing right now.

If you were advising the president and something like the wiretap issue is suddenly revealed, what options do you tell this president he should consider?

The commitment to secrecy, to expanded presidential powers, to maximum use of American power with regard to the treatment of individuals you may collect who have terrorist possibilities -- that's so encompassing here that as a presidential aide, you can make arguments on particular points, but you've got one or two choices.

Either you've got to accept that regime and the philosophy, or you have to leave, because I think it's very difficult for any one presidential adviser under that situation to come in and say, "You know, Mr. President, I think this is a terrible idea." You're just going to be marginalized in that situation. You're going to go make that argument about three times, and they're going to stop listening to you, you know, because they just think that you don't get it; you're out of step.

One of my great fears is that Fred Fielding went in as general counsel to this White House -- he's someone I know and who I think the world of. He is a great general counsel. I worry. I think there's been evidence that they're not listening the way they should to him; that they're overruling him; that he's up against how they exercise executive privilege.

I can guarantee you that what we went through this past summer on executive privilege, that Fred Fielding, given the full power of that office and able to make the calls, would have found a way to work it out that [former White House Counsel] Harriet Miers and [White House Chief of Staff] Josh Bolten would have provided testimony to the Congress in some fashion that would have been acceptable to the Democrats and would not have diminished executive privilege.

Traditionally what Fred and a lot of us have been engaged in over the years is that you normally convince the president, "Mr. President, we need to assert executive privilege. We need to make sure everybody understands you're not giving this up. You're asserting you have it, but you're going to waive it in the case of this individual to do this particular thing, to testify in this particular way." That's the way it's always been worked out. There have always been ways to work these things out that allow Congress to get the information it needs, but keep the privilege and don't throw it into the courtroom to have it all challenged.

We ran through this with Nixon on the tapes, and that's when the Supreme Court in 1974 ruled that there was such a thing as executive privilege. It was the first time the Court had really asserted that so boldly. But they also said there are times when executive privilege gets trumped. It gets trumped in a criminal investigation.

What the courts have not tried to settle is, when does the Congress have the right to trump executive privilege? That's because past White Houses trying to protect things have asserted executive privilege. But in the interest of recognizing there's such a thing as congressional oversight, they have made people or documents available under very limited circumstances. And it's generally worked. To me, that's what Fred Fielding would have done.

But now this administration is asserting a privilege that's beyond --

They may well win in a court of law, but I think the Fred Fielding that I believe in, who in the spirit of what he has always represented, would have been trying to figure out, "How do we get this thing settled amicably without having to get a court ruling on executive privilege?"

There's always a danger, from a White House point of view, if you take the issue to court, for the court may say in fact the president doesn't have that much authority as you would like to assert. You're better off being in a gray zone in some ways.

I thought one of the worst mistakes of the Clinton administration was to allow to go to court the question of the relationship between the president and his attorney in the White House. Those conversations have always been considered privileged before. But they got challenged from the outside, and the Clinton White House allowed it to go to court, and the court said, "You know, those conversations are not so privileged," and the president lost a power that was very precious. So did the White House staff. You can't be sure as a member of the White House staff today that if you go see the counsel and ask for advice -- "I'm about to do this, or I've just done this really stupid thing; what should I say?" -- you can't be sure that conversation is privileged anymore, because the Clinton administration allowed this to go to court.

They should never have done that, and I think it's a mistake for the Bush administration to allow these things to go to court. I think they should get settled out of court, in effect.

When you read about the firing of the United States attorneys, as an experienced observer of all of this, what did you think?

When I first heard about the firings of the U.S. attorneys, it didn't faze me very much, because I've seen U.S. attorneys fired in the past. It is a right of the president. They do work at the discretion of the president, and I've always found as a presidential appointee, you live by the sword or die by the sword. If you're appointed by the president, you serve at his pleasure, maybe one day her pleasure, and when that pleasure ends, you're gone. After all, Bill Clinton asked for the mass resignation of U.S. attorneys early in his administration -- quite controversial; Republicans attacked it.

However, in the Bush case, what seemed to be the normal exercise of power, the more we learned about it, the more it seemed not just politicized, but questions arose about whether political power was abused to favor Republicans or to disfavor Democrats and whether the Justice Department was pushing people, in effect, on how they're going to prosecute or not prosecute. And that goes over the line. It's that which seems, which I have thought, deserves a full public airing.

Congress has a right to know, [and] the public has a right to know just what the heck happened here. Was this a regular exercise of power, or was there an abuse of power? After all, at least one person who worked in the Justice Department said, "I went over the line." They testified to that. So I've come down on the side of saying what I thought was sort of pretty standard, garden-variety firings may have something more there, and it's a legitimate subject of inquiry.

But of course once you've begun to assert the privilege across the board, universally, about everything from torture and wiretapping of people who genuinely want to harm us, to whether [former White House lawyer] Monica Goodling can testify or her e-mails can be moved across, you're on a different kind of slippery slope.

I think that's right. I worked in the Nixon administration, and I worked in the Nixon White House, and there were vast abuses of power there, and there was a lot of politicization of the Justice Department. Nothing that has happened in the Bush administration, as far as I can tell, comes anywhere close to the scandals of the Nixon years.

However, there has been a degree of politicization of the Bush Justice Department that is disturbing here -- just as there's been a politicization of many other areas, like science, findings on global climate change and the rest, which I think are unhealthy for democracy. They need to be given full light of day in the press and in the Congress, because you know what it does? It's not a question of whether Bush pays a price or not; it tells the next group that comes along: "Hey, this is not acceptable. There are standards here."

It teaches the next generation: "You've got to play within the rules; you've got to play within the boundaries. This is a tough game. It's not being bad; this is the NFL. And you have to exercise power in a lot of different ways, but you have to do it with a certain respect for democratic traditions."

So I think it has an influence on the way public life is conducted hereafter. That's why I think you have to air these things. It's what makes it healthier. People know, "Hey, there's some things we just don't do."

Going back to the political side, how intense are the politics in all this? For example, lurking in the background in those states where the U.S. attorneys were fired is the issue of voter fraud, and that connects back to the bitter ballot counting in Florida in the 2000 election, and there's Karl Rove's push --

Let me make this one point: I have heard Karl Rove talk about voter fraud, and I do believe he makes a compelling case that voter fraud is important in some areas of the country. It is something the U.S. attorneys ought to be paying attention to, and I think Karl Rove is right to say we ought to be very tough through the U.S. attorneys on that question.

The question is, are you equally tough to both the Democratic side and the Republican side, or do you wink at efforts on one side and go after the ones on the other side? That's where it becomes unhealthy.

It's been so hard in the instance of the Bush administration -- so many people have now [become] polarized about Bush that they either see it as all black or all white. In fact, there are areas where I think the Bush administration has some legitimate concerns. One of them is voter fraud.

The second is there is such a thing as executive privilege. I don't think everything should be open to the Congress or to the press. And you do need to protect that in order to have a good working White House. You do need to have the capacity to intercept terrorist e-mails or telephone conversations. All of those are quite legitimate concerns. The question is whether you observe the right administrative processes and whether you observe the right kind of standards in the way you go after them. And that's what I think the argument is about -- is not whether some of these underlying concerns are illegitimate. I think they're quite legitimate.

It's process?

It's process. It's a lot about how a democracy works. And it's about a political culture. It's not just about the laws; it's also about whether you've got a healthy political culture.

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posted october 16, 2007

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