Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tighter Executive Control

I read in the newspaper today that Bush has signed an Executive Order putting control of policies put out by the various government agencies under the control of political appointees, rather than career civil-servants or scientists as has often been the case up until now. This is seen as a move to give the White House more direct control over the agencies and, perhaps, to reign in agencies the White House isn't happy with.

I must say that I'm ambivalent about this. On the one hand, my immediate reaction was to roll my eyes as the Bush regime makes another power grab in its quest to consolidate almost all the power in the Executive Branch. On the other, control of government agencies is one of the powers of the Executive, and if agencies aren't complying with White House directives, then the White House has the right to tighten control.

And there are times when I'm glad that some agencies have discretionary power and don't have to follow White House lead, but others when it angers me that they don't. For instance, it angered me when I heard that Bush political appointees were messing with scientific work in places like the EPA, where I want and expect the scientific work to be done impartially to determine what is actually happening in the environment. But, on the other hand, it also angers me that agencies like the CIA, FBI, and NSA, when ordered to work together under the National Intelligence Director, just don't listen and keep doing what they've been doing.

I don't know how the power to enforce greater control over government agencies can be given to the White House in such a way as to prevent powerful agencies from just blowing off the White House when it suits them, but doesn't allow for the White House to tamper with the legitimate work of those agencies for political reasons.


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