But even more annoying, as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick explained, was that Taylor was selective when it came to what was privileged information. In short, when she liked the question and wanted to answer it, Taylor testified. When she didn’t, she claimed she was forbidden from speaking.
Specter opines that Taylor correctly asserted the Fielding privilege in response to Leahy’s question about her conversations with the president. This makes it doubly strange later in the day when Taylor elects to answer that same question. (The president did not discuss the firings with her.) See? It’s not just the senators fighting about the scope of this amorphous executive privilege; even the witness can’t fix upon a clear rule. Taylor spends the morning huddling with her lawyer, Neil Eggleston, who in a most unlawyerly fashion urges her to disclose more, not less, ostensibly privileged information. The result is a session of bizarre push-me-pull-you testimony in which Taylor asserts this “privilege” that is not hers to assert, and then arguably waives that same “privilege” over and over again as she discusses in detail things that clearly fall within its vast scope.
At first this pattern of half-compliance with the subpoena just confuses the senators. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., huffs that “the fact that you are answering some questions but not others weakens the executive privilege claim even further. It shows how specious their claim is.” But later, Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Leahy begin to observe that in fact Taylor’s notion of the executive privilege seems to be that she can testify at length to exonerate friends at the White House, then clam up when she might implicate them. As Leahy growls toward the end of the day, “each time the finger points at you, you hide behind your oath to the president.”
Earlier this week, when the White House claimed privilege, Dems asked the Bush gang to explain the basis for the claim. The White House refused — effectively saying, “We can’t talk and we can’t talk about why we can’t talk.”
Taylor’s testimony raised a different possibility: the White House can’t explain the claim because their argument doesn’t make any sense, even to them.
So, is there some kind of test the rest of us can use in hiring, that measures the candidate's ability to forget only those things that might be embarrassing to the employer, and that locates loyalty to the person of the employer as the supreme (and perhaps sole) value? Sounds handy.