Obama criticized Bush administration for trying to 'hide' behind executive privilege

President Obama criticized former President George W. Bush for trying to "hide" behind executive privilege in 2007 after the Bush administration refused to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the controversial firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

In an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Obama said there's been "a tendency on the part of this administration to try to hide behind exec privilege every time there's something a little shaky that's taking place."

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"I think the administration would be best served by coming clean on this," Obama said, after Bush claimed executive privilege on the issue. 

"There doesn't seem to be any national security issues involved with the U.S. attorney question. There doesn't seem to be any justification for not offering up some clear plausible rationale for why these U.S. attorneys were targeted when by all assessments they were doing an outstanding job. I think the American people deserve to know what was going on there," he said.

White House aides pointed out that this is the first time Obama has used executive privilege and that he has gone longer without asserting the privilege in a congressional dispute than any president in the last three decades. Bush asserted executive privilege six times, while former President Clinton used it 14 times, a White House aide said.