Even if one assumes that every unknown instance of warrant-less spying by the NSA were justified on security grounds, the arguments issuing from the White House threaten the concept of checks and balances as it has been understood in America for the last 218 years. Simply put, Bush and his lawyers contend that the president's national security powers are unlimited. And since the war on terror is currently scheduled to run indefinitely, the executive supremacy they're asserting won't be a temporary condition.Why not, indeed?
...[T]he nation implied by the [Justice Depatment's recent] document would be an elective dictatorship, governed not by three counterpoised branches of government but by a secretive, possibly benign, awesomely powerful king....
Bush's message to the courts, like his message to Congress, is: Make way, subjects....
The final problem with [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales' theories of unfettered executive authority is that they, as the lawyers say, prove too much. The Article II plus AUMF [Congress's 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force] justification for warrant-less spying is essentially the same one the administration has advanced to excuse torture; ignore the Geneva Conventions; and indefinitely hold even U.S. citizens without a hearing, charges, or trial. Torture and detention without due process are bad enough. But why does this all-purpose rationale not also extend to press censorship or arresting political opponents, were the president to deem such measures vital to the nation's security?
Monday, January 30, 2006
Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate, had a noteworthy column last week on the extravagant claims Bush II's people are making for total presidential power. Some samples:
Posted by Sheldon Richman at 5:59 PM