Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

03.21 Boston City Council Passes Groundbreaking Food Justice Ordinance

03.21 Storms, cyclones and floods will only worsen as the planet warms

03.20 Shocking autopsy photos show toll of plastic waste on dead whale [0:54 video]

03.20 Donald Trump is using Stalinist tactics to discredit climate science ["What a country!" –Yakov Smirnoff]

03.20 Pesticide residues found in 70% of produce sold in US even after washing

03.19 A Future Without Fossil Fuels?

03.19 England could run short of water within 25 years

03.18 Energy analysts forecast 'the end of coal' in Asia as Japanese investors back renewables

03.17 Deadly air in our cities: the invisible killer

03.17 Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic [Meanwhile, "conservatives" like Trump just make shit up...]

03.15 Rural America is ready for some sort of a New Deal, preferably green [Due to our ignorantly anti-science, capitalism-obsessed government, we have an out-of-control catastrophe]

03.15 Capitalism is destroying the Earth. We need a new human right for future generations [11:04 video]

03.15 US official reveals Atlantic drilling plan while hailing Trump’s ability to distract public [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

03.14 New Mexico Jumps At Chance For 100% Clean Electricity

03.14 Whales are dying along East Coast—and scientists are racing to understand why

03.14 Climate study warns of vanishing safety window—here’s why

News Media Matters

03.18 Under Pressure, Donald Trump Begs, Cajoles and Threatens Fox News

03.17 Trump's media attacks are an abuse of power. We're holding him to account

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

03.23 Leaked Audio Exposes Oil & Gas Execs Laughing With Joy Over Cozy Access to Trump Officials

03.23 'Like Nominating Dr. Phil to Run CDC': Alarm Bells as Trump Nominates Right-Wing Sycophant Stephen Moore to Federal Reserve

03.23 Following Monsanto, Exxon Could Be Next US Corporation to Face EU Lobby Ban [Banning political influence of immoral companies is a great idea. Why doesn't America do this?]

03.23 Progressives Refuse to Back Down as DCCC Moves to Kneecap Primary Challengers

03.18 ‘One chance at survival’: Jay Inslee is running for president to fight climate change

03.17 Trump is cornered, with violence on his mind. We must be on red alert

03.16 Beto O'Rourke, friend of the fossil fuel industry, is no climate hero

Justice Matters

03.22 Betsy DeVos strikes out — in court

03.21 US judge halts hundreds of drilling projects in groundbreaking climate change ruling

03.20 'A Poll Tax By Any Other Name': Florida GOP Undermines Newly-Restored Voting Rights For 1.4 Million People

High Crimes

03.20 US Killing Civilians With 'Impunity' in Hidden War on Somalia: Report

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

03.22 Monetary Policy Takes Center Stage: MMT, QE or Public Banks?

03.21 Green Groups Call Out Big Banks for Pouring Billions Into Fossil Fuel Industry

03.19 France’s Message for Capitalism Is Quite Simple: Adapt or Die

03.18 Why are millennials burned out? Capitalism.

International & Futurism

03.22 Yes, a Planned Economy Can Actually Work

03.22 Thanks to humans the ‘wilderness’ no longer exists – but we can make things on Earth better

03.22 Top oil firms spending millions lobbying to block climate change policies, says report

03.22 ExxonMobil faces EU parliament ban after no show at climate hearing [Banning political influence of immoral companies is a great idea. Why doesn't America do this?]

03.22 Labour members launch Green New Deal inspired by US activists

03.21 68% Want to Hike Taxes on the Rich to Help the Poor, Survey of 21 OECD Nations Shows

03.21 Palestinian Lives Don’t Matter*

03.21 England's running out of water – and privatisation is to blame

03.21 Christchurch attacks: New Zealand brings in sweeping gun-law changes [1:11 video]

03.20 We Must Apply Our Universal Values to All Nations. Only Then Will We Achieve Peace.

03.20 Why People In Finland Are So Much Happier Than Americans

03.20 Why climate action is the antithesis of white supremacy

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Bush's Bogus Theory of Absolute Power

COMMENTARY:

Bush's Bogus Theory of Absolute Power

by James Bovard
The fact that the administration is getting away with this charade symbolizes how docile much of the American media and political opposition have become.
The Bush administration has a theory to explain why the Founding Fathers secretly intended for the president to have boundless power. Even though the new "unitary executive theory" is nowhere in the Constitution, White House officials continually invoke it to justify scorning federal law. The fact that the administration is getting away with this charade symbolizes how docile much of the American media and political opposition have become.

Earlier this year, members of Congress anguished publicly over how many of the original USA PATRIOT Act surveillance powers should be renewed. A bipartisan agreement was finally reached, giving the White House almost everything it wanted. As part of the deal to renew the Patriot Act, Bush administration officials agreed to provide Congress more details on how the new powers were being used.

However, Bush reneged in a "signing statement" quietly released after a heavily hyped White House signing ceremony on March 9. He decreed that he was entitled to withhold any information that would "impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties." He announced that he would interpret any provision in the law obliging notifying Congress "in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information."

The crux of the "unitary executive" is that all power rests in the president, and that "checks and balances" are an archaic relic.

In other words, any provision of the law that requires disclosure is presumptively null and void. The crux of the "unitary executive" is that all power rests in the president, and that "checks and balances" are an archaic relic. This is the same "principle" the Bush administration invoked to deny Congress everything from Iraqi war plans to the records of the Cheney Energy Task Force. Bush has invoked the "unitary executive" doctrine almost a hundred times since taking office, according to a study by Miami University professor Christopher Kelley.

Even though the new "unitary executive theory" is nowhere in the Constitution, White House officials continually invoke it to justify scorning federal law.

One of the starkest statements of this theory came in the confidential August 2002 Justice Department/White House memo justifying torture. That memo revealed, "In light of the president's complete authority over the conduct of war, without a clear statement otherwise, criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president's ultimate authority in these areas." And even if Congress did try to explicitly restrain executive power, any such law would be unconstitutional because of the inherent power vested in the presidency, according to the memo. When he was White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales spoke of a "commander-in-chief override" to justify scorning the Anti-Torture Act.

The Bush administration's sense of entitlement is obvious from the ongoing controversy over warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps of Americans. Such wiretaps are clearly prohibited by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Yet Bush declared that he is entitled to order such wiretaps because of the inherent authority of the presidency.

When asked, "What is the limiting principle of the president's claimed inherent authority as commander in chief?," the administration replied, "In light of the strictly limited nature of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, we do not think it a useful or a practical exercise to engage in speculation about the limits of the president's authority as commander in chief."

The administration's attitude toward both the law and Congress was stark in the responses recently delivered to congressional questions on the scope and nature of the NSA warrantless wiretap program.

The basic answer to almost all the questions was, "None of your business." Again and again, the White House declared that "decisions about what communications to intercept are made by professional intelligence officers." Apparently, the job titles of the NSA officials automatically negate the Fourth Amendment's requirement for a warrant before the feds can intrude.

The Bush administration has claimed that the wiretaps are "legal" because of the president's duty to protect America. Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee asked, "What is the limiting principle of the president's claimed inherent authority as commander in chief?"

The administration replied, "In light of the strictly limited nature of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, we do not think it a useful or a practical exercise to engage in speculation about the limits of the president's authority as commander in chief."

At this point, Americans can only guess which laws Bush feels obliged to obey.

At this point, Americans can only guess which laws Bush feels obliged to obey. According to Newsweek, Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, recently informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that Bush could order killings of suspected terrorists within the United States.

The "unitary executive" theory is simply another in a long series of intellectual cons crafted to trample freedom.

Americans cannot expect to have good presidents if presidents are permitted to make themselves czars. The "unitary executive" theory is simply another in a long series of intellectual cons crafted to trample freedom. The sooner that it is tarred and feathered and ridden out of Washington on a rail, the safer Americans' remaining rights will be.


James Bovard is the author of the recently published Attention Deficit Democracy and eight other books and serves as policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation (fff.org).


Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on April 7, 2006.

 

Public Service Ads: